Canon XL2 recording to an external device. Help appreciated.


New Member
Hi there,

First time post.

Recently a Canon XL2 fell into my hands. It works fine, I've learnt the manual and done a fair bit of research.

I'd like to record to an external device without the use of MiniDv Tapes (though, I do have these). I've read across multiple sources that the best thing for this purpose is a Firestore FS-4 (or FS-100) recording device using a firewire cable. Here, a thread from over a decade ago:

Now I'm a film student in Australia and acquiring one of these is difficult. The amount of listings over Ebay and Amazon are near-non-existent. My local outlets do not stock them.

Does anyone know if a hard drive with a firewire input would allow the Canon XL2 to directly record to it? For example, using a 4pin/9pin firewire cable from the XL2 to this

Are there any more recent technologies that have replaced the Firestore FS series?

I'd rather have a more exact understanding before I invest in anything.

Thank you.


Well-Known Member
Firewire kind of just died without any path for upgrading or backwards-compatibility. It's not directly convertible to any other video format, and no one makes active devices to, for example, transcode from Firewire to HDMI. When looking into this subject before, I came across a couple people mentioning chaining multiple adapter dongles together.... maybe Thunderbolt and some other flavor of Firewire? Regardless, it sounded pretty precarious, and definitely only worked with a Mac (if at all).

If you have a desktop computer with an available PCI slot, you can probably still find Firewire adapter cards on Ebay or similar. Otherwise, you're left with using the analog, composite video output from the camera into a capture card. Unfortunately, the quality of that is probably going to be pretty disappointing since it's just standard definition with a lossy digital->analog->digital conversion.

Oh, and you may come across USB/Firewire adapters and cables like this one. As you can see from the questions and reviews on that listing, they don't actually work for much of anything because they don't contain any sort of electronics to convert the DV video signal into something a computer can recognize via USB.

I feel your frustration. I've been tempted by a number of decent-quality, HD capable cameras on Ebay for fairly cheap... that don't have any way to actually get the HD video out of the camera.


Well-Known Member
A fair few non-mac computers (laptops at least) came with IEEE 1394 ports--which is the technical name for Firewire--just not called "Firewire" for various trademark and intellectual property reasons. I'd think that many/most video capture or editing programs could grab DV formatted video (or presumably other formats if relevant) via an IEEE 1394 port and work with it. I think VLC, for instance, is capable of pulling it off, though I don't have any hardware to actually verify that for myself.


New Member
Thanks all,

I'll start with the cheaper options (composite capture card and/or firewire & thunderbolt adapters) and if I'm not content I'll try to get a higher quality device like the aforementioned Firestore or external harddrive with firewire compatibility. And if any of those work I'll make a post letting other people with the same dilemma know.

Thanks again,

Very helpful community here.


Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Just because it does 16:9 doesn't make it HD. You may be shocked at how bad that camera looks. The resolution is only 962 x 480, which is not HD, or even SD. Cell phones have better resolution. Play with it on the cheap before you invest any more into it.


Well-Known Member
Firewire on DV cameras was a very cool "baked in" solution unique to DV. Essentially the Firewire output was a live full quality stream of what was being digitally converted for the tape, no re-conversion just for firewire.
In 2004 when Apple released their first Intel Macbook, I would record to DV tape while also recording in Final Cut Pro. This would eliminate the usual delay in editing later when you had to "ingest" the video into the computer.

In your situation, I'm not familiar with the Avastor unit, but if you can find a manual, you'd essentially need the ability to turn off the Avastor's Firewire transport control if you're not actually recording to tape concurrently.

One of the features of firewire to a DV camera or deck is that the computer would tell the tape when to start playing so you didn't get that annoying black or blue video at the beginning of your video file. You need to turn off this feature if you're only recording via the harddrive.

I'll concur with everyone above though, DV cameras, espically the old white Canon miniDV cameras, looked like garbage.
If you want to mess around, look for an old SD broadcast camera with their enormous B4 lenses. Many of those lenses are worth adapting to new cameras because the glass was soooooo great.

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