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How to Digitize MiniDV Tapes in 2023

February 24, 2023

DV Camera and Player


MiniDV tapes were a popular format for recording home videos. Technology has advanced, and MiniDV has largely been replaced with digital cameras that record to SD cards and similar media. Digitizing MiniDV tapes means converting the analog video to digital format, which makes it possible to store and view the footage on modern devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets.

There are a few different methods available for digitizing MiniDV tapes, including:

  1. Using a MiniDV camcorder
  2. Using a standalone DV player
  3. Hiring a professional digitization service.

Each method has its pros and cons. It’s important to consider individual needs and preferences before deciding on the best approach. In this article, we’ll explore each of these methods in detail and share the pros and cons of each method of digitizing MiniDV tapes.

Selecting a device: MiniDV camera vs MiniDV player

When it comes to digitizing MiniDV tapes, two devices can be used: a MiniDV camera or a DV player. If you still have your MiniDV camera, the choice between devices is easy: use the one you already have. If you need to buy a device, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each device.

Pros and Cons of using a MiniDV camera for digitization

MiniDV cameras were extremely popular. You can find them in thrift stores and online for anywhere from $35 to $150. There are pro models that go for much more, but aren’t required for the task. You should be able to find one that works for you without spending too much.

The downside to buying any used device is that it might not work properly and may not include all of its original accessories. For a MiniDV camera, you have to make sure playback works, the firewire or video out ports work, and that the AC adapter works. You also have to make sure that the video cables and power cord are included, otherwise you will have to buy them separately.


  • You can use a device you already own
  • Used cameras are usually cheaper than standalone players
  • Can be used as a camera to create new content


  • Used cameras may not be fully functional
  • Required accessories may be needed
  • Should be cleaned and serviced before use

Pros and cons of using a MiniDV player for digitization

MiniDV players are standalone devices, much like VCRs, that are built to play DV tapes. Some will only play MiniDV tapes, but others play DVCPro or DVCAM, which gives additional flexibility if you also have those formats. They are also usually easier to connect to computers as they are built to sit flat on a surface.

MiniDV players were mostly used for professional use. Cameras were popular with consumers, which is why they are easy to find. The players are harder to come across. It’s unlikely that you will find one in a thrift store, and finding a good used player on eBay will cost more.

Expect to pay $200-$300 for an untested device, or $400+ for a device that has been tested and is in full working condition.


  • MiniDV player are typically intended for professional use and are built more robustly
  • They provide additional options that may improve ease of use
  • Can play additional formats like DVCAM and DVCPro


  • Considerably more expensive than a camera
  • May be overkill if you only need to convert MiniDV
  • Professional equipment may have more wear and tear

Connecting your MiniDV device to your computer

To connect a MiniDV camera to a computer, you will need a Firewire cable, also known as IEEE 1394. Many older computers had Firewire ports built in, but few modern computers do. You still have options, though.

If you have a desktop computer, you can get an internal Firewire card and install it in your computer. Another option is to purchase a Firewire adapter that plugs into a USB port on your computer.

There are two types of Firewire connectors

4-pin connector

This is a smaller connector with four pins, which is commonly found on laptops and some camcorders. It provides power to the device and allows for data transfer.

6-pin connector

This is a larger connector with six pins and is more commonly found on desktop computers and some camcorders. In addition to providing power and data transfer, the extra two pins allow for more advanced features such as hot-swapping (disconnecting and reconnecting devices while the computer is still on) and supplying power to attached devices.

When shopping for a Firewire cable, make sure you get the right connector for your device.

Avoid a USB video capture device if possible

USB Video Capture Device Though we do not recommend it, you can use a USB video adapter to transfer your video through the S-Video or RCA (composite) ports. The benefit of this method is you can re-use the adapter for other formats like VHS, Betamax, or Video8.

Using a video adapter will result in a lower quality. Firewire also allows you to control the camera through your computer, so you can rewind, fast-forward, or play your video with a click of the mouse.

Choosing the right software

After connecting your MiniDV camera or player to your computer, you’ll need the right software to capture the video footage from your MiniDV tapes.

Commercial Software

Free Software

We have used all of these, except WinDV. We can recommend all of them as working sufficiently.

A warning about LifeFlix

LifeFlix has problems with some Canon cameras, including the Canon HV20, where it does not transfer sound correctly. You can read more about this issue and a workaround on their website .

Digitize your MiniDV tapes

You have your stack of tapes, your MiniDV camera or player, and your capture software. Now you’re ready to start digitizing those tapes! Before we begin, switch your tape from Record mode to Save mode to prevent any potential errors. See the photo below:

Save vs Record

After that, follow the steps below, regardless of which device you are using:

  1. Make sure your MiniDV tape has record disabled
  2. Put the tape in your camera or player
  3. Set your camera to playback mode, should be unnecessary for DV players
  4. Open your capture software and select the input source to be your camcorder
  5. Click import or record in your software. It should start playing the MiniDV tape
  6. If your software is unable to control your camera, start the recording in your software first, then start playing the MiniDV tape
  7. When the tape has finished playing, stop the capture in the software and save the digital video file

What should I do with my digital files?

If your goal is to archive the file in the best quality, congratulations, you’re done! Your file should now be an exact copy of what was on your MiniDV tape.

But, your file is unlikely to be in the easiest to share format. It could also require editing or could be compressed to reduce the size of your files.

Software for editing your videos:

Of those, iMovie and DaVinci Resolve are both free, with DaVinci Resolve having additional features if you pay for a license.

Any of those programs will allow you to trim your video, rearrange or remove clips, and fix minor problems.

If you are looking to compress your file to an easy to share format that retains high quality, we recommend you convert your file to MP4 (h.264). Even though there are codecs that allow you to generate smaller files, or retain higher quality at the same size, h.264 has higher support on most devices than the other formats.

Software for compressing your video files includes:

Is it worth the effort?

It’s important to know what you are getting yourself into before you start the process of transfer your MiniDV tapes to your computer. If you want to do it yourself, then that’s great! Doing it yourself gives you control over the final product. But, it takes a lot of time researching for the right camera or player, finding compatible software, and finding the right cords and adapters. Then, it takes time to sit and transfer one tape at a time.

If you choose to do it yourself, hoping to save money, it’s unlikely that you will. If this is a one time project, you’re unlikely to save money doing it yourself as opposed to hiring a service to transfer your MiniDV tapes to digital unless you already own the right equipment and software.

If all of this is daunting, or you want to have it done right the first time without having to buy a bunch of things, consider hiring a service.

Hiring a Professional Service to Digitize MiniDV Tapes

Professional digitization services, like our MiniDV to digital service , specialize in converting analog media to digital files. Professional services have the equipment and expertise needed to properly digitize your MiniDV tapes.

When you hire a professional service, you’ll typically drop off or send in your tapes by mail and the service will digitize them for you. Once the digitization is complete, they will send you the digital video files, along with the original tapes.


  • Save time and effort
  • No need to buy equipment
  • Can be less expensive than DIY
  • High quality results from professionals

Using a professional service to digitize your MiniDV tapes can have several advantages, such as saving you time and effort, ensuring high-quality digitization, and providing additional services such as color correction and video editing.

However, it can also have some drawbacks, such as not having control over the digitization process, and having to trust a third party with your precious memories.


  • Can be more expensive if you already have equipment
  • Some services have a slow turnaround time
  • Having to trust a third party with your items

If you decide to go with a professional digitization service, it’s important to find a reputable company (like ours! ) that will treat your tapes with care and provide high-quality digitization. You should also consider the pricing and additional services offered by the company to make sure it fits your budget and needs.


Digitizing MiniDV tapes is an important task for preserving and sharing old memories. There are several methods and software options available, each with their own pros and cons.

The best method for digitizing MiniDV tapes will depend on individual needs and preferences. If you have technical know-how and want more control over the digitization process, using a camcorder or DV player may be a good option. Hiring a professional service is another option for those who don’t want to digitize the tapes themselves.