Copy Video From a Camcorder to a DVD Recorder

Save those camcorder tapes to DVD with a DVD Recorder

Most of us now record home videos using smartphones and digital cameras. However, for those that still use camcorders or have many old 8mm, Hi8, or miniDV videotapes tucked away in the back of drawers and closets, it's a good idea to transfer them to DVD.

To transfer your 8mm/Hi8/miniDV/Digital8 tape to a DVD Recorder, follow the steps below.

If you have a VHS or VHS-C camcorder, you can also use the following steps to transfer those tapes to DVD using a DVD recorder, either with the camcorder or via a VCR.

Let's get started.

  1. Locate the Composite or S-video connections (AV outputs) on your camcorder.

    Camcorder Analog Video/Audio Connections

    Some camcorders may have a 3.5mm mini plug that connects to an AV cable that has a minijack on one end and RCA audio/video jacks on the other. If you no longer have the one that came with the camcorder, you can purchase one at a local Best Buy or online. Refer to the photo example below.

    Mini to RCA AV Cable
  2. Plug the camcorder directly into the DVD Recorder and NOT the TV using the corresponding AV connections. However, the DVD recorder needs to be connected to a TV so you can monitor and playback your recording.

    The example uses standard RCA connections for audio and video connections.

    Presidian DVD Recorder with Yaschica Hi8 Camcorder
  3. Switch the DVD recorder from its tuner to the AV inputs connected to the camcorder to get the signal from those inputs to record on DVD with either an input select button on the DVD Recorder's remote or front of the DVD recorder.

    DVD Recorder AV Line Input Example

    If the DVD Recorder has video inputs on both the front and back, the back inputs are usually labeled Line 1, AV1, Aux1, or Video 1, and the front inputs might be labeled Line 2, AV2, Aux2, or Video 2.

  4. Put the tape to be copied in the camcorder, and also put a blank DVD in your DVD recorder (make sure the DVD is formatted or initialized - depends on the format used).

  5. Press Play on the Camcorder, then press record on the DVD Recorder, and you will be able to copy your tape.

  6. When your recording is done, press Record Stop on the DVD recorder and stop on the camcorder.

  7. Depending on the disc format you use in the DVD recorder, you might need to go through a finalization step before removing the DVD from the DVD recorder. The process takes several minutes and allows the finished DVD to be playable on most standard DVD players.

  8. Test your recorded DVD on more than one DVD player, if possible. If successful, continue the same process with other tapes.

The iLink or Firewire Connection Alternative

On a miniDV or Digital8 camcorder, you also have the option to use the iLink (aka Firewire, IEEE1394, DV) interface to copy your video to a DVD recorder, provided the DVD recorder also has an iLink input. Most DVD recorders have this input on the front panel, but some DVD recorders don't have an iLink interface.

If you have this option available, it is preferable for copying a miniDV or Digital8 camcorder video to DVD. You need a 4-pin to 4-pin iLink cable (refer to the circled connector in the image below) to connect the miniDV or Digital8 camcorder to the DVD recorder.

Startech IEEE1394 4-pin Highlighted

After connecting the camcorder to the DVD recorder using iLink or Firewire connections, the rest of the recording steps are the same as outlined above.

Panasonic MiniDV Camcorder – iLink/Firewire Output

Recording to DVD Recorder/Hard Drive Combo Unit

If you have a DVD Recorder/Hard Drive Combo unit, you also have the option of transferring your camcorder video to the DVD recorder's hard drive first (no PC required). Once the recording copies onto the hard drive, you may be able to make changes or add titles, depending on the DVD recorder's capabilities.

After "editing" on the hard drive, you can then copy your completed video to DVD later. This method also allows you to make multiple DVD copies (one-at-a-time) of your camcorder video using the same source (the video stored on the DVD recorder hard drive). It ensures the same quality on each DVD copy, which is excellent for distributing DVDs to friends and family.

Below is an example of the front and rear view of a DVD/Hard Drive combo recorder.

Magnavox MDR557H DVD Recorder Hard Drive Combo Example

Although copying camcorder tapes to DVD using a DVD recorder, as shown above, is pretty straightforward, if you don't already have a working DVD recorder and are looking to purchase one, new units are now scarce.