VHS to DVD – Waiting for Prices to Drop

I am often curious what triggers families to finally take that step to transfer their aging old home movies media. So when a customer came in today with a box of VHS tapes to transfer to DVD, I asked.

Her explanation was different from the usual ones I’ve heard. She said, “Well, I thought that if I wait, the price to transfer VHS to DVD will drop, but since I checked 10 years ago, video transfer prices actually went up.”

Even if prices will drop, the best time to get the best, sharpest transfer quality from your VHS/VCR tapes, 8mm, miniDV tapes is: Yesterday. Because VHS/VCR tapes have a shelf life. But for her, more importantly, video to digital transfer prices actually do not drop, they only go up. Here’s it will cost you a lot more to transfer your home movie tapes to DVD or to computer files the longer you wait.

Reason #1 – Video transfer equipment is becoming less and less available.  Already, certain types of transfer equipment that our labs prefer – the 8mm tape player walkman, for example, have stopped production.  Our lab manager had to scour the web for stores that might still carry it as we can no longer purchase them from the manufacturer.

Reason #2 – With age, one of several bad things can happen to your VHS tape: the tape ribbon becomes fragile with age and can detach from he plastic housing, tear, ripple.  If that happens, your VHS to DVD transfer cost will not be a mere twenty something dollars.  It costs $25 to $45 to repair a tape – assuming it can still be repaired.

Reason #3 – Editing costs required to restore image quality.    It is more than tongue-in-cheek that professionals refer to the VHS tape as a ‘Ribbon of Rust“.  The iron particles on the magnetic tape shift with time, subject to the  magnetic forces around it, including the Earth’s natural magnetic fields.  Over time, static lines, and noise drop-outs appear.  It is very expensive to restore this kind of video, if at all possible, to its original quality.
Video Transfer Newton
Reason #4 – Fewer video transfer labs.  As the supply of old audio/video media dries up, fewer and fewer businesses will be around to offer video transfer services.   A few years ago, it is common to find video transfer services at photo labs stores.  Where are the photo labs now?  They are all gone.  Almost overnight, you went from finding a video transfer service in every city, to finding only a few in the state.

Reasons #5 – Increased Labor.   As fewer and fewer video transfer labs exist, you will find fewer and fewer experienced video transfer technicians.  You know what happens when a service becomes ‘niche’, it becomes more expensive, not cheaper.

So, you can be 100% sure, that while waiting may serve other purposes, it will not save you money.  The cheapest time to transfer your VHS/VCR tapes to DVD is also: Yesterday.  If you live near Newton, MA, you can call us, we are still around.  We plan to be the last one standing, to rescue that last VHS tape out there.


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