Do firewire to usb adapters work?

mimagesnw's picture
Last seen: 11 months 4 weeks 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?

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Do firewire to usb adapters work?

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month 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: 4 years 4 months ago
Joined: 02/07/2012 - 7:16pm

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

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Hmm...interesting, Larry. What software were you using. I wonder if software plays a role in whether or not you can capture with USB. I'm pretty sure it was never possible with FCP.

Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months 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

SteveMann's picture
Last seen: 4 years 4 months 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.

John Sachanda's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 06/10/2008 - 2:32am
Plus Member Moderator

I was trying to solve a similar problem. I need to capture HDMI oiutput to USB3. I found the Balck Magic Intensity Shuttle, which appears to do the trick.

I have not tried this yet. Anyone know about it? Does not necessarily solve Tom's problem,but maybe you can solve mine or someone else's. Thanks.

MariaMorris's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: 03/16/2005 - 3:08pm

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: 5 years 1 month 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: 4 years 7 months 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?

JonnyDeath's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: 01/26/2015 - 10:23pm

It's a SOFTWARE LANGUAGE ISSUE not connection.

As an engineering student I can tell you ultimately EVERYTHING converts to binary but to get there the input device must speak then recode the same language as the output device to a language compatible with your OS or at least, video software.

This appears as a high frequency series of pulses measured as ons and offs by a logic circuit which is translated to a certain language which may be as simple as a compression container for video/audio data.

Anyway just buy the ancient firewire card for $5-$10 OR,



I hate when so called knowledgeable techs promote an overpriced hunk of crap with a massive enclosure hiding the fact that there's about $3 in functional circuit and interface parts inside all coming from Asia anyway.

I've had great results using a $4 EasyCap card using capture freeware and a good codec configured for high quality video. 

Firewire went extinct as fast as it became a commercial system because USB 2.0 absolutely crushed it in under 2 years time. 
Of course believe it or not plenty of production companies still use miniDV over flash based storage digital cameras for a lot of small scale productions such as commercials or film shorts. 

Rhino's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: 12/31/2015 - 4:24am

Does this Pinnacle moviebox ultimate work under windows 10?????