The Range of VTRs
The range of VTR technology is mind-boggling. Simple playback-only 1/2-inch units can be bought for S800 or less. Or, for a totally computerized quad VTR with vacuum tape-drive chambers, fantastically high-quality color and super-precise editing ability, you could spend over $250,000.
VTR technology has evolved rapidly, especially with the introduction of integrated circuits and space technology. In its wake, it has left lots of obsolete 1-inch and 1/2-inch VTRs, which are still quite adequate for simple b&w applications. These units can be purchased inexpensively and if they work okay, can be fine machines on which to learn.
So, why not provide a home for a 1-inch Ampex or Sony VTR that is sitting lonely and forgotten on a basement shelf just gathering dust?
Happily, technical advances have definitely reduced the price of good-quality color recording, playback and editing VTRs. A wide range of 3/4- inch and 1/2-inch color machines, (some very sophisticated) is available to fill nearly every video user's needs. As with cameras, you should shop around for a demonstration of a particular VTR's recording, playback and editing qualities and talk with owners of similar equipment. Make edits and copy the tape several times to see how well the color quality holds up. This will give you a good indication of the quality of the VTR.
With some understanding of VTRs, we now move on to the recording medium itself—The Videotape.