Results of the Memory Card Reader Face Off

by Derrick Story

In a recent weblog, I posed the question, "Which Is faster: PC card adapter or FireWire reader?" I then opened the floor for guesses as to which was faster and by how much.

I now have the results for you, not only for a PC Card adapter and FireWire media reader, but I'm including the numbers also for a USB media card reader and direct upload via USB directly from a Canon Digital Elph S400. The test was conducted using a standard SanDisk CF 256 MB memory card containing 32 4-megapixel images recored at high quality. The photos were uploaded into iPhoto 4 on a PowerBook G4 667 (TiBook).

After each test I would trash the iPhoto library, then run the test again. I'm posting the times for both tests for each card reader. And here they are, from fastest to slowest:

  1. SanDisk FireWire ImageMate Reader -- 1:29, 1:29

  2. SanDisk PC Card Adapter -- 1:45, 1:48

  3. SanDisk USB ImageMate Reader -- 2:29, 2:29

  4. Canon S400 via USB -- 3:22, 3:20

So the FireWire reader was the fastest by 16 seconds over the PC Card adapter on this particular test. Looks to me like the closest guess was by lfransson who posted FireWire by 8 seconds. So, lfransson, send me your mailing address, and I'll get a signed copy of Digital Photography Hacks headed your way.

Thanks to all who participated! And if you want the fastest uploads, it's looking like a FireWire reader to me.


2004-08-09 07:51:37
Winning Correction
A reader pointed out that flynot2000 actually came closer with a 12 second guess. Correct! flynot2000, send me a mailing address for the signed copy of the book.

I'm going to make a judgment call here, since I'm the sole judge, and still send a book to lfransson for his second place guess.

Thanks all!

2004-08-10 15:31:50
Winning Correction

Thank you unamed reader! (And sorry to lfransson)

(aka Dave Gomez)

2004-12-02 13:53:53
seems very slow to me
>32 4-megapixel images recored at high quality - 1:29

If the image files actually were 4MB each, that's 128MB downloaded in 89 seconds. My USB2 reader (and I think it's a slow one) will download 111MB in 51 seconds. Others say that their USB2 reader will download 467 MB in 88 seconds and 215 megs in 30 seconds. All much faster then the test in this blog. And I suspect that the JPG files from the 4MP S400 will be more like 2MB each, and that's 64MB in 89 seconds which is really slow.

I've also read that firewire is faster than USB2. Am I missing something?

Mick Ruthven