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VHS -> DVD .... please help!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello 2 all,

I don't know if I posted this thread in the right place as I am new here. If I posted wrong, please (admin) move it were it belongs.

I've got some questions for the professionals and for the people that have experience in this kind of stuff.
So here it goes:

I want to transfer VHS tapes to DVD.

1. What's the best/one of the best (by best I mean to achieve the best quality) hardware/equipment to do that ?

From what I've searched on the internet there are a couple of ways to do it:

a. VHS/DVD recorder combo
From what I've red this is the easiest way to do it. But some of the people that used it complained about the quality of the DVDs.However, I know that some people expect their converted DVDs to be HD-like quality, so I don't know if the ones that gave bad reviews complained about something serious or about something that is imposible to achieve in the first place.
Also others complained that their VHS/DVD recorders didn't have TBC, so their DVDs had poor quality.

b. VHS player -> TBC -> DVD Recorder
I've red that hooking up your VHS player directly to your DVD recorder won't create good quality DVDs, but if you put a time base corrector between them, you will get good results.

c. VHS player -> Camcorder -> DVD Recorder / PC
Another option i found would be to connect your VHS player to your camcorder and your camcorder to your PC or DVD recorder.

d. VHS player -> Capture Card -> PC
And the last option that I've found would be to connect your VHS player to your PC.However here are two options:
d.1. capture card that you put in your desktop
d.2. USB DVD recorder (for example Dazzle, Roxio etc.)

If there are better ways to transfer VHS to DVD please tell me. If not which of these will give the best quality end result. PLEASE select them from best to worst, for example : In my opinion C A B D1 D2 ; C being the best quality end result and D2 being worst than the others.

2. From what I've searched on the internet one of the best way would be to buy a good capture card, connect your vhs player to your PC and then edit(improve) your video with some good software and then burn it to a DVD. However this takes a lot of time in comparison with popping in a VHS and a blank DVD in your VHS/DVD recorder.
Will the quality of the video between those 2 be noticeable by the normal everyday user ? Or will the differences be noticed only by a pro ? Because i saw a couple of VHS/DVD recorders (I don't know if they have TBC or not) that have very many positive reviews.

I have almost no experience in this field so please try to explain it to me as you would to a child biggrin.gif

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 14
Personally I'd suggest a Panasonic EH-59(DVDR w/250 GB HDD) to record your material and a decent VCR(preferably the one that did the recording) for your player. A TBC should not be necessary unless your tapes are CP'd(commercial) or very poor shape(multi-generation SLP/EP speed).
The Panasonic records good up to ~3hrs(preferably 2hrs 40 minutes) but does retain full resolution to LP(4hrs) although macroblocking becomes a issue on slower speeds.
A customer return EH-59 starts ~$250 and new they are ~$330, a Magnavox w/HDD is also an option, check Wajo's impressive sticky thread for lots of information on those.
A Pioneer w/HDD would probably be the ultimate because they allow tweaking of inputs for things like color and brightness but they are all but impossible to find and older ones tend to be picky about what media they like. The Panasonic and Magnavoxes will burn just about anything but I like to stick with AZO Verbatims or even Taiyo Yuden which are only available mail order.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/DVD-Players-Recorders/ci/15316/N/4294210544
Combos are more bother than worth although if purchasing new a combo VHS player DVD player may be all you can fine, I'd suggest a gently used quality used VCR which can be found for not much more than $20 from pawn shops and second hand shops.
Edited by jjeff - 7/7/13 at 11:16am
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
First of all thanks for the quick reply !

1. If I buy a VHS/DVD recorder combo for the VHS tapes playback to the HDD, will it be the same as if I buy a VHS player ? I mean will the quality of the playback be the same ? For the sake of this discussion, let's say their both brand new.

2. I've noticed that Panasonic (both DVD recorders and VHS/DVD recorders) are more expensive than the other brands + they have a lot of models.
Is Panasonic a little bit better than the other brands when it comes to this kind of stuff ? Or are the others (LG, Samsung, Toshiba, etc.) as good as Panasonic ?

Thanks!
post #4 of 14
The picture quality of combos is the same as separates, I have both and have never noticed a difference. Where separates are much nicer is that they have separate displays, combos almost always share a display between the VHS and DVD side, it gets confusing remembering if your monitoring the VHS or DVD side. The only combo that didn't suffer this limitation was the Panasonic ES-30v(I have 4) and with it's dual displays it made dubbing very easy, later Panasonic models(and all HDD models) lacked this very handy feature.
Of course if your tapes are S-VHS you'd be better off with a dedicated S-VHS player as no combos supported true S-VHS playback.
For your last question, I hadn't really noticed Panasonic were more expensive than a comparable name brand DVDR, of course no name brand models were cheaper but IMO you kind of got what you paid for. I tried many cheaper brands(and also LG, Samsung, JVC and Sony) but ended up keeping my Panasonics.
Note I don't really care for the later Panasonic models(begin with EZ) as they were kind of buggy and tended to fail early, I'm talking about the pre '07 ES/EH models. Older E series Panasonics while being quality machines lacked full resolution LP so I didn't keep them. They made fine SP recordings but most of the time I need more than 2hrs/DVD.
The old Toshiba made Toshibas(XS models) probably make even better recordings than Panasonic but they were very complicated and their burners tended to fail prematurely, Panasonics burners have proven to be quite reliable but do require periodic cleaning of the spindle(takes ~20 minutes and you do have to take the cover off the machine and drive).
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nameless 1 View Post

Is Panasonic a little bit better than the other brands when it comes to this kind of stuff ? Or are the others (LG, Samsung, Toshiba, etc.) as good as Panasonic

Panasonic makes their own recorders, although nowadays the international model (the EH model numbers) are the only ones still made, as I think production of the domestic models ended some time ago (and they were the EZ models without the hard drive anyway.)

Most of the other brands are actually made by a company called Funai. Funai also makes recorders under the Magnavox brand, though the hard drive model is about the only one worth purchasing due to the hard drive (and it's better built.) Everything else is a cheapo that I wouldn't bother with at this point. The DVD recorder market is pretty moribund.

The Panasonic and the Magnavox have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the basics of what you want to do, both will serve.

I'd buy a VHS/DVD player combo for playback (don't bother with a recorder) and a separate HDD equipped DVD recorder for hassle free (well, as hassle free as DVD authoring can get) dubbing.
post #6 of 14
nameless, what do you want to do? Yes, I read your goal, vhs to dvd. What is on the tapes? Complete performances, where each tape stands on its own, or some home and travel recordings, where you may want to combine elements from several tapes onto one dvd? Quality? If you have a tape recorded in EP mode, you ain't going to get digital quality dvd. See what I mean when I ask, What's on the tapes?

If you want to go one tape to one disc, no editting, it doesn't matter much what you get; anything that will copy. If you want to do any editting, KISS (Keep It Simple and Safe). I urge taking JJEFF's advice and get the Panasonic EH59. It has a hard drive (HDD) and the best-on-the-planet editting capability, powerful, (fairly) simple, and safe.

Note- what follows is WHAT, not HOW.

For editting, Panasonic provides a PLAYLIST feature. Let's assume you have 6 tapes (or 16) that you want to take scenes from. Load the tapes, real time copy VCR to DVD Recorder (EH59). Each tape becomes a TITLE on the HDD. Name them so you can keep track of them.

Now, suppose you want a "Birthday" dvd, where all the scenes are of various birthday parties.

Ditto, for "Chistmas" dvd.

DVD's by family.

So, on the EH59, tapes loaded and titles on the HDD, create a Playlist, bring the first title onto the playlist, mark the chapters you want to keep and delete the rest. (DELETE FROM THE PLAYLIST, NOT FROM THE SOURCE TITLE.) Gather from the rest of the titles in like manner. The Playlist is only a set of pointers to the Source Title, so takes up very little space on the HDD.

Ditto for the Christmas DVD.

Similar procedure for each family. You can use some of the same scenes that you've used before, Playlist doesn't mind. The beauty of the Playlist is that mistakes are not catastophic; at worst, you can always start the Playlist over. The Source title on the HDD remains unchanged.

To write to a dvd, make up a COPYLIST. Each Title and/or Playlist on the COPYLIST becomes a separate title on the dvd.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
95% are home and travel recordings. A little editing would be nice, but it's not a must. The Panasonic EH59 sounds great.
However would I get pretty much the same quality as with the Panasonic EH59 if I connect a JVC S-VHS HR-S9500E (with TBC) to a USB capture device (S-Video) and then run it through some software like virtualdub and then burn it to a DVD ?
I red somewhere that JVCs S-VHS with TBC are pretty good and I could get one for a while. But I would like your opinion about it first.

Thanks in advance!
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nameless 1 View Post

95% are home and travel recordings. A little editing would be nice, but it's not a must. The Panasonic EH59 sounds great.
However would I get pretty much the same quality as with the Panasonic EH59 if I connect a JVC S-VHS HR-S9500E (with TBC) to a USB capture device (S-Video) and then run it through some software like virtualdub and then burn it to a DVD ?
I red somewhere that JVCs S-VHS with TBC are pretty good and I could get one for a while. But I would like your opinion about it first.
PC capture devices are plentiful and range in price -- you will get what you pay for. The lower cost units you can find on-line or in discount stores that are bundled with video capture software (i.e. Dazzle, Roxio and the chinese no-names) are pretty dreadful. Make sure you buy from somewhere that will accept a return once the package has been opened and the software installed. If you are looking for quality captures, a quality USB capture device like the Hauppauge will cost you in the $150 range but will give very good results.

This is why most people (including me) recommend using a stand-alone DVD recorder for transferring VHS to DVD. After you have finished you can always use the DVDR for other recording tasks either OTA or from your cable box. Although you can also use a Hauppauge as a video recorder it will always need to be attached and run by a PC.

You can always use the DVDR for the capture then transfer the recording to your PC for editing and DVD authoring. Video ReDo is made for this and runs huge rings around any DVDR when it comes to editing, authoring and re-coding. When I was still in my DVD recorder days, I never edited anything on the deck -- everything was done on a PC.
post #9 of 14
For PC editting, I leave that to others and congratulate them. I had a bad experience on the PC back in 2002, discovered Panasonic's edit capability, and never looked back.

I do ALL my editting on the Panasonic for simplicity and speed. Granted, editting on the dvdr has a few limitations, the greatest inconvenience is not being able to overlay video and audio independently (without a horrible re-record process), plus cannot customize menus, and frame-accurate editting has its drawbacks. But I can accept these usually minor limitations in exchange for the speed and simplicity of the dvdr edit.

I record the church service each week and edit it down to the 58 minute 30 second broadcast slot on our lptv, so I get a pretty regular workout on editting.

I question how much or how noticeable difference there would be between VCR to DVDR to DVD vs VCR to PC to DVD. Has anyone done side-by-side comparisons? DVD quality? Time involved?

Listen to various opinions and take your choice. And have fun in the process.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardT View Post

I had a bad experience on the PC back in 2002, discovered Panasonic's edit capability, and never looked back.
Back in 2002, I suspect video editing on a PC was a bad experience in general. A lot has changed in 11 years and to the better. But I have no issue with editing on the deck if it meets your needs and the Panasonic editing capabilities certainly stand out.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nameless 1 View Post

95% are home and travel recordings. A little editing would be nice, but it's not a must. The Panasonic EH59 sounds great.
However would I get pretty much the same quality as with the Panasonic EH59 if I connect a JVC S-VHS HR-S9500E (with TBC) to a USB capture device (S-Video) and then run it through some software like virtualdub and then burn it to a DVD ?
I red somewhere that JVCs S-VHS with TBC are pretty good and I could get one for a while. But I would like your opinion about it first.

As Kelson said, everything hinges on the quality of the capture device if you go the PC route. Some are OK, some are lousy, a lot of the software is bad. Fine if you have the motivation and interest to sort that stuff out, but a chore if you're looking for instant gratification. If you don't really want to be bothered with a learning curve, go with the Panasonic EH59.

Re the JVC SVHS with TBC/DNR: you can use that with either a PC capture or the EH59 recorder. The improvements you might see depend on the tapes, and don't usually benefit personal camcorder videos all that much. The TBC/DNR can really fix up videos recorded from TV and esp older cable TV, and sometimes helps videos you may have dubbed from VHS to VHS years ago. Camera recordings are usually first generation and much better quality to begin with than anything you tape off television, so the JVC TBC/DNR is somewhat less effective at polishing those. If you can borrow one for free, you may as well try it and see if it gives you improved results. They are somewhat more helpful to PC capture than to recorder capture, as the PC is more finicky.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardT View Post

For PC editting, I leave that to others and congratulate them. I had a bad experience on the PC back in 2002, discovered Panasonic's edit capability, and never looked back.

Agreed. The PC is wonderful and far more flexible if you get it set up properly and like the tools / workflow. I don't like the PC workflow: I much prefer doing my editing on a large TV screen with a remote in my hand, directly on the recorder, avoiding multiple transfer and burning steps.

Quote:
I question how much or how noticeable difference there would be between VCR to DVDR to DVD vs VCR to PC to DVD. Has anyone done side-by-side comparisons? DVD quality? Time involved?

I've seen amazing results from people who really know what they're doing and are familiar with the PC software tweaks. Where things get tricky is when you decide you want a DVD as the end result: you can get some amazing VHS transfers to PC if you keep the dubs as PC video files, but as soon as you re-encode for the DVD standard some of that edge is lost. So depending on the inherent quality of your VHS tapes, you may or may not get noticeably better DVD results from a PC workflow over a Panasonic EH59. If you plan to keep both the PC file and the DVD copy, the PC route is definitely worth considering. But for most VHS, if all you want is a DVD copy the DVD/HDD recorder is a much easier path to the goal.

All of the PC-based VHS transfers I've seen that were really impressive entailed a lot of tweaking in tools like AviSynth, not the easiest software in the world to get a handle on. Simple work if its your hobby, time consuming for the newbie or casual archivist. If the camcorder tapes are personal (weddings, family events) and you don't have too many of them, it may well be worth studying up on AviSynth and other PC tools to get the best possible digital capture. For business or church recordings that are basically just video documents, a DVD/HDD recorder is sufficient unless you've had a pro installer set you up with a nice PC system with direct multicamera capture.

I think the PC workflow is far more worth it for HD video, where you aren't generally dealing with crap video quality that needs so much tweaking to even digitize acceptably in the first place. VHS is just crummy looking on modern TVs, you can tweak it for months on a PC and all you're really going to accomplish is different variations on how bad it looks. To me, it isn't worth all that trouble: I've decided to accept VHS for what it is, and use DVD/HDD recorders to get faster transfers done. If I was working in HD, I'd be doing everything Kelson recommends in his many informative posts on the subject.
Edited by CitiBear - 7/12/13 at 12:11pm
post #12 of 14
Quote:
The PC is wonderful and far more flexible if you get it set up properly and like the tools / workflow. I don't like the PC workflow: I much prefer doing my editing on a large TV screen with a remote in my hand, directly on the recorder, avoiding multiple transfer and burning steps.

I have to agree with this, but I also want to add that the wallclock time and personal effort to get each DVD "right" on a PC, because of its great flexibility and capability, can be much greater than the time required to do a less polished but similar (quite functional) result using something like the EH59.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
I decided to go for a Panasonic DVD HDD recorder.

I red good reviews about the Panasonic EH59, however they are very hard to find. I only found 1 and the guy wanted 115$.
Aren't there other Panasonic DVD/HDD recorders (for example EH56 or EH65 ) as good or better than the EH59. Or is this one of the best that I can get ?

Do JVC DVD/HDD recorders have the same capabilities like Panasonic. Or are Panasonic better ?
post #14 of 14
Almost new EH-59s regularly go for $250 at B&H Photo as customer returns, $115 is a steal for a working EH-59, never heard of the other two Panasonics you mentioned but if they are pre '05 they aren't likely to have full resolution LP, if thats important to you.
I'm fine with older(post '04) Panasonics but they may lack HDMI if thats important. Apparently the old HDD JVC DVDRs were good but they are known to be quite unreliable, I've never used a old JVC and did see a JVC VHS/DVD/HDD model for sale but passed due to all the posts of people complaining how quickly they broke down. For the most part older Panasonics are very reliable and only need the occasional spindle cleaning or the old ones had the occasional bad capacitor issue.
If the EH-59 for $115 is in decent shape I'd snap it up, if not B&H currently has several like new customer returns starting at $250.
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