Caring for a Mini DV Deck

The majority of digital video users are using mini digital video tapes to record their footage. From here, they often buy a mini digital video tape deck if they are going to do a lot of shooting. So, it is easy to review and then capture that footage onto their computer for editing. These decks tend to be somewhat sensitive and need special care to make sure that they last and are effective.  Here are a few tips for how to work with these decks, especially used mini DV decks.

Empty the Deck

One of the most important things to remember is to not leave tapes in the tape deck when it is not playing. This keeps the gears in a static position and can even damage the tape. When you are done with a tape in the tape deck it should be removed and the deck must be turned off.  This is going to be especially true on used mini DV decks because the internal mechanisms have seen an excessive amount of wear and tear.


Cleaning the deck is a must and should be done every couple uses. What this means is that a cleaning tape must be used to clean out the inside of the deck. You put in the cleaning tape, fast forward the tape to the end, and then do it a second time. This will not only add to the overall life of the mini digital video tape deck but make it work more efficiently. This may be a good thing to try if you are getting dropped frames or sound static when capturing tapes.

Stick With One Tape Brand

Though it is not acknowledged by many manufacturers, using different types of tapes in the deck can damage it permanently. The reason for this is that different tapes use different types of lubricants inside them. Some of them use a powder lubricant, and others use a liquid oil based lubricant. When these two types of lubricants combine, they can create a paste and jam up the tape deck. This will not happen immediately, but over multiple uses the lubricant tends to leave residue.

Once you decide on a brand of mini digital video tapes, you should stick to that. If for some reason you have to use something other than your selected brand, it is better to plug in your digital video camera directly into the capture card and play it through the camera instead of using the tape deck.  You do not need to necessarily choose between a Sony mini DV tape deck or a Panasonic mini DV tape deck, but try to just be consistent with your tape choices.


Be Careful

The other normal technological concerns apply, including avoiding moisture and damage. If the deck packaged with a VHS or DVD player, then the condition of those decks may affect the mini digital video one. These decks can be somewhat expensive so make sure to take care of it as best you can.  A used mini DV deck is probably going to be the best purchase choice at this point since we are moving past DV tapes as a medium, but you will have to remember that they are not going to be as resilient as a new one.  Treat the used mini DV deck with the special care of a piece of technology that is past its prime, though the casing is going to often be a lot tougher than many items you will find in the home theater industry.  This means that used mini DV decks will likely last longer than you would anticipate.  Also look at reputations for devices, and both Panasonic mini DV decks and Sony mini DV decks have good reputations.

What you have to really consider here is the type of use that you will have for the DV tapes themselves.  It is unusual to shoot on mini DV tapes for most professionals today, so the decks will often be used for archiving and capturing older footage or for the type of shooting that requires huge amounts of recording.  This means that the decks will be used occasionally  and for long periods of capture, which is why it is good to keep the mini DV deck away from the editing system but in a complete set up that can be easily brought in and out yet remain stable.

About shaneburley