Betacam (1982 – 1990s)


Betacam was a ½-inch analogue video cassette format for broadcast use, first introduced by Sony in 1982. As the name implies, the format was a professional version of Betamax and was rapidly adopted for electronic news gathering, replacing the Sony U-Matic ¾-inch format. Whereas Betamax lost out to VHS in consumer video, Betacam and its successors were very successful in broadcasting.

Betacam was a component video format using ferric-oxide tape and offering broadcast-quality 300-line horizontal resolution. It came in a shell the same size as Sony’s Betamax format and whilst it was possible for the two formats to use each other’s tapes, this practice was discouraged.

In 1986, Betcam SP was launched, offering a larger sized cassette for video editing, and increased resolution using metal-formulated tape.

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