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US Camcorder compatibility in UK

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Graham Hill

Guest
Hello....I'm new to the forum so please dont laugh at the question ! I purchased a Canon ZR80 camcorder in the US and despite advice to the contrary from the techies in the store I cannot record onto a UK VCR. Playback through TV is fine though. My neighbour has a US purchased Sony Camcorder which works just fine over here so I'm not as 'stupid' as you may first think as I questioned them many times on compatibility before extracting my wallet. Does anyone know of any gizzmo I can get to allow conversion of the camcorder output into something recognised by a UK VCR ?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Hi Graham and welcome to the forum.

Well its fairly bad news I'm afraid. The camcorder by coming from USA will work on NTSC an in UK we ue PAL. They are not compatable with each other, especially for recording. Your TV will have NTSC display abilities, as is fairly standard in UK. Your VCR will almost certainly be able to play an NTSC recording, but will NOT be able to record one.
To be able to record onto a UK VCR you will either need a multistandards VCR or an NTSC to PAL digital converter. Either of these will cost at least £200.

Its not all bad news though as this gives you the perfect excuse to get a DVD writer on your PC and edit all your footage on there and make NTSC DVD's for playback that should work fine on most DVD players & TV's. This would almost certainly be a cheaper option than either of the 2 above.

Mark.
 
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Azrikam

Guest
Unless I'm mistaken, you could also import an NTSC VCR as long as you catered for the difference in UK voltage. (step-down converter or similar)

But the DVD writer option does sound easier.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Standards converters available from Here

Mark.
 

GaryB

Distinguished Member
One other slight issue with using a US camcorder in the UK is that you will get slight picture flicker when shooting under flourescent lights due to the 50Hz UK mains vs 60Hz US field frequency of the camera.
 
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Graham Hill

Guest
Thanks for taking the time and trouble to reply even if the reply was not what I wanted to hear !

One final question though. When attempting to record the camcorder onto VCR, I do get full audio and a slightly wavy black and white picture rather than the 'snow and hiss' I would have expected if the two systems were incompatible. Am I clutching at straws here or is there a tweak in my VCR that would enable me to get a proper picture as I have been told (not sure how reliable the source is) that on some VCR's it may be possible to adjust the recording process.
 

GaryB

Distinguished Member
The only tweak would be if your VCR has an NTSC switch. As Mark said, they are fundamentally different systems and, unless the VCR has multistandard capability, there is nothing you can do.

The wavy black and white picture is caused by the servos in your VCR trying in vain to lock on to the incoming signal.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
PAL & NTSC are not the actual picture formats, but rather the colour formats used for TV transmition. This is why you get a B&W picture as the VCR can not recognise the colour format.
The reason for the lines across the picture is because NTSC refeshes at 60hz and PAL at 50hz and this is where the VCR is trying to lock onto the NTSC picture, but can't manage it.

Mark.
 
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