Best VCR for video capture

What would be a good VCR to buy/use to capture VHS tapes to computer?Am only using VCR for this purpose. VCR will be connected to ADS Pyro AV Link and then via firewire to computer. Do the connections (RCA, S-video, composite) on VCR make a difference? Thanks for any help!!

The best VCR would be the one that recorded the tape originally. For commercial tapes that isn’t likely to happen. For home made tapes chances are pretty good that’s no longer possible either. Since VCRs are pretty much no longer being made, you’ll probably get a used one. My advice is to shop locally and test the machine with a tape or two you plan to transfer. The ‘better’ brands typically are Panasonic, JVC and Sharp. RCA, S-video or composite? S-video has a slightly higher resolution but if the source is regular VHS chances are you won’t notice the difference.

I agree with what Teddy said. You might want to read up at the Restoration forum at They list some of the vcr’s that they recommend as the best for video transfer.

Thanks. The reason I’m asking is that I’ve been having a lot of dropped frames when capturing my home movies to PC. When I captured a commercial video tape I did not have the same problem, so I’m thinking it may be the VCR although I’m not sure why. I’ve been advised that I may need TBC, although not familiar with that. Also some of my home movies are VHS-C tapes (used with adapter) and I have tons of dropped frames when trying to capture those. These movies are not that old either, maybe 5 years old. Any ideas?

Also what is a good video capture software (inexpensive) that provides good quality? I currently have Adobe Premiere Elements 4, but can’t see anywhere on that program that it tells you how many dropped frames you have, only that you do have dropped frames. Of course, it makes a big difference if it’s 1 or 1,000 dropped frames. Is there a program out that there that gives you the number of dropped frames and provides good quality capture? Thanks.

Are you capturing via usb? RCA connections? How?
Are you using the recommended setup, which is having all of your software/os on one HD, and capture your data to a separate HD which is for data only?
Are you shutting down your Antivirus software, and other non-essential softwares, when capturing? What are your system specs?

There are many things that are involved with video edit/capture problems. Your adobe software should be fine. There are lots of standalone capture applications that you can use. Windv, virtualvcr, huffyuv, and many more.

The reason I’m asking is that I’ve been having a lot of dropped frames when capturing my home movies to PC.

Home video has a lot more motion (camera shake, panning, zooming, etc.) than most commercially available tapes. There is also a lot more random ‘noise’ (snow, streaking, etc.) from consumer cameras than what the big boys use. Both of these factors make it harder to encode and can result in dropped frames. You are also capturing to DV format which uses about 13 GB per hour, so make sure your Hard Drive has adequate space and is De-Fragged before you begin the capture.

  • I am capturing using RCA connections from VCR to Pyro Link and then firewire cable to PC.

  • All of my programs are on C drive and I’m capturing to 500g external hard drive.

  • All other programs including antivirus are shut down.

  • Have defragged drive.

Guess I’ll keep trying different things or look for a new VCR. Would a VCR/DVD combo with TBC help possibly? And do any of you recommend a good one?

Is external HD, USB? Do you have any other USB devices of any kind hooked up, while you are doing your transfer? I also have an ADS PYRO device. I seldom get more than 1 or two dropped frames.

If you have the ability to do so, you should try adding a second INTERNAL hd and see if that makes a difference.

Yes external hard drive is hooked up to PC via USB. I do have other USB devices plugged in at same time in other ports. Would that make a difference?

Everything can make a difference. Especially have multiple usb devices plugged in. Like I said, disconnect all other usb devices when capturing, and see if that helps. Some dropped frames are normal, but you should not have lots of them. Remember that video is 29.97 frames per second, so for a 1 minute video, you have 1782 frames, and for 2hrs, you would have 215,784 frames. So if you dropped a couple of hundred frames, it likely would not have much effect (unless they were all from the same few minutes of footage.)

I’ve been messing around with it a little on WinDV and noticed that it seems to be dropping frames in the same spots on the tapes. However, it’s doing this very frequently which I don’t understand cause the tapes aren’t that old and have only been played once or twice. The tape seems to freeze on the preview screen and then drops 45-60 frames all at once in a second or two, so it is noticeable with a jump. And it will frequently do this 6 or 7 times within a 2 minute period of time. The weird thing is that it does it more with my VHS-C tapes used in an adapter as opposed to the regular VHS tapes.

I’m going to try using my dad’s VCR to see if I get the same problem, but I’ve tried it on two of my own and it does the same thing. I don’t know if a VCR with TBC would help or not and I’m not sure where I would get one. Or if a DVD/VCR recorder combo would help. Any suggestions? I just hate to spend a bunch of money if it’s not going to fix the problem.

If it keeps occurring at the same spot, I would venture to say that it is your tape that is the problem. But it sure won’t hurt to try it on a different machine. Some machines are pickier than others.

Maybe you should hook up a TV to the VCR so you can monitor the source. Then you can see if there’s a problem with the tape at the point where it drops frames. 60 frames is 2 seconds so a dropout that large should show on the TV.