Videotape determines picture quality. No matter how sophisticated the video hardware, the resulting picture quality is only as good as the videotape used. Manufacturing videotape properly requires expensive equipment and extremely strict quality control. Unfortunately, videotape tends to be expensive because the process of manufacturing is complex and critical and requires costly petroleum as a major raw ingredient. An hour of 3/4-inch videotape retails for $25-$35 with slightly lower costs for 30 and 20 minute tapes,
There are many brands of videotape on the market, some very inexpensive, which are usually used tape from TV studios-2-inches wide that is cut up into 1/2-inch tapes. Often this tape clogs the VTR and leads to expensive breakdowns and video head replacement. Unless you test it first, you can't tell how bad the tape really is until after you have recorded some very important programs on it. Then it begins to break down and loose particles will clog the machine. Use of computer or instrumentation tapes also involves a definite risk to the VTR and program material. Most people who use these brand "X" videotapes regret it sooner or later,
The best rule to follow is to use only tape recommended by the VTR manufacturer. If this is impractical, Sony tape is the helical scan standard for videotape by which all other brands are measured. Sony tape will work well on nearly any helical scan VTR. Other brands are MEMOREX and 3M. Even Sony manufactures bad batches of tape occasionally. If this happens, tape can be returned to the distributor and exchanged.
Certain manufacturers offer EXTENDED PLAY TAPES. Dupont has a 90-minute 3/4-inch standard size videocassette and a 30-minute KCS type (smaller size 3/4-inch) videocassette. Panasonic hasa 90-minute''/2-inch EIAJ reel-to-reel tape and 3M manufacturers the 30-minute extended play tape for use with the Panasonic and Hitachi 1/2-inch EIAJ cartridge VTRs. The only way to gain the additional recording and playback time is to make the tape thinner—a factor which can increase the chances of the tape breaking, developing more dropouts, deteriorating faster and jamming the cartridge or cassette VTR.
CAUTION: Use of thinner tapes is not recommended for heavy use situations, such as mastering, still framing, editing or mass duplication of important programs intended for large scale distribution.