FireWire Guide - How to Capture Camcorder Video with
also know as IEEE 1394, and iLink is the primary
transfer mechanism for capturing camcorder video
from miniDV camcorders. FireWire is
needed for capturing your video because digital
video is captured in real-time (as the tape plays on the
camcorder), and FireWire has a high enough transfer
rate to keep up with the playback of your tape.
capturing camcorder video
page for more information on how to import
video from your camcorder onto your computer.
Can you use a USB cable to import camcorder video?
No, the transfer rate with USB is too slow to keep
up with the real-time capture of video from a tape
based video camera. Unfortunately many
camcorders come with a USB cord for transferring
digital pictures from your camcorder which leads
many consumers to believe they can transfer video
from their tape based video camcorder to their
computer via USB as well. You need to use
FireWire to import camcorder video.
What does FireWire look like?
FireWire cables come in two variations 4-pin and
6-pin. Most camcorders have a 4-pin
output, commonly labeled DV. Your computer can
have either a 4-pin or a 6-pin. They make
FireWire cables where both ends are 4-pin, both ends
are 6-pin, and where one end is a 4-pin and the
other end is a 6-pin.
What if your computer doesn't have a FireWire port?
Pretty much every computer has a USB port, but FireWire ports are less common, especially in older computers.
They make a FireWire to USB adaptor cord, but as
described earlier the transfer rate with USB is too
slow, so the adaptor cord will not work.
Fortunately, you can easily add a FireWire port to
For a laptop you need a PCMCIA FireWire card as shown on the left.
These cards range from $10-$30 and can be purchased
at most consumer electronics stores. These
cards are vary easy to install and require no tools;
you simply insert the card into the PCMCIA slot on
the side of your computer.
For a desktop you need a PCI FireWire card as shown
on the right. These cards range from $5-$20
and can also be purchased at most consumer
electronics stores. Installing a PCI card may
require a Phillips screwdriver to remove the cover
of your computer tower but is simple to install.
You just insert it into an available PCI slot.