Digital8 vs. Hi8 Camcorder Formats

Written by ann mapleridge
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Digital8 (also called D8) is a digital version of the popular Hi8 analogue camcorder format. When Sony introduced the Digital8 format in 1999, it offered owners of Hi8 camcorders the ability to upgrade to a digital camcorder that also could play back Hi8 cassettes.


In the United States, Sony is the only company to manufacture and market a Digital8 camcorder, but a variety of consumer electronics companies offered Hi8 camcorders, including Panasonic, Canon and Toshiba.


Digital8 camcorders record video in digital format at a rate that, according to Sony, is 2.5 times faster than traditional Hi8 camcorders. Digital8 camcorders can also record video at a resolution of 500 lines, where as Hi8 camcorders offer a resolution of only 400 lines, according to the Computer Desktop Encyclopedia.

Digital8 camcorders give you two options for handling the recordings: transfer video to a computer via FireWire technology, or connect the camcorder to a television for playback via RCA cables. Hi8 camcorders offer no direct means of connection to a computer; they connect to a television for playback.


Digital8 camcorders allow people to record video in a digital format while using traditional Hi8 tapes. Prior to Sony's Digital8 format, playback of Hi8 tapes required a Hi8 camcorder or player. But because Digital8 camcorders can play back Hi8 tapes as well, people who previously used Hi8 camcorders can preserve their investment in memories captured on Hi8 tapes. The main benefit of Digital8 is that people can record in digital format but do not lose the ability to play the analogue tapes that the Hi8 format uses.


For digital recording, some people consider the Digital8 format of lesser quality than the MiniDV format. Digital8 and MiniDV formats record video in the same way and offer users an identical level of video quality. The main difference is the recording medium: Tapes for use in Digital8 (and Hi8) camcorders are about the size of an audiocassette whereas MiniDV tapes are a little larger than a matchbox ( Both MiniDV and Digital8 camcorders capture video at a higher resolution than the Hi8 format.


Although Digital8 camcorders can play Hi8 tapes, Hi8 camcorders cannot play back Digital8 tapes.

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