I have a miniDV tape with ntsc recordings on it. My ntsc camcorder broke down on me and now I am stuck with a bunch of tapes in a country that only supports PAL camcorders.
Is there a software that I can install on my mac (or pc) that can read a ntsc tape in a pal camera (over firewire)? Or do I need the hardware?
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No. You need NTSC hardware.
if you can find a used miniDV tape deck they usually are switchable for either ntsc or pal.--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
For one tape, pay someone to transfer it. Plenty of hi-end PAL/NTSC switchable DV camcorders around in PAL countries.
For lots of tapes, cheapest option by far is to import a used NTSC DV consumer camcorder via eBay. You take pot luck with quality though.
Sometimes NTSC DV (and especially HDV) camcorders turn up for sale in "PAL" countries because people bought them while on holiday, or because they were cheaper. Again, see eBay.
A riskier option is to buy one of those hi-end PAL/NTSC switchable machines, use it, and then re-sell it. They tend to keep their value OK, but you may be unlucky, or it may break down on you and then you've lost a lot of money.