Issues Using NI Vision Software with Firewire (IEEE 1394) Cameras

Updated Dec 20, 2023

Reported In


  • PCIe-8253
  • PCI-8252
  • PCIe-8255


  • NI-IMAQdx

Issue Details

I'm trying to setup my FireWire Camera with NI Vision Software, and am running into one of the following issues:
  • My FireWire camera is not showing up in NI MAX.
  • My FireWire cameras drop out intermittently when my application is running. How can I fix this? (See Windows Device Manager section under Software Compatibility) 
  • My FireWire (IEEE-1394) camera used to work fine with my LabVIEW application, but now it isn't working as expected


These types of problems and others often stem from three root causes:
  • Software compatibility
  • Hardware compatibility
  • Damaged hardware
Note: You must log in as an administrator or have administrator privileges in Windows to install any NI software and hardware.


Software Compatibility

Compliant Camera

Cameras must be compliant with the IIDC/DCAM specification to work with NI-IMAQdx and IMAQ for IEEE 1394.

NI-IMAQ for IEEE 1394 versions 1.5.x and earlier support IIDC 1.30 compliant cameras. NI-IMAQ for IEEE 1394 versions 2.0 and later as well as IMAQdx support IIDC 1.31 (and earlier) compliant cameras.

Driver Installation

The camera driver allows the NI Software to interface with the camera.
  1. Verify that you have a supported version of the NI-IMAQdx driver installed and activated. Note: NI-IMAQdx is part of the Vision Acquisition Software bundle and can’t be downloaded separately. You can purchase the software here. Also, Vision Acquisition Software 20.0 and later have removed support for IIDC/DCAM-compliant IEEE 1394 cameras.
  2. Verify that your operating system is supported by the driver by checking the Readme. Also verify the version of LabVIEW you're using is supported.
  3. Verify that you don't have conflicting 3rd party drivers.
  4. Verify that the latest version of the driver for your FireWire card or built-in FireWire port is installed.

Windows Device Manager

The Windows Device Manager shows all hardware recognized by the operating system.
  1. If the FireWire camera or card does not appear in the Windows Device Manager it cannot be seen by the driver.
  • Launch Device Manager by selecting Start»Control Panel»System»Hardware Tab»Device Manager.
  • Most FireWire cards will be listed in the Device Manager under the Network Adapters, FireWire Controllers or Imaging Devices category. Your camera should be listed in the NI IMAQ Interfaces category.
  • Ensure that the latest version of the driver for your FireWire card or built-in FireWire port is installed.
  • Note: t he FireWire board may not have the OHCI chipset, which is required for recognition by the operating system.
  1. If the camera shows up as a Generic 1394 Desktop Camera, or there is an exclamation mark next to it, indicating that it is not configured properly, perform the following steps to reinstall the camera with the NI-IMAQdx or the Legacy NI-IMAQ for IEEE 1394 drivers:
  • Right-click on the device.
  • Select Update Driver....
  • Select the radio button: Install from a list or specific location.
  • Select the radio button: Don't search. I will choose the driver to install.
  • From the list of available drivers, select either the NI-IMAQdx drivers or the Legacy NI-IMAQ for IEEE 1394 drivers.
  • After updating the drivers, open MAX and select View»Refresh. To view your camera, select My System»Devices and Interfaces»NI-IMAQdx Devices or My System»Devices and Interfaces»Legacy NI-IMAQ IEEE 1394 Devices (depending on which drivers you selected).
  1. If the camera shows up on one computer but not on another computer, make sure the computer that isn't working is pointing to the same driver as the computer that is working.  Computers may prioritize non-legacy drivers with hardware even though the 1394 Legacy is the required one for your camera.
  2. If the camera does not show up at all in the Device Manager, it is very possible that the driver for the OHCI bus host controller has been changed from the default driver to a third-party driver. Here are steps to remedy this.
  • Look for a device titled Bus Host Controller, 1394 bus, or a similar name in Device Manager.
  • When you find it, follow steps above from 1 through 4.
  • Select the OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller driver, if available. If that specific driver is not available, try some of the other options until you can see your camera as a generic desktop camera.
  • Follow the above procedure to associate the camera with NI's drivers.
  1. If the camera appears intermittently, verify that the latest service pack has been installed for the operating system or upgrade to the latest operating system. Also, verify that the power requirements are met as described below in the hardware compatibility section

MAX - Measurement & Automation Explorer

Make sure the driver is associated with the camera. By default, a driver is not associated with an IEEE 1394 camera the first time it is plugged in.
  1. Launch MAX or select View»Refresh (F5)
  2. Expand the Devices and Interfaces tab to find your camera.
  3. If the camera shows up as a Generic IEEE 1394 Camera or Generic Consumer Camera, right-click on the camera and manually assign the NI-IMAQdx or Legacy IMAQ for IEEE 1394 driver. You may see a warning dialog indicating a new driver is being assigned to the device. This is normal. Unless you manually delete a camera file, you will need to repeat this procedure only one time for each unique camera connected to your system.
  4.  If you can acquire images in LabVIEW or Vision Builder but cannot see it in MAX there are generally two reasons:
  • Your camera may not show up in MAX because of a corrupt MAX database. To fix the corrupt database, use the following command to regenerate the configuration file. You should execute this command from a command prompt. Make sure you close MAX when executing the command:
  1. Select Start»Run...
  2. Enter cmd to open command line window.
  3. Go to the MAX directory by Entering: cd <root directory>\Program Files\National Instruments\MAX
  4. Enter: mxsr.exe -uconfig.mxs
  • This may be an installation problem that usually occurs when beta software has previously been installed on the machine. When the 1.5 driver is installed properly, you should find the imaqcfgui.mxs file in the following directory: <root directory>/Program Files/National Instruments/MAX/UI Providers. If this file is missing, the installation did not complete successfully. One easy solution that typically works is to search for the IMAQCFG.msi on the installer CD. If you run this installer, it should fix the problem. If this fails, you will need to reinstall.

Known Issues

There is a known bug (431564) where upgrading and then downgrading the NI-IMAQdx may not yield the correct version. This issue is present as of NI-IMAQdx 15.5. 
  • The workaround is to manually delete the niimaqdx.dll from system 32 and SysWOW64 after uninstalling the new version and then force reinstall the old one.
Note: IMAQdx 20.0 dropped support from IIDC/DCAM-compliant IEEE 1394 cameras.

Hardware Compatibility

Power Requirements

  1. Make sure that the camera is plugged into the FireWire port of the computer and has power. Some 1394 cameras have an LED power indicator. Most cameras receive power through a 6-pin (A) or 9-pin (B) FireWire cable from a powered hub. These are three reasons why a FireWire camera may not receive power:
  • Connected to a Laptop - Some laptops have 4-pin ports which do not provide power. If a PCMCIA FireWire card is used it may not provide enough power to the camera.
  • Multiple Cameras on the Same Hub - A hub may have multiple ports. If there are too many cameras on one hub, an external FireWire hub that has its own power source could be used. One example of a FireWire hub is the Belkin FireWire 6-Port Hub (model #F5U526); however, any externally powered hub should work.
  • Cable Too Long - If the cable is too long the power or signal provided may dissipate before it reaches the camera.

Signal Sent from Camera

  1. Verify that the camera is sending the signal from the camera. Set the camera to free run mode to test the acquisition. If the camera is set to acquire only when a trigger is sent then verify that the trigger is being sent before the timeout occurs.
  1. Try a Different Slot/Port, Computer or Device — The following steps have a dual purpose of testing hardware compatibility and damage. They may not all be required:
  • Install the camera in a different port.
  • Install the camera in another computer (if available) and verify that it installs properly.
  • If you have a duplicate camera that works, test it on the computer in question.


The camera's firmware may be out of date. For example, If the DFK 31BF03-Z will not appear in MAX, the problem is most likely due to the camera's firmware being out-of-date. Run the BFChecker.exe program included in the attached zip file to check the current firmware and if the camera uses firmware older than version 3209, simply run the BFFirmwareUpdate.exe program (also in the attached zip file). Updating the firmware to version 3209 will allow the camera to be recognized by MAX under NI-IMAQdx Devices.

Damaged Hardware

If the steps above have narrowed the problem down to the camera or the card it may be damaged. Please contact the vendor of the camera or the card to determine what options you have for repair or replacement.

Additional Information

In order to properly communicate with the cameras, be sure to install the driver with the cameras unplugged of the computer. This may cause different communications issues with the hardware.