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I'm attempting to use a 2003-era external Apple iSight Camera with an M1 Mac mini via adapters:

iSight > FireWire 400 > FireWire 800 > Thunderbolt 2 > Thunderbolt 3

This same adapter chain works for video on a 2019 Intel MacBook Pro running macOS 10.15.6 Catalina. Audio required an additional fix, but is now also working on Intel.

On a new Apple Silicon M1 Mac mini, the video webcam does not seem to work. When first plugged in, it makes an autofocus sound and the green light turns on briefly.

Photo Booth is black and says:

There is no connected camera.

The FireWire Bus device is recognized by the M1 Mac's System Information:

System Information

Are there known FireWire support issues for either M1 Macs or macOS 11 Big Sur?

How can I use this iSight video webcam with my M1 Mac?


Links:


Apple Bug Report:

External iSight FireWire Camera does not work on Apple Silicon
FB9029863

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    You have *three adapters? While you can often chain adapters, sometimes they just don't work. I would bet that something isn't being translated/passed along properly. I would be surprised if it ever works. And while you might be able to find or have a custom firewire 400 to USB-C/Thunderbolt adapter it would likely be cheaper and simpler to just buy a modern webcam. After all the resolution on this camera is VGA (640 x 480) Feb 1, 2021 at 1:03
  • @SteveChambers these same adapters work perfectly fine with Catalina on Intel. This iSight matches my Cinema Display and the resolution is fine for what I need it for.
    – pkamb
    Feb 1, 2021 at 1:23
  • Just because they work fine on another Mac, doesn't mean they will work fine on this one. It is a completely new underlying CPU architecture after all. Feb 1, 2021 at 14:00
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    FYI: Same computer, same adapter chain, same camera = same results. M1 mini and/or Big Sur need to be modified by Apple to fix this!!!
    – kensl8
    May 23, 2021 at 16:24

2 Answers 2

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I too get the same results as you are getting. Works on my 2017 27" iMac but no audio.

This video indicates that the iSight camera needs to be updated to Firmware 1.0.3 for the audio to work properly.

For the updater you would need an older Mac. I have an old PowerPC G5 but have not hook it up to see if the updater would work on it but I plan to try it soon.

I did see on one of Apple's pages that it indicated an external iSight will work with Big Sur. No confirmation if it includes Big Sur.

It doesn't work at all on my M1 Mini but system info can see it so that to me indicates the connection is good.

When I called to ask Apple about it the person wasn't of any help. They actually had not heard of an iSight camera, internal or external, before. The best they could do was get provide the link to the updater.

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This is what happens when drivers to recognize the specific features connected via a physical bus are lacking. Great triage and notes, and who knows if someone at Apple would take the time or risk to include the drivers needed for this to work. The clear “no support” for Vintage products means it would be a big exception.

However, the heart doesn’t care about rules like this, so I too love the design of that camera and am keeping the cables and hardware in my kit and hope to get a vintage computer some day to put it all back in “service”. I’ll update this if I discover driver options for either the iPadOS M1 platform or macOS M1 platform.

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