Why wasn't Digital8 more popular?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Doc, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    I've got a Sony Digital 8 camcorder and assume the reason they've been
    discontinued is due to consumer interest. Hard to imagine, when it
    seems to be a great multi-purpose tool.

    One of the reasons I got it was because it plays analog 8/Hi8 tapes
    and discovered they look *better* than when played on the original
    analog camcorder they were shot with. That feature alone seems to make
    it far more useful than a MiniDV cam. The Digital8 tapes are cheaper
    than the MiniDV tapes and seem to me to be easier to handle and
    probably less easy to lose. I got a rewinder/ffwd'er for the tapes
    that wasn't expensive and works great, saving wear & tear on the
    transport of the cam.

    It takes 4:3 & 16:9 video, you can also use it for Firewire pass-thru
    from an analog video source - something I've found to be extremely
    useful. The image quality that it takes looks great to me. I had
    occasion to use a Pro MiniDV cam once, to be honest I don't see that
    the images looked any better.

    Two modes of nightshot, a number of interesting effects, it works with
    a dubbing deck, and a bunch of other features, it just seems to be a
    powerful little unit.

    So what was the problem?
    Doc, Jan 9, 2008
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  2. Doc

    iws Guest

    Well, the main advantage you claim - being able to play back analog 8
    tapes - is of no interest to someone who didn't have any analog 8 tapes to
    play back. Also, the Digital 8 format is considerable larger than MiniDV so
    the corresponding D8 camcorder will be bulkier. As someone who has owned
    both, the latter disadvantage of D8 is not insignificant.
    iws, Jan 9, 2008
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  3. "Doc" wrote ...
    D8 came out in the same timeframe as mini-DV.
    Far fewer manufacturers (only Sony & Canon?)
    supported 8mm/D8 vs. everybody for mini-DV.
    Sony never appeared to have their heart in D8
    like they did with DV. There was never the range
    of camcorders in D8 that was available (even
    at the time) in DV.

    Of course, you realize that the data on a D8 tape
    is the same as on DV. But there were never the
    higher-end camcorders available in D8 to produce
    nice pictures worthy of the format.
    Richard Crowley, Jan 9, 2008
  4. Doc

    Scubajam Guest

    I have gone through several D8's and still have two such cameras, but
    now shoot HD.

    You're right, D8 is very good, same 0's and 1's (on/off) on tape as
    miniDV, but both have their quality ranges. While many touted their 3
    CCD cameras, most only stored 570 or 590K pixels/frame. I used the
    TRV740 which stores 790K/frame. Thus not the color saturation and
    dynamic range of exposure, but more resolution. Both miniDV and D8
    have cameras from 290K to 790K/frame with some higher end miniDV even

    As noted, they are larger, significantly heavier in a world where
    smaller is considered better (unless you want pro shoulder units). I
    never shot 8mm (I went Beta - another subject). The analogue pass-
    through is a great feature, but few target consumers of D8 use it or
    are even aware.

    You're asking why progress, aren't you? Both my HD cameras are
    lighter, and the B-roll HC3 is much smaller, sharper, better color,
    etc. I have over 200 or each type of tape in archives, and the HD
    miniDV tapes take up half the space. And having bought the HC3 used
    for under $500, I'd say why continue the D8 format? Few manuf
    supported it, larger, heavier, it's now a HD world, or for consumers
    HDD or DVD units. No moving parts flash drive is becoming the storage
    medium of the future. Now those are small units!!

    Enjoy it while it works, tapes will be available for a long time, and
    miniDV probably even longer. I flooded two D8's in underwater
    housings. The risks of the avocation.

    Jim McGauhey
    Washington State
    Scubajam, Jan 9, 2008
  5. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Hmm, judging from the number of Video 8/Hi8 I still see in pawnshops
    and on Ebay, and the fact that they still make Hi8 analog cams - and
    the tapes are still quite readily available, there must be an awful
    lot of the tapes out there.

    I have to snicker at that a bit. Just the batteries on some of those
    old VHS cams probably were bigger and heavier than this Dig8. Seems
    plenty small to me. It has a manual focus ring that I think would be
    awkward to use if it was smaller, and has a reasonably sized
    viewscreen and controls that are already on the verge of being too
    closely crammed together.

    I actually feel a bit of disdain for the trend to make things ever
    tinier. I think it's ludicrous that some of the devices now come with
    a stick to poke the buttons because they're too small to readily be
    pushed with a finger. Will the next generation come with a jeweler's

    I find cel phones generally sound like crap when I hear people talk on
    them, part of which I believe is because the mouthpiece isn't even
    near your mouth.
    Doc, Jan 9, 2008
  6. Doc

    davesvideo Guest

    When I first decided to work with digital,my archives included at
    least 40 Hi-8 tapes 92 hours) each, so I went with D8.
    I also thought that having a bit more bulk in the camera was actually
    good thing. But, it is also nice to have an additional tiny Min-Dv
    camera in your pocket wherever you go.

    davesvideo, Jan 9, 2008
  7. Doc

    HerHusband Guest

    I had a Sony Digital 8 camcorder for a couple of years, chosen mainly for
    price at the time. It was a decent camera, but was a little large to carry
    along when traveling. The main advantage I saw was 8mm tapes were usually
    available in small rural towns (if I ran out of tapes), whereas miniDV
    tapes usually weren't.

    As for the features and effects, I never used any of those anyway. I just
    record, and transfer video to my computer when I get home.

    These days I have a small Canon ZR500 miniDV camcorder. I can carry the
    camcorder with me easily, and it's no problem to take the camera, several
    tapes, batteries, etc. on trips with me. Despite it's much smaller size,
    the Canon takes much better video, and the image stabilization works better
    too. Smaller size, better video, more stable pictures. A win-win situation.

    I figure the next step will be tapeless camcorders using memory cards
    instead of tapes. There's a few on the market now, though they're a little
    pricy. On the other hand, most digital still cameras also have movie modes
    these days for recording short clips. I just bought a waterproof Pentax
    Optio W30 with a movie mode that I plan to use for filming fish on our next
    snorkeling trip.

    HerHusband, Jan 9, 2008
  8. Doc

    PTravel Guest

    An NTSC-standard digital frame is 720 x 480 pixels, i.e. 345,600 pixels per
    frame. This doesn't vary regardless of the camera -- if it is an NTSC
    digital frame, it contains 345,600 and cannot contain more.

    You're right, D8 is very good, same 0's and 1's (on/off) on tape as
    miniDV, but both have their quality ranges. While many touted their 3
    CCD cameras, most only stored 570 or 590K pixels/frame. I used the
    TRV740 which stores 790K/frame. Thus not the color saturation and
    dynamic range of exposure, but more resolution. Both miniDV and D8
    have cameras from 290K to 790K/frame with some higher end miniDV even
    PTravel, Jan 9, 2008
  9. Doc

    Scubajam Guest

    Interesting way of looking at it. In essence you're saying there's no
    difference in resolution between a $10,000 camera and a $200 camera?
    I can see differences.

    Look at pixels/CCD. Why are there 2 meg CCD's if final resolution is
    always the same? The DCR-TRV740 (D8) I have has a 1070K CCD, but I
    believe records 970K/frame, the difference is used for image
    stabilization. The famous TRV900 (miniDV) has 3 CCD/s, but only 570K
    each and they stack up as different colors instead of add for more
    resolution. Both cameras have better resolution and images than lower
    quality cameras.

    I can certainly see image resolution differences between different
    quality cameras. And not all pixels are created equal. Now I'm
    shooting HD, but with a HDV camera that records 1440 x 1080 pixels
    while 16:9 widescreen should be 1920 x 1080. The fact is pixels don't
    have to be square. Then there's what's between the pixels, how much
    space, black, etc. The discussion was on cameras, not on TV's.

    I understand what you're saying, but for some reason I sure see
    quality differences on my TV. And I see differences between TV's, and
    between NTSC DVD's, and etc, etc.

    The discussion was about differences in cameras, not in images on the
    TV. And not everything has to be burned to NTSC, esp in mpg DVD
    format. I can watch avi files on my computer with much better
    resolution than a SD TV. Then you'll really see differences in
    Scubajam, Jan 10, 2008
  10. Doc

    Mark Guest

    I think it was the range of models. When I bought my last camcorder
    Sony marketed their analogue models as bargain basement, their D8
    models as low/mid range & their MiniDV models and mid/upper range. I
    wanted a D8 model owing to having loads of Hi8 tapes. IIRC they
    discontinued the only D8 model that could play Hi8 tapes so I went for
    a miniDV model instead.

    Mark, Jan 10, 2008
  11. Doc

    PTravel Guest

    Well, of course you can. Far more goes into determining the quality of a
    video image than just image resolution. The point, though, is that a video
    frame is a standardized number of pixels. Camcorders that exceed this do so
    only for still-imaging capability (which actually degrades the video image).
    Lens quality, sensor quality and camera electronics all impact video image
    quality. Cheap miniDV camcorders, while producing a standard NTSC frame of
    720 x 480, may be able to resolve fewer than 250 lines resulting in
    perceived resolution equivalent to VHS.
    The additional pixels are for still imaging and, for those cameras that use
    EIS, for image stabilization.
    Your camera produces NTSC standard video, so the frame size is 720 x 480.
    That's wrong. The resolution is exactly the same (720 x 480). The three
    CCDs aren't "stacked up" for more resolution, the primary colors are
    separated out by dichoric filters and each is processed separately for
    better color fidelity and saturation (and also increasing the low-light
    sensistivity since there is far more total sensor area to receive the
    light). The resolution of the frame is exactly the same.
    But not because there are more pixels in the frame. The TRV900 has better
    glass, better low-light performance resulting in less color and video noise,
    and better electronics resulting in better dynamic range, less ringing, etc.
    However, the final frame resolution is exactly the same size for each
    camera: 720 x 480.
    The HDV spec uses a pixel that is wider than it is high at a ratio of
    1.33:1. This allows 1440 horizontal pixels to be displayed as 1920. HDV
    cameras record video as 1440 x 1080, but they will play it over their HDMI
    and/or component outputs as 1920 x 1080 -- the camera's electronics scales
    the image appropriately.
    One more time: standard definition DV-25 (which is what is used by D8 and SD
    miniDV camcorders) uses a 720 x 480 frame, and every single DV-25-compliant
    camcorder (which includes your 740, the TRV900, the VX2100, the PD170, the
    XL2 and so on) produces a fixed-resolution frame of 720 x 480 -- it doesn't
    matter how many pixels are on the sensor.
    I don't think you do understand what I'm saying. More pixels <> more
    resolution in a video frame. In fact, quite the contrary, for most consumer
    camcorders more pixels will equal a degraded image.
    I'm not talking about images on a TV.
    Oh boy. Where to begin?

    1. AVI is file format, not an video spec. AVI files are merely wrappers
    for video that has been encoded by one of a variety of standards. A
    DV-codec-encoded AVI carries DV-25 video which, for NTSC will be 720 x 480
    or, for PAL, will be 720 x 576. Period. AVI files can also carry video in
    other formats but it doesn't matter because we're talking about what
    camcorders record and transfer.

    2. Computer monitors are poor vehicles for assessing video quality because
    their gamma is different form the NTSC (or PAL) spec. Unless you
    specifically calibrate your monitor, you are not seeing the correct video
    image. When you say, "TV" I assume you're referring to a consumer
    television set -- most inexpensive consumer NTSC/PAL televisions are not of
    particularly high quality. For this reason, pros (and prosumers and
    advanced amateurs) edit using a broadcast monitor -- this is a high-quality
    television monitor that complies with the NTSC (or PAL) spec.

    3. The HD spec, unlike NTSC (and PAL) provides for a variety of resolutions
    ranging between 480i (which is roughly equivalent to the NTSC standard
    definition spec) to 1080p, which is 1920 x 1080 non-interlaced. High-def
    camcorders _may_ have different resolutions -- there are a number of 720p
    camcorders out there and these do have a lower resolution than a 1080i or
    1080p camcorder. However, as with standard definition camcorders, a CCD or
    CMOS sensor with more than 2,073,600 pixels is not going to result in any
    higher definition than one with a senor that has exactly 2,073,600
    (ignoring, for the moment, things like EIS) because the HD spec tops out at
    1920 x1080, which is 2,073,600 pixels.

    4. DVD-compliant mpeg is 720 x 480 for NTSC and 720 x 576 for PAL.
    PTravel, Jan 10, 2008
  12. Doc

    Ken Maltby Guest

    OK now this is going too far, you two can't switch places!

    There is no way PT could have written this reply! If he had just
    added a comment that pointed out the relative bandwidth/ sample
    rates of DV25/HDV and the "TV", DVD, and HDTV specs.; it
    would have covered most of the relevant points. It also suggests
    that at some point PT might be able to come to grips with the reality
    that his beloved DV-AVI's image quality is only of significance in
    relation to how it may contribute to the quality of the video in its
    final end use format.

    Et tu, Scubajam? The final format doesn't matter because you
    can watch "AVI" footage on your PC??

    Say it ain't so!!!

    Ken Maltby, Jan 10, 2008
  13. Doc

    PTravel Guest

    What in the world are you going on about? Do you have anything of substance
    to contribute to this discussion, other than bringing up your
    often-related-but-still-on-true nonsense about what I supposedly said about
    DV-25 vs. mpeg for standard definition video?
    PTravel, Jan 10, 2008
  14. I am grateful to Mr. Maltby for teaching me a valuable
    life lesson. I learned that I care very little about MPEG
    and, by extension, Mr. Maltby's rants about MPEG, etc.
    Richard Crowley, Jan 10, 2008
  15. Doc

    Tony Guest

    I bought a Sony TRV120 D8 camera simply for an everyday, video camera that shot digital. I already
    had a TRV900 but that was used for important stuff.

    Aside from the backward compatability of hi 8 \ 8mm tapes, it was completely consumer low end
    equipment that was single chip, only shot 4:3 (the widescreen mode was completely fake and stretched
    the picture), lack of a D8 video player (you arent supposed to use your camera as a playback deck).
    Also, that video passthrough feature was stopped on many of the cameras as time went by. I have it
    but my friend bought a sony d8 a couple years back and his didnt have pass through.

    It was good for what it was but Mini DV was smaller, better, had pro models and consumer decks
    (usually coupled with a S-VHS recorder). I didnt know it was officially discontinued but I am not
    surprised. Not to mention that there will soon (very soon) be no tape based camcorders. Most are
    hard disk\mini DVD\ flash card cams now. God help the people who drop their camera (and kill their
    hard drive) or put a nice scratch on their dvd and lose their memories forever.

    Tony, Jan 15, 2008
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