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Hi8 vs S-VHS - is there a difference in PICTURE quality?

Jared Hall

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Looking to do an upcoming shoot in VHS, i have both a hi8 and s-vhs camera, but the hi8 needs to be repaired. I want the best vhs quality possible (if that makes sense lol), and i can’t seem to find a clear answer on if one is superior to the other. Sound won’t be used in the final product so really i’m only concerned about picture, does anyone know the differences? Thanks!

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I mean Hi-8 and S-VHS are the same composite video spec, same luminance and chrominance resolution. 

However, Hi-8 does suffer from being a lower tape speed and smaller tracks, thus it doesn't have the fidelity of S-VHS, it also has greater crosstalk with higher potential for tape hits. 

Both formats are total garbage of course, especially today when we're talking about worn heads, worn rubber bits, etc. You will never get a completely perfect image from an old camera in 2021, it's just not going to happen. They don't even make quality tape stock anymore. So you'll be dealing with video hits and all sorts of other issues. 

If you want to shoot with an old school camera, you may want to try Mini-DV instead. There are many mid 1990 cameras out there, similar vintage to S-VHS, which are 3 chip and will probably still work fine. Sony VX-1000 for instance and because they're digital already, editing with the DV footage is a lot easier, it's basically 1:1 during the editing process with no losses in quality. 

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I don't know what you mean by "superior" quality when the point usually in using these cameras is too have the artifacts and problems in the footage.

Mini DV will be a similar look but cleaner if that's what you want. The 3 chip ones have better color, the VX1000 has nice color rendition.

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I don't know what kind of look you're going for, but shooting on MiniDV would get you an SD look without going all the way down to VHS quality. And if you use a professional or prosumer MiniDV camera you can manually control aperture, shutter speed, focus, and color temperature. I don't know if your S-VHS camera has that ability.

You could also look into recording from a Hi8, VHS, or SVHS camera to an external recorder like an Atomos Ninja and bypassing tape altogether:


Edited by Ravi Kiran
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