14th Feb 2005

Digital Camcorder F.A.Q.

How to connect a camcorder to my computer?

1. For transferring still images, the digital camcorders are provided with a serial PC port or USB port.

Serial port, or RS-232C port, provides low-speed communication between your PC and camcorder. Because it is so slow in comparison to newer connections (like USB or i.LINK), serial connections today is unpopular.

USB is a “plug and play” interface between a computer and camcorder which lets you plug in a device without adding an adapter card. USB 1.1, current USB standard, supports a data transfer speed of 12 Mbps - faster than a serial connection but significantly slower than i.LINK (400 Mbps). Future USB 2.0 standard would be 480 Mbps. Today USB is used only for transfering of stills (digital photos).

2. For transferring full motion video to your computer i.Link port is necessary.

i.Link, also known as IEEE 1394 or FireWire, is a standard for high-speed transfer of digital information. It is used in digital camcorders because it is one of the few connections capable of quickly transferring full-motion video. All current camcorders have iLink port. Most camcorders uses 4-pin i.Link ports and connectors, but some employ a 6-pin i.Link configuration. For connecting are used 4-pin and 6-pin cables compatible with i.LINK or IEEE 1394 interface.

Also you will need FireWire (i.Link) port on your computer. It comes as standard on some Macs and Sony computers. If your computer does not have a FireWire port, you’ll need to buy a FireWire card. Also on your computer there should be installed the latest version of DirectX software (available on Microsoft site).

What is a FireWire card?

FireWire cards are supposed to be Plug and Play - Microsoft technology that automatically senses when new hardware is installed in your system and initiates the driver installation. A driver is a piece of code that lets your computer communicate with its hardware.

A decent PCI FireWire card can be purchased for less than $35. If you own a laptop you should be able to purchase a FireWire PC card for around $80.

How to convert analog video tapes to digital format?

Hook up the output connector of you VCR (or analog camcorder) to analog port in your digital camcorder, using analog DV cable. Set the digital cam to VCR mode. Put a clean DV tape in your camcorder. Press Record on the DV camera. Wait until the timecode reads 3 seconds or so, then press Pause. Now you’re ready to start playing the analog tape. Make sure the tape you want to dub is in the VCR or analog camcorder and that it is rewound to the beginning. Then press Play on the analog device. In a couple of seconds the tape will start playing. Either release the Pause button on digital camcorder as soon as you press Play on the analog tape side, or wait until you see the first image pop up on the camera’s LCD. Now the dub is in progress. You should see the red light on the digital camcorder’s LCD, indicating that it’s recording, and the images from the analog tape should be displaying there too.

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