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Consumer video tape types Professional video tape comparisons
Betacam tape comparisons Video Tape size comparisons
DV tapes comparison Understanding PAL/NTSC and Region Code issues
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Popular Consumer Video Tapes

VHS tape
VHS-C tape
Using an adapter, it plays on
regular VCR player.
8mm 8mm
8 mm tape
Same size.
Hi8 Hi8
Hi 8 tape
Digital 8, NYC digital8, Digital8
Digital 8 tape
miniDV tape, NYC
mini DV tape
DV tape
mini DVCam tape and
standard size DV Cam tape
Micro video tape
Micro MV tape
very tiny video tape
BetaMax tape
Home Beta tape.
In '70's to '80s.
BetaSP tape
Pro / TV studio
U-matic tape
First Cassette Video Tape
TV studio, back in '70s.


About Hi8 tape

Back in '80s, Hi8 was introduced to compete with S-VHS system with 400 lines of horizontal resolution.
Therefore, Hi8 tapes are known to the highest analog video quality in the world. The luminance resolution of the video cassette was 420 horizontal lines (in digital terms, the resolution was 560 x 480).



Professional Video Tapes

3/4 Tape

It was among the first video formats to contain the videotape inside a cassette, as opposed to the various open-reel formats of the time
Two size:
Standard U-matic
U-Matic (20 minutes)
1/2 Tape

1980s - present

Betacam and BetacomSP
are analog formats.

HDCAM SR is used commonly
for HDTV television production.
Since 2007, many prime-time
network television shows use
HDCAM SR as a master
recording medium.

BetaCam (1982) Analog Two sizes:
Large ( up to 90 minutes )
Small (up to 30 minutes)

Color coded
Betacam SP

BetaCam SP (1986)
Digital BetaCam (1994) SD
Betacam SX(1996) Mpeg2
MPG IMX (2000) Mpeg2
HD Cam (1997) HD
HD Cam SR (2003) Mpeg4
Disc 2003 - present XD CAM Mpeg2 Professional Disc
XD CAM EX SxS memory card
DVCPRO Panasonic DVCPRO (25) SD Digital Three sizes
1/4 Tape
DV tape DV tapes comparison
Two sizes:
Mini DV



Video Tape Cassette Size comparisons

Betacam SP(L size) / VHS / BetaMax / Hi8mm / miniDV
VHS / U-matic
DVCPro family: DVCPro-L / DVCPro-M / Mini DV tape



Betacam Tape Color Coding


DV Tape Comparisons

Mini DV
Camcorder maker
many companies
Sony / Canon
Standard tape


Mini tape
Same tape is used for different recording systems.
You can't tell how the tape is recorded by just looking at it.
track pitch 10 microns(SP)
6.7 microns (LP)
15 microns 18 microns
track width 10 microns (SP)
6.7 microns (LP)
15 microns (10 microns on some early gear) 18 microns
tape speed 18.81 mm/sec 28.215 mm/sec 33.82 mm/sec
recording time miniDV:
60/90 min (SP/LP)
80/120 min (SP/LP)
Standard: 184 min
miniDV: 40 min
standard: 184 min
M: 63 min
L: 184 min
5:1 DVC-format DCT, intra-frame; 25 Mbps video data rate
resolution / sampling
720 x 480, 4:1:1 (NTSC)
720 x 576, 4:2:0 (PAL)
720 x 480, 4:1:1 (NTSC)
720 x 576, 4:1:1 (PAL)
audio recording 2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits;
4 ch @ 32 kHz, 12 bits;
2 ch @ 48 kHz, 16 bits; locked, plus one analog audio cue track; plays back 32 kHz, 12 bits and presumably 44.1 kHz, 16 bits.
play back on DV, DVCAM, & DVCPRO* DVCPRO VTRs; DSR-2000 DVCAM VTR**


* DVCAM will play back on most Sony DV camcorder.
DV in SP mode plays on all DV players.
There is no standard format for DV LP mode among manufactures.
** DVCPRO will not play on DV or DVCAM players.
JVC camcorders are DV Cam format (not DVCPro group), however, their unique HD format 720p can
only play back on JVC camcorder.


Understanding PAL / NTSC vs. Region Codes

All Region (Region Free) DVD does not mean it plays everywhere in the world.

There are two levels of restrictions on DVD video.
One is technical TV system called PAL vs. NTSC and another is from Hollywood called Region code..

First, the DVD format must match TV system that the DVD is played.
There are two basic TV systems in the world; PAL and NTSC, and these systems are not compatible each other.
Therefore a DVD must be formatted in either PAL or NTSC TV system to work properly.
There is no such DVD that plays everywhere in the world, because TV systems are different.
(All Region DVD does NOT mean that the DVD will play anywhere in the world - read below)

Second, among PAL or NTSC countries, there isa next level restriction called Region code.
This was created by Hollywood trying to make more money.
They inserted restrictions on their DVDs, making it difficult to sell internationally.
(Copy right is a whole other set of issues)
The Regional codes are talked only in the same TV system countries.

If the TV system is different (PAL vs. NTSC), the DVD video will not play anyway,
therefore no need to discuss the Regional code issue.


What does Region Free or All Region DVD video?
  "Region Free" aka "All Regions" DVD means that the DVD will play any counties as far as TV system is the same.
PAL Region Free DVD = it will play any PAL countries.
NTSC Region Free DVD = it will play any NTSC countries.

These is no such a DVD that will play all over the world, because DVD video must be in either PAL or NTSC.
PAL DVD does not play with NTSC TVs - the Regional code is discussed among the same TV system countries.

"All Region DVD" aka "Region code free DVD" does NOT mean that the DVD disc will play any countries in the world.
It only means it will play anywhere in the same TV system (either PAL or NTSC countries).

Examples on PAL / NTSC problems
US DVD does not work in Europe - because of the different TV systems.
In other word, NTSC DVD does not play in PAL countries.
A European DVD does not work in the US - because of the different TV systems.

Examples on Regional codes Austrian
DVD does not work in England (they are both in PAL)
Japanese DVD does not work in US (they are both in NTSC)


How about SECAM?

Unlike Video tapes, there is no SECAM DVDs, there is no SECAM DVD Players.
Only PAL or NTSC DVDs.


Does Blu-ray Disc have PAL/NTSC issue?

Blu-ray Disc has no PAL/NTSC issues.
Blu-ray Disc Player will out put proper signal according to the TV system that the disc is played.
(Even an HD TV system has PAL/NTSC issue - see below)

But Hollywood forced Region code restrictions again here.

Does HD TV have PAL / NTSC issue?

Even HD (High Def) TV is in either PAL or NTSC format.

Analog PAL TV: 625 lines, 50 fields/25 frames
Analog NTSC TV: 525 lines, 60 fields/30 frames.
HD TV PAL: 1080i = 50th of a second x 2, 1080p = 25th of a second.
HD TV NTSC: 1080i = 60th of a second x 2, 1080p = 30th second

Blu-ray player will adjust its out put signal according to the TV unit it is connected.



World TV system


World DVD regional codes



Does it apply to...
Region code restriction ?
Video Tape?
DVD disc on DVD player?
DVD disc on PC/Mac computer?
somewhat Yes (*1)
Digital Movie Files (MOV, MP4..)
somewhat Yes
(*1) Most internal DVD drive has region code restriction built in, but many external DVD drives have no region codes.

Video Tape has PAL/NTSC issue, but has no Region code problem.


DVD video has two issues, one is TV system (=PAL/NTSC) and other is Hollywood (=Region code)

There is no such DVD that will play on TV in all over the world, not because of regional restriction but because of the difference of TV systems.


Viewing on computers has nothing to do with PAL/NTSC TV system issues, but Region code issue might or might not occur, depends on the DVD device and/or driver setting.(note *1).

You can watch NTSC DVD in a country of PAL TV system, or you can enjoy PAL DVD on your PC/Mac in the US.


Digital Video file, such as MOV(Quick Time), MP4, WMV or DV can be watched on PC and Mac in anywhere in the world.
But it does not play on most DVD players


How to watch European, Asian or African movies in the US?

  PAL and SECAM Video Tapes (VHS, 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8, DV or mini DV tapes)

Convert PAL tape to NTSC DVD or other Digital Movie formats such as Quick time, WMV or MP4.

NTSC DVD will play on American DVD player, PC or Mac.
Digital files will play on PC, Mac or iDevices but not on DVD player.


  PAL DVD (= DVD in PAL format)
    Convert PAL DVD to NTSC DVD


Blu-ray Disc Region codes