Question about Canon ZR85 Mini DV Digital Camcorder

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Connecting zr85 to vcr to record vhs tape to dv or sd card

Please explain how I can record from a vhs tape on my vcr to my zr85. Camcorder setups if any, cable connections etc.

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Re: connecting zr85 to vcr to record vhs tape to dv or sd...

I also have a Canon ZR-- left of the lens and the built-in microphones, there is a small panel that opens to reveal several ports. The middle yellow one is the AV In/Out. You can plug in the cable that came with your camera. One end looks like a microphone plug, the other has 3 RCA type plugs- red, white and yellow. These get plugged into your VCR's OUT plugs on the back of the VCR. Place a tape in the camcorder, open the LCD panel and push the REC PAUSE button. On the VCR, press the Play button. When the tape reaches the point you want to begin recording, press the camcorder's Play/Pause button. When you want to stop recording, press the Stop button on the camcorder.
This is also detailed on page 82 of your manual, manuals are available online at Your specific manual is at:
Hope this helps.

Posted on Nov 21, 2007

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Do you have to have a tape to record video

Yes, it uses MiniDV tapes. The SD function on the camera is used to capture still shots.

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I recorded something for school and i realized after I recorded it there was no SD card. so it just went to the tape. How do I get it onto the SD card or onto the computer?

You connect the camera to the computer with a firewire cable the open
Windows Movie Maker or similar application to capture the footage.

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Video transfer not working

  1. connect VCR(recorder) to TV, select TV proper channel to get signal from VCR
  2. connect Mini DV to VCR, for example, you are using AV1 input on your VCR
  3. on you VCR, select channel(or input) to AV1, insert a blank tape
  4. turn your Mini DV to play mode and play, press REC on your VCR
you should get picture now.

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LCD video camera to vcr

You need an A/V cable (audio-video).
That is a bundle of three RCA male-male cables and they are marked with yellow (video) white (Left audio) and red (Right audio) for easy identifiying.
Connect either to the front or back of the VCR, make sure you have the right input selected.
If you have your TV on and on the video channel you should see the movie from the camera when playing it.
If you can see it then just record.

To record your VHS tapes to a computer you need either a TV-card or a digital videocam with a firewire connection.

If you have a TV card (affordable nowadays) or video capture card you can connect your old videocam directly to your pc using a S-video cable or the analog A/V cable described above. 

Firewire PCI cards that is compatible with any desktop PC are not expensive these days. (if you dont allready have a built-in connection.)
You will also need a "4-6" firewire cable (also called DV-firewire cable)
Connect the old cam to the DV cam using one of the above cables.
Connect the DV cam to the PC using the firewire cable.(You may have to set the DV cam to a "record from external source" -mode)

You will also need software to record the signal to your harddrive, there is a lot of freeware programs you can download on the internet.
If you use windows you can use the "windows movie maker" software. 

Good luck.

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Hi! If you go to the Canon, they have a trouble shooting section. I copied and pasted some information below. Good luck!
Details Print Friendly Version Issue: How do I transfer video tape recordings to a computer via Firewire?
Solution: Transferring video recordings to a computer ZR80, ZR85, and ZR90

Transferring Video Recordings to a Computer You can transfer recordings to a computer using the IEEE1394 (DV) terminal. With the ZR85 and ZR90 transferring video recordings via USB is not possible.
Before starting the video transferring, make sure to prepare the following:
  • A computer equipped with a IEEE1394 (DV) terminal or a IEEE1394 (DV) capturing board (the IEEE1394 protocol is frequently also called "Firewire" or "iLink").
  • A DV cable (sold separately)
  • Video Editing Software
You can use (1) the video editing software that came bundled with your computer or video capturing board, (2) the video editing software included with your operating system ("Windows Movie Maker" with Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows XP and Windows ME, "iMovie" with Mac OS 9 and later), or (3) video editing software purchased separately, with features ranging from very basic to very sophisticated.
  • The appropriate driver
A driver is included with Windows operating systems later than Windows 98 Second Edition and Mac operating systems later than Mac OS 9. The driver is installed automatically when you connect the camcorder to the computer. No additional driver is necessary or available.
  1. Start your computer.
    (If this is the first time you are connecting the camcorder to your Windows based computer your computer will display the "New Hardware Found" message while the driver is installed automatically.)
  2. Set the camcorder to playbackicon.gif mode.
  3. Connect the camcorder to the computer with the DV cable as shown below. Once the camcorder and computer are connected together the camcorder will display "DV IN" on the LCD/viewfinder. This message confirms that the camcorder is ready to receive or transfer video.
  4. Refer to the instructions for your video editing software to download your video from the camcorder.
    Note: Because procedures for digital editing software applications vary greatly, Canon cannot offer any additional support or suggestions regarding downloading and editing your video. Please refer to the software publisher or your computer manufacturer (if the software came with your computer) for assistance in using the software.
zr80dvjack.gif dv_jack_connect.gif caution.gif
  • Operation may not work correctly depending on the software and the specifications/settings of your computer.
  • If the computer freezes while you have connected the camcorder, disconnect and reconnect the DV cable. If the problem persists, disconnect the interface cable, turn off camcorder and computer, turn camcorder and computer back on and reconnect them.
  • Before connecting the camcorder to the computer using a DV cable, make sure that camcorder and computer are not connected with a USB cable, and that no other 1394 device is connected to the computer.
  • We recommend powering the camcorder from a household power source while it is connected to the computer.
  • Refer also to the instruction manual of the computer.
  • The programs ZoomBrowser EX and Image Browser included with the supplied CD-ROM are intended for use only with images recorded on the memory card.
  • Video recordings on the tape cannot be transferred to the computer using the software included with the supplied CD-ROM.

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Convert miniDV to VHS

You use the mini to triple RCA cable with the camera and go into the menu and make sure you are on A/v out instead of headphones. You just hit play on the camera and record on the VCR and Whala, it's done.

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Power save function

Do you put a tape in when you try to record or do you connect to a DVD / VCR so that it records onto the DVD or VHS?
If this is how you do it, then I will recommend you use a mini DV tape instead.
Hope this helps.

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Recording From An External Device

The following Models can be used as a recorder to record from a VCR, TV or another Camcorder. 2004 - SC-D107 2003 - SC-D5000, SC-D27 2002 - SC-D180 Recording In Player Mode 1. Connect the camcorder to the VCR or TV with the AUDIO/VIDEO cable (provided) (to the A/V Outputs on External Device) 2. Set the power switch of the camcorder to PLAYER mode. 3. Turn on the VCR or TV. 4. Insert the blank tape with protection tab closed into the camcorder. If you want to record from a connected VCR, insert a recorded VHS tape into the VCR. 5. Press the MENU button, turn the MENU DIAL to highlight A/V and press the ENTER button. 6. Turn the MENU DIAL to highlight AV IN/OUT and press the ENTER button to select AV IN. "AV IN" and picture appears on the LCD monitor. OUT : Releases the INPUT mode. 7. Press the START/STOP button to set the camcorder to REC PAUSE mode. "PAUSE" appears on the LCD monitor. 8. Select the TV program or playback the VHS tape. 9. Press START/STOP button to start recording. If you want to pause recording for a while, press the START/STOP button again. 10. To stop recording, press the (STOP) button. Notes: * Recording from an analog VCR to the camcorder is only possible when the VCR is playing back at normal speed. * If you want to see the camcorder picture with a TV, set AV IN/OUT in the menu to OUT.

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Adapter question

There are no such adapters that would allow 8mm, Hi8 and Mini DV tapes to be played in a VHS VCR. Only the old VHS-C tapes can fit and play in an adapter. There are several reasons why 8mm (or Hi8 and miniDV tapes) cannot be physically played in a VHS VCR: 1. 8mm (Hi8, miniDV) is a different format with different technical characteristics than VHS. These formats were never developed with the intention to be mechanically compatible with current VHS technology. 2. 8mm/Hi8 tapes are 8mm wide (miniDV is 6mm wide), while VHS tape is 1/2" wide, making it impossible for a VHS video head to read the taped information correctly. 3. 8mm/Hi8/miniDV tapes are recorded and played at different speeds than VHS, so even if the tapes could physically fit into a standard VHS VCR, the VCR still couldn't play back the tapes at their correct speeds. 4. 8mm/Hi8/minDV audio is recorded differently than VHS. 8mm/Hi8 audio is recorded in AFM HiFi mode, while miniDV audio is recording in 12-Bit or 16-Bit PCM digital audio format. So, even if the video could be played back in a VHS VCR, the audio could not be read properly. 5. 8mm/Hi8 video is of higher resolution than VHS and is recorded in a different bandwidth length (miniDV video is recorded digitally), so once again, a standard VCR still could not read the information correctly, even if the tape could fit into a VCR.

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Transfering from camcorder to VHS tape

1. Using the A/V Cables provided, connect the proper end of the cable to the Camcorder where labeled A/V Jack 2. Connect the other end to the A/V inputs on the VCR. (Location of A/V jacks may vary by model) 3. You must activate the video mode on your VCR. Look for a button labeled: TV/VIDEO, INPUT, SOURCE, LINE IN, LINE 1, etc. (For more information, consult the User Manual for the VCR.) 4. Once you are able to view the camcorder playback on your television, press Record on the VCR and play on the Camcorder.

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