Mini Digital Video (DV) to DVD
As a video editor myself using a computer with Vista Home Premium, I do the same thing you want to do. Firstly, and foremost, the easiest way to do this is with the IEEE standard 1394, or FireWire (Sony calls it iLink). Your camcorder, being a MiniDV format, should have a four pin FireWire port on it. Your computer also must have one for this to work. The one on the computer, (if you do in fact have a FireWire port) most likely will be a 4 pin, but could be a 6 pin instead. If you do not know what a FireWire cable is or looks like. Check this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewire
So after determining if you do have a FireWire port on your computer, you will need to buy a FireWire cable. These come in 6 pin to 4 pin, 4 pin to 4 pin, and 6 pin to 6 pin. I hope I have not lost you yet...I know it is very confusing to read...
In most cases, connecting a digital video camcorder to a computer (specifically any recent Windows/Mac desktop or a Mac Laptop), will require a 6 pin to a 4 pin. However, most windows based laptops that have a FireWire port will probably have a 4 pin port. So in your case, you will probably need to a buy a 4 pin to a 4 pin cable. These run anywhere from $20 to $50 depending on length.
When you connect the cable to your camcorder and computer, Autoplay should come up on the computer and should recognize the camera. Then it will give you options to capture the video to your hard drive. The best option to choose is to import to Windows Movie Maker.
However, if you do not have a FireWire port on your computer, you can try getting an analog to digital converter. This requires that your camcorder has an analog A/V out. Some really basic camcorders have A/V out, but others do not. So check before you buy.
The analog to digital converters are easy to find at electronic stores. Pinnacle, the company owned by Avid (one of the world's leading video editor software companies) makes a bunch of these with different features for each of them. These retail around $80 to $120. I have seen at least one version with its own FireWire port on it. These work by connecting the analog signal from the camcorder, by using composite cables, to the converter and then it converts the analog video into a digital signal that the computer can read. The video goes through the box and connects to the computer via USB, something your computer should have. The software included with the box helps you capture the video onto the computer. I think it also comes with Pinnacle's video editing software, Pinnacle Studio 12.
Now, video editing software is a different story. Windows Movie Maker 6.0 included with Windows Vista Home Premium, can do everything you want to make a DVD. The program itself can capture from digital video devices (FireWire devices and MiniDV), but it cannot capture from analog sources alone. Microsoft discontinued that support with version 6, but it was featured in earlier versions (such as 2.5 that was with Windows XP Professional).
After you finish editing with Windows Movie Maker, you can export the video and turn it into a DVD with Windows DVD Maker. This program is a very easy wizard that guides you through the process of making a DVD with the videos you want.
If you do not want to use the Windows Movie Maker/DVD Maker duo, or you cannot because of the analog capture problem, there are plenty of other free and good video editing software programs. I personally use Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0, but it costs about $100, and I know you probably want to spend as little money as possible. I understand completely. So after doing a little research while writing this, I came across Pinnacle Video Spin which is a free video editor. However, it does not make DVDs. But if you import the file that you make with Video Spin into Windows DVD Maker, you can make DVD from that.
Lastly, one thing of note that I noticed. If you will be importing hours (instead of just minutes, or seconds) of video, then I recommend that you invest in an external hard drive. Because an hour of video could take up to 13 gigabytes in disk space, you can easily run out of disk space fast. CompUSA in my area, sells a 1 terabyte drive (yes, that's a 1000 gigabytes) for $179.99 and it even includes a FireWire port and cable, along with a USB port. For an external hard drive, especially one that is handling video, FireWire is highly recommended over USB because it is meant for video and it will not fry the hard drive after over use like USB would. There are also cheaper options too, like 320-750 gigabytes of storage with FireWire ports. These hard drives are made by Western Digital and Maxtor.
Well, I hope you did not spend an hour and/or get lost while reading this...I tried to keep it as short as possible and simple. However, a lot goes into the video capturing to DVD making process. I am only 15 and I love editing video and making DVDs too. Hopefully you will be able to make the DVDs you want to make! Have fun.