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  #1  
01-28-2020, 01:24 PM
cal3b cal3b is offline
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Hello, long time lurker - first time poster!

I'm starting a project to archive all my family's home videos and pictures, we have tons of print pictures, Hi8 Tape, VHS tapes, and MiniDV cartridges. I've decided to start with the Mini DVs because I need very little to get started, and we have lots of them!

I've ordered a Mini DV camera from ebay, and I plan to use a headcleaner on it - so hopefully that side of the transfer will be okay.

But, I'm unsure what to use for firewire. I have a windows 10 PC and ideally I'd like to get a card that works with windows 10, but its hard to tell from amazon reviews which one is actually good and works. I'm happy to install legacy drivers if that's all it takes. However, there are some cards like this one (https://www.amazon.com/SHINESTAR-Fir...dp/B0753H8GTY/) where at least one reviewer has said it doesn't work on the latest build of windows even with legacy drivers (https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-r...SIN=B0753H8GTY)

So now I'm kind of nervous to just get any of these cards on amazon without a recommendation. Which leads me to my main question - (1) can anyone recommend a hopefully budget firewire card that works on windows 10.

However, I've also read several posts on this forum complaining about windows 10 and firewire, so I'm not sure if windows 10 is even the best option for copying the Mini DVs. I would be happy to dual boot windows 10 and linux if it meant the firewire cards would be less finnekey. Another option I have is that I think I know someone with an oldish mac that might have a firewire port, so I could potentially use that too.

But my biggest question with using Linux or OSX for copying the tapes is that I don't know what software I should use on these platforms. One of the main reasons I wanted to do the copying on windows is because of WinDv, it looks so perfect, and I don't know if there's anything like it on Mac or Linux. So I guess question (2) is: should I rather use Linux/OSX instead of Windows 10 - and if I do use either of these, what is the best software for copying the footage off the MiniDV tapes? I really want to make 100% sure that I am not accidentally transcoding anything as it comes off the camera, but that whatever method I use, I am getting the identical files from the camera.
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  #2  
01-29-2020, 05:23 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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Since no one else is chiming in I'll take a shot, sharing my experiences.

1. I'm not sure that WinDV works in Windows 10. My understanding is that it's not compatible though I haven't tried it.

2. I haven't tried it because (lordsmurf's recommendations not withstanding ) I've had good luck using the DV transfer program that comes with Movie Studio. I have had various MStudio versions over the years and have not experienced dropped frames. In particular, the DV transfer program included with MStudio 14 has worked fine for me in both Win 7 - 64 and Win 10 - 64 (Version 1809). These OS's were both installed on a Intel Z97 based system using an old Inateck, TI based firewire card. The card also worked fine in an HP Win 7-64 system before I moved it to my then new build. For both Win 7 and Win 10 I believe I had to load a legacy 1394 driver to both recognize the card and to allow PC control of the DV device while capturing.

Best of all, the DV transfer program included with MStudio, named "vidcap60.exe" can be run as a "portable" .exe, straight from a shortcut. I was even able to move just the .exe (and a couple of .dlls it complained about when I first tried it) to another system running Win 7-64 and it works "portably" there as well without any other MStudio software.

3. If you have an available PCI slot in your PC (ie. don't require a PCIe card) there are tons of very cheap PCI cards available on eBay, some for as little as $5 to $6 including shipping. I recently got 2 old Dell/Adaptec 2100 cards for $10 because it was the cheapest way to get the 1 I actually needed. It looks like Dell/Adaptec cards come in a few flavors with the 2100's having 2 external + 1 internal ports and the 4300's 3 external. The later ones seem to come with 1 LSI chip, the earlier with 2 TI chips. TI chips are generally considered the most compatible but I think the LSI's are probably a close second.

For instance: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-H924H-...YAAOSwhcZeGqe1

or

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-SCI-Fi...ty!55082!US!-1

The latter is the style I got. If your case has internal wiring for a front firewire port, the LSI version might be worth a try. They seem highly available.

Of course eBay is always a gamble, but for $10 I took the chance.
Getting things to work in Win 10 is always a puzzle and maybe also a gamble...

DV transfer discussion with ref to Win 10 and Linux:

https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...ith-Windows-10

Hope this helps,

BW
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01-31-2020, 07:54 AM
cal3b cal3b is offline
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Hey, thank you very much for the response, that was very helpful indeed!

I'll definitely take a look at the Mstudio executable that you mentioned, looks very promising.

And thank you for reminding me that I do have a PCI slot. For some reason I assumed that I only had PCIe ports, and indeed the PCI firewire adapters are _much_ cheaper. In fact I found a new PCI adapter at a local store for $5, however it is unbranded, so I don't know how good it will be. Either way, knowing I can use a PCI adapter opens up a lot of possibilities. For instance, there is this Startech card for $20 which has almost unanimously good reviews, even from windows 10 users (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006B8EQ/). Only downside is that it doesn't come with a cable, so it'll probably cost more like $25 in total.

By the way, how has your experience been with the $10 card you got from ebay?
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01-31-2020, 01:03 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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Glad to help!

If the locally purchased card works you're good to go. If it has TI or LSI chips on that might increase the odds. Otherwise either an eBay Dell/Adaptec card or the new StarTech card should work but you just can't be entirely sure. It looks like the StarTech card may now come with a VIA chip, not the TI chip that's shown in the pictures (see "answered questions"). Buying new stuff these days can be as big a gamble as buying old stuff off eBay because they are constantly changing the "sourcing" of components on new products so you really don't know what you're going to get. At least with most eBay sellers they will show pictures of the "actual item" so you can see what it is.

I don't think I've tried an actual transfer with the Adaptec card yet. I put it in a WinXP build I'm nearing completion on that will be used primarily for analog captures. It shows as installed in device driver but that's all I am sure of so far. I expect it to work fine with WinXP. I want to try WinDV just to see how it works. I decided the $10 was worth it to add that capability. If I get time I could try swapping it for the Inateck in my Win 10 PC though that was not in my plans for the day. We'll see...

A couple other comments:

If you don't already know this, you will almost undoubtedly need a 4 pin firewire connection at the camcorder and a 6 pin one at the PC, so a 4 pin to 6 pin cable will be best. I'd recommend NOT using a 6 pin to 4 pin adaptor at the camcorder end. The 4 pin connections on camcorders are ridiculously fragile and most firewire cables are fairly stiff and have big, clunky 4 pin connectors even without an adapter. This combination is just asking for trouble. I have a very nice Canon Optura 600 that I purchased on eBay a number of years ago. The camcorder firewire connector was loose and flakey when I got it and it soon quit working all together. It takes nice video (for DV) but I have to use another device to transfer the tapes. The moral of the story: take great care to locate and route the firewire cable and camcorder so you don't put stresses on the connection between them. Using a 6 pin to 4 pin adapter just makes it worse.

Don't clean the heads on the camcorder unless it isn't working properly. Almost all head cleaning tapes are quite abrasive and rapidly wear down the heads. The mini-DV head cleaning tape I bought years ago stated that it was abrasive and warned against overuse. The general recommendation you will see on this forum is to "never" use a head cleaning tape, at least on larger, more accessible devices like VHS VCR's. Even then the recommendation seems to be leave well enough alone until you are having problems. Mini-DV tape transports are much more fragile and inaccessible so cleaning becomes harder. I've never tried to clean one of mine... I have used the cleaning tape but rarely.

BW
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  #5  
01-31-2020, 02:09 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BW37 View Post
Glad to help!

If the locally purchased card works you're good to go. If it has TI or LSI chips on that might increase the odds. Otherwise either an eBay Dell/Adaptec card or the new StarTech card should work but you just can't be entirely sure. It looks like the StarTech card may now come with a VIA chip, not the TI chip that's shown in the pictures (see "answered questions"). Buying new stuff these days can be as big a gamble as buying old stuff off eBay because they are constantly changing the "sourcing" of components on new products so you really don't know what you're going to get. At least with most eBay sellers they will show pictures of the "actual item" so you can see what it is.

I don't think I've tried an actual transfer with the Adaptec card yet. I put it in a WinXP build I'm nearing completion on that will be used primarily for analog captures. It shows as installed in device driver but that's all I am sure of so far. I expect it to work fine with WinXP. I want to try WinDV just to see how it works. I decided the $10 was worth it to add that capability. If I get time I could try swapping it for the Inateck in my Win 10 PC though that was not in my plans for the day. We'll see...

A couple other comments:

If you don't already know this, you will almost undoubtedly need a 4 pin firewire connection at the camcorder and a 6 pin one at the PC, so a 4 pin to 6 pin cable will be best. I'd recommend NOT using a 6 pin to 4 pin adaptor at the camcorder end. The 4 pin connections on camcorders are ridiculously fragile and most firewire cables are fairly stiff and have big, clunky 4 pin connectors even without an adapter. This combination is just asking for trouble. I have a very nice Canon Optura 600 that I purchased on eBay a number of years ago. The camcorder firewire connector was loose and flakey when I got it and it soon quit working all together. It takes nice video (for DV) but I have to use another device to transfer the tapes. The moral of the story: take great care to locate and route the firewire cable and camcorder so you don't put stresses on the connection between them. Using a 6 pin to 4 pin adapter just makes it worse.

Don't clean the heads on the camcorder unless it isn't working properly. Almost all head cleaning tapes are quite abrasive and rapidly wear down the heads. The mini-DV head cleaning tape I bought years ago stated that it was abrasive and warned against overuse. The general recommendation you will see on this forum is to "never" use a head cleaning tape, at least on larger, more accessible devices like VHS VCR's. Even then the recommendation seems to be leave well enough alone until you are having problems. Mini-DV tape transports are much more fragile and inaccessible so cleaning becomes harder. I've never tried to clean one of mine... I have used the cleaning tape but rarely.

BW
You're capturing noisy analog with Firewire, to ossy compresion-riddled DV? It's a shame to start a restoration project with damaged goods like lossy, compression-riddled DV and mosquito noise, but suit yourself.


VirtualDub won't work with DV input.
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01-31-2020, 03:17 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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sanlyn,

Sorry for any confusion. My analog captures on this PC will be via an AIW 9700 and virtualDub, possibly even for some of my original mini-DV tapes using the s-video output of my DV camcorder. Adding the firewire card to this system is somewhat redundant (I can do it on a newer PC) but I'd like to compare the two "capture" options to decide which I like better. I thought I remember reading that virtualDub can't work with DV avi's. Thanks for confirming that. I'll have to use VLC or other viewers to compare or import both into Movie Studio or whatever. That's a bridge I have yet to cross...

I understand that, theoretically, going from one digital format to another via an analog intermediary is "wrong". However, I've always wondered if there is some element of the digital to analog conversion that when done in the DV camcorders is specifically optimized for the NTSC DV format it is converting and therefore does it better than PC based conversion from the DV.avi file. To my eyes, in spite of the "lossy/nasty" 4-1-1 color and intra-frame compression of NTSC DV, I've always thought it looked quite good on a TV via s-video. Certainly better the the video-8. Better than my Hi-8? Not sure, I need to retest that.

To work with my Video-8 and Hi-8, I'll need to learn how to work with analog for capture/restore/encode, etc. Maybe applying the knowledge and skill learned there will be better than trying to learn how to do restoration, etc. using Movie Studio with the DV stuff. Maybe not. We'll see.

BW
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02-02-2020, 07:19 PM
BW37 BW37 is offline
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cal3b,

I finally did test my TI based Adaptec/Dell firewire card. I worked in my WinXP box with WinDV and also worked with vidcap60 in Win 10 in my newer PC. I'm pretty sure it worked in Win 10 with the 64bit legacy 1394a driver from M-soft which was already installed for the Inateck card I pulled to make the test.

BW
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02-03-2020, 08:16 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Quote:
But my biggest question with using Linux or OSX for copying the tapes is that I don't know what software I should use on these platforms.
On linux, dvgrab works great if you're okay with using the command-line, it's pretty much just start and the capture runs by itself. It's also easily available in package repositories on most linux distributions. You can even use it while running linux off a USB stick. FW cards will normally work out of the box on linux, I haven't tried any pcie ones though.
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02-12-2020, 03:00 AM
cal3b cal3b is offline
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Hey BW!

Sorry for the late reply, and thanks for the extra info!

- That's very interesting that the startech card is also using a VIA chip now. If it really is, then I wonder if there's even any any advantage using it the chip I found locally, which also uses a VIA chip, and the many others on amazon that are cheaper and use VIA chips also.

- Wow thank you for the tip about the 4 pin to 6 pin adapter. I definitely did not know this. Just want to make sure I understand though. Is this what the 4pin to 6pin cables look like: https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-.../dp/B003K1LEME if so, what would a 6pin to 4pin cable look like?

- And also, thanks for the tip about the head cleaner, I had totally planned on buying one and I had no idea that they were that abrasive. I thought because I was getting a 2nd hand minidv camera, it would definitely need a head clean and they are actually quite expensive, so I'm relieved I won't have to get this now!

- That's also great news about your adaptec/Dell card. I'll keep it in mind as a good option.
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02-12-2020, 03:01 AM
cal3b cal3b is offline
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Wow, thanks. I like the sound of dvgrab a lot. Would be very happy to use a command line app to do this, so dvgrab seems like a great option.
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