The “Beta” Family of Videotapes

It’s pretty common for me to pick up the phone and a customer tells me they have a “Beta” tape and would like to get it transferred.  Great!  I can help, but what kind of Beta?

It can actually be a rather difficult question to answer unless you have a few different machines to test the tape format.  There are in fact a whole family of “Beta” tapes both on the consumer side as well as the Broadcast/Professional side.  Here’s a quick overview.


Consumer “Beta” – also known as Betamax

The tapes used by Betamax were interchangeable with regular Betacam tapes, but the recording format was quite different.


Professional Analog “Beta” – Betacam, BetacamSP

These formats were the mainstay of the broadcast industry and are even still used today for standard definition television.  The smaller 30min cassettes were common for ENG (Electronic News Gathering) and the larger 60 and 90min cassettes were used for program content.

BetaSP-300x223 Professional Digital “Beta” – BetaSX, DigiBeta and IMX

During the 1990′s, Betacam evolved into digital formatting and developed BetaSX and Digital Betacam.




Then, later an HD version was created called “HDCAM”.  There are several versions in both interlaced and progressive scan modes.