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Hi8 is an analog video format introduced on the market in 1989 and an extension of the existing Video-8 system. Video cameras and other parts of this recording technology are generally referred to as Hi8 cameras or Hi8 technology.
Hi8 was created in the same way as the S-VHS, which was introduced two years earlier, through some extensions from the existing Video8 system:
- The recording is split into signals for color (C), brightness (Y) and hi-fi sound. These are transmitted separately, which leads to significant increases in quality.
- The bandwidth for the brightness signal is increased. As a result, a resolution of 400 lines can be achieved with a bandwidth of 5 MHz (with Video 8 and VHS: approx. 250 lines).
- Some high-quality Hi8 devices record two digital PCM sound tracks with 32 kHz / 12 bit in addition to the analog, frequency-modulated HiFi sound
The other technical data correspond to the Video8 system.
Overall, the quality of Hi8 is significantly higher than that of VHS and Video8, but cannot quite keep up with S-VHS in practice .
Hi8 cassettes are identical in design to Video8 cassettes and can also be used as such, but contain a higher quality tape with a higher density of magnetic particles and an identification hole on the underside, which Hi8 devices use to identify the cassette and switch to Hi8 mode switch. The tape speed and thus the running time of the cassettes is identical for Video8 and Hi8. Hi8 is backwards compatible with Video8, i. H. all Hi8 devices can also record and play back Video8. However, the reverse is not possible.
As with Video8, there were also stationary and portable video recorders for Hi8. However, these were not very common and were mainly used in the ( semi- ) professional area. With the increasing spread of digital video systems such as Digital8 (see below), DV and DVD , Hi8 disappeared from the market in the early 2000s . Hi8 camcorders and recorders are no longer manufactured. Cassettes for the Hi8 system are still available today (as of 2016).
The further development of Hi8 to digital recording was the Digital8 technology introduced in 1999 . The Digital8 format uses conventional Hi8 tapes. Digital8 uses the same data format as DV for recording and output . Some devices can also record digitally on inexpensive Video8 cassettes (or, with a trick, this can also be done with devices that do not explicitly support this), but we advise against this, as Video8 cassettes are not always capable due to the inferior tape material to store the high-frequency digital signals without errors, which leads to frequent dropouts and an overall shortened service life.
Due to the higher tape speed compared to Video8 / Hi8, the running time with Digital8 is reduced by a third, i.e. H. A Hi8 cassette with 90 minutes playing time only fits 60 minutes in Digital8 format. Special Digital8 cassettes are also available in stores: These are, however, quite ordinary Hi8 cassettes, where only the label has been changed and the running time has been correctly specified for Digital8.
Digital8 devices were only manufactured by Sony and Hitachi and were used exclusively in the amateur field. In addition to camcorders, there were also portable Digital8 video recorders, the so-called Video Walkman , which were already available in the same form for Video8 and Hi8. There were only two different models of this, one with and one without a hinged LCD . There have never been higher quality, semi-professional devices that used the Digital8 system.
Digital8 devices were designed especially for those switching from Video8 / Hi8 to the relatively inexpensive entry into digital technology, as they were cheaper than MiniDV camcorders in the early days and also offered the option of playing Video8 / Hi8 cassettes.
Compatibility and digitization
The recording format of Digital8 and DV is completely identical. All Digital8 camcorders have a DV-Out ( FireWire ), via which the transfer for post-processing to the PC as well as transferring e.g. B. on a DVD recorder is possible. As with MiniDV, there are also Digital8 camcorders with DV-In, via which the post-processed films can be played back from the PC to Digital8 with almost no loss. In the early days there were also camcorders that also had an analog video input and thus could be used as a video recorder, e.g. B. for the digitization of (S-) VHS could be used. Newer devices no longer offer this function.
Many older generation Digital8 camcorders were also able to play back the analog formats Video8 and Hi8; In the last model series (July 2007) Sony only offered a single Digital8 camcorder with this function in Germany, the DCR-TRV480E.
In order to save Video8 and Hi8 recordings through digitization, playback in Digital8 camcorders is preferable, since the Digital8 camcorder converts the Video8 or Hi8 signal into the usual digital DV codec with almost no loss. It can be output via the FireWire output of the Digital8 camcorder. Video8 and Hi8 camcorders only output an analog signal over a composite or S-Video connection (Hi8 devices only). This analog connection alone causes losses, etc. a. due to cross-color and cross-luminance errors in composite connections; In addition, depending on the hardware used (video card in the computer, etc.), quality fluctuations occur during digitization.
Overall, compared to DV, Digital8 is considered to be much more robust, more durable and less error-prone. This is mainly due to the significantly higher tape speed (28.7 mm / s; DV: 18.8 mm / s) and larger track width (16.3 µm; DV: 10 µm), which is even the values of the professional DVCAM system exceeds. In addition, the tape of Digital8 cassettes is wider and thicker than that of DV.
Despite the technical superiority of the tape format, Digital8 could never prevail against MiniDV. In addition to the larger and more unwieldy design, the reasons for this are also the lack of high-quality camcorders in the range and marketing errors. Sony currently no longer offers Digital8 devices in Germany.
- Mobile weapons - Der Spiegel 1989 about the introduction of Hi8 and the " video wars " of the 1970s and 1980s
- vwestlife: Rare Hitachi Digital8 camcorder review & test. April 4, 2011, accessed July 11, 2016 .