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Capture Cards and Video Editing

Aug 17, 2007
I am interested in editing old videos, so I can print pictures from them. At the moment I am looking at Belkin (USB VideoBus II), so I am wondering if this would be a good buy. I am using XP.

Answer: It's hard for me to know if I'm making the right recommendation because I have to make some assumptions about what you're trying to do (I'm not certain whether your main purpose is to edit videos or generate photos). I'm also not a photo editing expert.

Since you mention "old" videos I'll assume VHS, and that you want to capture these videos directly from a VCR to your PC. This is important, because it limits you only to ANALOG capture devices, like the Belkin VideoBus.

If you had a digital camcorder with an ANALOG IN jack, then I'd tell you to get a digital video capture device and capture your video through the camcorder. Because all capturing methods are not equal, and this would allow you to capture your footage in the DV format, which gives you an extremely high-quality AVI capture. This would also be convenient if you ever want to edit and convert footage to digital.

ANALOG devices, by contrast, usually capture in a lower-quality MPEG format, which means you start losing image crispness immediately. Furthermore, with analog technology you lose a bit of quality with every generation of copying/capturing.

But wait. USB makes it worse. Because of the slow connection, USB limits your capture resolution to 352 x 288. That's fine for streaming small video scenes on the Internet, but it's inadequate for archiving. So as you can imagine I'm advising against the Belkin Videobus.

To get the best capture quality, look for an PCI analog capture card - that is, a card which fits into an open PCI slot on your desktop computer and adds the familiar red/white/yellow RCA video jacks to the back of your PC, so you can connect to a VCR (If you've never opened up a PC before, don't be intimidated. Installing one of these is as simple as plugging in an appliance.) Again, if you have a digital camcorder, you'll want a fire wire capture card instead, which operates at higher speeds/higher quality.

Ideally you'll find an analog capture card that captures in a very high resolution format, such as the DV format or DVD-MPEG format (with resolution of 720 x 480). You'd also ideally want a card that comes with software that can capture video, edit video, and produce still image photo output.

A close second choice would be to get an analog capture card that uses USB 2.0, which is much faster than the old USB standard. You can get DVD-MPEG quality from USB 2.0.

I am not familiar with the range of analog capture devices out there. The Dazzle Video Creator 100 is a USB 2.0 device that should get you high-quality images, but I'm not a huge fan of the accompanying software.

Pinnacle makes very intuitive capturing/editing software, but you have to spend over $200 to get their Pinnacle Studio DeLuxe if you want to capture analog video in the DV format. If you want to do photo editing, you'll have to use a separate program, because Studio has only capture capability -- no photo manipulation.

By the way, if you want to print pictures, be aware that even 720 x 480 isn't going to get you the world's most crisp photos. Video images just aren't as fine as photo images. You'll be ok with small printouts, but enlargements might be (so to speak) a stretch.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for http://www.BuyRAM.info/ , a computer memory Super Store. BuyRAM.info carries an excellent selection of computer memory, notebook memory, and digital camera memory for every type of computer, notebook, and digital camera on the market. Click Here to Search for System Memory by selecting the make and model of your system.
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