Analog transfer via S-video vs. mini-jack from Hi8 source: How much quality loss?

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Mar 18, 2005, 2:32:17 PM3/18/05
I've a question on video signal degradation when transferring analog
video output via a mini-jack A/V cable vs. an S-video cable.I'm rather
hoping Steve McDonald will see this and post a response, based on the
quote from a Jan 2005 message of his he knows this domain rather well!

Here's the specific question:

How much quality is lost when a @1998 SONY Hi8 analog camcorder
transfers Hi8 output with a high-quality (Monster $40) RGB RCA (3
component) to mini-video jack cable VERSUS a high quality S-video cable
with a separate audio-only RCA to mini-jack cable?

Here's the background if needed:

I have a @ 7 yo SONY analog Hi-8 camcorder with S-video I/O. I just
bought a Canon Elura 90. I have 30 days to return the Elura if I want
something else.

Here's the problem. The 2005 Elura 90s don't have S-video input/output.
They use an all-in-one mini-jack connector for analog I/O -- similar to
what digital cameras use.

One of the main things I want the Elura to do is reasonably high
quality conversion of my legacy Hi-8 tapes to digital format. I'll then
edit the digital tapes over time on my purchase-pending G5 iMac and
burn DVDs to archive.

john faughnan

meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, digital video, Canon, SONY, passthrough,
pass-through, A/D conversion, video editing, Hi 8, Hi8


Steve McDonald wrote:

> ... Although S-Video equipped VCRs have a lower band of recording
> frequency for the chroma sub-carrier and a higher band for the
> portion, the signal comes off the medium in composite form and then
> separated into two circuits to be output on an S-Video connector.
> Composite-only equipped VHS, 8mm and consumer Beta VCRs work the same
> way, but don't separate the two portions before they are output.
> also use the same "color-under" chroma sub-carrier and higher
> recording frequency system. You will note that a standard VHS
> can be played on an S-VHS VCR and output as an S-Video signal, as
> as in composite form and an S-VHS recording playback can be output as
> either an S-Video or composite signal.
> S-VHS, Hi-8 and ED-Beta VCRs don't record a signal as "S-Video"
> tape. S-Video exists only as a transfer protocol on connecting
> circuits, except in a TV set with an S-Video input. There the signal
> remains as separate chroma and luma, for processing and onscreen
> display. If a TV receives a composite signal, it is separated into
> chroma and luma, as part of its pre-display process. The only
> of S-Video, is to keep the chroma and luma separate during the
> and this reduces the "crosstalk" or interference between the two
> frequency segments. This allows for more pure and richer color
> transfer, but it's only a relative benefit, not an absolute one.

> It appears that in most or perhaps all cases, component signal
> converters send a better video image than either S-Video or composite
> protocols will do..
> There are professional analog component recording formats, such
> BetaCam and M2, that have two separate recording tracks, one for
> and one for luma. With most digital video formats, it's all encoded
> into a single recording track.
> Equipment that has component outputs separates the output signal
> into three chroma circuits for RGB; the luma signal is derived and
> reconstituted from them in the unit to which they are sent.
> Steve McDonald


Mar 18, 2005, 2:53:11 PM3/18/05

I wrote:

How much quality is lost when a @1998 SONY Hi8 analog camcorder
transfers Hi8 output with a high-quality (Monster $40) RGB RCA (3
component) to mini-video jack cable VERSUS a high quality S-video cable
with a separate audio-only RCA to mini-jack cable?

The RCA output is NOT RGB. It's video and two audio. May apologies.

So this should read:

How much quality is lost when a @1998 SONY Hi8 analog camcorder

transfers Hi8 output with a high-quality (Monster $40) RCA (1 video
composite, 2 audio) to mini-video jack cable VERSUS a high quality


Mar 18, 2005, 3:19:32 PM3/18/05
There are a lot of factors involved but, all things being equal, go with the
s-video connector.

The most graphic demonstration I've had of the difference was a Sony
Playstation hooked to a 32" Sony XBR TV, first with RCA jacks then with the
Absolute night and day difference. The RCA seemed messy in comparison with
the s-video, almost smudged.

Try both hooked up to a TV and switch between them. I'd be surprised if you
ever used the RCA jack again when you can avoid it.


"jfaughnan" <> wrote in message


Mar 18, 2005, 4:35:57 PM3/18/05
You've convinced me! I'll return the Elura 90 and get a camera with S
video input.

Another correspondent kindly sent a list of resolutions related to
video media. This isn't directly related to the issue of using the
S-video vs. mini-jack/composite video connectors, but it does show that
when one has recorded in Hi8 there's a lot to lose with an inferior
output solution. If VHS is comparable to 8mm, the jump from VHS to Hi8
is comparable in magnitude to the jump from Digital camcorder to HDTV.

The following list provides maximum playback resolution for different
camcorder video sources:

8MM - Up To 240 Lines of Resolution
8MM XR - Up To 280 Lines of Resolution

Hi-8 - Up To 400 Lines of Resolution
Hi-8 XR - Up To 440 Lines of Resolution
D8 (Digital 8) - Up To 500 Lines of Resolution
Mini DV - Up To 530 Lines of Resolution

High Definition - Up To 1080 Interlaced Lines of Resolution

Steve McDonald

Mar 19, 2005, 6:42:25 AM3/19/05

I sent a personal reply on this to jfaughnan. He can share it if
he likes. In brief, I vote for S-Video for this transfer purpose.

Steve McDonald


Mar 19, 2005, 9:34:03 AM3/19/05
Steve's email message may have been zapped by my spamcop filters. I've
sent him a different email address to use and if he's able to resend
I'll post here.

I'm also summarizing this discussion on my blog, so it will have an
update too:

John Faughnan

Mar 19, 2005, 6:22:17 PM3/19/05
Below are excerpts from Steve's. Other than the value of S-video, he
urges the use of very short connectors. He has one composite plug cable
that's only 4 inches long!

.... If you want to do a lot of conversions with your new
camcorder, there would be a noticeable weakening of the colors with an
RCA composite connector....

...Myself, I wouldn't settle for anything other than S-Video for
transfering my Hi-8 recordings and I've been doing plenty of that. I'm
very pleased how well my old analog metal tapes have held up and how
good the images look when put on digital tape.

If you do use composite to transfer the Hi-8 footage, a
high-quality video cord, that is as short as possible, would be best.
wouldn't use an audio cord, even though it would match the connectors
and work, as they usually don't have wires that are as thick or
well-shielded as those intended for video...

... One of my Sony 4-pin composite video/audio plugs has just 4-inch
that end in female inline jacks, for connecting with separate composite
and audio cords.

Apr 4, 2005, 8:04:21 PM4/4/05
The easiest way to compare: send both signals to the monitor.
Technically S-Video connection was invented as something in between
composite (one cable) and component (3 cables) types of connection. You
actually have 2 cables in one S-Video cord. One is used for the
Luminance (brighter-darker) signal, second is for color information.
Presumably the signal loss is less with S-Video compare to RCA, since
you don't have to mix two signals on one end and separate them on the

FAQ Video,

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