MiniDV tapes were introduced in 1995 and were mainly used for recording home movies. So it’s normal to see them lying around your house. Also, Mini DV is among the last released videotapes before the start of digital video recordings stored on the external (micro DVD) and internal memory. So if you were thinking of converting the tapes to digital, don’t worry because there are plenty of solutions available.

We can group the process in two ways according to the conversion method: DIY and sending to a professional digitization service.

Note: DIY requires technical knowledge, editing skills, time, and proper gear, such as old players and camcorders, video capture devices, and software, among other auxiliary equipment. On the other hand, professional services save you from technical mistakes (damaging or destroying tape), buying old players and camcorders.

Stick around and find out which solution works best for you and what you need to know. For a simple overview of the methods, see the table of contents.

Best DIY Methods To Convert MiniDV to Digital

You can convert mini DV tapes yourself if you have the right equipment in good working order. Here are some of the methods of converting to digital use:

  • Camcorder
  • Firewire Card for capturing video on a computer–price ranges from $20 to $50
  • MiniDV player deck
  • VCR or VCR combo that accepts MiniDV
  • Video capturing device or video converter

DIY converting tapes to digital sounds easy, but it usually goes the other direction. Connecting different types of old devices gives you problems that are hard to figure out and take a ton of time before you even start.

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MiniDV Camcorder

minidv camcorder
Camecorder

Converting Mini DV tapes to digital using a camcorder is one of the easiest ways. Having MiniDV tapes, you probably have your old camcorder, but if not, you need to get one. You would be surprised that you can still buy a brand new MiniDV camcorder on Amazon, and for used ones, there are plenty of options for around $100.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Camcorder
  • Cable ports you’ll need: Mini USB to USB-A cable, and DV to USB-A cable
  • Computer or laptop with USB-A port
  • Video capture software

Converting Using Camcorder and Computer

Before you start, double-check the working condition of your camcorder before using any method listed. Then, find some test tape to see if the camcorder works properly to save your important tapes from damage.

Your computer needs at least one free USB-A port and software to capture played footage from the camcorder. During the research, we found one free software that may help you, VirtualDub.

Here are the steps on how to convert using camcorder and computer:

  1. Locate connection ports on your camcorder (usually, it’s hidden with a cover)
  2. Using cable, connect your camcorder to the computer
  3.  Set the camcorder to VCR mode
  4. Insert MiniDV tape to the camcorder
  5. Open video capturing software of your choice
  6. In the capture software menu, find and click “capture” and wait for the window to show up on the monitor
  7. On your camcorder, press “Play.”
  8. After the last step, the video should appear, playing inside the capture window of your software.
  9. Then when the tape is finished playing, you can stop recording in the software.

Although your camcorder may have a mini USB connection, you won’t be able to copy gigabytes of footage at a fast rate. It will take some time as Mini USB is meant more for photo transfer.

Converting Using Camcorder and Computer with FireWire Card

minidv to digital firewire card
FireWire Card

The Firewire cable is necessary for capturing high-quality video from your digital camcorder. You will find DV connectors on almost all camcorder models, providing you with the best possible footage capture. In addition, converting over the DV connection will allow you to capture the highest resolution that the camcorder can provide.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Camcorder
  • DV cable 4-pin to 6-pin (compare ports between devices)
  • Firewire Card
  • Computer
  • Video capturing software on the computer

If you don’t already have an installed Firewire card inside your computer, you can get one installed on your computer motherboard. Also, depending on the firewire card, you need to check for required drivers and install them so the card can work properly.

After these first steps, you must install and open video capturing software such as VirtualDub. There is also better premium software that is easier to configure depending on the type of camcorder you are using.

Here are the steps on how to convert using camcorder and computer with FireWire card:

  1. Connect your camcorder and computer/firewire card with DV cable (check cable pin heads)
  2. Set camcorder in VCR, VTR, or play mode (depends on camcorder model)
  3. Open video capturing software and find the camcorder source.
  4. Inside the capture software, press “capture/record.”
  5. On the camcorder, press “play.”
  6. When tape footage ends, stop the software capturing

Converting Using Camcorder and DVD Recorder

The simplest way to transfer your miniDV to digital form is onto a DVD via DVD recorder without any software.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Camcorder
  • DV cable 4-pin to 6-pin (compare ports between devices)
  • DVD recorder
  • Blank DVD

Note: Check the DVD recorder if it’s in working condition before starting the process.

Here are the steps on how to convert using camcorder and DVD recorder:

  1. Using the compatible DV cable type, connect the camcorder to the DVD recorder input port (most DVD recorders have labeled ports).
  2. Take a blank DVD, insert it into the DVD recorder, and wait until the DVD is fully loaded.
  3. Insert the MiniDV tape that you want to convert into a camcorder and select the input type that is used for the connection.
  4. Press play on the camcorder, and then press record on the DVD recorder. 
  5. Footage will start playing, and at the same time, it gets recorded on the blank DVD that you inserted.
  6. With the completion of footage, stop the camcorder and the DVD recorder. 

Converting Using a Video Converter/capturing Device

When you search for solutions for converting old tapes to digital, you will usually get results about video converters or video capturing devices. Unfortunately, video converters tend to have issues with drivers (usually models with RCA to USB type). Still, luckily there is an easy way around it. Also, the cheaper converter you get, the more problems you will have, so if you plan to buy this kind of device, invest in a good one.

av camecorder cable
AV Cable

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Camcorder
  • AV to RCA cable, or if the AV to RCA is female, then you need another RCA cable with a male connector on both ends (check if the cables are included with the device). Something to note here is that AV has a single pin, while RCA has three separate pins colored yellow, red, and white.
  • Video converter/capturing device
  • Depending on the video converter device, you are going to need a mini/micro USB cable or Micro SD card to be able to transfer footage to a PC/Laptop.
minidv to digital converter
DIGITNOW Video to Digital Converter
video capture box
DIGITNOW HD Video Capture Box 1080P

Here are the steps on how to convert using a video converter/capture device:

  1. Insert the memory card into the video capture device
  2. Connect the device to the charger and power it on
  3. On the camcorder, find the AV port and plug the AV cable end into it, and the other end of the cable connects to the capture device.
  4. Inside the device settings, find the video source and set it on AV (double-check the setting is applied). Select S-Video in the source if you have an S-Video cable connection instead of an AV to RCA. If everything is set properly, you should be able to see the camera’s live view on your capturing device. 
  5. On the camcorder, find the footage you want to convert and press “play,” and immediately after that, press the “record or rec” on the capture device software to start capturing the footage. If information or a menu is displayed on the camcorder screen during playback, turn it off in the camcorder options so that we only see and record the footage.
  6. After the played footage ends, press stop on both the camcorder and capturing device.
  7. Check if the footage is successfully captured on the device, and then you can transfer it to other devices for editing or sharing.

Note: If your camcorder and capturing device support an S-Video connection, use it instead of AV because of better picture quality.

Using a Professional Service for Converting MiniDV to Digital

16mm film to digital service

You can send your MiniDV tapes to a digitization service without having the hassle of converting and editing audio/video quality. Instead, professional technicians do all the work for you. Besides videotapes, services also accept other types of media such as photos, slides, negatives, old films, and many more, depending on the service.

With professional video editing software, experienced staff, and high-quality equipment, they can produce a high-quality version of your videos that will not only meet but exceed your expectations. Although it comes with a price, it can be affordable depending on your chosen service.

iMemories

Editors Choice

Legacybox

Memory Fortress

Costco Digitizing

Kodak Digitizing

iMemories
Legacybox
Southtree
Costco digitizing
Kodak digitizing

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Reviews Across Multiple Websites

Trustpilot: 4.7 out of 5

Sitejabber: 4.8 out of 5

Yelp: 3.5 out of 5

Trustpilot: 2.0 out of 5

Sitejabber: 3.8 out of 5

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Yelp: 4.5 out of 5

Trustpilot: 3.5 out of 5

Sitejabber: 1 out of 5

Yelp: 2.5 out of 5

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Facebook: 2.3 out of 5

Video Conversion

MiniDV, VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8, Betamax, MicroMini, DVDs, MiniDVDs

MiniDV, VHS, VHS-C, Hi8, Digital 8, MicroMV, Betamax, 8mm Video Cassette

MiniDV/HDV, VHS, VHS-C, Betamax, 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8, MicroMV

MiniDV, VHS, S-VHS, Betamax, VHS-C, S-VHS-C, Video8, Hi8, Digital 8, DV, DVCAM, DVC

MiniDV, VHS, VHS-C, Hi8, Video 8, Betamax, MicroMV, PAL, Digital 8

Film Conversion

8mm, 16mm, Super 8

16mm, 8mm, Super 8, Regular 8

8mm

8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm

8mm, 16mm

Photo Conversion

Photos, Negatives, Slides

Prints, 35mm Negatives, 35mm/126 slides

Lose photos up to poster size, photos in albums (non-scrapbooks), scrapbooks


35mm, Super 35mm, 35mm half frame, 110, 126, 127

35mm negatives
110 film negatives
126 film negatives

Prints from 2" x 2" to 8" x 12"

35mm/126 slides, Prints, Negatives

Audio Conversion

N/A

Reel to Reel, Audio Cassette, Micro-Cassette

N/A

N/A

Audio Cassette, Reel-to-Reel

PRICING

Video Conversion Price

$14.99 per tape

$59.99 for 2 tapes

$279.99 for 10 tapes

$559.99 for 20 tapes

$1099.99 for 40 tapes

Starting at $20.00 for one tape (DVD Deliverable)

Starting at $19.99

$69.99 for 2 tapes

$299.99 for 10 tapes

$599.99 for 20 tapes

$1199.99 for 40 tapes

Film Conversion Price

$14.99 per 50ft.

$59.99 for 2 films

$279.99 for 10 films

$559.99 for 20 films

$1099.99 for 40 films

Starting at $0.29 per foot

Starting at $19.99

$69.99 for 2 films

$299.99 for 10 films

$599.99 for 20 films

$1199.99 for 40 films

Photo Conversion Price

$0.49 per photo

$59.99 for 2 sets of 25 pictures

$279.99 for 10 sets of 25 pictures

$559.99 for 20 sets of 25 pictures

$1099.99 for 40 sets of 25 pictures

Loose Photos at 300 dpi $0.25

Loose Photos at 600 dpi $0.29

Photos in Album at 300 dpi $0.41

Photos in Album at 600 dpi $0.45

Starting at $0.49 per slide (4,000 dpi)

$0.75 per 35mm negative

$1.79 per medium format (up to 3x3)
$4.49 per large format (over 3x3)
$9.49 per glas plate

Starting at $19.99

$69.99 for 2 sets of 25 pictures

$299.99 for 10 sets of 25 pictures

$599.99 for 20 sets of 25 pictures

$1199.99 for 40 sets of 25 pictures

Audio Conversion Price

N/A

$59.99 for 2 audio items

$279.99 for 10 audio items

$559.99 for 20 audio items

$1099.99 for 40 audio items

$15 per audio 

N/A

$69.99 for 2 audio items

$299.99 for 10 audio items

$599.99 for 20 audio items

$1199.99 for 40 audio items

Benefits of Using a Professional Digitization Service

Choosing professional care for your memories comes with great benefits, and it’s the best approach, especially when you don’t have a camcorder.

Some of the benefits of using professional service:

  • It saves you from buying old equipment which is questionable whether it will work, which can be expensive
  • You don’t need to waste time-solving unknown problems with old equipment.
  • Your tapes won’t be destroyed, which may happen with DIY methods because of a lack of knowledge and working equipment.
  • It saves you time, and you can go with your everyday life.
  • Your media is cared for, handled, and converted by professionals.
  • You can choose the format of the digital file (depends on the service you choose)
  • Your media can be repaired and enhanced to look better (depends on the service you choose)

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How a Professional Service Works

service digitizing process and enhancement

Most of them have a straightforward process from start to finish. After you make an order, you need to send tapes by mail. You can send it in a shipping kit (depending on service) or in your own box.

Note: If you’re mailing tapes using your own box, make sure to use the sturdy or, even better crush-proof box. If your service of choice offers a shipping kit, we advise you to use one.

When tapes arrive in the facility, they will inform you. After that, you can follow the process of converting tapes to digital form. During the process, your tapes may receive repairs, and enhancements, which affect better video quality. With some services, this counts as an addon and may cost you some money. On the other hand, some companies like iMemories include this with every conversion free of charge.

They can transfer converted tapes on: 

  • DVD
  • Blu-ray
  • USB
  • Digital file download
  • External hard drive
  • Cloud
service digital copy options

The average turnaround time is 2-3 weeks, but it might take longer depending on the service and the amount of media you need to convert.

Price can also vary from service to service. For videotape transfer, the price can range from $12 to $35 per tape + a digital copy of your choice.

Overall in a short time, you will get your video tapes converted to digital with better video quality than you expected. In addition, you know that tapes are in safe hands and will be digitized and enhanced. So it’s better to invest in a service that will do a professional job than in old equipment, which may do more harm than good.

Check out the comparison of our top recommended transfer services with good customer ratings. See which service can fulfill your expectations.

Written by Abdo

Abdo is a Zoopy writer who loves spending his free time outdoors, camping, and enjoying the peace that nature brings. He also enjoys fixing things - he's particularly good with electronics. His favorite movie is I Am Legend, and he's fascinated by survival gear and safety.

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