How to View Mini DV Tapes Without the Camera

By Matt McKinney

Mini DV tapes, those little cassettes you use in your video camera, are a way to record video. They are inexpensive, portable and, best of all, able to be viewed without using the camera. As video technology develops, the use of portable, rerecordable media such as tapes and disks is slowly disappearing. More and more, video is recorded to flash drives or memory cards. But while this technology is still around, users can take advantage of its portability and ease of use.

Things You'll Need

  • Mini DV tapes
  • Mini DV deck
  • Firewire cable
  • AV cables

Step 1

Acquire a Mini DV deck to review your tapes. A deck is basically a VCR for Mini DV's that includes cable connections allowing you to view your tapes either on a computer or on a television or monitor. Decks are professional equipment and thus expensive to purchase. Try renting one instead. Seek out a professional camera house in your area. A popular model to ask about is the Sony HDV Video WALKMAN GV-HD700. A "clamshell" unit, it has its own small monitor with which to view your footage, as well as numerous video inputs.

Step 2

Insert your tapes into the deck and link your deck to your review source. If your goal is to transfer your footage to your computer, connect your deck to the computer using a Firewire cable. A cable should come with your rented deck. If not, they are easy to find at a store such as Best Buy. If you simply want to view the footage on a television, connect the deck to your TV using the familiar red, yellow and white audio-visual cables that come with the deck. From here, the deck works much like a VCR. Once you insert your tape, a blue screen will appear. Press the "Play" button to start reviewing the footage. You can scroll through the footage using the "Rewind" and "Fast Forward" buttons.

Step 3

Purchase a cheap replacement. If you are using the Mini DV Deck because your original DV camera was lost or broken, consider purchasing another camera. As decks are expensive to purchase and can be pricey to rent for longer periods, this may be the most economical option. As technology evolves, Mini DV cameras are becoming cheaper to buy new, either at retail stores or online. Used camcorders are readily available on sites such as eBay. A Mini DV camera's player component works much like a deck, so consider this idea when looking to view Mini DV tapes.