8mm, Video8, Hi8, and Digital 8

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I have been looking for a used camcorder to transfer my old 8mm tapes to DVD.  During this search I have learned that it is not as simple as it would seem.  Some of these camcorders go for more than they were initially sold for.  I just want to make sure people are getting what they expect, because I am assuming most buyers are looking for the same thing that I am.

There are three 8mm formats.  Video8, Hi8, and Digital 8.

Video8 and Hi8 are both analog, with Hi8 having better resolution.  All video8 will play on a Hi8, but not all Hi8 will play on a video8.  With the analog players, the output signal goes through a yellow RCA cable or an S-video cable.  Therefore there is some resolution loss when transferring to a DVD

Digital 8 is a digital recording and I think only Sony made digital8 camcorders.  This is the same signal a miniDV recorder uses, but stores it on a High 8 tape.  These players are nice because most of them have a firewire or USB output, so there is no signal loss when transfering to a DVD recorder or PC. 

Now is where things get complicated.  Only some of the Digital8 players will play the old 8mm or Hi8 tapes.  These recorders are considered backward compatible.  I am going to try to list what models will or will not play the old tapes.  This list is not complete and the information is mostly from reviews of people who bought the specific model and whether they could copy their old tape.

These are all Sony Digital8 camcorders.

These model WILL play old 8mm tapes:

  1. trv103
  2. trv120
  3. trv230 
  4. trv240
  5. trv310
  6. trv330
  7. trv340
  8. trv350
  9. trv520
  10. trv740

Model that WILL NOT pay old tapes:

  1. trv130
  2. trv140
  3. trv250
  4. trv260
  5. trv280

This list is not complete.  Generally the 300's and up are backward compatible, but this rule is not always true.  For example the trv120 will play old tapes, but the trv130 will not.  I think all the the early digital 8mm camcorders would, but later it became an option on the higher models.

I hope this helps, and I will try to update as I find out more.

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