Digital 8 is Sony's answer to MiniDV. When the first digital camcorders hit the market in 1995, they were expensive, high-tech gizmos targeted at professional videographers and rich people. MiniDV was the standard created for these digital camcorders, and everyone was pretty much happy, except for the consumers who didn't want to pay gobs of money for a professional DV camera.

In 1999 Sony introduced their line of Digital 8 camcorders. Digital 8 provided a nice, easy transition to digital video for owners of old 8mm and Hi8 cameras, since Digital 8 was compatible with those old analog formats and even used the same tapes (which are less expensive than MiniDV tapes). In addition, you could use a Digital 8 camera to digitally capture analog video, thanks to IEEE 1394.

Digital 8 and MiniDV use the same codec and thus, theoretically, have the same capabilities as far as video and audio quality is concerned. However, in reality most Digital 8 cameras are simply redesigned Hi8 cameras retrofitted for the new standard, and they tend to have a horizontal resolution of 400 to 450 lines, just like Hi8 cameras. The best MiniDV cameras, on the other hand, offer 500 lines of resolution.

Sony is currently still the only company manufacturing Digital 8 cameras. They also manufacture MiniDV cameras, however they use MiniDV for their high end models and Digital 8 for their low end models.

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