Question Canon XL2 to PC video capture (no Firewire port)


Novice Member
Aug 12, 2020
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Houston, TX
Hi all,

It's been more than a few years since I've been on here, but I remember this being a very cool and helpful resource. I did dig through previous posts as per good forum etiquette, but didn't find anything that wasn't potentially a few years out of date.

So, I have an unusual question that I'm hoping someone can help me solve, after many hours of research on my own (apologies for the lengthy intro, I prefer to just lay out as many details as possible beforehand - I've tried to help tl;dr it by bolding the most important stuff):

I have a Canon XL2 that I refuse to give up, not only because my budget is really low right now (thanks, Covid), but also because I absolutely love its "film-like" capture quality even when compared too many newer cameras. However, my old Mac with direct Firewire input gave up the ghost, and I don't have the cash inflow to replace it... plus that thing was from 2008.

What I do have is a Toshiba Satellite L755, not the newest machine, yet still too new to have Firewire - just HDMI - and it's also been excellent with Adobe CC 2020. (It's lightning-fast on Premiere, AfterEffects, etc, and has a total of a terabyte of storage, and since I just put a ton of diy work into it, I'm not looking to upgrade/downgrade from that either).

So, if you've hung in this far, the question: what would you recommend as the most effective solution for a small budget to capture the dang video from that camera onto the Toshiba? It looks like my only option other than ripping to DVD and then re-ripping onto the workstation is one of these component/SV converters, but the reviews on all of them are related to people hooking up gaming systems, nothing regarding video capture. Looking for reviews/input/advice on the products out there, because there seem to be a ton.

Additional details:
- I did look into whether I could install a Firewire port into the laptop, since I'm comfortable with computer surgery, but that's not looking good.
- Big detail here: I'm not gonna get nuts over a slight loss of quality in working between component and digital, I know what I signed up for with this setup. And I haven't shot anything for a big screen since 2006, so unless it would be noticeable to a layman, I'm not bothered. Just hoping someone might have been through a similar experience making old and new tech play nicely. Especially if it's component/SV to HDMI.
- I do have an ancient Sony DVMC-DA1 converter box, but based on the ports, all that would do is complicate the situation. I don't even know why I bought the thing 17 years ago. If anyone wants it for cheap, I got you.
- Yep, I do know that you can't plug 4-pin DV Firewire right into to USB or HDMI without a converter, no matter how many online stores claim you can, and I hate it, but I get it. Just looking for good, hopefully tested converter options.
- Computer is running Windows 10, if that makes a difference, which it likely doesn't.

Thanks, all. Go easy on me. I'm not a hipster, I just love this camera. :-D

(Edit: attached photo is the one Mac I have that apparently still works. Has a Firewire port, but I don't think it's gonna cut it for some reason... that 1 GB was impressive back in the day, though.)


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Firewire is very poorly supported on PC's. If your laptop doesn't have a socket you are pretty much screwed these days. You could look at a desktop machine and see if you could pick up an old Canopus capture card, as these had excellent FireWire capture.

The HDMI socket on your laptop is an output, so no use to you in this situation.

The XL2 only has S-video out at best. This is a significant step down from Firewire, but a £20 analogue capture card will allow you to access footage. If you are recording in 25p, the analogue output will be re-interlaced, so this might reduce the filmic look somewhat and make pans look jerky.

I don't understand what you would gain recording to DVD unless your recorder has a Firewire input?? Just get a basic S-video capture device and cut out the DVD stage.
Thank you for your response. I've no idea why so many people recommend the DVD stage, it seems like unnecessary extra work to get to a similar final result.

My S-Video port is both input and output, through a very simple change in settings, which is fortunate. S-Video is the most ideal output for conversion, as far as I can tell - at least until I can obtain a desktop that will allow me to install the proper card. I truly miss having the direct Firewire connection.

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