Faster photo downloads

Posted on July 24, 2004

Up until now I’ve used either my camera’s built-in USB interface or my USB card reader to download my digital photos.
With the 128MB memory stick I use in my Sony DSC-P5 this works great but with the 512MB CF cards on my Canon EOS 10D this tend to be a bit more troublesome.
The epitome of this troubles came about during my recent Scottish trip when I needed to download one and some days two full CF cards each night and, because I didn’t bring my USB card reader I spent almost two hours in the process of downloading these cards and the Sony’s memory stick (my wife used this camera).

So I decided it was time to put an end to this suffering and today (at long last) I bought a SanDisk ImageMate FireWire CF reader.
Granted it is not as functional as the Dazzle USB Multi-card reader, but my main problem is with the CF cards the Canon fills up, not with the small memory stick and the new CF reader is so small and lightweight I’ll carry it just about anywhere with me.

So then I had to make some measurements to justify this purchase to myself (yes, you guessed it: I’m an engineer!).
And the numbers are quite impressive.

First I shot some photos around and filled a 512MB CF card (a SanDisk ultra II) with roughly 477MB worth of images.
Then I downloaded the images with each of the three methods.

The numbers are presented below and, I think, speak for themselves, but before we get into them I would just like to make a quick note regarding the method of downloading them from the camera. It is a fact that this method involves using software to get the images from the camera and this software does some computing and, therefore, introduces some delay in the process, but the fact is that this is Canons own software and I’m not aware of any other software which reduces the downloading time significantly. I can shave off a few minutes with other programs but it really is beside the point when you look at the other numbers.

So now for the number-crushing geeks out there here it is:

  • Downloading straight from the camera using Canon’s Image Browser: 2738 seconds (roughly 45 minutes);
  • Downloading with the Dazzle USB multi-card reader: 573 seconds (a little under 10 minutes);
  • Downloading with the SanDisk ImageMate FireWire CF reader: 81 seconds (a little under one and a half minutes).

Need I say more?