Digital Photography Now Peripheral Reviews
Jenoptik Jenreader Firewire CF reader
By Ian Burley
We scoured the country for a Firewire CF card reader and while many were advertised, many stockists failed to have any in stock. We finally ordered a unit from Jessops, but it wasnít delivered on time. By chance, we saw the Jenoptik reader while visting the 2002 Focus on Imaging Show.
When USB 1.1 is too slow
Most memory card readers use a USB 1.1 connection. This is generally capable of transferring real world data at a rate of up to 1MB per second. Older memory cards canít work fast enough for this data rate to be a brake on proceedings. However, next generation flash memory and fast CFII hard drives, like IBMís Microdrives, are able to outstrip the bandwidth or speed capability of USB1.1 card readers by a factor of up to four.
Up to 50MB per second
Firewire has a maximum data transfer rate of 400 megabits per second, or 50MB per second . But this figure is immaterial as even the fastest flash memory cards are currently hard pushed to reach a transfer rate of 5MB per second, a tenth of the theoretical maximum bandwidth of a Firewire link. But it does mean you can be confident that your memory card is not held back by your card reader.
For example, we transferred an 18 file folder of JPEG photo images totalling 60MB. Writing the folder to an Optosys 1GB CFII card took 82 seconds using a Uno Mas USB 1.1 memory card reader. Using the Jenoptike firewire card reader, this time reduced by 31 seconds to 51 seconds. But much more spectacular was the read speed, reduced from 70 seconds using the USB 1.1 reader to just 22 seconds using the Jenoptik Firewire card reader. Itís worth noting that the Optosys is not a particularly fast card, especially at receiving data. Writing the same 60MB image folder to some faster cards could take as little as 25 seconds.
The advantage of Firewire is blunted when dealing with a large number of very small files, but as digital cameras tend to produce relatively small numbers of large files, firewire readers are ideally suited.
There isnít a lot to say about the Jenoptik card reader, itís quite a simple product. It has a translucent blue case, can take both CFI and thicker CFII cards, including IBM Microdrives. The LED data transfer activity LED is very dim and not easy to see as it is located on the top of the unit rather than on the front, next to the card slot aperture. The Jenoptik reader was recognised and installed automatically, without additional software, by our Windows XP test machine, which was fitted with an Adaptec 3 port Firewire PCI card. Firewire is well supported on later Apple Macs and under Linux.
Double the price of a standard card reader?
Our particular reader was purchased at the 2002 Focus on Imaging Show for a bargain £40, inc.VAT from Camera World. However, the typical selling price is £52 + VAT, or £61.10 inc.VAT. That represents about a doubling of price over a standard USB 1.1 CF card reader.
In conclusion, we like our Jenoptik firewire card reader, especially at the special show price we bought it for.
Points to note:
Price: £52+VAT, £61.10 inc.VAT.
The Digital Camera Company, www.digital-cameras.com