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tomhale Aug 29, 2008 8:34 AM


Does anybody know how to minimize the time it takes for a computer to upload a photo onto its hard drive? I'm after near real time uploads so I'm not sure what the bottlenecks would be in the camera and in the computer and what sort of cable would be the fastest. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

JimC Aug 29, 2008 8:52 AM

With most camera models, the camera's interface to the memory card will be the primary bottleneck (most won't be able to approach anywhere near the transfer speed the card is capable of). What camera model are you using?

The best way around it is a fast card reader.

hgernhardtjr Aug 29, 2008 9:06 AM

Digital is digital, so if the cable works it works. Expensive cables will not change the speed of upload from your camera to your computer. The bottleneck is primarily the camera and its internal electronics. Fastest upload speeds are generally achieved by using a separate card reader, with a slight margin given to the type that connect to the 1394 FireWire port, and high speed flash memory.

I use Sandisk products, and their Extreme FireWire Reader transfers at a speed of 45MB/s with my Extreme IV CF cards. Their USB model reads at about 30MB/s. The camera itself has a stated maximum of 7.5MB/s transfer speed.

For example, I uploaded 100 photos from my camera through its USB line to the computer (a fast computer used for heavy photo editing). I also used a high speed firewire card reader. Using the high speed card reader, the upload took approximately one quarter the time as direct-from-camera. I have found this to be true with our Sony and Canon P&S cameras as well as my Canon dSLRs: using a card reader is the fastest.

tomhale Aug 29, 2008 9:13 AM

I haven't purchased a camera yet but am looking into it. I won't be able to use a card reader to transfer photos because there will not be enough time. It has to be close to real time. I'll look for a camera with a fast transfer speed. Is there any bottleneck on the computer end because I'm also in the market for a new computer. Basically what I'm after is the shortest amount of time from the taking of the photo itselfto the transfer onto the computer's hard drive.

hgernhardtjr Aug 29, 2008 9:26 AM

As of today, USB2 is still the standard. The new, fasterUSB3.0 standards have not been implemented by manufactures at this time, but will be in the near future. However, add-in cards for your computer will be available to update it if and when camera manufacturers start increasing transfer speeds.

So if you are getting a computer now, simply make sure it has a USB port and a FireWire port ... that gives you versatility. For whatever reasons, FireWire is most often used to transfer video from a digitial video camera, and USB for photos.

hgernhardtjr Aug 29, 2008 9:32 AM

A question, Tom ... why do you need near-real-time file transfer? If you need to do that, there are several products that will wirelessly connect your camera with your computer to achieve real-time transfer ... but the price is generally very high and most of that equipment is at the professional level.

Look at today's news on Steve's front page ... the EyeFi is a type of consumer-level memory card that transfers wirelessly and a deal with Nikon has aparently been made. Where that will go, I do not know.

tomhale Aug 29, 2008 9:51 AM

I'm working on something non-obvious somewhat similar to mocap. I think with mocap they use webcams for real time processing but I was looking into seeing if its possible with higher quality cameras. I'm guessing that it's not but just thought I'd research it a bit. Anyway, the realtime part is crucial and the quality is of secondary importance.

tomhale Aug 29, 2008 9:52 AM

also price probably wouldn't be a problem.

hgernhardtjr Aug 29, 2008 11:41 AM

I assume by mocap you mean motion capture.

I'm afraid I know little about it other than using low-res images of reflective spots with animation software to produce 3d animation. Rendering is faster because no excess information is wanted or desired.

If you are doing stop-motion for animation, that's a whole other arena and I am sure there are others here who may help you.

TCav Aug 30, 2008 5:40 AM

Logitech has a selection of 2MP webcams with Carl Zeiss autofocus lenses. Higher resolution image sensors would tax the throughput of either USB 2.0 or FireWire 800. I think the best you can hope for right now is one of these.

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