What Is the Difference Between 8mm and MiniDV?
What Is the Difference Between 8mm and MiniDV?
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What Is the Difference Between 8mm and MiniDV?

By Shelby Burr

8mm tapes and MiniDV tapes...what’s the difference? Both are home movie favorites, both were extremely popular during one point in time, and both are very similar.

There is a difference! We promise. Plus, when going through your family movies, it’s good to distinguish the difference between these two mediums.

Not only will it help determine what you’re digitizing, but it will also give you an insider's view point on how your family members recorded your beloved memories


8mm Tapes

Did you know that 8mm tapes has relatives? Informally, 8mm tapes relate to the NTSC and PAL/SECAM (another explanation for another day). These tapes all correlate to similar television systems. Originally, these started off as Video8 format and even it’s improved successor, the Hi8. These all refer to analog video and analog audio, but with the provision for digital audio, as well as digital recording (Digital8). All this to say, 8mm tapes come from a large family! 


8mm tapes user base consisted mainly of amateaur camcorder users. Families all over could use this format and not have to scratch their head every time they wanted to take a family video. It was easy to use and easy to understand. The fun part is, even professional television production fields found great use from the 8mm tape.


In January of 1984, Eastman Kodak announced this new technology and Sony released one of the first Video8 (8mm) cameras with commercial success. These cameras were much smaller than the VHS and Betamax, so it was also very popular to crowds because of it’s size. 



MiniDV Tapes

First things first, DV stands for Digital Video. The MiniDV tapes may seem similar to the 8mm, but there are differences! DV was originally designed for recording onto magnetic tape. Tape is enclosed into video cassettes of four different sizes: small, medium, large and extra-large. Small cassettes were known as MiniDV cassettes, and were created for the intention of amateur use. It later became accepted in professional productions and were used for recording baseline DV, DVCAM and HDV. 


The total length of time you could record on a MiniDV was 63 minutes or 13 GB of recording. The larger the DV tape, the more time you had to record on your tape.


See some of the differences now? No? Well here are some more:

  • 8mm tapes are recorded on a Digital8 camcorder.
  • MiniDV tapes are recorded on a camcorder only specific to the MiniDV format
  • 8mm tapes (depending on the kind) could record anywhere from 4 min - 22 min of tape.
  • MiniDV could record 63 minutes
  • You can only play MiniDV tapes on a MiniDV camcorder OR a MiniDV deck that would attach to your VHS player. Most times though, the camera is required.
  • 8mm tape can be played with an adapter for your VHS and the camera is not required.
  • 8mm tape released on 1985
  • MiniDV tape released in 1995


  • They are both old, outdated formats that need a little TLC and to be preserved.

Both of these tapes are unique and your 8mm or MiniDV tapes probably hold some valuable family memories on them! That said, don’t let these once popular formats die in vain. Save, preserve, revive your home-movies! Digitizing these tapes will not only be the easiest thing you’ll do, but the more rewarding. Your memories will continue to live on in the digital area unharmed by the cruelties of nature! Enjoy these fun tapes, and enjoy your memories.

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