Video8 was first launched in 1985, on the Sony cam-corder aptly named Handycam. It was launched into a market dominated by VHS-C and Betamax formats.
The first model was the Sony Handicam CCD-V8. This was a record only model with no playback features. There were only three focus settings and a 6x zoom! It wasn't long before an autofocus model was introduced.
But what about video quality? The Video8 and Beta-II offer similar performance in the standard play modes. When we look at audio, Video8 usually outperforms its older rivals.
All Video8 Machines used audio frequency modulation to record sound along the same helical tape path as that of the video signal. This gave Video8’s Standard audio a much better quality than that of its rivals. They later introduced stereo but the limitations of camcorder microphones at the time lead to there being little practical difference between the two AFM systems for camcorder usage.
Video8 was the first of the small, compact camcorders. It was small enough to hold in the palm of the user's hand. This gave them a huge advantage over full-size VHS camcorders which would only operate on a sturdy tripod or strong shoulders.
Video8 took recording capacity to a new level. It could hold approximately 120 minutes of tape which served well for most users.