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Thread: Does it matter? thickness of USB/Firewire cables

  1. #1

    Default Does it matter? thickness of USB/Firewire cables

    Hi,

    does it matter what type (thinkness, quality, brand) of cable i use to transfer my data from my camera (when shooting tethered) or from card reader to the computer?

    because there are so many versions of USB and firewire cables around. some are REALLY thin and some are very thick. Will getting a better (branded and thicker cable really minimise data lost, or this only applies to analogue data transfer?)

    thanks

  2. #2
    Member shawnlim's Avatar
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    IMHO theres no difference at all.

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    Senior Member Pablo's Avatar
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    Smile Hi

    Hi,
    I would also have to think NO there is no difference in cable thickness.
    You are dealing in digital (1 and 0's) and therefore the result should be the same.
    EG. you cant get half a 1 or 0....

    Analogue is different though.

    With an analogue signal, transmission wire quality does make a difference.
    .
    .I may get shot down for this statement; but if so, I would like to hear it.

    Cheers.
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    i think there isnt big different. btw the quality of the plug is more important than the cable. some cheap cable using poorly built plug, which tend to get oxidise very easily and affect the connectivity. may be u would like to take note of that.

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    OT abit ah..

    lets say we have a digital back which is connected via firewire from the computer. is it true...the longer the cable is .. the more power it consumes from the computer, than a shorter one??

  6. #6

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    It does matter...
    On the lowest level, it's not 1s and 0s anymore, it's still analog.

    Some higher grade devices require higher grade cables (i.e.: thicker wire, more shielding, shorter wire). But to most of us, it isn't a concern. As what pshing said, the connector is more important than the cable itself.


    Also do note that the maximum length of a USB cable is 5m. this is due to EMF propogation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stereobox
    OT abit ah..

    lets say we have a digital back which is connected via firewire from the computer. is it true...the longer the cable is .. the more power it consumes from the computer, than a shorter one??

    The longer the wire, the more resistance.

    P = I˛ x R

    As R increases, to supply the same current, P needs to be increased. But the increase is quite minimal & not noticeable, the resistance of the wires are not that huge also.

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    thinner doesnt mean no good. may be u can search on "Skin Effect" for more details. just ignore all the math and read the theory would be enough. haiz. helly electronic...

    btw, the limitation on the length is not mainly for resistance. not sure if i am correct. the cable is like ur radio antenna, the longer the cable, the more noise it takes, thus affect the signal quality (that's why it need shielding). also, induction would further reduce the signal quality, so the cable cannot be too long.

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    sorry to be too technical.
    anyway, just a usb cable, why think so much? haha...
    any usb/fireware cable around 5 to 10 dollars will do the job well. no worry...

  10. #10

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    Good cable are better shielded

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    The thicker the better!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stereobox
    OT abit ah..

    lets say we have a digital back which is connected via firewire from the computer. is it true...the longer the cable is .. the more power it consumes from the computer, than a shorter one??
    the thicker the better...and the longer the better?

    anyway, the purpose of my qn was mainly for people who shoot with their laptops without any mains power supply. was thinking maybe using a shorter cable might prolong the battery life

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    i think the thickness may not matter but i guess quality does matter & quality ones are thicker... so thickness does matter... irony...

    just an experience to share, i bought a USB2.0 laser printer, bought a cheap USB2.0 cable and keep having disconnection problem, so called up tech support & the guy came & said problem lies with the cable, he told me to look a slightly more expensive cable... look cheapskate to me... but anyway it works flawlessly now...
    Logging Off. "You have 2,631 messages stored, of a total 400 allowed." don't PM me.

  14. #14

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    hi,

    thanks for the reply. one of the reason why i asked about the thickness, hence weight of the cable is because with a heavy cable of a couple of meters long, it places a fair bit of strain on the puny mini-USB or firewire port on the camera body and i don't wanna spoil them. That's why i have been thinking about using thinner cables to mitigate the problem.

    cheers!

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    Exclamation Size Does Matters!

    sad to say it does matter. but skin effect doesn't really come into play much maybe a little.. long wires get more inductive and as your transfer rates go up your digital 1's and 0's doesn't really appear to be 1's and 0's anymore.

    thin cheapo wires do not have shielding thus more more receptive to external noise since it's inductive.
    think of electic generator: coils cutting magnetic fields.
    coils = inductive -> wires
    magnetic fields = electric waves in air -> noise
    resultant product -> extra eletrical signal of unknown value mixed into your 1's and 0's commonly referred as noise. So there's a chance your 0's can become a 1. (although the usb spec's transport layer has done a good job to reduce this from happening by using differential voltage detection)

    thus, longer wires are more inductive more chance to get noise.

    Summary THICKNESS does matters if your data integrity matters.

    Else.. you can safely say all wires are the same.
    Last edited by yanyewkay; 15th March 2005 at 10:39 AM.
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    Those thin ones are not made to original specifications for firewire1394, though they work. what is more important is the reliability of the connections. use whichever one that is sure to detect your hardware/cam/whatever 99% of the time.

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    detection of hardware is not a good signal to use as detection normally occurs at lower speeds. During the data transfer the host and slave negotiates the max speed at which they can transfer. This is the part where the data gets corrupted
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

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    What I do know is that thin is OK, but only up to say, a length of 1~1.5m. Look at the Apple FW cable for iPod, thin and never heard anybody complaining.

    But if you need longer lengths, better make sure it is the thicker type with shielding as the law of physics set in and you need shielding to protect against signal loss.

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