For about 20 years, 8mm and hi-8mm were very common formats for consumer camcorders. Many families have hours of absolutely priceless footage on these tapes. To most, these tapes are worthless because there is no way of playing them, except for through an actual camcorder or Video 8 VCR. If you don't have any batteries for your 20 year old camcorder, you may have not watched these precious tapes since they were shot. You can scan and digitize your tapes so you can watch them on your computer and even transfer them to DVD. This article explains the 2 best ways to digitize your 8mm tapes.
Doing it Yourself
First, you should not even consider trying to personally digitize your tapes if you don't have a working 8mm camcorder or VCR for playback. Of course, you could invest in either, but they are hard to find and not always reliable. But, if you do still have your working camcorder (and a battery charger or DC plug in), it is easy to digitize your tapes.
The you need an RCA to USB cord. This something that you will need to buy since USB was not common when 8mm camcorders were in their prime. There is a plethora of simple software for both PC and Apple computers that allow you to basically record and save directly from the camcorder. Most software will allow you to control the playback device (rewind, fast forward, stop, etc.) through the software. You can play the tape from start to finish and save the entire clip in one take.
Obviously, this is quite time consuming because most 8mm tapes can hold 1-2 hours of recordings (depending on the format they were shot in). But, you don't necessarily need to wait around while the tape is being digitized. Most apps will automatically stop recording when the image stops. In the end, digitizing on your own is simple and cheap, especially if you already own a payback device or working camcorder.
Sending it In
With print photography becoming so much less popular, many film developing labs are now offering digitizing services to diversify their business. This is definitely the way to go if you don't have a working camcorder or you don't want to spend so much time on the project. This super convenient service is cheaper if you have your tapes digitized in bulk. There is usually a flat rate processing fee for each unique order, so you get a discount for doing all of your tapes at once.
If you have the time and right tools, digitizing on your own is simple. But, it might be more convenient to leave up to the pros. Contact a professional that handles video8 to DVD for more information.