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Can I shoot tethered with a Hasselblad H3D (which is Firewire 800) and a computer (PC) that only has USB, via an adapter? Will Phocus / Lightroom recognise it?

A bit more detail: I am going to be borrowing a H3D-39 for a while and I run a high end PC laptop instead of a mac. I have both Lightroom CC and Phocus installed.

I don't want to have to buy a mac for the sole purpose of tethering! Dont get me wrong, I'm no mac hater, but this PC laptop was half the price, twice the spec, and equal build quality!

  • At least not directly. As far as I know, there's no Firewire-USB adapters available, as emulating Firewire over USB is quite difficult (Firewire allows DMA, USB doesn't). – Olli Feb 9 '14 at 10:29
  • Also, do note that there's no FW on new Macs. – Olli Feb 9 '14 at 10:29
  • I used to use a PCMCIA/cardbus card on my laptop to get a set of firewire ports - which may be a cheap solution for you. – dav1dsm1th Feb 9 '14 at 12:15
  • @Olli - I just bought one on ebay! They certainly exist... I would do that, BUT my laptop doesnt have a PCMCIA / Cardbus slot either (nice machine though, Dell XPS 14z) – Digital Lightcraft Feb 9 '14 at 13:03
  • @DarkcatStudios please tell whether it works after you get it. I'm willing to bet it does not - ebay is full of scams. Something like this? Nope, Firewire and USB are not compatible with just cable adapter. – Olli Feb 9 '14 at 13:34
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No, it would be possible the other way around potentially, but it is physically impossible to implement a generic firewire interface over usb with any kind of performance. Firewire needs direct system bus access which usb does not have, therefore it can not provide. More information on the technical reasons why it isn't possible are available on SuperUser.

There are some adapters out there, however they either use a special controller that can emulate a particular firewire mode (such as a firewire HD or generic DV video camera) and then translate the stream on the fly to a sufficiently fast USB connection. These adapters work reasonably well, but they are expensive, have limited functionality and can only be used for the particular type of device for which they were designed.

The other type of device is simpler and cheaper, but is effectively a rip off with limited real usefulness. It is possible to emulate system bus access by passing data over USB and then using the CPU itself to put the information on to the bus, but such behavior is time consuming and will be too slow for most purposes (possibly preventing the protocols on the line from even working at all).

Your only real option would be using a bus expansion card(ie. A pci card, express card or pcmcia card). Alternately thunderbolt, if you have it, is backwards compatible to firewire as it does have system bus access and can implement the entire subset of functionality required by a firewire interface.

Also, while not immediately helpful, last I checked it is still possible to get PCs with firewire ports built in though it substantially limits your options.

  • See my comment link in the other answer. Pinnacle made a device that would take firewire and convert to USB. Direct cable, no, but certainly with a device. However, it's probably not usable for tethering control purposes. – John Cavan Feb 9 '14 at 16:12
  • That adapter would be severely limited in what modes it could support. – AJ Henderson Feb 9 '14 at 16:32
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    I agree, but it's not impossible. :) – John Cavan Feb 9 '14 at 16:36
  • It isn't a true fire wire adapter. – AJ Henderson Feb 9 '14 at 16:38
  • Don't know yet, I'd be curious to see if he's able to control the camera with the option he found. If it can, then it probably is a true adapter. – John Cavan Feb 9 '14 at 16:42
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As far as I know, there's no Firewire-USB adapters available. Emulating Firewire over USB is quite difficult, as technology is so different.

  • In USB, there's no guaranteed bandwidth available.
  • In Firewire, there is (which is really important for streaming video)
  • Firewire allows DMA (Direct Memory Access), while USB does not. That means special driver emulating DMA is required for Firewire adapter. This is a huge performance hit.

Also, do note that there's no Firewire on newer Macbook laptops (since mid-2009), according to Wikipedia page. However, official Apple-made Firewire-Thunderbolt adapters are available (29€).

  • Firewire to USB exists... wisegeek.com/what-is-a-firewire-to-usb-adapter.htm – John Cavan Feb 9 '14 at 16:07
  • @JohnCavan Umm, according to that article, "A Firewire® to USB adapter cable for transferring digital video (DV) is available from at least one manufacturer, but it can be expensive and difficult to find", and no link to such adapter. And it claims that for some devices, there's adapter cables ("dual hubs") that are connected to special ports. Which does not help with generic device (or with Dell XPS 14z). – Olli Feb 9 '14 at 20:13
  • Years ago, Granite Digital made a Firewire to USB adapter that was targeted specifically at transferring digital video, if memory serves. – Dan Wolfgang Feb 9 '14 at 20:38

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