Camcorder Connections

This is all about your ins and outs on the camcorder or how it connects to devices like computers or TV sets.


All camcorders offer composite ďA/VĒ outputs. This has been a standard for at least 20 years! It is two or three RCA connectors of which one is Yellow and the others are either White or Red. Yellow is video, white or red is audio. Mono camcorders (analog units like VHS-C) have only one audio and when you connect this to a TV set or VCR that is stereo you only hear sound out of one side.

To correct this problem, go to Radio Shack and buy a Y cord this is one Female to Two Male RCAs. You then plug in the white or red connector to this and plug this gray Y cord into the white and red inputs on your TV or VCR.

On the down side, the color purity, saturation and stability through a composite connection is pretty bad. On a scale of 1 to 10 it rates a 5 to 7.


Most digital tape camcorders offer FireWire or I Link. This is a Sony standard and all computers made starting in 2006 come with this automatically. A few made in 2005 come with it. All the rest have to buy a PCI card that has the FireWire connection.

FireWire is two ways, in and out of the camcorder. This is not true with other connections such as the composite AV, which is generally only an output on most camcorders (my Canon lets me also use it as an Input, which is why I paid more and got the Canon).

Thus, with FireWire you can send it to your computer or DVD burner (that supports FireWire and not all of them do), edit it and send it back to the camcorder for storage on tape.

Most DVD camcorders and all analog VHS or Hi-8 camcorders donít have FireWire. DVD units expect you to read the disk directly through your DVD player.

FireWire is a fast connection and offers great uploading and downloading. On a scale of 1 to 10 this gets a perfect 10.


There are several flavors such as 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0. The 2.0 is the best and barely meets the limitation for uploading digital video, which requires 4 Mega Bits per second. Thatís the upper limit of USB 2.0.

On the downside, if USB 2.0 canít keep up, you get ďdrop framesĒ which means instead of getting 30 frames per second you might occasionally only get 29 or 28.

USB is generally used to upload still pictures, not video and most camcorders donít supply a driver to upload video, however, some software packages for video capture might support USB 2.0 and will let you do this feat!

USB is only fond on computers. USB 2.0 is found on units made after 2003, prior to that it was USB 1.0, however you can get a PCI card that lets you support USB 2.0 and add this to an old system. Some of these cards also include FireWire connections!

Because of the potential for drop frames, USB gets a 9 out of 10 rating.


Found on some digital camcorders and some Hi-8 camcorders, plus all S-VHS camcorders.

From digital camcorders and stuff like PSP2 units S-Video works very well. From S-VHS itís a fooly!

Invented by JVC for the S-VHS units, they want us to think we get pure color separation but in reality that is not what happens with analog S-VHS!

S-VHS or S-Video is supposed to separate color from signal. This is not component video, like Y, Pr, Pb. This is basically what your VCR does to the composite signal. It filters out the color from the picture.

In a discreet closed circuit system like a PSP2 it does work and works far better than composite, but from S-VHS tapes, sorry!

S-VHS still uses a heterodyne color under system of recording by modulating the sync track. S-VHS still drops the picture signal level.

A composite RCA cord places the color and picture at different angles which are filtered out by complex comb filters. An S-VHS recorder filters out the color signal and sends it through one wire of the S-Video connector and takes the picture signal sends it through another wire.

Yes, you get separation, but the Pb/Pr color signal is still composted into a C signal.

Sorry, folks, its a fooly!

It is, however, a bit more stable than composite so it rates a 7 out of 10.


Found on some camcorders, especially HD camcorders and some TV sets, generally all HDTV. It is Y/Pb/Pr.

This separates the picture image into pure monochrome (black and white) and the two complimentary colors of Y-R (Pr) and Y-B (Pb), from which we get the green by simple math.

Now, the C system of S-Video combines the Pr and Pb signals into a single composite color signal that is at a 90 degree angle and then filtered to turn this composite signal into two separate signals. So Pb +90 and Pr Ė90 = C. Two signals composited together to make a single C that is sent through one wire.

See the difference! S-Video is two wire picture and color. Y, Pr, Pb is three wire picture and two colors. Composite RCA is one wire picture and color.

Y, Pr and Pb always keeps the 3 signals separated.

This is how the old 2Ē Quad system and how the Sony Betacam system records in analog.

It gets a 9 or 10 out of 10.

Once again, the S-Video and Components are often just OUTPUTS and you canít send signals back to them. More expensive camcorders let you send signals OUT and IN!

Why do you need to do this? To edit and make copies! With out the ability to send back to your camcorder you canít make copies, itís that simple.



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