Maxell Professional Digital Betacam tape – Tatfilm- Within the whirlwind

Lets talk a little about the history of Beta tapes to give an idea where this tape fits in.

The original Betacam tape came out in 1982, created by Sony, in both Short and Long tape variants. The Betacam camcorder would use the short tapes, but the VCR can play both short and long tapes. The tapes were made of ferric Oxide tape.

In 1986 the Betacam SP (Superior Performance) was launched, it increased the horizontal resolution to 340 lines due to the Metal based tape. It had the same 30 and 90 minutes as the Short and Long tapes as before. Betacam SP was popular in production houses and TV Stations until the late 90s.

Digital Betacam was launched in 1994. These were uncompressed digital signals. The short tapes were now 40 minutes and the long tapes up to 124 minutes. They also had an upgrade the resolution to NTSC (720×480) or PAL (720×576). The new players now featured SDI connections. Some players were backwards compatible with older tapes.
Digital Betacam is the one that we have in the picture. This tape is huge compared to the Star Wars VHS we have.

Betacam SX was launched in 1996, as a remake of the Betacam SP tapes, but were now digital. All recorders were backwards compatible with the older SP tapes. The recording times were increased Short 62 minutes and Long tapes up to 194 minutes.

HDCAM was launched in 1997 as the first HD capable Beta format. It would record 1440×1080 then upscale to 1920×1080 for playback.

HDCAM SE was launched in 2003 as the Superior Resolution model. It increased the bitrate by a lot and can now use HD-SDI signal and record 1920×1080 onto the tape.


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