Overview Had a Umatic tape and the label said "PAL?". How can I tell if it is PAL? The tape played with mostly snow.
Had another tape and this one was created in Australia so we suspected PAL. The audio sounded fine but the video showed black & white and in 6 columns across the screen.
The vcr's "servo led" was also blinking green. Normally the servo should be solid green.
Very simple method. The Umatic machine has a running timecode (so does the Sony SVHS). The last two digits of the timecode are frames. PAL tapes should never get higher than 25 and NTSC tapes will go as high as 29. So, plug in the tape and watch the timecodes. This could be a RED HERRING.
In the case of the second tape, the frame count did go up to 29. The frame count is more accurate with Betacam or VHS machines. Sometimes the frame count is machine based and not tape....as is with this Umatic.
The sound on the latest tape did not seem odd, but then the sound would only be off by 4.1% and therefore the pitch change is probably unnoticeable.
The image was definitely wrong and this may be due to the 625 versus 525 line difference between PAL and NTSC.
And the servo light was blinking green instead of solid.