CF Card + reader = slowwww

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gauchogolfer, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #1
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Here's my situation. I've got a 1GB Lexar CF card which I use with a Minolta A2 camera. I get the images off into my powerbook using a PC-card CF reader. For the last several months, copying photos off of the card has been very slow. Last night I copied 75 images (about 800MB) onto my hard drive in about 15 minutes. I've reformatted the card already, but that didn't fix anything.

    While copying images, my CPU usage goes up to 100% the entire time, mainly due to a system_kernel process.

    Is it possible for a CF card to 'go bad' like this and cause things to slow down, or should I suspect the card reader? I don't have multiple CF cards or readers to independently check which one is bad.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    Mar 7, 2005
    #2
    A few things to take into account.

    1. Image Resolution - the higher the resolution of each image, the longer it takes to transfer. 800Mb is almost a full card. I don't have the numbers in front of me as to how fas a PC card reader transfers but 15 minutes may be normal for high res files.....Anyone?

    2. Software vs. direct transfer - Are you using a software (ie: iPhoto, Image Capture or something from Minolta...) to transfer the images? Or are you dragging them directly from the CF Card to your hard drive?

    3. How fast is your hard drive? Also, take a look at it to see how full it is. If it's slow and almost full that could be another factor bogging you down.
     
  3. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #3
    The easiest way to check is to get a $20 multi-format card reader that plugs into a USB 2.0 port, if you have such a port available.

    I haven't noticed any difference over the life of my cards but downloading 200-300 images, I usually just go do something else.

    If the kernel_task is jumping in CPU usage, it sounds as though it's operating simply as a file transfer and nothing else. Getting iPhoto and other things in the way certainly won't help your overall transfer speed.
     
  4. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

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    #4
    I have a Firewire card reader that FLYS when dumping photos from a CF card. I'd look into a higher speed reader if I were you.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Speed is about right for USB1

    Sounds like you are using USB1. Either the computer's port is USB1, your ub or the reader is. I think the Apple keyborads are USB1 so the k/b ports are too. Also some older USB2 hubbs will reverts to usb1 if any usb1 device is plugged in. newer hubs alow you to mix.

    Bottom line is that it sounds like USB1 speed. You want USB2.
     
  6. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    #6
     
  7. gauchogolfer thread starter macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #7
    Thanks for the help.

    I believe that the card was faster in the past. It's a Lexar "professional" 1 GB 80x speed and I remember it being faster than it is now (it's about 1 year old). The copy speed from card to desktop is about the same as directly importing into iPhoto from the card, so iPhoto doesn't seem to be the problem. The card reader is indeed a PCMCIA slot reader, and it's kinda cheap I think (random CompUSA "Dazzle" reader, nothing special). Could a reader like this be crapping out? I'll try and find a different reader somewhere if I can, but I'm not sure if there's a place I can borrow one from to try before I buy.

    Cheers
     
  8. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #8
    Definitely it's time for a faster CF card reader, as undoubtedly that PCMCIA slot reader/adapter is too slow for today's fast cards. Get either a firewire or USB 2 card reader -- they aren't that expensive -- and try again.

    Another thing to check, as mentioned, is your hard drive capacity, but also take a look at your RAM. Do you have enough RAM? In the old days when I used a PC I always routinely rebooted before using the CF card reader and then when I finished, I'd reboot again prior to going on with other tasks. That was in a Windows machine and the RAM was sorely taxed by the process. Now with my Mac, even though I've got the same amount of RAM -- 2 GB -- I never have to worry about rebooting because of course the Mac makes much better use of RAM allocation and I don't have a machine gunked up with all sorts of RAM-sucking programs the way I did in the PC. So check your RAM, as that is an important factor.
     
  9. gauchogolfer thread starter macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #9
    Thanks CP. I'm running my 15" PB with 1.5 GB of RAM, and I have about 10 GB free on my HD. Even with a VM size of ~5-6GB, I think this should be enough. I'll look into a FW reader. Maybe the PCMCIA card will get relegated to my camera bag for while on the road, or in a pinch.

    Cheers
     
  10. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #10
    PCMCIA CF adapter? Ditch it. I had the exact same problem; moving to a USB2 reader solved it. Copying the files over the PCMCIA bus was dog slow, and also caused other applications to break down (most noticeable was the music coming from iTunes; it developed a very noticeable stutter.)

    I don't get that problem with the USB reader. I would've preferred a FW reader, but couldn't find a shop that carried one. Mutter. Twenty bucks should see you happy again.
     
  11. gauchogolfer thread starter macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

    Joined:
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    #11
    Update: solved!

    So, I found a simple USB reader for my CF and SD cards, 15 Euros at Darty. I transferred 800 Megs onto the desktop in about 45 seconds. Much better. It's good to know the card is fine. No more crappy PC card reader for me.

    Thanks everyone, for all of the suggestions.
     
  12. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

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    #12
    Why is a PC Card so slow?? Isn't it an internal connection (that i'd assume was faster than USB 2 or firewire)? I've been having the same issue with my PC Card... slowwwwwwness.

    I thought it was something wrong with this particular card...
     
  13. robogobo macrumors 6502

    robogobo

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    #13
    i'm also trying to figure this out. i always assumed a pcmcia card would be the fastest option, plus the convenience of leaving it on the slot, leaving one less stupid adapter to worry about was a major advantage.

    HOWEVER, the adapter itself seems to be the problem. pcmcia cards are NOT pc or pci cards. if you look in the apple system profiler, the are properly listed on the ATA bus. what does this mean? i have no idea. but i think it's the reason the card itself is a factor.

    i have a cheapo macally cf pcmcia adapter. it sucks for three reasons: 1)it drains the battery on the powerbook, even when there's no card in it 2) it's slow, really slow and 3) it hogs 100% of system resources, bringing everything else to a halt, even typing text.

    i haven't tried it yet, but apparently delkin has a 32bit cardbus cf adapter that is faster than firewire. it still probably draws battery power, and i can't find any info on the resources problem. for now i'm using my usb adapter, it may be a bit slower, but at least it plays well with others.
     
  14. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #14
    PC Card = PCMCIA--it was merely a name change to make it easier to remember.

    I'm not sure why you would leave the adapter in the slot but MacAlly, at least with me, has a bad reputation. I wouldn't take equipment from them, even if they paid me.

    SanDisk also has an adapter for the slot and I'd be more confident using that or the Delkin adapter. They're both rather reputable. They should also be faster than a USB 2.0 multi-card reader but I've long considered that there isn't a real problem with the USB 2.0 variety. Wait until we have 30 MP cameras, though.
     
  15. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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  16. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    Mar 7, 2005
    #16
    There's another problem that has popped up with PC Card readers...my "new" (to me) 12" PowerBook doesn't have a PC Card slot or USB2. My 6 in 1 card read is USB2, but for now I just go get a cup a coffee until it finishes downloading or use it on the eMac.

    I don't like doing it this way, but my Fuji S2 has Firewire out. I haven't used it much since the D70 was aquired.

    Most of the time in the office I use an Epson R300 with a built in card reader. It's also USB2.
     

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