iPod photo Camera Connector is USB 1.1 Speed

by Derrick Story

I was one of the many photographers who anxiously read the initial reviews of the iPod photo Camera Connector -- the $29 device that enables you to connect your digital camera directly to the iPod photo and transfer pictures to it. The reviews have been lukewarm, primarily because of the length of time it takes to move images from point A to point B.

I wanted to test this for myself, so I loaded up a Sandisk Ultra II SD card with 122 images that totaled 229 MBs. I then transfered those pictures to an iPod photo using the camera connector.

My test devices were a Casio EX-P505 that has a USB 2.0 connection, a Contax SL 300 RT* with a USB 1.1 connector, and a Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 15-in-1 Media Reader & Writer. I used the same Sandisk card with the same images in all of the devices.

The first thing I want to comment on is that the iPod photo camera connector did recognize the Belkin card reader and imported from it. Some reports I've read stated that the camera connector only reads from cameras, not card readers. This wasn't true in my case.

The next thing I noticed is that it took 8:54 to upload the 229 MBs worth of images from the Casio (USB 2.0), and 8:56 to transfer them from the Contax (USB 1.1). The USB 2.0 card reader was in the same ballpark at 7:57. This leads me to believe that the camera connector itself is only USB 1.1, even though the iPod photo has USB 2.0 connectivity. Odd.

Just for comparison numbers, the Belkin card reader transferred the same images to my PowerBook 17" 1.33 GHz in 4:20. This of course is USB 2.0 to USB 2.0 connectivity.

So even though I like the small size of the iPod photo camera connector, the way it integrates with the iPod itself, and the convenience of being able to transfer photos directly to an iPod, I'm a little mystified at what appears to be a USB 1.1 connector for a USB 2.0 device.

Any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated.


2005-04-02 20:02:29
Speed Issues
This could have as much to do with the fact that the iPod has to generate a thumbnail for each photo than Apple going cheap on the parts. Resampling a multi-megabyte file into such a small image involves a fair amount of math, and the iPod doesn't exactly have a G5 inside it. Just a thought.
2005-04-06 20:16:41
The iPod connector and the Digital Camera Mate
It's a pity that the connector is USB1.1 again. I have a ipod 3rd generation, with 40G capacity. Then I found there is products from Belkin called "Media Reader for iPod w/ Dock Connector". I was excited and bought it very soon. Then I found out that it transfers photos very slow!! so it is also USB1.1 interface. When I went to Thailand and shot about 500M photos, it takes me more than 20 mins to sit in the street and wait it complete! That's just one problem, after download once like this, the ipod showed me battery is almost dead!
Now I bought a Dital camera mate, a small harddisk case with battery and card reader. It operates at USB 2.0 high speed. It only took me only 3 and a half mins to transfer 500M photos. (even faster than the Belkin card reader you mentioned in the above post!) The battery last for 1 and half hours, which means you can download photos for about 20 times of 500M, more than enough for usual usage. I went to Indonesia two weeks agao. I shot about 2000 photos and copied them to the Digital camera mate about 10 times, it works very well than I didn't charge it in the two weeks when I was in Indonesia!

Now I feel Ipod is only for music. I will not use the poor battery to download photos again!

2005-06-10 21:04:30
Belkin USB media reader.
The story said the transferring from an SD card through a 15 in 1 Belkin USB card reader to iPod photo (via photo connector) worked.

This is an exciting concept because it means transferring pictures without tieing up your camera (presuming you have another card to shoot with). I want to know if this card reader will transfer from CF card (or does it require more power)

Has anyone tried this?

2005-11-27 13:30:33
Why USB 1.1
As I understand it, the USB OTG spec (which I believe the Camera Connector uses) is only ratified for USB 1.1.

If you want something that'll actually store images quickly, and give reasonable autonomy, then you should look at the CompactDrive PD70X (~35Gb/charge, uses AA batteries), and the NextoCF (~30Gb/charge).

More on that, and other options in my FAQ:

2006-02-12 22:07:24
I would be pissed rather than mystefied at this huge design flaw. It's totally worthless. I'm a little sad that this piece of crap accessory is the determinate factor in me ordering an iaudio x5 30gb mp3 player that actually has usb 2.0 photo transfer built into it.
2006-05-31 07:44:49

After reading some of the comments, I feel I should offer my opinion, having just returned from a 6-week holiday where we took 1440 photos, all of which we transferred to my 5th gen 60GB Ipod video, using the Apple connector.

I read all the reviews before we went, and due to most of them complaining about the battery life vs transfer speed problem in the Apple one, I originally bought the Belkin one. When we got it home and tried it out, we discovered that it didn't allow you to view the photos on the pod, and in fact had no way at all of confirming that the photos had transferred, save for the inclusion of a pithy LED colour change or something on the unit itself. Not what you need when you're in the middle of nowhere and you don't know if it's safe to delete the card yet.

So I took that back and got the Apple one. I think that the reports of running out of battery life whilst transferring are possibly by people who have a pod with 25% charge and are trying to transfer a full 512mb card. We only have a 128mb card, which sufficed even on our more prolific shooting days. With our Olympus C765 on the 2nd top quality setting, which produces images the size of an elephant's arse if need be, they were coming out at about 700 - 800kb each image. So we could take as many as 170 pics in a day before dumping to the pod at night. We never took that many in a day, but even if we left it a few days before dumping, and hence had 130 - 140 pics, the pod/connector didn't struggle a bit, and I had more than enough charge to get me through the next day's music. I usually tried to keep a good charge on the pod beforehand, and I reckon if we can manage that throughout India and Vietnam where sometimes you don't have power every night, AND we were using the pod in between photo dumps for a lot of music, then I think that if you try to charge when you can in most places, you should be right. Obviously if you're going to be somewhere without power for a week or two, you'd be stupid to try to use this during that time.

The biggest and best thing about the apple one is that after transferring, you can immediately view all the photos and safely erase the card. I would recommend it no worries.