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Is there any difference between a VHS cassette that is  labelled High Quality HQ and one that is marked High Grade?   Which is the best  of the two and how do I distinguish a good cassette from  a poor quality one without having to compare prices?

Please bear in mind that we do not have the PRO grade cassettes that you have over there.

D. S. Magagula

Manzini, Swaziland



Apart from sticking to the well-known brands there is no simple way of determining blank tape quality. Video tape is a bit like washing powder, with all sorts of trick additives and formulations and unfortunately there is no agreed grading structure so we have the situation where some 'standard grade' tapes are better than anothers 'high-grade' product.  The best advice we can give is to take a look at the tape surveys we conducted in the August, September and October issues, which should give you a better idea of what's available from the major brands, most of whom, we understand, distribute their products in your neck of the woods.




The  manual  for  my  Hitachi  VM-C1E  camcorder  explains  that amorphous  heads  provide  a clearer picture and  also  that  the flying  erase  head eliminates glitches and  rainbow  noise  that occurs at the joints between recordings. Except for some accidental switching  from  SP to LP mode, all in-camcorder  scene-to-scene joins have been flawless as promised.


I expected glitch free joins during editing too,  although  there would  occasionally be a rainbow shimmer,  hose-piping  its way  from  top to bottom of the recording, taking several seconds to clear.   I've always ensured that a video about to  be copied  is up and running before releasing pause on the  NV-L25B.  This effect doesn't happen at every edit point,  but occurs  when least expected.


I  don't know if it matters that I haven't two Panasonic  NV-L25B VCRs and can't at the moment make my NV-L25B the copying  machine so as to utilise its 'edit' facility.   Is there an editing ploy I'm as yet unaware of, or is the heavy rainbowing on the incoming video  signal  inevitable  with  any  manually  operated  editing arrangement?  

Can you suggest a possible cure for this manifestation,  or is it a universal nuisance?      

A. G. Scupham

Edinburgh 8



The most likely cause of the rainbow effect is vestiges of a previous recording on the tape you're recording to, that is not being completely erased by your VCR, it has nothing to do with your camcorder. When you edit or copy your recordings use a fresh blank tape and your rainbows should disappear forever.




When  I  purchased a Ricoh 315 8mm video camera last year I was told it was a clone of the Sony 305. I was quite happy with this statement;  however since then I have seen  many  references to other clones of the Sony 305  -  Nikon, Yashica etc., but never a mention of the Ricoh 315. I also have a Sony 815 VCR which is superb but I'm having difficulty with the insert edit.  Only once have I managed to make an insert edit without losing the original sound track.  However, since the first time,  I've been unable to repeat this.  Is this just a fluke? Lastly,  can  I  Audio Dub with this machine without  losing  the original sound track?


G. Osborne

Stoke on Trent, Staffs



Richo-badged Sony machines, like the others you mention, are mainly distributed through photographic dealers; we do sometimes give clones a brief mention in our Buyers Guide but only when we know about them, and we have to say some of those camera manufacturers are not very good at telling us about their products. As far as the reviews are concerned, we normally look at the original machine, which usually goes on sale some time before the badge-engineered or cloned versions. The insert edit facility on the 815 should only replace the video and stereo hi-fi soundtracks, leaving the linear audio track intact, if it doesn't there's something wrong with it. Are you sure you're not listening to the hi-fi tracks when you replay your recording, which are selected by default? To hear the linear audio track you have to manually select it, using the audio monitor button on the remote handset. Audio dub works the other way around, allowing you to record a new  the mono linear audio track, without affecting the video and hi-fi tracks, which contain the original sound.




I have a Sanyo VM-D66P camcorder and Saisho VR1200 VCR. To this I've added a Sony RM-E33F editor and a Hama VM-518 audio  mixer.  These are all connected up using the AV input terminals  on  the VCR. After a short period of editing (and the edited version is being recorded) the sound and colour will disappear.   The image on the monitor  looks like two 3D images out of sync:  it's almost  like fast forward only at normal play speed! On  playback the flickering image reappears but not only in the place  where it appeared during editing!   When the same tape  is played on other VCRs there is nothing wrong with the recording.  I have had the VCR checked by engineers who assure me there is no apparent  reason for these occurrences.   Have you heard  of  this type of problem before and have you any possible explanations?   I don't know what to change - should I take up knitting instead?

A. Wilson

Orton Brimbles,




Assuming that the VCR's recording facilities check out, and the fact that edited tapes are allright seems to confirm this, then the fault must lie somewhere between the VCR's video output circuitry and the TV/monitor itself. You can easily check this for yourself by substituting another TV. If it happens again suspect the VCR, if not the TV is at fault. If that doesn't solve the problem knitting is indeed a rewarding and therapeutic alternative to video movie-making.




The equipment I am using is as follows: Panasonic NV-370 VHS video recorder  (as  the  recording  machine);   Ferguson  FV51R  Video recorder  as the playback machine and a JVC GRAX2  camcorder.   I have experienced two problems which I hope you can help me with.


When dubbing from the camcorder tape to a VHS tape there is  some loss  of definition of features and noise on the soundtrack which is not on the original camcorder tape.  Can you help me get rid of the noise which sounds as if I've  recorded the mechanical sound  of  the video recorder or the camcorder  cassette  adaptor (JVC CP6U)?

G. Griffiths

Shirley, Solihull



There will always be some loss of definition when you copy or edit a recording from one machine to another, the amount of degradation varies according to the performance and condition of the two machines, and the quality of tape you are using. Under ideal conditions the drop in quality on a second generation recording is hardly noticeable. Your machines are all getting on a bit now but it may just be that they need a couple of run-throughs with a good cleaner tape to bring them back up scratch.


The noise on the soundtrack is a mystery, it won't be the actual 'sound', of the adaptor but it could have something to do with it, if the mechanicals are worn or there's excessive friction, for example, which could affect the smooth running of the tape. The first step is to make a tape to tape copy, without the adaptor; if the sound persists then check the playback on the FV51 through a TV, if you can't hear the noise then it's almost certainly being generated by the Panasonic machine's recording circuitry and it needs expert help.




As a real greenhorn to video perhaps you can help me. I rent a Finlandia TV,  model C/D51LS2/B and the instruction book states that if you want to connect an S-VHS video  recorder  via the SCART socket,  you need to insert special code 21 to get  the best  results.   Does this mean I can connect a V600 Hi8 via a  4 pin mini DIN to a Scart lead and will I get a better picture?

D. Price

Ashford Carbonell, Nr. Ludlow



This set, which is manufactured by Sanyo, has what is known as a configurable SCART AV socket. Entering the digits 21, after pressing the 'status' button in the set-up menu,  changes the socket over from composite to Y/C or S-Video input. This does indeed mean that you will get the best from your Hi8 camcorder.




I  have a Panasonic S-VHS MS1 but have  difficulty  when  insert editing in making a clean join.  I have practised pressing the counter memory button at various points but it does not appear to be  consistent in stopping at the point selected,  resulting in unacceptable joins. I  would  also like to progress to editing my tapes but am at a loss with all this modern jargon: can you recommend a really good book that will explain it all in simple language?

G. Gill

Ballindalloch, Banffshire



It may be that you're expecting too much from this facility. Insert edit on your machine uses the real-time tape counter to designate the edit in and out points. The counter isn't especially reliable to start with as the readout doesn't relate to what's actually on the tape, so any slippage when you stop, start or fast wind the tape, can cause timing errors, and the fact that the counter is calibrated in seconds means that accuracy can never be better than plus or minus one second. Sorry about the 'modern jargon' but you're going to have to learn to live with it, if you want to progress in your video movie-making, you'll soon pick it up. We're a little reluctant to recommend books as they tend to go out of date very quickly, a good argument for sticking with us for the latest, up to the minute information, but if pressed you could try the Camcorder Handbook, written by Steve Parker, or wait a couple of months for XXX XXXXXX XXXXX , written by our own illustrious editor Chris George, which is published in XXXXXX.



As  a complete novice with a Sanyo VM-D9P  8mm  camcorder,  Baird VC121E  VCR  and a Ferguson Videostar FV 32L VCR (none  of  which appear to have Audio Dub) I would be grateful of you could advise which  editing machine would most suit my needs which include  the occasional  wedding,  adding  music and  re-arranging  scenes  if possible.


One other thing ,  which I failed to notice prior to  purchasing, is  that  the Sanyo doesn't have an external  microphone  socket.  This seems to be a big disadvantage: is there any way to overcome this or should I be thinking about an alternative model?

Tim Makin




If all you want is an audio dub facility there's plenty of good VCRs to choose from but if you want to do some serious editing you might want to think about replacing your camcorder for one with an edit terminal, so it can be used with an edit controller. There's two types to look out for, the 5-Pin or RMC socket fitted to a number of Panasonic machines, (and clones marketed by Philips and Blaupunkt); the alternative is the Control L or LANC socket used on all Sony machines, a couple of Canon's top end models and one current Sanyo camcorder. The second option is to get a machine with an on-board assemble edit controller;  there's two on the market at the moment, the JVC AX55 (it's an optional extra on the AX35), and the Sanyo EX30 (which also has a Control L socket), both machines can only handle a limited number of scenes but they're convenient and very easy to use.  Make sure that whatever machine you buy also has an external microphone socket, as there's nothing much you can about the absence of one on your present camcorder.




For the past few years I've been using an Atari ST computer  with reasonable success to title my videos.  This is somewhat limited, so the time has come to upgrade.

Your magazine seems always to refer to the Amiga as the  ultimate answer.   I'd also like to incorporate editing from the  computer but have never seen any reviews of Amiga editing software.


The cost of the A1200 plus hard drive and monitor seems to equate  to the cost of a PC;  the latter would seem at this stage to be  the better  buy  -  your advice would  be  appreciated.   My  current equipment is a Panasonic MS1,  JVC GRS70,  Panasonic FS90,  Atari STFM, Panasonic NV L25 and a Philips monitor.

D. Hutchins

Rayleigh, Essex



To date the Atari ST hasn't been an especially camcorder friendly computer but recently a couple of low-cost genlocks have come onto the market, suitable for use with the ST series. These allow you to mix text and graphics generated on your computer, with the video signal from your camcorder. They're the Vine Multigen and Hama Trilock, both of which cost around 360, that's cheaper than a new PC or Amiga, and you won't have to junk your Atari. If you're determined to get a new computer then it might pay you wait a little longer, the prices of IBM PCs and compatibles are still falling, and there's a growing number of new editing and titling software packages coming onto the market, as well as current favourites, like Video Director and PC Titler.




Rather  than  writing  letters I much prefer to wait to see if someone else has the same problems as I have, or wants to ask the questions that I do. However I feel I cannot wait any longer and would like to ask your advice on editing.  I read your articles each month and find them interesting.   But the more I read, the more confused I get.   I can't decide which editing set up would suit me best, either an editing machine with add-ons,  or to purchase hard and software for my computer or purchase the Amiga system.


Could  you please advise me on same if possible with  prices.   I could stretch my pocket to spend around 500.  My palmcorder is a Canon UC1 Hi8 and the computer an Amstrad PC3286.

David Brearley



The Video Director editing software package from Gold Disk would make the most efficient use of your present set-up, and as it costs around 180 you would have plenty of money left over from your 500 budget to purchase some post production equipment, like an audio mixer and video processor.




I required a spare 8mm tape and following your report purchased a TDK P5 8mm 90 minute EHG at 7.25. Instead  of being housed in a hard plastic case it was in a  soft plastic sleeve.  Is this the best protection?


I  rang TDK and was informed that all their tapes are now  packed in this way and my complaint would be passed on.

What are your comments please?

J. Hayden

Old Portsmouth, Hants



We quite like the new style slip cases, which do a good job of keeping dirt and other harmful contaminants away from the tape, and they're a lot smaller and easier to carry. In any case 8mm cassettes are surprisingly tough, and the tape is very well protected. Plastic cases give a little extra mechanical protection but not much; if you are concerned about damaging your tapes then how about Sony's 'Sports' or 'Traveller' tapes which come with their own hard carry cases.




I've  just purchased the JVC GR-M7 and the manual refers  to  VHS Index  Search System (VISS), how convenient it is for dubbing or editing on VCRs with an Index Search function.


Can you please explain in more detail?

M. Virgo

Hinckley, Leics



The index markers recorded by your camcorder are helpful for locating the start of a new recording, or finding a specific part of a recording if you make a manual index mark when recording but they're not much use for editing as they're not accurate enough, and cannot be spaced closely together. The actual marker is a series of modified control track pulses, recorded along the edge of the tape, which can be read when the tape is being fast wound




I  would like to know if I can use a Y aerial socket  to  connect two camcorders to my VCR without any damage to either.  My VCR is a Panasonic G45 and the camcorders are a Canon E250 and Panasonic MS2.

D. Ormiston

South Queensferry



You could try, and it won't cause any damage,  but I suspect there's going to be an awful lot of interference, caused by the two RF converters interacting with each other, and if you plan to record the signal, (assuming you can sort out the tuning) then the picture quality will be poor. You would be better off connecting  the AV outputs from your camcorders to a switch box, or AV processor with two or more switchable inputs, and connecting the output to the AV input of your VCR.



R.Maybury 1993 0109


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