Best way to Convert / Transfer MiniDV Tapes to Computer

AVBurger

Member
I have a stack of MiniDV tapes here. No player. No camera. Im aware of some adapters though they are random and confusing.

I think I saw a VHS tape adaptor you can put one in, but then I must buy a VCR and connect that to my computer. And find some software.

I know I could buy a several-hundred dollar, decades-old, used MiniDV camcorder and try my luck that it has proper outputs to connect to a computer. But then I still need software for recording and converting.

I'm not sure how to proceed. What specifically would you recommend as easiest and most effective and cheapest approach? Note: These can't be mailed in to a conversion service. Just not my thing.
 
What spec are the tapes - analog or digitl, SD or HD? What quality do you want to transfer them to if HD?

AFAIK there has never been an adapter to play miniDV tapes in a VHS machine - what you have probably seen are VHS C to full size VHS adapters.
 

AVBurger

Member
What spec are the tapes - analog or digitl, SD or HD? What quality do you want to transfer them to if HD?

AFAIK there has never been an adapter to play miniDV tapes in a VHS machine - what you have probably seen are VHS C to full size VHS adapters.

They are from like 2013-sh. They don't say SD or HD on them. I recall that back then there was no such thing as "high definition" yet though.

These are the tapes:

TDK DVM60 ME - MiniDV SP/LP 60/90
SONY Premium - Mini DV DVM60 ME
FUJIFILM - MiniDV DVM60 ME

The quality of transfer would be whatever they already exist as, wouldn't it? Im moreso concerned with how to physically transfer to the computer. Whatever format/quality they're in can be converted with software on the computer I assume.
 
They are from like 2013-sh. They don't say SD or HD on them. I recall that back then there was no such thing as "high definition" yet though.-
Wrong HDV came in 2003 - do you know what camcorder they were recorded on
The quality of transfer would be whatever they already exist as, wouldn't it?
Again wrong final quality depends on hardware used to capture and output used on tape player - e.g. HDMI, component or AV (composite video)- here quality required is linked to cost HD capiure kit alone costs well into 3 figures
Im moreso concerned with how to physically transfer to the computer.
Basically you need a player/camcorder and capture device all depends on your budget
Whatever format/quality they're in can be converted with software on the computer I assume.
Wrong - quality can only be downgraded with software (unless you can use professional software and equipment costing well into 4 figures. Although the recordings are almost certainly in digital format there is no easy cheap way to directly transfer that to a PC.
I personally have two stand alone mini DV/DV recorders (one SD and one HD purchased second hand on ebay in the last 2 years for less than $50 (here in UK) which I have used in the past to transfer tapes to a stand alone DVD recorder (of which I have several) in basically high quality SD
 
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AVBurger

Member
Wrong HDV came in 2003...

Again wrong final quality depends on ...

Wrong - quality can only be...

I did some research last night.

First, last night I bought a MiniDV camcorder on eBay for about $60. It has the standard "out" ports (1395 4 pin and S-Video). I then found out that its physically impossible to transfer 1394 Firewire to today's laptops because they lack the technology to receive it. They even sell "4-pin firewire to USB" cables on Amazon but everyone says "Doesnt work". Someone explained that it can't work.

So then I opted for the S-video approach. Found an S-video to USB cable on Amazon and ordered it. People in reviews claim that it should work.

1) What do you think?

2) What software will I need to make this work?

3) Assuming im "wrong" about something here yet again, which I probably am, I now have a camcorder to put the tape into. How can I get the video off of it and onto a new Windows 10 laptop?

4) To answer your question: I am unsure if its HD quality original video. I can not remember as the camera broke at least 6 years ago. I just did a Google images search and I am close to positive it was a Sony DCR TRV30. The one I just got on eBay is going to be a TRV8. Hope I didn't get the wrong type...
 
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AVBurger

Member
Anyone? Seems crazy to me that its physically impossible to transfer MiniDV tape content to a new, standard Windows 10 laptop.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
Anyone? Seems crazy to me that its physically impossible to transfer MiniDV tape content to a new, standard Windows 10 laptop.

Transferring DV files to a PC requires a firewire interface. USB (even 3.0) does not have a fast enough sustained transfer speed. These days that would mean a desktop PC with a firewire (IEE 1394) card.

You would need a working DV camcorder and video editing software. Most have the capability to capture DV video. As the compression is low, the files are large. And are created using a .AVI container.
 
So then I opted for the S-video approach. Found an S-video to USB cable on Amazon and ordered it. People in reviews claim that it should work.
That should work - however if the tapes were HD then you will be downscaling them to SD. The only ways to transfer them to HD quality is to a desktop computer (or old laptop) with firewire capability OR a stand alone DV player/recorder with component video (NOT composite video) output and an appropriate component video capture device - not cheap options.
 
Anyone? Seems crazy to me that its physically impossible to transfer MiniDV tape content to a new, standard Windows 10 laptop.
It is NOT impossible - merely not as cheap or simple as you seem to wish. Professional transfer businesses have the expensive semi professional equipment required - it is after all a format that has been dead for many years.
 

AVBurger

Member
That should work - however if the tapes were HD then you will be downscaling them to SD.

You asked me the type of camera it originally was. I replied that it was a Sony DCR TRV30. Is it still a mystery as to whether its HD or SD? When I look up resolution for video it says this: "The DCR-TRV30 delivers up to 530 lines of horizontal resolution". Not sure if that qualifies as HD.

merely not as cheap or simple as you seem to wish.
I've said nothing that indicates what cost I wish it to be, nor have I said anything that indicates how easy I wish it to be. I do however reasonably find it odd that there is an obvious inconsistency for this one type of media transfer. You can transfer pretty much everything under the sun regardless of age, even if the technologies aren't compatible because people make *adapters* for them all. These types of old tapes still exist in abundance, and yet there is no adapter for proper transfer.

it is after all a format that has been dead for many years.
There is no problem transferring VHS (which is far older technology) or even old cassette tapes to digital media with simple hardware anyone can get online. Its irrelevant that the technology has been obsolete for awhile. Cassette tapes have been obsolete for far longer than MiniDV and I just used an *adapter* to transfer that to a computer and record it to audio file. In fact I recently converted some projector slides from 1968 to digital images. How long have those been obsolete? Literally every other type of video tape tech has an adapter for it. There are some slightly larger tapes than the MiniDV's that I have right here, and you can literally throw them into a Faux VHS tape case which is just an *adapter* and pop it into a VCR and then transmit to your computer.

Is the implication that MiniDV is such an alien technology that no human on earth could possibly create some sort of adapter that transmits the data to a computer quickly and easily. Must really have been a wildly unique technology that 20 years later, our smartest minds can't figure out how to transfer it to a Windows 10 laptop at home.
 
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noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Mini DV and HDV use the same bit rate. - 25Mbs. The difference is the amount of data dedicated to the colour and black and white information. In HDV, more data is assigned to the black and white signal, as that gives the clarity and resolution. DV sensibly adopted IEEE1348 (Known as Firewire) and this is still compatible with Macs to this day.

Firewire is poorly supported on PCs in Windows 7 onwards and this causes the digital transfer to be tricky to get working reliably - but it can be done. External Firewire capture cards that plug into USB ports were once available, but no longer. They needed to compress the video prior to squirting the signal into the laptop and this made them expensive. Internal cards for full size PCs are still available as they connect to the PCI bus that has enough bandwidth to pass the signal to the processor or GPU for encoding.

S-VHS does not look as good as a straight digital transfer but this is not just due to using the analogue transfer but the re-encoding in the PC as well. Put simply the bandwidth of the adapters is often limited so fine detail is missing.

Unfortunately dealing with legacy products is increasingly hard. Try and transfer the contents of a floppy drive to your laptop these days...
 
You asked me the type of camera it originally was. I replied that it was a Sony DCR TRV30. Is it still a mystery as to whether its HD or SD? When I look up resolution for video it says this: "The DCR-TRV30 delivers up to 530 lines of horizontal resolution". Not sure if that qualifies as HD.
That is SD

I've said nothing that indicates what cost I wish it to be, nor have I said anything that indicates how easy I wish it to be. I do however reasonably find it odd that there is an obvious inconsistency for this one type of media transfer. You can transfer pretty much everything under the sun regardless of age, even if the technologies aren't compatible because people make *adapters* for them all. These types of old tapes still exist in abundance, and yet there is no adapter for proper transfer.

MiniDV when it was popular was easily transferred to computers that had firewire capability (and even many laptops had this) - you can still get firewire cards for desktop computers but there is insufficient demand for anyone to design and make such an adapter for laptops. Many MiniDV cameras had AV analogue outputs (My Canon HD MiniDV camcorder does) which is easily captured t o a PC or DVD recorder.


There is no problem transferring VHS (which is far older technology) or even old cassette tapes to digital media with simple hardware anyone can get online. Its irrelevant that the technology has been obsolete for awhile. Cassette tapes have been obsolete for far longer than MiniDV and I just used an *adapter* to transfer that to a computer and record it to audio file. In fact I recently converted some projector slides from 1968 to digital images. How long have those been obsolete? Literally every other type of video tape tech has an adapter for it.[/QUOTE] - Both VHS and audio cassette players have analogue outputs which are easily captured - you have now purchaed a MiniDV camcorder that does not have an analogue output - you need a desktop computer and firewire card to transfer them - easy. BTW pre-recorded audio cassettes are still being produced and sold - although a very niche market - so not obsolete yet. Also note thaat both VHS and audio cassettes were sold with pre-recorded content making them highly more popular than MiniDV which did not

There are some slightly larger tapes than the MiniDV's that I have right here, and you can literally throw them into a Faux VHS tape case which is just an *adapter* and pop it into a VCR and then transmit to your computer.

Those are VHS C tapes used in camcorders that have identical tape and compatible recording heads to those used in full sized VHS machines

Is the implication that MiniDV is such an alien technology that no human on earth could possibly create some sort of adapter that transmits the data to a computer quickly and easily. Must really have been a wildly unique technology that 20 years later, our smartest minds can't figure out how to transfer it to a Windows 10 laptop at home.
The tape and mechanics make such an adapter extremely difficult to produce without actually making a deck and recording/playback heads to suit the unique design of MiniDV and very expensive. You have been told - you require a desktop computer and firewire card (or older laptop with built in firewire) as an intermediary to transfer to a Windows 10 . from your present camera - so not impossible.

I can playback my HDV (MiniDV in HD) tapes direct to my TV in HD on my camcorder via its component video output so need to transfer them to a computer
 
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jont

Well-known Member
If you have a Mac owning friend you might be able to get a them into their Mac ... either via Firewire>800/800 (depending on the age of the Mac) or Firewire>Thunderbolt ... I might have something around here is you want to PM me sometime ...

530 horizontal lines resolution comes from the way that video used to be quoted in the 'old days' and sits somewhere between the old US standard of 480 lines and the UK standard of 575/625 lines ... it's approx DVD quality and just less than half the vertical resolution of blu-ray (1080 lines) ...

You can probably get them converted on the high street still - eg Snappy Snaps ...

HTH
 

meganmartins123

Novice Member
Hello!

I recently acquired a sony camcorder dcr-dvd 109.
I've trying to transfer the videos to my mac computer however it does not read all of the files.
I have 5 recordings on the disc but my computer only comes up with 3 VOB files.
How can I fix this?

Thank you!!
 
Hello!

I recently acquired a sony camcorder dcr-dvd 109.
I've trying to transfer the videos to my mac computer however it does not read all of the files.
I have 5 recordings on the disc but my computer only comes up with 3 VOB files.
How can I fix this?

Thank you!!
Does the dvd disk play back OK in the camcorder? If not then divdd is corrupt and duff.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
It may be that the disc has not been correctly finalised for playback in another device. Does the camcorder still operate and can you complete that operation?
 

meganmartins123

Novice Member
Does the dvd disk play back OK in the camcorder? If not then divdd is corrupt and duff.

Hello,
thank you for your reply!
Yes, I am able to play back the dvd both in the camcorder and on my computer.
When I plug it in,it opens DVD player and I am able to view all of my footage. However when I look in the folder, it does not come up with all of the files.

Thank you!
 

meganmartins123

Novice Member
It may be that the disc has not been correctly finalised for playback in another device. Does the camcorder still operate and can you complete that operation?

Hello,

Thank you for your reply!
There is an option on my camcorder under "disc select guide" where it gives me the option to select " play the disc on various DVD devices" or "delete and divide images on camcorder". Would this be related to the issue?
However, I have the camera setup in Video and not VR.
Thank you
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Sounds like it. Can you record a test DVD and play with the options?

Can you see all the files on the camera itself?
 

Tumi

Novice Member
Were you ever able to convert the miniDV tapes to digital??
I have read this threat and I still not sure if there was an answer to the original question.
Regards

Tumi.
 
Were you ever able to convert the miniDV tapes to digital??
I have read this threat and I still not sure if there was an answer to the original question.
Regards

Tumi.
You do not need to convert to digital - the files are already digital (the clue is in the DV name. The problem is how to transfer those files to a computer which has been answered by people who have actually done it using various different types of device.

What are you trying to capture with what equipment?
 

Tumi

Novice Member
I am in the painful process of converting all my miniDV and VHS/VHS-C tapes to .mp4
For the miniDV: i have my Canon Dv camera connected to my PC via firewire and i am using Power Director 12 that convert the tape to .mpg and Handbrake convert to .mp4
For the VHS: i have my VCR connect to my PC via USB using the Diamond VC500 and use PD12 for the conversion.

I have searched and search the easy way to this for a week and i just come back in a circle to SW that don't really work. Power Directo 12 is good but not stable, sometimes it crashes and stops the recording so i have more than one video file per tape, the one thing that I like about PD12 is somehow when it converts the tape to .mpg format it names it with the actual date when the tape was recorded, this along kept me going since i did not mark all my tapes with the date.
 
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I've just managed to grab my 20 year old mini-DV tapes as follows :-
  • purchased a firewire (1394) expansion card from Amazon for £10
  • installed Ubuntu Linux as a dual-boot on my Windows 10 pc (free)
  • installed DVGRAB on Ubuntu (free)
  • Used DVGRAB with the following command ("dvgrab --autosplit --timestamp --size 0 Tape1-" to automatically create DV files split with a date & timestamp (search for CAPTURE MINIDV TAPES VIA FIREWIRE for full instructions)

The Ubuntu installation as a dual boot was very straightforward. The installation of DVGRAB took about 15 minutes of on-line tutorial.

I'm very happy with the results.
 

Witcher

Member
hi guys!

Similarly to Hanna above I wanted to digitize my 15 year old miniDV tapes. Turned out to be not that dreadful experience after all and has been a success thanks to the tips I picked from forums like this one. So, BIG THANKS for that!

What I did was:
1. I got a firewire expansion card from Amazon (15 EUR) with next day delivery.
2. Inserted into my Windows 10 desktop - no issues with drivers - the card got recognized automatically. (Didn't need any legacy drivers for firewire card to work on Win 10.)
3. Downloaded and activated ScenalyzerLive app (it's free as no longer maintained)
4. Connected my Panasonic camcorder - it got picked up automatically and started transferring videos. Can't comment on the quality of sound or picture yet, but after first look - seem quite ok given the source.

P.S. Neither WinDV nor Adobe Premier Pro worked for me: the first one couldn't detect the camera; the latter would have been my preferred choice but since it was importing only sound - no video (issue with these old codecs), and troubleshooting didn't help.
 

niknolan

Novice Member
Hi guys...I am totally new to this forum. It seems like there is wealth of info in here. l have about 50 of 8mm or Hi8 tapes that I want to transfer to
computer windows 10. I don’t have the camcorder anymore. I am also not to tech savvy either so what do I need to transfer this tapes to computer. You help is very much appreciated. Thank you!
 

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