Please wait...
Please wait...

KB 1256

Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire Compatability

Last updated: 04-01-2016


All current Apple computers have no Firewire Port to tether my Digital Back. How do I use Thunderbolt?


Apple released a new line of computers that include a communication interface called Thunderbolt.

The interface allows for a great amount of flexibility as a number of adaptors can be used in conjunction with several different hardware's. As the new Apple Laptops (Macbook Pro and Macbook Air) do not have Firewire communication ports, the Thunderbolt to Firewire Adaptor made by Apple is recommended to tether your Phase One or Leaf Credo Digital Back.

The adaptor has been tested and found to work adequetly for tethered capture with certain Phase One and Leaf digital backs. However, there are some workflow concerns to consider when using the Adaptor;

  • Due to the additional "translation" of the Firewire communication through the Thunderbolt Terminal, capture speed will suffer some performance.
  • Due to the loss of capture speed performance, it is possible to fill the buffer of the IQ, Credo and P+ backs much faster than with a standard Firewire Connection. Discretion when shooting quickly is suggested.
  • Due to Power Consumption with this setup it is recommended to have additional batteries as well as have the Apple system connected to a power source.
  • Firmware updates are not supported when using the Thunderbolt adapter. The update itself will fail, but the back can be recovered by updating the firmware on another computer with a direct firewire connection. For IQ backs we recommend updating via USB or CF card.

P+ Backs/P backs exc. P20 and P25

The Thunderbolt Terminal does not have the same Power Output as a standard Firewire Port (400 or 800) so it is recommended that the back used be set to "Battery" as the main power source to avoid communication failure.

IQ and Credo

With IQ and Credo backs, there is an option to charge the internal battery whilst shooting tethered. It is recommended that this option be turned OFF due to the limitations listed above.


For Leaf Aptus II-backs, Phase One H series backs, P20, and P25 -backs a powered repeater or well powered thunderbolt hub is required:

What Firewire Repeaters are recommended?

With all repeaters is is critical that you use a capable power supply. Recommend DC 12V, 1.25 - 3A

What Thunderbolt hubs are recommended?