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  1. I am beating myself up for not doing this early. Feel very guilty now, but want to act and save what's left of it.

    Summary - have about 12 miniDV tapes that needs to be converted to DVDs. A decade ago, I was a pro in capturing miniDV tapes to desktop PC via firewire. Amazing quality!!

    Then life happened and didn't touch video capture for the longest time. Times changed and no firewire option on new laptops. Old desktop met its grave. My reliable camcorder also died.

    Now I borrowed Sony DCR-HC65 and it has ilink firewire port. I do have firewire cable, but I can't find a reliable desktop or old laptop to at least try PC express card. I finally bought Sabrent USB-AVCPT. Tape plays but I can see the quality deteriorating, a test capture was all black and white. On camcorder display it was color. I know that I need latest and greatest codecs and drivers. So I did that and I still see the same in black and white. I tried Virtualdub and VideoStudio. No luck. After some tweaking the audio messed up and out of sync. Getting worse!

    These miniDVs were home videos on PAL_B, not NTSC. What options do I have? I even gave my tapes to professional conversion merchant. And even he couldn't convert them! Any help appreciated! TIA.
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  2. Member
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    You would be best off finding a PAL camcorder, putting a FireWire card in your computer, and doing a digital capture.
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  3. There is many older notebooks with IEEE1394 - they should be cheap enough to consider them as "intelligent" FireWire card - Thinkpad T400 and W500 (own both) for sure are equipped with FireWire interface. If you going for Thinkpad then check for those machines: http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Firewire_Port , for sure there are HP's and Dell's equipped with FireWire too.
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  4. Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    There is many older notebooks with IEEE1394 - they should be cheap enough to consider them as "intelligent" FireWire card - Thinkpad T400 and W500 (own both) for sure are equipped with FireWire interface. If you going for Thinkpad then check for those machines: http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Firewire_Port , for sure there are HP's and Dell's equipped with FireWire too.
    Thank you.

    I see few refurbished laptops on Staples on T410: https://www.staples.com/lenovo+thinkpad+t410/directory_lenovo%2520thinkpad%2520t410

    Is any one of them a good choice? Do I need to get a PC express card? Also, will the black and white capture issue go away? TIA.
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  5. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    as long as you pick one of those that says i has a 4 pin firewire port it will work as long as you have a 4 pin to 4 pin firewire cable.

    the grey capture will only go away if you buy/borrow a PAL miniDV or HDV camcorder. US versions are NTSC and won't capture PAL correctly.
    --
    "a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
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    If you are doing digital over FireWire, many Sony NTSC MiniDV camcorders will handle PAL.
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  7. Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    I finally bought Sabrent USB-AVCPT. Tape plays but I can see the quality deteriorating, a test capture was all black and white.
    That is not a sign of DV tapes deteriorating. It's an analog capture problem. Check the program settings. Try a different playback device and a different capture device.
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  8. Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    as long as you pick one of those that says i has a 4 pin firewire port it will work as long as you have a 4 pin to 4 pin firewire cable.

    the grey capture will only go away if you buy/borrow a PAL miniDV or HDV camcorder. US versions are NTSC and won't capture PAL correctly.
    ummn...looks like I have couple of 4-pin to 6-pin firewire cables. Will need to buy 4-pin to 4-pin cable then.
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  9. Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    as long as you pick one of those that says i has a 4 pin firewire port it will work as long as you have a 4 pin to 4 pin firewire cable.

    the grey capture will only go away if you buy/borrow a PAL miniDV or HDV camcorder. US versions are NTSC and won't capture PAL correctly.
    I have 2 NTSC camcorders, but not PAL. The miniDV tapes were recorded on PAL camcorder 15 years ago. They play OK on the LCD screen of camcorder in color. But looks grey in Virtualdub capture using the USB-AVCPT USB adapter.

    Looking for a PAL camcorder will break my budget...looks like.
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  10. Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    I see few refurbished laptops on Staples on T410: https://www.staples.com/lenovo+thinkpad+t410/directory_lenovo%2520thinkpad%2520t410

    Is any one of them a good choice? Do I need to get a PC express card? Also, will the black and white capture issue go away? TIA.
    Ouch - expected something around 100 - 150$, 220$ for old notebook sounds pretty high - i know that those Thinkpads are quite expensive as they are liked by Linux people, also no need for Windows 10 - legally you can install Windows 7 Pro OEM (expecting less problems with video processing onWin7), those machines was sold with embedded Windows license so you (trough previous owner) already paid for Windows. Perhaps you should consider buying just FireWire interface to already own computer.
    I use everyday T400 (now for example) and W500, both are fine for common tasks so definitely they can be used as regular machines but decision is purely up to you.

    No need anything (PC express card) as those machines are equipped with FireWire - there is 4 pin port on front of machine (left corner) - IEEE1394 is provided trough Texas Instrument chip so it should be no problem use (not expect any BSOD from flacky driver).

    Black and White is related to CVBS (composite) video (not sure about your acquisition card - perhaps it need to be configured to support PAL - perhaps this is camcorder limitation and it is unable to produce PAL colour at CVBS output) - if you transfer DV digitally as data (that's why everyone recommends you FireWire connectivity) then you will transfer digital data (same like movie file) so no quality loss (CVBS will reduce quality).

    If i can advise something then i will spend more money on camcorder than on notebook - seem that camcorder is key to successful DV transfer in your case... in my country Sony DCR-TRV14E is listed as approx 90$ in working condition, SONY DCR-HC28 DV around 60$, very good condition Sony DCR-TRV60E listed at 200$ .
    Last edited by pandy; 26th Jun 2018 at 13:58.
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  11. Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    I see few refurbished laptops on Staples on T410: https://www.staples.com/lenovo+thinkpad+t410/directory_lenovo%2520thinkpad%2520t410

    Is any one of them a good choice? Do I need to get a PC express card? Also, will the black and white capture issue go away? TIA.
    Ouch - expected something around 100 - 150$, 220$ for old notebook sounds pretty high - i know that those Thinkpads are quite expensive as they are liked by Linux people, also no need for Windows 10 - legally you can install Windows 7 Pro OEM (expecting less problems with video processing onWin7), those machines was sold with embedded Windows license so you (trough previous owner) already paid for Windows. Perhaps you should consider buying just FireWire interface to already own computer.
    I use everyday T400 (now for example) and W500, both are fine for common tasks so definitely they can be used as regular machines but decision is purely up to you.

    No need anything (PC express card) as those machines are equipped with FireWire - there is 4 pin port on front of machine (left corner) - IEEE1394 is provided trough Texas Instrument chip so it should be no problem use (not expect any BSOD from flacky driver).

    Black and White is related to CVBS (composite) video (not sure about your acquisition card - perhaps it need to be configured to support PAL - perhaps this is camcorder limitation and it is unable to produce PAL colour at CVBS output) - if you transfer DV digitally as data (that's why everyone recommends you FireWire connectivity) then you will transfer digital data (same like movie file) so no quality loss (CVBS will reduce quality).
    Thanks again. Just placed an order for X220 thinkpad coming for $256 and $3 for 4P-4P firewire cable. Will let you know how it works!!
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    Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    I have 2 NTSC camcorders, but not PAL. The miniDV tapes were recorded on PAL camcorder 15 years ago. They play OK on the LCD screen of camcorder in color. But looks grey in Virtualdub capture using the USB-AVCPT USB adapter.
    That is because you are converting an analog signal that your dongle doesn't fully decode. If it looks good in the camcorder, then it will probably transfer okay through FireWire.
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  13. Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    Thanks again. Just placed an order for X220 thinkpad coming for $256 and $3 for 4P-4P firewire cable. Will let you know how it works!!
    Afraid that x220 is not equipped by default with FireWire so you will need additional FireWire express card but luckily they are not so expensive (around 30$).
    X220 is not bad machine so i hope you will be satisfied user.
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  14. Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    Thanks again. Just placed an order for X220 thinkpad coming for $256 and $3 for 4P-4P firewire cable. Will let you know how it works!!
    Afraid that x220 is not equipped by default with FireWire so you will need additional FireWire express card but luckily they are not so expensive (around 30$).
    X220 is not bad machine so i hope you will be satisfied user.
    Oh...in the specs I saw it had, 1 x 4-pin Firewire.

    https://www.staples.com/Refurbished-Lenovo-12in-ThinkPad-X220-Intel-Core-i5-2-5Ghz-8GB...roduct_2495626

    Is it any different from T400?
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  15. Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    Thanks again. Just placed an order for X220 thinkpad coming for $256 and $3 for 4P-4P firewire cable. Will let you know how it works!!
    Afraid that x220 is not equipped by default with FireWire so you will need additional FireWire express card but luckily they are not so expensive (around 30$).
    X220 is not bad machine so i hope you will be satisfied user.
    Finally got the X220 laptop. You were right. Disappointed to see no firewire port on this laptop. I want it badly. But the specs on the website clearly mentioned 4-pin firewire port. Instead, I see Display port and 3 USB ports.

    I am going to return it.

    The link here shows laptops with firewire port but no pictures. https://www.staples.com/firewire+laptops/directory_firewire%2520laptops?fids=&pn=1&sr=...ax=&myStoreId=

    Which one will have firewire port for sure? I don't see T400 or W500, but I see T410, 420, 510 models.

    Thanks.
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  16. Alright - I now got a Thinkpad T420 laptop with Firewire. I am thrilled to see a firewire port on this one. Didn't take much time to start the capture.

    I am capturing (copying rather) a 2004 miniDV tape using WinDV tool. I see the tape quality is messed up. The more I rewind and play, the more it's getting worse.

    Now, I am planning to get a head cleaner. Is there anything else I can do before capturing less clean tapes? Thanks.
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    Wind the tape end-to-end a couple of times before you play it. (Don't cue or review it on the heads.) This encourages loose bits to fall out and retensions the tape. Otherwise, you must be prepared to clean the heads as often as required. You may find some segments are too deteriorated and will never play back.
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  18. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Wind the tape end-to-end a couple of times before you play it. (Don't cue or review it on the heads.) This encourages loose bits to fall out and retensions the tape. Otherwise, you must be prepared to clean the heads as often as required. You may find some segments are too deteriorated and will never play back.
    Thanks. Yes, I did tape rewind and fast forward once and played the tape. It's a hit or miss, but hopeful.

    This is a PAL capture. I am using WinDV to copy the tape in AVI. It would have been nice if I can get the timestamp information captured on the tape. Looks like I need to tweak the setting on the camcorder to get that information.

    I also noted that AVI files won't play on Samsung TV. I got an error - can't play file format, DVVIDEO codec. Again, I need to do batch conversion.

    Question - I got Ulead VideoStudio, Virtualdub and WinDV. Which among them is best for video capture? Any settings to tweak? I plan to edit the videos when done capturing.

    Thanks.
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  19. Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    I also noted that AVI files won't play on Samsung TV. I got an error - can't play file format, DVVIDEO codec.
    Hardly anything outside a computer will play DV. It's an acquisition format, not a viewing format.

    Originally Posted by foton24 View Post
    Question - I got Ulead VideoStudio, Virtualdub and WinDV. Which among them is best for video capture?
    With a DV source captured as DV.AVI all you're doing is packaging the already compressed video (and uncompressed audio) from the camera into an AVI container. All programs will deliver the same quality if there are no problems. But I think WinDV is about the most reliable since it exists for only one reason.

    About the only option you have is type 1 or type 2 DV AVI. In the former case the already muxed audio and video stream from the camcorder are placed into the AVI file marked as a video stream. In the second, an extra copy of the audio stream is also saved in the AVI as an audio stream. Use whichever works with your editing software (some only work with one or the other).
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