There’s never been a better time to go Hi8. Ten years since its evolution from 8mm, the venerable "high-band" 8mm format continues to thrive as the choice of serious videographers and quite a few professionals, too.
Unlike their 8mm brethren, Hi8 camcorders are often used in acquisition of broadcast footage, especially for personal documentaries. Although manufacturers introduced it initially as a consumer format, pros quickly latched on to the compact cameras for their portability, features and image quality. Manufacturers caught on fast, however, and came out with models aimed (and priced) at this high-end market. Many pros use special Hi8 models that offer many more features than consumer versions, yet consumer-level Hi8 gear often shows up in the camera bags of wedding videographers and other prosumers.
Consumers will be the beneficiaries of the growing popularity of the Hi8 movement as manufacturers pass cost savings on to buyers. Several units in this year’s guide dip below the $1000 mark. And, with Canon’s introduction of the ES4000, at least one model with RCTC (Rewritable Consumer Time Code) has dropped below $1200. One feature that you won’t find on consumer models is PCM (pulse-code modulated) audio, which allows for audio insert dubbing. Only pro-models, starting at around $6000 (street price), offer it.
At almost half the price of comparable DV units, Hi8 camcorders will continue to be the choice for videographers looking for compact size, exceptional image quality, and a multitude of features at a price that’s kind to the wallet.