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I just got a Sony PC-1 dvcam, with firewire out, but haven't bought a firewire card yet - still trying to decide which one. I repeated Philip's explorer copy test with my inexpensive Wintel system. I got sustained 7.2 MB/sec. I have a BX based mothterboard, PII 400, 2 UDMA-2 ide drives - a Maxtor 17gb and a Seagate 6gb - both formatted fat32. I dragged and dropped a 648mb file and it took an average of 94 seconds. I think a clue to not dropping frames might be the use of dma mode on a busmastering controller. I'm running win98, which, by default, installs a busmaster capable driver for the bx motherboard ide controller. You have to go to controlpanel->system->devices manager->disk drives and open each of the ide disks, choose the settings tabs, and check the 'dma' checkbox to make it run in busmaster mode. When I ran a read only disk benchmark with dma turned off, the drive could read 7mb/sec. When I turned the dma on, it jumped to 24mb/sec. More significantly, the...
I just got a Radius MotoDV capture card. It works incredibly well. Never dropped a frame. It comes with MotoDV and PhotoDV (for motion and stills), and was the only card I could find that supported the 9:16 mode of my camera. During capture, it said it could write to my drive (maxtor 17gig UDMA2) at 17meg/sec. It also comes with Quicktime 3, which has a dvstream .mov file spec - it's supposed to be able to get around the 2gig segment limit.
PhotoDV does a pretty poor job of extracting a frame from a moving sequence, but if you press the 'photo' button on the camera, causing it to write the same pixels to about 7 seconds of tape, PhotoDV does some multi-frame interpolation magic that makes stills as good or better as any digital camera I've seen. Here's an example from my Sony PC1 and the MotoDV board, using the PhotoDV software.