You are here

Do firewire to usb adapters work?

tokay117's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: 06/18/2012 - 4:41am

The newer laptops do not have firewire ports so can adapters work when downloading mini dv tape? Some say they work, others say not. If not, what will work to get video onto the laptop for editing?


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

I can't say for sure because I have never tried it, but I know the reason you can't capture tape through a USB connection is because USB transfers data as packets, while Firewire transfers data as a steady stream. So while you can come out of your camera or deck with a firewire connection, the data stream will catch a snag when it hits that USB connection.

If your laptop has a PCIe slot, you can purchase a firewire adapter. You can also look into something like that Matrox MXO2 or MXO2 mini


chuckzootz's picture
Last seen: 5 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 02/07/2012 - 7:16pm
Plus Member

Yes they do. I had to work with a laptop that did not have a fire wire port, so i used a combo usb2 / fire wire adapter to connect my old Sony camcorder to the laptop to upload video files for editing back in the days of 4x3 SD video



Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 4 weeks 16 hours ago
Joined: 08/20/2009 - 1:08pm

I have an IcyDock external hard drive docking system which has both Firewire and USB ports. I wonder if fed with aFirewire stream whether the data would show up on the USB port?? Never had a reason to try this since all my computers have both connectons.

Rick Crampton



greasemonkey's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: 06/25/2012 - 3:37pm

I have exactly the same problem, and was able to solve it:

Firstly, I tried the cable adapter. This did not work. The laptop recognised that something was going on, but there was no recognition of the signal going through.

Next I bought an Express34 card (about 10/$15) which had 2 Firewire ports and a USB port. I also bought an adapter cable to connect the card to my laptop usb port (the laptop doesn't have an Expresscard port either). The USB port worked! But the Firewire ports did not work. The problem seemed similr to the adapter cable.

I then plugged the Expresscard directly into an Expresscard port on another laptop. It worked perfectly and I got 5 DV tapes copied across into .avi files that day.

Not being a computer expert, I suspect you would need a custom port driver for the usb port used for the Firewire connection for the computer to "understand" what it was receiving and, as far as I know, there isn't such a driver out there.

If all else had failed, I had an old desktop machine with a built-in Firewire port...


SteveMann's picture
Last seen: 5 months 3 days ago
Joined: 07/26/2005 - 4:35pm

Do firewire to usb adapters work?No.

For two reasons.

First the protocol is entirely different. Firewire is a DMA transfer and needs a processor at each end to set up and monitor the data transfer. USB is little different from the serial port communications of my youth. They work on an ACK/NAK protocol where (in a nutshell - the actual protocol is a but more sophisticated) the sender sends a packet of data and if the receiver likes it, it returns an ACK (acknowledge), and if not it sends an NAK (notacknowledge) and the sender tries again.

Second the speed of the USB port is too slow.The DV data is a fire-hose of data that runs about 25Mbps. And it doesn't stop when the buffer is full as in USB. Meaning that you would certainly see dropped frames.

The solution is to look for a used laptop with Firewire, or switch to tapeless recording and never buy another tape.



greasemonkey's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: 06/25/2012 - 3:37pm

Ha! Now I know why my efforts with a firewire-to-usb connector were doomed to failure. In my case I was trying to connect an Expresscard with firewire ports connected to usb via an adaptor. Apparently the expresscard specification includes 2 interfaces - usb and pci(e). The common (cheap) card-to-usb adaptors only use the usb part of the spec, whereas the firewire ports were looking for the pci(e) part. So it seems that a firewire link to a usb port would require a large/complicated/expensive box in the middle.

If you have a modern mac with a Thunderbolt port, you can definitely get a firewire-to-Thunderbolt link. But firewire-to-usb seems to be impractical. SteveMann's suggestion, or an expresscard to fit in a laptop with the right slot, seems like the way to go.


MariaMorris's picture
Last seen: 1 week 11 hours ago
Joined: 03/16/2005 - 3:08pm
Plus Member

Thank you, you answered my question because I'm looking to buy the new MacPro Book using fcpX and I was wondering about using it with my camera using mini DV tape now I know it will work because of you.

 

Thank you Maria


Danvi's picture
Last seen: 1 year 3 months ago
Joined: 01/21/2013 - 11:21pm

You can use an external Firewire to USB video adapter for a laptop, just be sure it is made for that purpose. I use the Pinnacle Moviebox Ultimate unit and it works perfectly, even giving me camera control. You can use the captured video in any editing program, not just Pinnacle's.


jbouvard's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 08/01/2013 - 7:44pm

Danvi, what OS are you using on your laptop? Do you know whether the drivers supplied with the Moviebox are compatible with Windows 7?



Maz
Maz's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 01/30/2013 - 11:51am

I have been using such an adapter for 2 years because when I bought my laptop I had not realised it does not have a firewire connection whereas my Sony camera required it in order to capture.  I use Pinnacle Studio and it works fine.


David_K's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 02/20/2013 - 6:22am

I recently bought a new "more than adequate" laptop for video editing and was suprised that it did not have a firewire port that allowed me to tranfser my dv tapes from my camera. One work around is to transfer your dv tapes to your former laptop or desk top that had a dv, firewire port and then transfer the file to an external hard drive. Then simply drag and drop the file from the external drive into your new computer.  It takes an extra step or two but it's fool proof.