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The Betacam Format

As Sony was being humiliated in the VHS vs Betamax war, a similar war was being fought in the professional video arena with very different results.

Betacam, launched in 1982, was the first professional video format in the Sony Beta range. In stark contrast to the failure of Betamax in the home video market, Betacam was a great success. In the professional market, quality and reliability are paramount — unlike the consumer market which is more concerned with recording times and availability of movies. Betacam was a high-quality format and attracted a lot of attention amongst professionals.

The original Betacam cassettes were basically the same as Betamax. The difference was that Betacam used component video rather than composite, and recorded at a much higher tape speed. Betamax and Betacam tapes were interchangeable (unlike the later Betacam SP tapes).

Betacam tapes came in two sizes: S (small) and L (large). Betacam cameras used the S size; Betacam tape decks could use either size.

Betacam tapes were 1/2-inch with 300 lines of horizontal resolution.

Betacam was a relatively short-lived format, replaced by the next generation of the Beta family: Betacam SP.