How to connect a FireWire camera to computer when camera has only FW400 and computer has only FW800

March 10, 2009

I’m currently working with a video camera that has FireWire output and FireWire 400 cable. But let’s say your computer only has FireWire 800 like the new Macs. And you still need to connect the camera to computer. I can haz? How?

One option is to look for new cables. But assuming you already have a spare FW800 cable that’s just sitting around, and FW400 cable that connects to camera, this would be a waste of money.

Option #2 is to realize that FireWire is a serial bus, which means you can daisy chain devices. And maybe you have something like a LaCie portable hard drive sitting around, which has both FW400 and FW800 connectors.

So what you do then, is connect your camera to hard drive, and hard drive to computer, like this:

Mac <-- FW800 --> hard drive <-- FW400 --> camera

A bit unorthodox, but does not require any extra cables and money, and works great for me.