I know it's 2020 but I still have a few VHS tapes to digitise.

I do not expect the picture quality to be necessarily good enough to worry about this question. Still, I would hate to lose any tiny little bit of the quality just because I choose my analog gear inferior to what I could have chosen. This is a one-off task and I want to be sure I could not do it any better.

That said, I do not have any VCR for this task yet. I am just about to figure out what to look for.

I have done a little bit of research to find out what analog connectors are there and which ones are capable of carrying which quality. It looks like component and RGB standards/connectors are the best ones (as opposed to S-video and composite).

Assuming that the VHS tape record is still very good (no big chances, but let's assume), would the picture quality benefit from component/RGB connectors at all? Should I be looking for a VCR that has these outputs?


Component Y/Pb/Pr is better than both S-video and composite. It supports higher resolution, and progressive scan (480p,720p,1080p). The Y is luminance and sync signaling, the Pb is blue minus, and the Pr is red minus. Since its progressive, it uses more bandwidth than the former's.

It's easy to get "component" mixed up for "composite"/"rca". Component is the Red/Blue/Green cables, composite (or RCA) is the Yellow/Red/White cables.

The S-video and composite were made for standard definition video, which is lower resolution interlaced, as opposed to progressive. interlaced video has less bandwidth needs.

Normally you would use Component when you have it available over composite and s-video alternatives, but don't yet have HDMI capabilities.

If you can use HDMI, it is better than component, since HDMI is digital, component is not.

VCR's The goodwill I found is one good source for VCR's. The Time-sync ones, which you need, are about $400. Too expensive, when you can get a scaler that has the same frame correction features in it on evil bay for cheaper. I got one used for $45 (Extron System 7SC, uses Composite, up to 1080p). The VCR isn't as important as its head is in good alignment (take the cover off and adjust it if not) and VCR has more than a few decent heads on it.

Logically, if you can snatch a good deal on a VCR that has component, then make sure your scaler (or cap card if not using one) has component input. Scaler's with HDMI aren't really useful for VCR capture IMO. Im also not sure the component ones are in fact either, since its possible that somehow they have upconverted the signal to make it component, which you can just eliminate, and run it straight into your scaler with svideo or composite.

Out of the scaler it can be scaled up 720p/1080p for raw capture. So if your capture card has component in, then make sure the scaler has component out. I'm still a bit yellow in the area if the RGBHV on the back of my scaler can be converted to Y/Pb/Pr easily or not, im not sure. Im testing instead using composite out of scaler, to composite in to USB capture. The results are maybe more low light detail than the S-video signal, so it has its benefits.

Look for one that takes care of the frame corrections for you, so that you wont have sync issues, when you capture (VirtualDub/HuffYUV I assume?)

  • I got my stuff dialed in. ended up going out of Toshiba w614 vcr yellow composite -> extron 7sc via bnc adapter in, set scaler to 480p 60hz output, then VGA (RGB) out -> capture card via VGA-DVI adapter. I purchased a Datapath Vision RGB E1, which is pcie4(without backing plate yes), DVI (non digital) in. perfect for RGB capture from the upscaled extron RGB output. You dont really want to upscale in vdub anyway, let your hardware do it on playback. large devices, e.g. 4k tv, can upscale it from there. I still have some capture timing issues, but they dont seem vcr frame related now. – Brian Thomas May 4 at 20:28

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