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How to import videos from Canon HV20 with best quality video and sound?



We have a Canon HV20 MiniDV camcorder that we've filled 20+ tapes with over the years of special family moments.  We'd love to import these videos and create DVDs or make them available online for others to view.  

When it comes to importing the tapes, it appears that there is only one output port on the HV20 camcorder (a HD/DV port which looks like a chunky, backwards C).

Is there a cable that can plug into that HD/DV port on the HV20 camcorder that can then plug into a mondern day laptop or computer?  The cords that I have at home plug into the port on the HV20 camcorder, but on the other end of the cord, they have adapters that don't work with todays computers (either 6 or 9 pin Firewire).

Is my only option to buy an older computer that has either a 6 or 9 pin Fireware adapter?
Any advice is greatly appreciated, thank you!



What specific computer do you have?  It may be possible to get a hardware capture card for it capable of working with FireWire.

One option you should explore though is sending in to a service and having them provide you with digital files. Bonus points if they could provide both H.264 and H.265 files. 


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Hi rs-eos,
Thank you for your reply.  We have a IBM ThinkPad.
I just watched this YouTube video which seems to show a very similar setup (older Canon MiniDV with a more modern Windows laptop).  I'm going to try ordering the Apple Firewire adapters recommended in the video.

Thanks for the recommendation regarding the serivces, I've considered that multiple times over the years, but have always shied away when I read the reviews on all of the major sites.  

Now you've got me curious about the H.264 and H.265 files, what those are, and if I'll have access to them myself if I get my cables setup properly at home.  🤔

Thanks for your help!  🤜🤛

H.264 and H.265 are modern file formats for video. With H.265 being the newest. Having at least H.264 files back from a service (or exported to that format by you if doing the work yourself) will maximize the ease of sharing those videos with others.  


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Good to know, thanks again rs-eos!

I've ordered two cables, an Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter and an Apple Thunderbolt To Firewire Adapter.  🤞


IEEE 1394 is Firewire. Your camera uses the IEEE 1394 name because it's not a trademark. There's no such thing as 6-pin and 9-pin Firewire. Your camera has a 4-pin Firewire. The other end of the cable you need is either 4-pin or 8-pin Firewire, depending on what connector the computer has. If the computer does not have Firewire at all, an expandable desktop can have a Firewire capture card added. "Modern-day computers" don't typically have Firewire anymore. 

But you will need software to do the connecting and downloading.  Windows XP had it built-in. Microsoft had an add-in package called Windows Essentials 2012 which added the software to Win 7, 8, 10. No longer available from MS. There are other applications that you could purchase to do the transfer.  But, the easiest way to digitize your tapes is to have a service do it.

In the Mac world, "modern" models also do not have Firewire anymore. If you can find someone with a Firewire Mac and OS X, I believe they had a moviemaker app built-in. 


I am currently doing the same thing trying to transfer my old movies from my HV20 to my PC.  I ended up buying a firewire card and have transferred a couple with HDVSplit.exe.  Some tapes seem to work, some tapes do not. I was searching from another software to try since not all tapes are transferring and came across this post.  Figured I would let you know what has worked somewhat for me so far.  Obviously a third party service is an option, but they are not cheap.  


If you re running windows 10 or 11, you can use ClipChamp.  This App is available from the Microsoft store.

It took the place of Microsoft movie maker. up to 1080P is free, 4k is subscription.

Quick and easy video editor | Clipchamp

This is an inexpensive capture card I usually recommend.  Card/cable and fits full or half size slot.


A FW cad and desktop are preferred over an adapter and USB connection.  Firewire is faster.  It doesn't mean a USB type adapter won't work, but its a bit slower.  The other thing you'll need regardless of PC type (desktop / laptop) is adequate hard disk space for file import, editing and storage. 

Ricky's suggestion above should be considered.  A significant amount of time is needed for import and editing.  Although vendors that offer conversion are not the cheapest, they offer speed, convenience and fast turn-around.

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