How to Play 8mm Tapes in a VCR

Written by earl moreland
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When I worked in the electronics department of a retail store, the most common question I encountered from 8mm camcorder customers was---"Do you carry the adaptors that let me plug the tape directly into my VCR for viewing?" Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, no adaptor is available for the simple reason that 8mm tape is narrower than both mini-VHS and regular VHS. The 8mm format doesn't fit the width of a VCR playback head. Never fear -- there is a way that you can play 8mm tape content in a VCR through a process called dubbing. This is the only way to view an 8mm tape with a VCR without having to plug in the camcorder.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Plug your 8mm camcorder into a wall outlet. Plug the single-prong end of the audio-video connector cable into the camcorder's AV outlet.

  2. 2

    Plug the multi-prong end of the audio-video cable into one set of the VCR's AV inputs. If the camcorder records stereo audio, there will be three plugs. Typically, the video plug/input is yellow, the right audio channel is red and the left is white. Be sure to plug the correct plug into the correct input. Turn on both the camcorder and the VCR.

  3. 3

    Insert your pre-recorded 8mm tape into the 8mm camcorder and a blank VHS tape into the VCR.

  4. 4

    Press the "Record" button on your VCR. Then, put your camcorder in playback mode and press the "Play" button.

  5. 5

    Enjoy your video on the television monitor while it records.

Tips and warnings

  • The above process can be applied to dubbing mini-VHS tapes onto full-size VHS tapes. If you dispense with the mini-VHS adaptors, you'll cut down on VCR wear-and-tear from repeated viewings.
  • Dubbing also applies to getting the content onto a DVD via a desktop DVD recorder.

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