MiniDV vs. Hard Drive Camcorders

There are lots of different types of camcorders available that  suit different types of people and different budgets. Hard drive camcorders are some of the most expensive but also the most convenient to use. MiniDV camcorders are often cheaper but can be slightly more difficult to use. Even so, these do have some of their own advantages.

If you're in the market for a new camcorder then it's a good idea to understand the benefits of each type. This will ensure that you choose the right one and don't risk wasting any of your money.


A MiniDV camcorder will store videos onto a miniature tape that fits inside the camcorder. A hard drive camcorder on the other hand stores the videos on a hard drive which is built into the camcorder itself. This means that it's more convenient since you don't need to worry about carrying tapes around with you.


A MiniDV camcorder can easily record as much video as you want. The only limit will be the number of tapes that you take with you. A hard drive camcorder on the other hand will be limited to the internal size of the hard drive. Some models, however, can be expanded by using an SD card although this will depend on the camcorder you have purchased.


One of the major problems with any form of cassette tape is that over time they can stretch. This causes distorted videos and warped sounds on recordings. With a hard drive based camcorder you won't have to worry about any of these problems. Hard drive camcorders cannot stretch and the hard drive itself should have a very long lifespan. As long as you care for the camcorder properly and don't drop it then you shouldn't experience any problems with the health of the hard drive.


Although videos recorded onto MiniDV cassettes are often called digital they are not stored in a format that your computer can understand. This means that you will need to convert them using computer software. Hard drive based camcorders on the other hand are stored in a true digital format. This simply means that you can plug the camcorder into your computer and start downloading the videos straight away. No conversion tools are needed unless you want to change the format.

However, a MiniDV camcorder has the advantage of being able to display the video on a TV without the camera itself. It's possible to remove the tape and put it in an adapter to watch in a VHS player. A hard drive camcorder must either be connected to the TV directly or the videos will need to be converted into DVDs.


The quality of hard drive camcorders will be much higher. It's also possible to set various video modes of differing qualities depending on how much space you have available on your camcorder.

Hard drive camcorders are almost always seen as more professional pieces of kit. These function much more like a regular digital camera and can store many hours of video. As long as you have access to a computer and don't mind saving the videos on your PC then hard drive camcorders will normally be ideal.

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