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How to determine what kind of video tapes you have?

Have you decided to give Carolina Custom Video a call and have us convert your video tapes over to DVDs?

Great idea! The longer your family’s home movies sit in storage, the better the odds of them starting to degrade or getting damaged. So let us help you preserve those video tapes and transfer them over to long lasting DVDs.

But what type of video tapes do you own? That is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. There are so many types of video tapes that have been used in the past, how do you know which type or types you have?

Mystery of the Universe

Don’t have any idea? What follows is some information to help give you an idea as which types of video tapes you may have.

The Big One: VHS

By far one of the most common tapes we see is VHS. If you had one of those heavy “sits on your shoulder” type of camcorder, and the tapes would go directly from the camera to playback on your VCR, very likely you’ve got VHS. While other tape lengths (ie T-30, T-160) were available, the most common length was the T-120, which ran 2 hours on SP. We also see them frequently in LP (four hours) or EP/SLP (6 hours). VHS tapes look like this:

video tapes - vhs tape

VHS-C: The Next Generation

People got tired of carrying around those big heavy sits on the shoulder camcorders, and started looking for something smaller. Enter VHS-C, the Compact VHS tape. The tape itself was the same size as the standard VHS, but there was just less of it per tape, only 20 or 30 minutes on SP, so the case that it came in was smaller. By how much? See below. That’s the VHS and it’s much smaller VHS-C cousin sitting on top. If you have these types of video tapes, and they’re on SP, we can usually fit 4 or 5 tapes onto a 2 hour DVD. However, a lot of the time we see VHS-Cs that have been recorded in the EP setting, meaning they could be as long as 90 minutes each, which completely changes how they can be consolidated when being transferred to DVD.

video tapes - VHS-VHSC

If you have one of these VHS-C adapters in your house, that is another good indicator that you have VHS-C video tapes. You’d need to have the adapter to be able to play the tapes in your standard VCR.

video tapes - vhs-c adapter

8mm video tapes:

[Important note: There are 8mm video tapes, and 8mm reel to reel film. This section is specifically pertaining to the 8mm video tapes. We also transfer 8mm film, please click here to see our information about 8mm reel to reel film transfer.]

8mm video tapes. They are labeled with many different names. 8mm. Video 8. Hi-8. Digital 8. All reference the same thing. Most 8mm tapes run 120 minutes when full, although if recorded in the higher quality digital format, Digital 8 tapes usually record a maximum of just one hour instead of two. Otherwise, for transfer purposes, they can be consolidated just like VHS tapes.

video tapes - 8mm

If you are old enough to remember when people still played music via audio cassette, an 8mm tape is approximately the same size as an audio cassette tape. If you are too young to remember that, here’s a comparison shot of the above VHS and VHS-C along with an 8mm tape.

video tapes - 8mm vhs-c vhs

While it is approximately the same length and width as a VHS-C tape, notice below that it is about half the height of the VHS-C.

video tapes - 8mm vhs-c

Mini-DV tapes:

The final type that we usually see are Mini-DV digital video tapes. These are very small tapes, about HALF the size of an 8mm tape, and usually run 60-63 minutes on SP when full. As such, we can usually transfer and consolidate at least two Mini-DV tapes on a single 2 hour DVD.

video tapes - Mini-DV


Still not sure what kind of video tapes you have?



video tapes - still confused

If you’ve read all this, and called us, and STILL are unsure of what type(s) of video tapes you have, just bring them in! Unless they’re Betamax (which w

e don’t get enough requests for to keep equipment for that here), or some unusual proprietary format, chances are very good that we’ll be able to transfer your video tapes onto

DVDs for you, regardless of which type of video tapes they are. 


So if you’ve finally decided to transfer all of your old home movies from video tapes to long lasting DVDs, please give Carolina Custom Video a call at 919-319-6888.