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Old 10-23-09, 12:36 PM   #1
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Is there a "miniDV player"?

I am almost done with my digicam questions for FOO, I promise!

My miniDV JVC camcorder broke a weekend or so ago; it's only about 16 months old, but out of warranty. I am still going to go in and mess with it myself since I have nothing to lose, but I am also shopping around for a new camcorder since my wife (okay, me, too) is addicted to taking video of the baby.

The first issue is that there are very few miniDV camcorders left on the market, and the one we have seems to still be the best one out there (for us), but I am hesitant to re-buy what I already own (and it broke).

I want to go to a HDD camcorder, but I have 27 miniDV tapes I still need to convert to DVD, so I need something to play miniDV tapes. Relatives have miniDV camcorders, but none of them are widescreen, which is the format of all the video I have taken, and they are so old I don't know if they would hold up to converting all that tape or have the quality I am used to, let alone formatting.

Do they make stand-alone miniDV players? I know there is no such thing as an adapter for VHS since they are totally different (even though that seems to be what Google is full of--saying there aren't adapters), but I can't find anything at all. Maybe nothing exists?

ETA: I know there were "mini DV decks" at one time but I can't find info newer than 2002~2005 and at that time people say they cost $1200-2000. Haha. Whatever.

Last edited by SonataInFSharp; 10-23-09 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 10-23-09, 01:03 PM   #2
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There are a couple out there but they are silly price.

My wife goes through camcorders every 2-3 years, the extended warrantary we bought on one was a load of bollicks.

Having miniDV transferred to dvd usually runs about $20 a tape for that price I would buy another JVC for $140 transfer the tapes and resell it once done.
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Old 10-23-09, 01:27 PM   #3
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I have an 2006-vintage Canon Optura 50 that hasn't been used in a couple of years that I'll sell you for a reasonable price.
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Old 10-23-09, 07:38 PM   #4
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There are MiniDV decks available, but they are intended for professional use (extra durable, rack mount-able, etc.) and are very expensive. They never made consumer MiniDV decks, because the idea was you would just use the camcorder.

Your best bet is to keep asking around and borrow someone's camcorder, or buy one used.

Did you take your broken JVC camcorder to a shop to see if it can be fixed? You never know, it might be something simple.
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Old 10-23-09, 08:00 PM   #5
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Actually, you can use any miniDV camcorder to download the footage, the data-format is exactly the same. Widescreen is done two ways, by cropping the tops and bottoms of the image or by anamorphic compression. This basically compresses the image laterally to fit onto the exact same 720x480 image as regular video. The aspect-ratio encoded with the footage tells the player to stretch out the image sideways.

As for getting footage off your broken camcorder, just plug it into your computer with a firewire cable and you can use the computer as a screen. Download this software package: WinDV. It's basically a remote-control for your camera and you can move around the tape to the point where you want to start and hit the capture button to download.

So the process will go like this:
1. connect firewire cable to PC and download all footage

2. convert DV footage to MPEG2 for DVD (don't resize to keep maximum quality). I prefer FFMPEG for fine-control of numerous conversion options

3. use DVD-authoring package to group clips together into chapters and to lay out menus. I like TMPGenc DVD-author because it can take MPEG2 and create DVD VOB files without re-compression and losing quality.

4. create master ISO DVD-image

5. burn image to DVD.

Be careful with hard-drive based camcorders. Many of them use MPEG4 with too much compression and have lower-quality images than miniDV. The miniDV camcorders could be considered "prosumer" devices while HDD are "consumer", like VHS-C or Hi-8 analog camcorders. Nowadays, the "prosumer" models are HiDef cameras.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-23-09 at 08:22 PM.
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