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Thread: Memory Card Readers - USB 2 vs 3

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Memory Card Readers - USB 2 vs 3

    So, like I am sure many of you, I watch the occasional YouTube video. I saw this one go by on Fstoppers earlier this week:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlWhvc-UCOA

    This got me thinking about my card reader as I often find the transfer of my memory cards to be slow, but, ultimately, it isn't that big of a deal due to the low volume of data I need to transfer.

    But, it struck me that on the exact same memory card reader (Transcend RDF8) that I use they seemed to be getting better transfer rates than I experience. So, I just ran my own test, and I was transferring at about 30 MB/sec from the card to my computer's SSD drive. Much slower than what they observed.

    So, I started looking at my set up. Conclusion, I am a bit of an idiot, my USB 3.0 memory card reader I have had for years was plugged into a USB 2.0 port on the back of my computer.

    I just switched it to a USB 3.0 port (I only have two, and no USB 3.1 as my motherboard is from 2011) and I am now seeing 130 MB/sec read off my CF card to my SSD drive. I then tested reading from my CF card in the Transcend reader to my HD drive, and it ranged from 60 to 110 MB/sec.

    So, it is interesting that Fstoppers found that the higher end card reader did help with transfer speeds. But, for those of us working with slightly older set ups, just making sure it is connected correctly is the big first step.

    All this was with a Sandisk Extreme Pro UDMA 7 160 MB/sec CF card.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 02-08-2019 at 06:06 PM.

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    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    USB 2 and 3 is a big difference.

    Dave

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Throgmartin View Post
    USB 2 and 3 is a big difference.

    Dave
    Definitely. Thinking about this a bit more, about a year ago I rearranged a few things and I bet that is when I connected the card reader to the USB 2 port.

    But, looking at my system, this is the first time my 2011 home built computer is beginning to show its age. I have two USB 3 ports on the back. One is to my backup HD and the other is now for my card reader. However, I am buying an 1 TB external SSD that I may start using to edit my photos (my internal SSD is only 256 GB and I use it for programs and work off of HD drives for photo editing). That will require a 3rd USB 3 port.

    For me, the quick fix may be getting a series of card reader/USB 3 ports that connect directly to one of my internal SATA ports or a USB hub splitter. Of course, I could also get a new internal SDD, but I like the idea of being able to edit some while traveling.

    But, getting back to cards and card readers, one of my other takeaways is that my earlier version of the Transcend card reader, I was getting 130 MB/sec transfer speed with my CF card, where Fstoppers was getting 80 MB/sec for the Sandisk SD and ~90 MB/sec for the Prograde. So, a nice slight advantage of CF cards.

    Granted, once they lined everything up with the Card reader, ports, and high end Prograde SD card, they were getting 250 MB/sec. So, for those that need it, you can get your system streamlined with SD cards.

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    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    I don't know if you get a lot of benefit from photos being on SSD. There's a huge improvement for the photo software start up time though.

    Dave

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Throgmartin View Post
    I don't know if you get a lot of benefit from photos being on SSD. There's a huge improvement for the photo software start up time though.

    Dave
    You are correct.

    Just ran some tests. What I would really like is to cut down on the time that I cull images. Right now going through pictures looking zoomed in at 100% I've considered to be "slow." In my tests, working off the HD drive I averaged 5.3 seconds per image for the image to become sharp. Working off the SSD, that number was 4.5 seconds. This was based on timing 4 sets of 10 images.

    Then, I tested how long it took to export 5 images (this is less of a concern to me, so I just ran one test). 5.2 secs on the USB 3 external SSD and 5.9 secs/image on the internal HD drive.

    So, I'd be interested if anyone has found a faster way to cull images. For now, I think I'll relegate the external SSD to a travel backup and switch back to working off the internal HD.

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    I use a free program for culling called faststone image viewer. It displays the small jpg that is attached to the raw file so there is no delay at all loading images. Also if you click and hold the mouse it zooms to 100% again with no delay , and back to full screen once you release the mouse. I use it to scroll through and tag the keepers , then select the tagged files and put them in their own folder. This way i dont have to import 3000 photos into lightroom which takes forever.
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    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    I bought Photo Mechanic a couple years ago, at a time when Lightroom was a lot slower than it is now. Photo Mechanic offers immediate full-resolution views of raw files, which makes it quite easy to scroll through and find the best images in your pile. It's pretty handy for wildlife photography, where the keeper rate is less than 10% and the "trophy" rate is usually around 1%. You can flag your keepers in Photo Mechanic, and then when you import them to Lightroom the flags remain in place so you can easily find them. The only catch is that the program costs $150, so you have to be pretty seriously annoyed with the Lightroom delay before investing in it. Right now with Lightroom being a lot faster than it was in earlier versions, I find that I don't even bother using Photo Mechanic much at all. But I have a pretty fast computer which probably helps make LR as fast as possible.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sedwards View Post
    I use a free program for culling called faststone image viewer. It displays the small jpg that is attached to the raw file so there is no delay at all loading images. Also if you click and hold the mouse it zooms to 100% again with no delay , and back to full screen once you release the mouse. I use it to scroll through and tag the keepers , then select the tagged files and put them in their own folder. This way i dont have to import 3000 photos into lightroom which takes forever.
    Thanks...I may give that a try.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Huyer View Post
    I bought Photo Mechanic a couple years ago, at a time when Lightroom was a lot slower than it is now. Photo Mechanic offers immediate full-resolution views of raw files, which makes it quite easy to scroll through and find the best images in your pile. It's pretty handy for wildlife photography, where the keeper rate is less than 10% and the "trophy" rate is usually around 1%. You can flag your keepers in Photo Mechanic, and then when you import them to Lightroom the flags remain in place so you can easily find them. The only catch is that the program costs $150, so you have to be pretty seriously annoyed with the Lightroom delay before investing in it. Right now with Lightroom being a lot faster than it was in earlier versions, I find that I don't even bother using Photo Mechanic much at all. But I have a pretty fast computer which probably helps make LR as fast as possible.
    Thanks. I remember you talking about Photo Mechanic. But, right now, I am focusing on your last sentence. I am still working on my home build from 2011. Overall, I think it is great and am very pleased it is still going strong after 8 years. I had started looking at current systems to see how they had improved and had focused in on transfer speed, new memory type (M2), etc.

    But, I just looked at Window's "Resource Manager" while scrolling through images at 100% in lightroom. My CPU is ~50-60%, data transfer is ~50 MB/sec....but RAM. I am really pushing my RAM. As soon as I get going in lightroom, my RAM usage goes from 4GB to ~7+ GB of my 8GB sticks (which, in 2011 was pretty good).

    I am thinking I may need to drop some new sticks into my system. Anyone that is more computer savvy that myself have thoughts?

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    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    But, I just looked at Window's "Resource Manager" while scrolling through images at 100% in lightroom. My CPU is ~50-60%, data transfer is ~50 MB/sec....but RAM. I am really pushing my RAM. As soon as I get going in lightroom, my RAM usage goes from 4GB to ~7+ GB of my 8GB sticks (which, in 2011 was pretty good).

    I am thinking I may need to drop some new sticks into my system. Anyone that is more computer savvy that myself have thoughts?
    I think you've nailed it there. I'm running with 32 GB of RAM, and when LR is chugging away I've seen the resource monitor go up as high as 16 GB usage. So when your system starts to top out at 8 GB, I'm guessing it begins to use the hard drive instead. Or maybe it just throttles back the processing to keep within the RAM limit. If your system can handle 16 GB RAM, it would probably be your most cost-effective upgrade.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Huyer View Post
    I think you've nailed it there. I'm running with 32 GB of RAM, and when LR is chugging away I've seen the resource monitor go up as high as 16 GB usage. So when your system starts to top out at 8 GB, I'm guessing it begins to use the hard drive instead. Or maybe it just throttles back the processing to keep within the RAM limit. If your system can handle 16 GB RAM, it would probably be your most cost-effective upgrade.
    Thanks Jonathan. I checked and my motherboard can actually handle 32 GB. Knowing that you see up to 16 GB while using LR, I ordered 32 GB.

    I am sure my 2011 home build will begin to fail at some point. But, right now I am hoping to get several more years out of it.

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