Find the Best Hi8 Camcorder Models and Where to Purchase Them Today

Find the Best Hi8 Camcorder Models and Where to Purchase Them Today

While VHS tapes dominated the home video market, other options like Hi8 offered longer recording time as well as digital audio recording. These benefits make them a popular choice among collectors and modern home video creators, but not all Hi8 camcorders produce high-quality results. 

That’s why Capture put together this guide to the top Hi8 camera recorders. With over 20 years of expertise in home video preservation, we give you all the information you need to not only discover the top models, but where to find them.

Keep reading to learn about Hi8 camcorder history, the technical specifications of Hi8 recording, top models and where to buy them, and much more. 

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The History of Hi8 Camcorders

Following the format war between VHS vs Betamax, Eastman Kodak developed Video8 tapes. These analog 8mm tapes were designed to rival VHS-C, the compact version of VHS tapes. While only moderately successful, they led directly to the release of Hi8.

Hi8 tapes were released by Sony in 1989 and combined analog video recording as well as analog audio with the provision for digital audio. Hi8, or High-Band Video8, increased the bandwidth and video resolution, surpassing not only Video8, but VHS, Betamax, and most other options available to consumers at the time. 

While it was eventually replaced by Digital8 which used a Digital Video codec, Hi8 was a mainstay for a decade, especially for small-budget filmmakers and videographers. But, to create Hi8 video quality home movies, films, or other recordings, you need an 8mm video camcorder that’s compatible with Hi8. 

Different Hi8 camcorders offer different features. At their most basic, they record audio and video onto the 8mm tape, but you can also get models with optical zoom, a built-in screen that doubles as a Hi8 tape player, and more.  

There are many vintage camcorder options available made by various companies like Canon, Panasonic, Samsung, & Sony, but to determine which is best for your needs, it’s a good idea to understand the technical specifications you’ll want to look for both in camcorders and Hi8 tapes in general. 

Technical Specifications and Features

So, how do Hi8 tapes compare to other analog camcorder formats? Let’s examine the video quality, audio capabilities, and features of old video cameras to find out! 

Video Quality

Similar to JVC’s S-VHS,  Hi8 tapes were rated at a luminance resolution of 400 lines. That means they far surpass standard VHS, VHS-C, and Video 8 with a crisp analog picture. Plus, they have excellent color fidelity when compared to those older models, but a quality camcorder can enhance the quality even more with additional features. 

Audio Capabilities

Hi8 PCM audio operates at a sampling rate of 32 kHz with 8-bit samples and DBX dynamic range expansion. This was higher fidelity than VHS and S-VHS. Not only that, but they offered the ability to record digital audio as well. To get the best audio, it’s important to get a camcorder with a high-quality built-in microphone. 

Media and Storage

Hi8 tapes have a recording length of 180 minutes for PAL in short play mode and 120 minutes for NTSC in short play mode. However, we strongly recommend digitizing home movies to access digital storage. 

Optics and Lenses

Different Hi8 camcorders will offer different lens qualities and optical zoom options. These are critical to the quality of the recording and the capabilities of the person recording. Not only that, but image stabilization features are a fantastic feature on some models because they allow you to record home movies without worrying as much about shaky footage. 

Power and Battery Life

You’ll also want to consider the power and battery life, especially if you want to record multiple tapes during an event. Some lower-quality models only last around 30 minutes while higher-quality rechargeable batteries can last an hour, 2 hours, or even longer. 

Top Hi8 Camcorders and Where to Buy Them

Now that you know some of the things to look for in the models like optical zoom, image stabilization, power supply, quality microphones, and more, what are some of the models you should consider?

Sony CCD-TRV65

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Sony-CCD-TRV65-Camcorder-Optical-NightShot/dp/B002L9JYY6

This is well-known as one of the best Sony Handycam CCD Hi8 camcorder options available. With a sleek modern design and a high-resolution CMOS sensor, you’ll get superb quality. 

Plus, it offers an 18x optical zoom that can capture far-away scenes with ease. Not only that, but the image stabilizer, NightShot feature, and built-in LCD playback screen make it a versatile choice for almost any recording. 

The main downside is that they are somewhat expensive due to their popularity. However, you can usually find them on eBay for anywhere from $125 to $200, but the best refurbished and great condition models can be as much as $300. 

Canon ES84000V

Image Source: https://www.oceanproperty.co.th/en/News/?q=canon-es8100v-hi-camcorder-ee-v5bwBbSW

This Hi8 8mm camcorder is a later model, meaning it offers the most advanced video capture features. The 22x optical zoom and image stabilizer create fantastic quality results when compared to Video8 camcorders for both subdued natural tones as well as vibrant 80s colors. 

Additionally, it has a built-in video light that is good for low-light situations and close-ups without too many shadows. Plus, it offers aperture presets for various uses like Sports, Portrait, Snow, and more. Even cooler is the FlexiZone technology that allows you to position the viewfinder for automotive exposure settings. 

This Canon Hi8 camcorder model is not only high quality, but it’s also a little harder to find than most. Still, you might get lucky and find one on eBay or Amazon for $200-$300.

Toshiba TSC100

Image Source: https://www.shopping.com/item.html?id=v1-133758087212-0&offer=true&provider=0

This professional style Hi8 video camera camcorder was at the top tier of quality with one of the best microphones you’ll find on a Hi8 camcorder. The battery pack is long-lasting with easy charger that records for up to 2 hours. 

The lightweight yet durable design combined with the various top-of-the-line settings like lens swapping for special effects and versatility. Plus, it delivers 700 lines of horizontal resolution with a professional 62db signal-to-noise ratio. Everything from the viewfinder to the timecode generator, image stabilizer, and so much more make this the best choice for Hi8 filmmakers. 

As you might have guessed, this model is often very difficult to find. If you do find one at a specialty camera shop online, you could pay as much as $1000 for it. That being said, sometimes people get lucky and find them at garage sales, on eBay, or elsewhere for as little as $300 to $400. 

Sony CCD-TRV C138 

Image Source: https://maxmax.com/aXRayTRV138Camcorder.htm

This Sony Handycam Camcorder was the precursor to the Sony DCR line of Digital8 camcorders, meaning it offers superb quality while also remaining budget-friendly since it was one of the last before the switch to a new format. 

If you’re looking for how to play Hi8 tapes, the 2.5” LCD screen is a fantastic way to do so.  With 20x optical zoom and 990x digital zoom combined with various modes to add fades, titles, and video effects, this is truly the Hi8 camera for modern consumers. 

The battery isn’t great, however, but for around $100 on eBay, it’s hard to complain. In fact, you might even be able to find one in decent condition for around $70 if you’re lucky! 

Transferring and Digitizing Hi8 Footage

Whichever Hi8 analog camcorder you choose, it’s important to preserve the memories contained on your videotapes. That’s because Hi8 tapes won’t last forever even with the best Hi8 camcorder maintenance. 

Because of that, we strongly recommend digitizing Hi8 footage. Not only does this preserve your memories, but it also allows you to easily share them over social media and email, and enhance them with video restoration and editing software. 

One way to do this is by using a converter that uses RCA cables to plug directly into your camcorder or Hi8 VCR. Then, you’ll turn the analog videos into digital home movies by following the instructions on the device. 

Some also require an adapter to connect straight to your computer while others opt instead to use a USB drive or SD card for immediate storage. Either way, this will convert in real time. Some of the best VHS to digital converters that work with Hi8 tapes include the DIGITNOW Video Converter, ClearClick USB Capture Device, and Roxio VHS to DVD. 

Alternatively, you could use a VHS conversion service that also accepts Hi8 tapes. There are many to choose from so make sure you consider reviews, services, reputation, experience, and above-and-beyond services to find the best company to digitize home movies. 

For example, Capture has digitized video tape memories for millions of customers. We’ll video transfer your Hi8 tapes into digital video in less than 30 days, returning your Hi8 tapes in the same or better condition. That’s because we don’t just offer minor videotape repairs, but 

Conclusion

As you can see from our top hi8 camcorder review, there are plenty of options to choose from. Just make sure you consider the Hi8 camcorder features, audio, battery life, condition, and other factors to find the best option for you. 

Additionally, to ensure your memories last forever, consider Hi8 tape transfer to digital. Plus, we can digitize MiniDV, Video8, Digital8, VHS, Betamax, and more! Click here to learn more about Capture’s Hi8 digitization services. 

 

 

 

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