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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> CF card reader and transfering rates: USB vs. Fire
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10/06/2008 05:46:49 PM · #1
What do you use to download the photos for the laptop/pc?

I've been using the eFilm usb 2.0 card reader, and untill I get the D300 and 4GB cards I was happy with it. But know I have more or less 12 GB of cards to pass to the laptop on each wedding, and I'm in a hurry to do the proofs. So time is a big issue.

When I was using RSProfessional the transfer rate that apeared in the transfer screen was about 7 to 8 MB per second. It was more or less ok for me at that time. Now with Lightroom or even with just copy&paste from windows it takes much more time, and the transfer rate is about 5 MB per second. Sometimes with copy and paste I get almout 10 mb/sec (I could'nt find out why the variability).

Today I bought a PCMCIA card reader because I was tol it should be faster than usb, but unfortunatly I could not install it in my laptop.

So my doubt is: is the firewire worth it? what transfer rates are you getting?

Any help would be much appreciated.


10/06/2008 06:09:14 PM · #2
One of my posts last year: Now I'm a believer
10/07/2008 02:55:27 AM · #3
any other opinions?
10/07/2008 03:05:14 AM · #4
I second what David said. Firewire is the only way to go. I have a FW 800 CF reader, and I could not go back to anything else (be it a direct cable connection or a USB card reader, which is a waste of time if your computer supports Firewire).
10/07/2008 03:06:57 AM · #5
Any brand suggestion? I only know the Scandisk and the Lexar.
10/07/2008 03:14:53 AM · #6
I just recently went from a USB SanDisk to a FireWire SanDisk.....so much better...
10/07/2008 03:41:08 AM · #7
i just purchased the sandisk extreme firewire card reader and i have yet to get it to work, it came with two cords, 9 pin to 9 pin and 9 pin to 6 pin. unfortunately i realized afterward all i have on my laptop is a 4 pin firewire, so i bought a 9 pin to 4 pin and have yet to figure out how to get my card reader to work, in the process of emailing sandisk, anyone here no any tricks or tips to get the card reader to work?
10/07/2008 06:23:50 AM · #8
One word of caution which may not be required but I'll give it anyway. There are two speeds of FireWire, 400 and 800. 400 is what comes standard on many PCs now. It is about 20% SLOWER than USB. So if a firewire reader gives the option of using 400, you are better off with USB. So you will obviously need a firewire 800 card, and it will transfer about 2-3 times faster than USB will, with a UDMA compatible compact flash card, otherwise it is only like a 5% increase so not really worth the hassles.

One further thing to note, a new protocol of USB is supposed to be coming out in 2009-2010 termed USB-3.0, it is supposed to be up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and backwards compatible with USB-2.0 devices, so might want to keep an eye on that. Info here.

Hope this helps, good luck and keep us updated. I'm still on the fence myself, firewire 800 or wait some months and get USB3.0. :)
10/07/2008 06:34:49 AM · #9
Originally posted by outafocus:

i just purchased the sandisk extreme firewire card reader and i have yet to get it to work, it came with two cords, 9 pin to 9 pin and 9 pin to 6 pin. unfortunately i realized afterward all i have on my laptop is a 4 pin firewire, so i bought a 9 pin to 4 pin and have yet to figure out how to get my card reader to work, in the process of emailing sandisk, anyone here no any tricks or tips to get the card reader to work?


The problem is the card reader is a bus powered device, meaning it gets power from the computer. There are three types of firewire connections.

4-pin, this is firewire 400 and is unpowered (not compatible with bus-powered devices such as card readers)
6-pin, this is firewire 400 and is powered
9-pin, this is firewire 800 and is powered

So you need a powered 9 to 4 or 6 to 4 adapter. I have only been able to find one, and it requires USB to provide the power. //www.pccables.com/70939.htm

However in all this one thing to note is this will still only get you FireWire 400, which is 20% slower than Hi-Speed USB, so you may not get any benefit from this effort.

One further thing to throw a wrench into things is the fact that not all 6-pin firewire ports provide power on the extra two pins. Guilty devices being mainly PCMCIA cards on laptops. So even if you buy a PCMCIA card it may not help matters any.

My advice, after hearing from sandisk, would be to return the reader and get a USB one sorry to say.

Good luck in any case.

Message edited by author 2008-10-07 06:36:20.
10/07/2008 07:40:56 AM · #10
appreciate the info, looks like i can do one of two things now, return my firewire card reader for a usb 2.0 card reader, which would be faster in my case

or convince my wife i need a new laptop that has a 9pin firwire and keep the card reader i just got, of course i would have to go with all the other upgrades i need (want)
10/07/2008 08:15:32 AM · #11
Originally posted by outafocus:

i just purchased the sandisk extreme firewire card reader and i have yet to get it to work, it came with two cords, 9 pin to 9 pin and 9 pin to 6 pin. unfortunately i realized afterward all i have on my laptop is a 4 pin firewire, so i bought a 9 pin to 4 pin and have yet to figure out how to get my card reader to work, in the process of emailing sandisk, anyone here no any tricks or tips to get the card reader to work?


So far I have failed at these attempts as well. :(

I'd love to find a laptop that supports a full size connection at 800 speeds! :)
10/14/2008 12:57:43 AM · #12
Originally posted by dwterry:

I'd love to find a laptop that supports a full size [FireWire] connection at 800 speeds! :)


Like a MacBook Pro?
10/14/2008 08:01:26 AM · #13
Originally posted by geoffb:

Originally posted by dwterry:

I'd love to find a laptop that supports a full size [FireWire] connection at 800 speeds! :)


Like a MacBook Pro?


Unfortunately no... I have no interest in the Mac.
10/14/2008 09:20:50 AM · #14
FYI- Card readers speed tested here. Some interesting insight here, too.
10/14/2008 10:49:09 AM · #15
Originally posted by togtog:

One word of caution which may not be required but I'll give it anyway. There are two speeds of FireWire, 400 and 800. 400 is what comes standard on many PCs now. It is about 20% SLOWER than USB. So if a firewire reader gives the option of using 400, you are better off with USB ...


FW 400 slower than USB 2? I use FW 400 with big image files (1DsII), often while my wife is downloading much smaller files (1DII and 50D) via USB. By the time she's got the images on the computer, I'm done editing the first batch. FW 400 is certainly faster, and significantly so.

10/14/2008 11:34:03 AM · #16
Originally posted by zeuszen:

Originally posted by togtog:

One word of caution which may not be required but I'll give it anyway. There are two speeds of FireWire, 400 and 800. 400 is what comes standard on many PCs now. It is about 20% SLOWER than USB. So if a firewire reader gives the option of using 400, you are better off with USB ...


FW 400 slower than USB 2? I use FW 400 with big image files (1DsII), often while my wife is downloading much smaller files (1DII and 50D) via USB. By the time she's got the images on the computer, I'm done editing the first batch. FW 400 is certainly faster, and significantly so.


I looked further into this and it seems we are both correct. The actual protocol USB 2.0 runs at is 480Mbit/sec and Firewire 400 is 400Mbit/sec. However firewire does not require processing via the CPU which is a bottleneck for USB limiting the speed to as little as half. So the in the actual protocols USB 2.0 is faster, however in practical use firewire 400 is faster.

Thank you for catching that zeuszen!
10/14/2008 11:47:57 AM · #17
Originally posted by togtog:

...Thank you for catching that zeuszen!


And you for showing why. :-)
10/14/2008 03:24:48 PM · #18
Anyone have any recommendations for a firewire 800 PCI(e) card for my Vista PC? I would love to speed things up a bit!
10/14/2008 04:49:11 PM · #19
Before you commit to adding a card for FW800, make sure that the devices that you plan to use will take advantage of the additional speed. They need to be 1394b devices (9-pin connector). If they are 6-pin (1394a) then you will need a physical adapter, and they will still only run at 400Mb/s speed.
1394a is plenty fast enough for the vast majority of operations. In fact, since (unlike USB) it often operates near its rated speed, you can see transfer rates approaching 50MB/s, which is as fast as many hard drives, and faster than almost any existing CF card.
As an example, I have a Seagate FreeAgent Xtreme backup drive attached using 1394a, and I'm seeing real-life 34MB/s on drive-to-drive copy operations for large sets of files of widely varying sizes. Just for grins, I'm going to try attaching that drive using eSATA and see if the transfer rate improves. I'm betting it will not.
10/14/2008 05:30:29 PM · #20
Really I just want to get a firewire CF card reader. Actually, now that I think about it, I have an FW400 video camera. So, I suppose an FW400 card would be fine. Any recommendations for one of them?
10/14/2008 07:59:13 PM · #21
I'm no Firewire expert, and I didn't even realize that my laptop had a port for it until I just looked at it (duh!)... and it doesn't help that there are all these different varieties of Firewire with different pin combinations, blah blah blah.

The manual for my laptop describes the port as being a "1394 port" ("Connects an optional IEEE 1394 or 1394a device, such as a camcorder.") With that information, I'd also be interested in recommendations for specific card readers, which I assume would be faster than what I'm using with USB...?
10/14/2008 08:06:47 PM · #22
Originally posted by alanfreed:

I'm no Firewire expert, and I didn't even realize that my laptop had a port for it until I just looked at it (duh!)... and it doesn't help that there are all these different varieties of Firewire with different pin combinations, blah blah blah.

The manual for my laptop describes the port as being a "1394 port" ("Connects an optional IEEE 1394 or 1394a device, such as a camcorder.") With that information, I'd also be interested in recommendations for specific card readers, which I assume would be faster than what I'm using with USB...?


Look at the 1394 port... if it has 6 pins, chances are you are OK. Some laptop 1394 ports don't support self-powered devices, though, even if 6 pins are present. If the port is on the computer itself (as opposed to using a PC Card adapter to provide the port) there is a good chance it provides power. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. Since it does not mention 1394b, you have a FireWire 400 port. The Sandisk reader for the Extreme IV cards will work, assuming your port passes power, but you'll need an adapter (9-pin to 6-pin).
10/14/2008 08:18:31 PM · #23
quick search on amazon did not surface any obvious firewire SD card readers--some pricey CF buggers showed up, though....
10/14/2008 08:20:29 PM · #24
I only see 4 pins.

Originally posted by kirbic:

Look at the 1394 port... if it has 6 pins, chances are you are OK. Some laptop 1394 ports don't support self-powered devices, though, even if 6 pins are present. If the port is on the computer itself (as opposed to using a PC Card adapter to provide the port) there is a good chance it provides power. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. Since it does not mention 1394b, you have a FireWire 400 port. The Sandisk reader for the Extreme IV cards will work, assuming your port passes power, but you'll need an adapter (9-pin to 6-pin).
10/14/2008 08:27:47 PM · #25
Originally posted by alanfreed:

I only see 4 pins.


Cheap bastards, LOL! unpowered port, won't work for a card reader. Will work for things like external hard drives that have separate power sources, though.
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