Digital 8 was the third major – and final –
variant of Sony's 8mm camcorder tape technology. It was preceded
by analog ancestors Video 8 (released in 1984) and Hi8 (released
in 1999). Unlike those two formats, Digital 8 is not analog-based.
A Digital 8 tape is exactly the same size as a Video 8 or Hi8
tape, and records on exactly the same 8mm-wide plastic videotape.
However, only one hour of SP fits on the tape, unlike the earlier
formats. But because of the cassette shell similarities, many
Digital 8 video cameras and decks are backwards compatible with
Video 8 and Hi8 tapes (but not all – check the specifications!).
This makes it easy for consumers to transfer Digital8.
The data stream that is recorded on a Digital 8 tape is completely
identical to what is recorded on a Mini DV tape. Both record
to the DV bitstream in exactly the same quality. Both will connect
to a computer via Firewire as a digital camcorder and convey
Unfortunately, DV and Mini DV beat Digital 8 to the
market and it never became a popular format. Consumers did not
see a difference between an 8mm/Hi8 tape and a Digital 8 tape,
and the tiny size of Mini DV meant that those camcorders could
be much smaller (and more appealing) than the larger, heavier
Digital 8 models. Sony might have spent more time repeating that
the quality of Digital 8 was equal to Mini DV – at a lower cost
– but it was clear that the consumer video camera market had
simply moved on from the 8mm size.
Transfer Digital 8 to easily preserve all of the original digital
information on your tapes.