Mini DV begins with the DV recording format – also
known as DVC – which was released in 1995. It was the first digital
video format to be widely accepted by the consumer and home video
market. The title "DV" simply refers to "digital video," and
identifies the formulation of the data stream present on the
tape. DV, which uses 1/4" tape and boasts 500 lines of resolution,
established the basis for MiniDV as well as the professional
variants DVCAM and DVCPRO.
MiniDV's only differences from full-size DV is the size of the
cassette shell and the fact that it records via a smaller 10-micron
track pitch. But otherwise, there is little that differentiates
Mini DV from the professional DVCAM format. The video data streams
are actually completely identical – meaning that Mini
DV is as professional a consumer format as you can get. DVCAM's
only advantage is that it records to a 15-micron track, largely
to enable more precise editing.
Mini DV holds raw DV video – exactly the same digital
information and quality that we produce in our Convert to Video
Files service. They hold approximately 2.5 times more information
than DVDs, and thus are a great master format for video (although
as an organic tape format, they do suffer from the same wear
and deterioration issues as regular analog video tapes). When
you record the information on a Mini DV tape through a video
camera via Firewire into your computer, there is zero loss in
video quality. Therefore, Mini DV tapes allow for perfect frame-by-frame
editing on a computer, whether Mac or PC.
When we transfer Mini DV to DVD, we can preserve
much of the sharp quality on the original digital tapes. Converting
to DVD doesn't mean losing quality as with a dubbed analog tape.
When you transfer a digital tape to DVD, the quality stays the same.