K3's AstroPhotography
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is Man that You are mindful of him?" -- Psalm 8:3,4

Resolution test of SONY camcorders

I did some tests with 3 SONY camcorders D8, Hi8 and Video8. Unfortunately, it was in the evening, so I had to use 25W compact fluorescent bulb. It caused a red tone of test image, although auto white balance should handle this. All camcorders were tested with autofocus.

As resolution test pattern I used EIA1956 test chart printed on A4 paper (click the image to see full size). The image was sized (zoomed) to fit to screen of TV set.

Original EIA1956 high resolution test image resampled to 720x576 size for better comparison to real results.
Horizontal resolution is about 450 lines.

  • Actual resolution depends also on image shift
  • The size of fullscreen image part is only about 630x520 pixels
    (according to Shannon-Kotelnik's theorem the horizontal resolution is
    0.5 x 630 = 315 lines)

I tested resolution of camera part (video out, without recording to tape) and also the whole camera including tape recording. The measurement was made only approximately, without special equipment. For precise measurement the white parts of the test image should be set to white level by adjusting manual exposure. But anyway, also my measurements provide a view of differences between D8, Hi8 and Video8 standards and show what can be expected from this camcorders.
The following table shows the results. Click the images to see the full sized 720x576 images.

Video 8
Camera part
Raw image
Camera part
Stack of 50 frames
Recorded image
Raw image
Recorded image
Stack of 50 frames

The next table compares real results with official specifications of the video standards:

  Video8 Hi8 Digital8
Official resolution ~280 lines ~440 lines ~500 lines
Camera part resolution ~265 lines ~250 lines ~400 lines
Recorded image resolution ~200 lines ~250 lines ~400 lines

Processed Digital8 test image
I played a little bit with histogram stretching of 50x stacked frames (in K3CCDTools).
Here is the result:
Comparison with webcam
Here it is a test image achieved by Philips Vesta Pro webcam. It shows, it provides approximately the same resolution as Digital8 standard.

Note: The width of chart image is 640 pixels, while the test image of camcorders has only 630 pixels.

SONY DCR-TRV900 (3 chip miniDV) and SONY TR7000 (1 chip Digital8) tests

The next pictures were taken by John Beale, who has fantastic website about TRV900 (it is also perfect source of information about camcorders): TRV900 page.
TRV900 test results shows, that camera provides really perfect picture according to official specifications. The results achieved with TR7000 are slightly worse than TRV240E results. See John Beale's Resolution tests for more information.



None of tested cameras achieves the resolution stated in specification. It is interesting, that Video8 camera part provides better resolution than Hi8 camera part. As concerning recorded picture to tape, the best image is provided by Digital8, then by Hi8 and the lowest resolution has Video8.

It is interesting that real achieved results show, that Digital8 has lower resolution than it is claimed by Hi8 standard. Likewise Hi8 achieves in real life worse resolution than it is claimed by Video8 standard.

Also it is necessary to mention, that daylight tests result better than tests with fluorescent or incadescent light.

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Last Update: 13.11.2002