"'Digital8'" camcorders, introduced by Sony in 1998, use standard Hi8 or 8mm tapes recorded in DV format. Most Digital8 camcorders are backward compatible with tapes recorded by Hi8 or 8mm camcorders, but Digital8 camcorders can only record in the DV format.
Contrary to common misconception, Digital8 tapes are identical in recording quality to miniDV tapes and other DV formats. Although the tape format is different, the video signal is encoded in true DV format, like miniDV, providing full standard resolution DV quality. The camera moves the tape at twice the speed of Hi8 camcorders, in order to record more information. So, a Hi8 tape rated for 2 hours will record for 1 hour in standard-play Digital8.
When Sony first released Digital8, it was designed to help ease the transition from older analog formats to newer digital video formats. The first Digital8 camcorders were designed to be able to play back 8mm and Hi8 tapes, transcoding the video signal into DV to import into a computer via FireWire. Recently, however, Sony's lower-end cameras have been introduced without this feature. Although Digital8 is equal in quality to miniDV, Sony remains the only company to support the format.