How to Transfer 8mm and Hi8 Video Tapes to DVD or VHS

What to do with your old 8mm and Hi8 camcorder video tapes

What to Know

  • Connect the camcorder to a VCR/DVD recorder.
  • Or connect the camcorder to an analog-to-digital video converter, and connect this to a computer with a DVD drive.
  • In both cases, record to the target media as the source plays.

This article cover two methods for transferring 8mm and Hi8 videotapes to DVD or VHS.

How to Copy Camcorder Tapes to VHS or DVD

Copying your camcorder tapes to a more current format preserves your footage more reliably and allows you to edit it.

An illustration of a camcorder connected to a laptop PC.
  1. Plug the camcorder directly into the VCR or DVD recorder and not the TV.

  2. Using the input select button on the VCR or DVD recorderremote or front of the VCR or DVD recorder switch from the tuner to its AV inputs (usually colored yellow for video, and red/white for audio) in order get the signal from those inputs to record on tape.

    Some VCRs allow access to the AV inputs by changing the channel selection up or down until you reach AV, line, or video in. If your VCR or DVD recorder has video inputs on the front and back of the VCR, the back inputs would be line one, AV1, Aux1, or video 1 and the front inputs would be line 2, AV2, Aux2, or video 2.

  3. Plug the camcorder's audio/video cables from its AV outputs to the AV inputs on the front or back of the VCR or DVD recorder.

    Presidian DVD Recorder with Yaschica Hi8 Camcorder
    Lifewire / Robert Silva
  4. Switch the VCR or DVD recorder to AV-in, Line-in, or Aux in (depends on brand) from the input or source select button on the remote or on the recorder.

  5. Put the tape to be copied to VHS or DVD in the Camcorder, and put a blank tape in the VCR or a blank DVD in the DVD recorder.

  6. Press record on the VCR or DVD recorder then press play on the Camcorder. This will enable you to copy your tape.

    The reason you need to press record on the VCR or DVD recorder first is that it may take a few seconds for the VCR or DVD recorder to start the recording process.

    You can watch your tape on TV at the same time it is being copied. Just leave the TV set on the channel or input that you normally do when watching a videotape or DVD.

  7. When recording is done, stop the VCR or DVD recorder and the camcorder.

  8. After confirming you are able to play back the copy, (make sure your TV is set to the channel or input you normally watch your VCR on) change your VCR back to its tuner so you can record regular TV shows later.

For additional tips, consult your camcorder, VCR, or DVD recorder user guide. There should be a page on how copying tapes from a camcorder, copying from one VCR to another, or from a VCR to a DVD recorder.

Copy Tapes to DVD Using a PC or Laptop

In 2016, the production of new VCRs was officially discontinued. Also, DVD Recorders are very rare. However, some DVD Recorders and DVD Recorder/VHS VCR Combinations may still be available (new or used).

Another alternative is to make copies of your tapes on DVD using a PC or Laptop. This is done by connecting the camcorder to an analog-to-digital video converter, which, in turn, connects to a PC (usually via USB).

What to Do If You No Longer Have an 8mm or Hi8 Camcorder

Unfortunately, you can't buy an adapter to play your 8mm or Hi8 tapes in a VCR. Instead, consider the following options:

  • Option 1 — Borrow a Hi8/8mm camcorder from a friend or relative for temporary use (Free — if you have access to one).
  • Option 2 — Buy an inexpensive HI8 (or a Digital8 camcorder that has the ability to also playback analog Hi8 and 8mm) camcorder or MiniDV camcorder to play your tapes back. Check Amazon or eBay for used units.
  • Option 3 — Take your tapes to a video duplicator and have them transferred to DVD professionally (can be expensive, depending on how many tapes are involved). Have the service make a DVD copy of one or two of your tapes. If the DVD is playable on your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player (you might try it on several to make sure), it might be worth having the service make copies of all your tapes.

Options 1 or 2 are the most practical and cost-effective. Also, at this point, transfer tapes to DVD and not VHS. You could do both if needed. If you have them transferred to DVD by a service, have them do one, and then test it to make sure it plays on your DVD player. If all goes well, you can then decide whether to have your remaining tapes transferred using this option.

How to Watch Your Tapes

If you have a working 8mm/Hi8 camcorder, watch your tapes by plugging its AV output connections into the corresponding TV inputs. Then, select the correct input on the TV and press play on your camcorder.

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