Well this is sort of a short review and a tutorial on how to capture from a minDV Sony handycam to your PC.
But before that here are some background. I still have this Sony DCR-HC48 camcorder that I bought couple of years ago back when HD camcorder were still pretty expensive about $800-$1500. With the Sony DCR HC series you can transfer video only with a i.LINK cable to firewire. The USB cable is only used to transfer still images. Firewire offers the best quality video transfer unlike USB methods for capturing from still tapes.
To get started on a PC you need to an i.LINK cable, a good capture card and a good capture software, I suggest you go for the PCI-Express capture cards and not the PCI version as it would soon be obsolete, plus PCI-E is more faster.
The one I bought is a Belkin 3-Port firewire PCI-E. So just open up your pc and install it on the PCI-E slot. It’s plug and play so no required drivers when you start your PC.
For the capture software I used the software that came with the Sony DCR, I found that it offers better depth than Windows Movie Maker. I didn’t try it yet on commercially sold video editors which has built in capture features.
Below is a sample video captured then I re-saved the file using Windows Media Player to reduce filesize but with a bit of quality loss. (btw the one with fairy costume is my daughter)
Overall that is how to get started. The firewire PCI-E is amazingly fast and produced no drop frames. Windows Media Player capture quality is kinda poor so go look into other capture software.
On a different note I used to use an MacBook Pro before for capturing videos. Another reason why I love a Mac which by review comes with almost the complete ports which includes the i.LINK firewire port plus comes with a free powerful software iMovie for capturing and editing movies.