MiniDV vs. DVD Camcorders

If you're deciding which camcorder to buy then you've probably already heard about dvd camcorders. These are more expensive than MiniDV camcorders so are they really worth the extra outlay? Well that will depend mainly on what you are doing with the camcorder and your own preferences.

Choosing the best camcorder for you will make sure that you're not at risk of making a mistake.

DVD Camcorders

DVD camcorders record directly onto rewritable mini dvd discs. These discs are smaller than a regular DVD and are typically 8" in diameter. These DVD's can be used then erased and used again.

MiniDV Camcorders

MiniDV camcorders are a much older technology. Although these are digital camcorders they will record onto a cassette tape called MiniDV. This can often be confusing to many people due to the similarity between DV and DVD. The MiniDV format is a better established technology which has been used for much longer than DVD.

Life Span of Media

DVD's are not as durable as was once believed, however they will still last longer than a MiniDV cassette tape. A MiniDV tape will stretch after it has been used too many times. This will cause your recordings to appear distorted and the sound quality will also suffer. DVDs don't last forever,but they are reliable. Problems can be caused if your disk becomes scratched or damaged.


While DVD camcorders are more expensive than MiniDV camcorders the media should not be. DVD's are a simple piece of plastic and do not have any moving parts. This means that they are cheaper to produce rather than a complex cassette tape with lots of individual components. The DVDs should also last longer which will make them more economical.


Both of these types of camcorder use removable storage which makes it possible to add as much storage as you want. However, a miniDV tape is currently capable of holding more information. If your camera is set to the highest quality then a miniDV tape will normally be able to store around 1 hour of footage. A DVD camcorder on the other hand might only be able to manage 20 minutes.

This typically means that DVD camcorders are only suitable when used in slightly lower qualities to capture video. When using MiniDV tapes you will have to wait while the camera rewinds and fast forwards the tape, this can get frustrating at times. A DVD camcorder does not need to rewind or fast forward in the same way which should make setting it up much quicker.


The purpose of the camcorder will affect which format you choose. The better professional format will probably be miniDV as long as the tapes are changed regularly to prevent them stretching. However, if you want a simple camcorder to take on holiday with you then the DVD format cameras will probably be the best. DVD camcorders make sharing your videos much easier since they are already in a format your DVD player will understand.

As well as DVD and MiniDV camcorders you might also want to consider using hard drive camcorders. These have some additional benefits which might be very useful.

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