8 is Enough

When it boils down to affordability and high quality video, like-minded amateur videographers and budget-conscious professionals turn to the 8mm and Hi8 formats. 8mm’s affordable price tag and Hi8’s superior resolution make them attractive formats for both for hobbyist’s and prosumers alike. This year we look at 11 Hi8 and 27 8mm camcorders in this buyer’s guide.

8mm camcorders are now incredibly affordable. Hitachi and Samsung both have 8mm models priced under $400. For $400 though, you don’t get important options like image stabilization or an external microphone jack. Although 8mm camcorders do not offer the resolution of Hi8, they are definitely the best choice for ultra-low-cost video. In fact, 8mm has become so popular that the full-size standard VHS format is in danger of extinction.

Hi8’s prices are also falling as fast as retailers can mark them down. Sony’s CCD-TR940 Hi8 camcorder is priced under $800, but at that price you sacrifice features such as an LCD screen. The better equipped Hi8 camcorders still retail for more than a $1000. Canon’s ES4000 with Rewritable Consumer Time Code (RCTC) is still $1199, while Sony’s RCTC Hi8 camcorder (The CCD-TRV99) costs $1399. This year’s developments contain some exciting additions, so let’s take a look at 1998’s 8mm and Hi8 models.


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Explanation of Feature


Magnification through optical lens. Digital zoom ratios are in

Maximum shutter speed

Denotes highest or fastest setting possible.

Image stabilization

Electronic (E) or optical (O) stabilization of video image to
cure minor camera shaking.

Manual focus

Allows manual focus control.

Manual white balance

Allows manual control of white balance.

Manual iris

Allows manual control of iris.

Manual shutter speed

Allows manual control of shutter speed.

Mike input

Allows use of an external microphone.

Headphone jack

Allows user to monitor audio through headphones.

Program mode

Number of preset auto exposure modes. A=automatic; camcorder circuitry
automatically controls exposure.

Lens f-stop

Ability of a lens to gather light. A smaller value indicates a
"faster" lens (one that collects more light).

RCTC (Rewritable Consumer
Time Code)
RCTC time code.

Editing protocol

L=Control-L or LANC; S=Control-S, pause or Synchro Edit; M=Panasonic
5-pin or Control-M

Auto fade

To black or white.


Gross number of pixels on CCD imager.

Character generator

Superimposes alphanumeric titles over video image.

Digital effects

Indicates if digital effects are included–mirror, strobe, freeze
frame, mosaic, etc.

Edit Controller

Allows the camcorder to create edit decision lists and control
a recording VCR.


B/W=black and white; Color=color LCD.

Video light

Supplied DC lamp enhances images in low-light situations.

Hi8 and 8mm Camcorder Manufacturers







Samsung Electronics



Sharp Electronics



Sony Electronics



Thomson Consumer Electronics (RCA brand)



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