What is the Video Quality after Converting VHS Tapes?
What is the Video Quality after Converting VHS Tapes?
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What is the Video Quality after Converting VHS Tapes?

By Christian Roemer

If you’ve been to an electronics store or have gone TV shopping recently, you’ve probably been inundated with a bunch of wacky information about resolution, screen size, and refresh rate. Unless you’re an electronics connoisseur, you probably just scratched your head a little bit and went with the biggest numbers you could afford.


That’s not a bad strategy, and you probably got a great TV if you bought one using that calculus. While it might be too late for you if you already bought your new TV, we’ll explain to you what resolution is and how it relates to the digitization services that Legacybox provides.


What are the Components of Video Quality?

When converting a standard VHS videotape to digital video, the quality will resemble that of analog video. This is a breakdown of all the elements that determine video quality.



Resolution is the measure of how crisp a TV’s picture can get. This is going to be the most important part of the VHS quality question later. For now, let’s explain how resolution works.


Screen quality is measured in the amount of pixels that a screen can show. Pixels are basically little squares of color that go together to make a picture or video. The more pixels that a screen can show, the more detail it’ll have. For reference, standard definition is around 480 pixels, while HD starts at 1080 pixels wide. Higher resolution formats have an increased amount of pixels.


Screen Size

Screen size is the measure of a screen from one corner to the other diagonally. Screen size actually has very little to do with its resolution capabilities. Interestingly, some of the highest quality resolutions come in computer monitors that people use for video games!


Refresh Rate

The refresh rate of a TV contributes to its motion smoothness. The higher the refresh rate is, the smoother the video will look while you’re watching it. Refresh rate is measured in hertz or FPS (frames per second). The reason it’s called the refresh rate is because it measures the amount of times each pixel in the TV can change color (refresh) in one second. In order for a human brain to be able to register motion on a TV screen, it has to have a refresh rate of at least 16 hertz. Most older TVs had a refresh rate of around 32 hertz. Modern TVs can do all the way to 240 hertz! 


So what does that mean for VHS tape digitization ?

So now comes the million dollar question: what quality of video do you get when you digitize a VHS tape? For the short answer, most tapes are digitized at 480p and about 24-29 FPS. What does that mean? That means each VHS is digitized at about half of the resolution of high definition, and the frame rate is much lower than most TVs’ max refresh rate is. 


VHS Tape Resolution 

So why is the refresh rate and resolution so low on VHS tapes? The reason is that the VHS format works by using a whole bunch of individual pictures on film that are shown one after another in rapid succession. 


The human brain, in an effort to make sense out of the fast-moving images, turns them into motion. Since the frame rate is faster than the 16 hertz minimum that it takes the human brain to see motion, your brain interprets the screen as a moving video. 


The reason that the picture resolution is lower than high definition is because the film would only allow a certain amount of detail, and when we digitize tapes, 480 is about the best that we can get from the film.


Digitize your VHS Videos

Your video cassette tapes are important to you, and by each day, the resolution and quality of your memories are fading. It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to find VCRs in good condition. Even if you do, the constant wear from playing the tape in a VHS player can lead to further degradation. 


Convert your VHS cassettes into digital format for high-quality playback and safe storage. Start reliving your cherished moments in better quality today, with Legacybox!

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