Can anyone recommend Mac compatible external (USB or FW) video capture hardware?
March 3, 2009 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I just ordered the updated Mac Mini, and I'm looking around for an external box that I can plug analog or DV sources into to capture video. The main purpose would be to capture a lot of old material on VHS and Hi8 tape that is getting well past expiration date. If it could tune into cable or over-the-air tv, that'd be great, but it's really just capturing/encoding video from external sources (RCA,S-Video,DV) that it needs to do well. I have one of these things for inputting analog/outputting digital audio, and it works great with its parent application. I'm hoping to find something similar in quality for video. My price point is $200-400. Does anyone have experience using something like this, that they'd care to recommend?
posted by $0up to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might be able to find one of these used.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2009

The new mini will accept input from a normal DV source (it has a firewire 800 port, so you'd just need the appropriate cable to connect it to your DV source). You can use iMovie to capture the video.

If you don't have a DV source (like a camera or a deck), many inexpensive DV camcorders will do analog passthrough, allowing S-Video or composite input to passed through to the firewire port and captured on the fly with a computer

An EyeTV product like this one might serve your needs as well; it has an over-the-air HDTV tuner and also accepts S-Video & composite input via a little breakout cable.
posted by kid_dynamite at 12:38 PM on March 3, 2009

I've been using a refurb EyeTV 250 Plus to convert some old VHS tape to digital. It's done a pretty good job, I'm happy with the results. My VCR doesn't have an S-Video out, but the EyeTV has S-Video, so maybe that would make the picture a bit better.

It also acts as a TV tuner, but I haven't really played around with that capability yet.

It costs $200 new from their store, but looks like you can get it a little cheaper on Amazon right now.
posted by wsquared at 12:41 PM on March 3, 2009

I would recommend Canopus' series of A/D converters; you should be able to get one (I have the ADC100) for $100-200

Do not buy a Formac DV/TV; they are notoriously unreliable (and I had a terrible experience when I used one)

Does the new Mac Mini's lack of a Firewire 400 port impact this decision at all?
posted by jtron at 12:53 PM on March 3, 2009

Sony used to make a box called the DVMC-DA2 which bridged composite RCA and S-Video to firewire and back -- there's a couple on ebay now. A cheap camera serves the same purpose, as kid_dynamite said.
posted by Alterscape at 1:02 PM on March 3, 2009

EyeTV also has some older models that will work just fine, and can be found at reasonable prices on eBay and CL. The EyeTV 200, which I have, has a FW400 interface and will accept RCA and S-Video input. It also has an internal MPEG-4 compression board, which is handy; it's not HD. The EyeTV 500 is essentially the same unit in HD. If you go this route, just get a FW400 to FW800 interconnect cable
posted by mosk at 1:33 PM on March 3, 2009

The Dazzle DV Bridge was a solid performer back when I used it in 2001-2004. Still have it but haven't used it in years.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:46 PM on March 3, 2009

Hauppauge hd-pvr - will record 1080 from analog in h.264. Earlier builds not the most reliable but later builds better... I use mine with xp to record tv. In the low end of your price range, too. Not totally sure about mac os compatibility.
posted by schmoppa at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2009

Check out the Blackmagic Video Recorder

We use products from this company all the time in a professional environment. This is one of their forays into the consumer market. It has hardware h.264 video encoder on-board. If you intend on going to h.264 (not a bad idea) this could work great as you will not have to encode the files after you capture them. H.264 is a very efficient codec saving filesize and maintaining very good quality. If you intend on capturing many hours of footage storage space will become an issue.
posted by scottabing at 11:44 PM on March 3, 2009

I had a hella busy couple weeks at work there, folks, so pardon my not saying so before, but thanks for all the input. If I get something and can shake it down before this question locks, I'll post up what I found.
posted by $0up at 12:33 AM on March 13, 2009

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