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MiniDV Tape Features

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By Katy Sommerfeld

The entrance of the Video Home System onto the world market in the 1970s created a massive shift in home entertainment culture. Before the VHS tape, families had to sit around their televisions at the exact time their favorite shows aired, or else they would miss premiers of great shows like Bewitched or The Brady Bunch. With the VHS, it was possible for the first time in history to record a TV program to watch at a later time. With the VHS camcorder, people were making home movies for the first time ever. The VHS ushered in an era of home entertainment like none the world had seen before.

The MiniDV was a huge upgrade to the extra-large VHS tapes and camcorders that people were used to lugging around by the 1990s.

Using the DV tape-based format for recording onto magnetic tape, the MiniDV was essentially a tinier VHS tape. Using a MiniDV camcorder, you could record up to 13 gigabytes of data, which made about an hour of video footage compared to four hours for the VHS. The footage could be played back on the camcorder, or if you had the correct adapters, you could hook it up to a TV and play it on the “big” screen. The MiniDV quickly became a popular replacement for the camcorder because of its portability and ease of use. Can you imagine if we were still taking giant camcorders to school basketball games or weddings? Thankfully, the MiniDV saved us from the weight of those heavy VHS camcorders!


The MiniDV was actually the smallest size of the DV recorders. There were four sizes of the DV recorders: small (Mini-DV), medium, large, and extra-large. The MiniDV was specifically intended for amateur use, while the larger sizes were used in professional film settings. Depending on the size of the DV recorder, the length of recording time would alter. Larger sizes could record footage for longer, but they came with a hefty price tag. In most cases, the MiniDV was perfect for most amateurs looking to make a home video of their kid’s dance recital or their grandparents’ 50th anniversary.


Do you still have any MiniDV tapes from the 90s or early 2000s? You can get them digitized using Legacybox! We’ll take your analog media and digitize it by hand, taking great care of your originals and producing a great quality digital version of them at the same time. Once digitized, you’ll be able to easily view and share your videos with friends and family members. Relive the past again with Legacybox.

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