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Thread: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

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    IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Is there any disadvantage using one over the other? With the new Macbooks I'd prefer not having to fiddle with another adapter (TB to FW)


    Stefan

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by geesbert View Post
    Is there any disadvantage using one over the other? With the new Macbooks I'd prefer not having to fiddle with another adapter (TB to FW)
    USB3:
    - no adapter required for use with Retina MBP
    - international standard limited to 10ft (high quality cables may work at longer lengths, and powered extensions may work, but none of these are officially supported in the spec)
    - backwards compatible to USB2 ports on older/legacy/small machines
    - back connects about 1-2 seconds faster than FW when initially plugged in
    - connector is a bit studier and less prone to fall out; but also more prone to pull computer off table/shelf/tripod if yanked hard
    - drivers/ports/hardware is still in the "adolescent" stage and vary in quality and implementation. For Mac users this is not a big deal (not that many total possibilities of OS/Hardware) but for Windows users some brands of USB3 cards/ports and some OS+card combinations may not work well
    - USB3 is technically faster than FW800 but the diference is only manifest in extended continuous shooting. USB2 is notably slower than FW800.

    FW800:
    - connector on the computer side is a bit flimsy and prone to fall out; but also less prone to pull computer off table/shelf/tripod if yanked hard
    - international standard limited to 15ft (we have 33ft high quality cables which we've found work nearly all the time, but are technically not officially supported)
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Thanks a lot for that information!

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    There's a major functional difference between the two.

    At the risk of getting overly technical...
    FW implements the protocol in hardware.
    USB implements the protocol in software.

    The net result is that FW can achieve the stated throughput of real data.
    USB can only achieve about one half the stated throughput of real data.

    The rationale behind USB was to make the physical interface as cheap as possible.
    OTOH, FW was designed for optimum efficiency.

    - Leigh

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    and what does that mean for me, using an IQ back with a macbook pro? is it slower to use USB3?

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    the official us3 firmware, is it out yet?

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    There is one very big difference.

    USB cables are very tolerant of ware, and generally don't break - you can use the same one for a couple of years if you treat it well.

    Firewire cables are extremely prone to breakage. If you use the cable intensively, even if you are very careful, you will need new a cable every couple of months. When the cable starts to malfunction, it's not very easy to identify, as sometimes communication succeeds and sometimes it fails. When failure rates start to go up to high then you know it's time to change the cable again. For me it is extremely frustrating, and if I had the USB option, I would be using it for sure, for the sole reason of not worrying about cable failures.

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    I'm on the USB3 firmware (beta). It works. Ask your dealer about getting it.

    Some early versions of the IQ backs might need a trip back to Phase, for internal upgrade, but generally it's a great update.

    A small cynical voice in me wonders if Phase aren't holding back the full release of this while they sell IQ2 series upgrades at $14000 each. Why spend that sort of money when you can buy a $5.95 cable and get the same full resolution display on your laptop or pro tablet.

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by narikin View Post
    A small cynical voice in me wonders if Phase aren't holding back the full release of this while they sell IQ2 series upgrades at $14000 each. Why spend that sort of money when you can buy a $5.95 cable and get the same full resolution display on your laptop or pro tablet.
    The very large cynic inside of me thinks that you have a very valid point!
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by narikin View Post
    I'm on the USB3 firmware (beta). It works. Ask your dealer about getting it.

    Some early versions of the IQ backs might need a trip back to Phase, for internal upgrade, but generally it's a great update.

    A small cynical voice in me wonders if Phase aren't holding back the full release of this while they sell IQ2 series upgrades at $14000 each. Why spend that sort of money when you can buy a $5.95 cable and get the same full resolution display on your laptop or pro tablet.
    The beta for USB is being given to anyone who asks. We, as a dealer have noted it in our newsletter and website to make sure our users are aware it's there if they want to be part of the final beta testing.

    During this final pre-full-release period the self-selection that goes on with betas (people who are more technically savvy and more willing to do a thorough report if there is any issue) is critical to getting good information about the reliability and readiness of the firmware.

    After a really long delay in getting it out the door they are just making sure it will be rock solid before final release.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by shlomi View Post
    There is one very big difference.

    USB cables are very tolerant of ware, and generally don't break - you can use the same one for a couple of years if you treat it well.

    Firewire cables are extremely prone to breakage. If you use the cable intensively, even if you are very careful, you will need new a cable every couple of months. When the cable starts to malfunction, it's not very easy to identify, as sometimes communication succeeds and sometimes it fails. When failure rates start to go up to high then you know it's time to change the cable again. For me it is extremely frustrating, and if I had the USB option, I would be using it for sure, for the sole reason of not worrying about cable failures.
    That's a very interesting comment. I've been using some Firewire cables for years and years, and I think in all this time I've had two fail. I've tossed dozens of USB cables that had failed.

    G

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    That's a very interesting comment. I've been using some Firewire cables for years and years, and I think in all this time I've had two fail. I've tossed dozens of USB cables that had failed.

    G
    I've based my comment on my specific experience:

    Leaf cables have been failing me ever since I've started using them four years ago. Lindy cables are better. Regular FW cables have lasted me much less.

    Before that I've tethered Canons with simple USB cables and never had a problem for years.

    Because USB is packet based, a protocol which has tolerance for errors built in, and firewire is hardware based, firewire is more sensitive to errors.

    That is, by my understanding, the reason premium firewire cables are so thick and expensive. From my communication with Leaf, failure of firewire cables is far from uncommon.

    If more people have experience with little failure on fw cables, or high failure on USB cables, I would love to hear more about it.

    P.S. Have you been using 6 or 9 pin powered firewire cables to tether a digital back, or are you talking about a different use of firewire? Your blog doesn't seem to suggest you're tethering your digital back.

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    I tether still cameras, video cameras, disk drives, scanners, and other storage/capture devices. I don't have any medium format digital backs at present. My devices have a motley mix of 6 pin (FW400) and 9 pin (FW800) connectors. I think one camera I used had an iLink (4 pin) connector, but that was a long time ago.

    Whenever I get a device with one of those overly thick, stiff, FireWire cables, I toss the cable and replace it with the thin and easy to work with 6 pin from Apple or 9 pin (can't remember who makes them at the moment). I just hate the stupidly thick cables like that and find they cause more problems than they solve by stressing the connectors and plug ends.

    USB is a derivative of HDLC serial protocols. It's not packet based, to my understanding, although there is a framing mechanism used for block testing and correction in the protocol. FireWire has similar framing and error correction built into its data stream. The big difference is that USB implements everything in SW and can load up the CPU with IO based operations where FireWire can be implemented entirely in hardware. This allows the USB chipset to be priced very inexpensively, whereas the FireWire chipset is necessarily more expensive given its greater capabilities..

    FireWire also has direct memory access capability, so it can do IO operations completely outside of the need for CPU control. It is often the DMA capabilities of FireWire that cause problems, though, with errant apps that write to memory incorrectly, so capability is alway the same old two-edged sword...

    Perhaps the medium format digital backs are simply more sensitive to errors than other FireWire devices, or have relatively poor FireWire implementations. I dunno.

    G

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    I tether still cameras, video cameras, disk
    Perhaps the medium format digital backs are simply more sensitive to errors than other FireWire devices, or have relatively poor FireWire implementations. I dunno.
    Tethering and connecting are not the same thing.
    Tethering means syncing with the device, sending it control commands, and receiving files from it live. That is where there are firewire problems, not just downloading. That is a protocol that would be more sensitive to errors IMO.

    Canon had a firewire model once - 1Ds (1) - and I've also had many problems with that one in its time. Then they moved to USB with 1Ds2 and 1Ds3 and now 1DX. They know why they did it.

    I am not sure what is the reason, but I am pretty sure from many years of tethering that USB is much more stable. I don't think it is due to any specific manufacturer implementation, as I've heard about this problem in Hasselblad, Phase One, and experienced it with Leaf and Canon. The Canons had their problems with the mini USB connector that was not never sturdy enough to hold, and the Leaf FW connector is infinitely better. I don't know what USB connector is used in the IQ and Credo bodies. If it's mini or micro then that's not good news.

    That is to say, connector and cable are two different issues.

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Tethering and connecting are not so different. Even the simplest hard drive connection requires protocol control signals to pass in both directions. At the level of the FW protocol, it's all the same stuff.

    Are you using your backs with Windows or OS X systems? My experience using FireWire with Windows systems has been poor, where FireWire with OS X systems has been very reliable.

    No matter. We have different experiences.

    G

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    That's a very interesting comment. I've been using some Firewire cables for years and years, and I think in all this time I've had two fail. I've tossed dozens of USB cables that had failed.

    G
    Never had a USB cable fail
    USB 3 Obsoletes FW

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    Re: IQ:USB3 vs. FW

    Quote Originally Posted by m43 View Post
    Never had a USB cable fail
    USB 3 Obsoletes FW
    Well, it has higher throughput, but if I have FW interface disk enclosures, USB3 only obsoletes them if I spend another $100 or so per enclosure to update to that.

    FW800 is still working just fine. After that, I'll go to Thunderbolt enclosures for 4x the throughput potential.

    G

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