Q&A: Thunderbolt for video capture

Q Will high def video cameras have Thunderbolt ports, and when?

A Because Thunderbolt is designed around the DisplayPort video interface and to carry high quality audio, it should be ideal for the direct connection of future video cameras to Macs. Its performance will be far superior to even FireWire 800, making it possible to transfer high definition video live and in real time. The Mini DisplayPort interface works well on compact devices like laptops and cameras, so should not be hard to integrate.

The first high-end video cameras, from Blackmagic, with Thunderbolt ports are already available.

The big unknown remains how much impact Thunderbolt will have on the market. It is likely to be progressively adopted for additional higher-end and pro products, which are made in smaller numbers and less concerned with cost or popularity. It does appear to be reasonably successful for high quality audio interfaces, at least. It would be deeply disappointing if none of the mass-market camera manufacturers were to offer products with Thunderbolt ports over the next year or two, but it is not likely to become the new interface standard to replace FireWire.

The greatest threat to Thunderbolt’s success in this and several other applications is from USB 3.0, which remains inferior but likely to attain greater market penetration.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 8, 2011.