If you have a tape-based camcorder, there’s a way to transfer video from your camcorder to your computer as will be explained below.
If yours is a Digital8 or mini-DV camcorder, you can use the Firewire connection in your camcorder to transfer video to your camcorder. This is only possible if you’ve a Firewire port in your computer.
Learn more about transferring video from your camcorder to your computer using Firewire.
Can you Convert FireWire to USB?
If you don’t have a Firewire connection with your computer, can you connect your Firewire port of your camcorder to the USB port of your computer?
There are many Firewire-to-USB adapters in the market, claiming to do the job. They aren’t a straightfoward solution to connecting Firewire-USB connection problem.
Such Firewire-to-USB adapters have issues when used to transfer video to a computer. This is because both these connections use different kinds of data transfer methods.
FireWire uses an IEEE 1394 Serial bus whereas USB employs a Universal Serial Bus (USB), Both aren’t really compatible with each other.
They may work though for connecting other peripherals like externa; hard disk, but not for video transfer and capture.
So, before you go out and buy a Firewire-to-USB adapter check with your camcorder manual if such a connection is permitted. If not, avoid the option.
Camcorder with a USB Port
If your mini-Dv camcorder comes with a USB port, please refer to the camcorder manual for instructions on how to connect your camcorder to your computer.
Usually a USB camcorder comes with a USB driver installation CD.
You would have to install the USB driver into your computer first . Also install whatever video capture/editing software provided by the camcorder manufacturer. Most likely you would be using the software to transfer video from your camcorder to your computer using USB.
For example, the Sony DCRTRV27 MiniDV Digital Handycam Camcorder comes with a USB port. However, you can only use it capture still images and MPEG-quality video from the camcorder.
Then connect your camcorder to your computer through the USB cable provided with your camcorder. Again it would be useful to refer to your camcorder manual for detailed instructions.
The next step would be to launch your video capture/editing software and capture the video after pressing the play button on your camcorder.
Camcorder without a USB Port
If your camcorder doesn’t have a USB port and and you don’t fave the facility to use a Firewire connection, then you’ve the option of an external USB connection.
What do you mean by an external USB connection option? It means you would have to use an external USB video capture device.
This is the easiest way to transfer video from a camcorder to your computer using USB.
Firstly, you don’t have to use any expensive cables and secondly, you don’t have to open up your computer casing to install a video capture card.
A USB video capture device is affordable these days and you could easily buy it over Amazon in the range of $20. Just search for USB video capture.
Connecting Your Camcorder to a USB Video Capture Device : Step-By-Step
There are two types of analog connection you can use with a USB video capture device as you can see from the image above.
First, you can use the RCA connection, the yellow (video) and red and white (audio).
If your camcorder has an S-Video port, then use it by all means if you’ve an S-video cable handy. S-Video will give you superior image capture but then it offers only video capture, not ausio. You still have to connect audio out from your camcorder using the RCA cables (red and white) to the USB video capture device.
Once you’ve connected the USB capture device to your camcorder, you can then plug it into your computer via the USB connector.
Follow the instructions on the manual. USB video capture device comes with a CD containing the device driver and sometimes a basic video editing program to help you transfer video from a camcorder to your computer using USB.