Hama USB3 card reader review

2014-11-29 at 16-44-13

So far we only had one card reader in the household, a USB2 card reader from Kingston (FCR-HS215/1). But since raw files are getting larger and computers now support USB3 I felt it was time to upgrade and got a USB3 card reader from hama® for only € 15,99 (ex. VAT). While searching for USB3 card readers I found many models from various manufacturers that seemed to have quality issues and the last thing you want as photographer is to loose any original files before they’ve been processed and backed up. There were no reviews for this model from hama®, but sometimes no news is good news, so I got this one.

2014-11-29 at 16-49-43

The official description is ‘USB 3.0 Card Reader, SD/microSD, aluminium’ (Item: 00123901) and it comes in various colors. I liked the small compact size, the metal casing and the fact that it doesn’t require any additional cables. It only supports SD (UHS-I)  and micro SD cards but that is all I need. Sometimes less is more. I never understood those card readers with support for as many different formats as possible. The USB plug of the reader has a small removable cap. After several weeks of use I noticed that the USB plug was slightly bended down. So while the casing is indeed quiet solid, I am slightly worried about the durability of the USB plug.

The card slots are on the side and in case of my MacBook Pro that unfortunately conflicts with other ports next to the USB ports on both sides. So the card reader either has to be used in a USB3 hub or while the slots next to it are free. It is not a big issue for me. When I am in the office, a USB3 hub is connected and when I am on the road, the other ports are usually free. I haven’t been using the internal card reader for a long time as it often has issues recognizing and mounting cards.

Performance

Of course I was interested in the performance. Would it make a difference? After a large photo or video shoot it is nice not having to wait for ages for the images being transfered. For speed tests I used QuickBench with file sizes between 2 and 10 MB and two different SD cards.

When using a SanDisk Extreme® PLUS SDXC™ UHS-I card the USB3 speed started to pay off and the hama® card reader was able to read with an average of 91 MB/second, which was even slightly faster than the internal SD card reader of the MacBook Pro. With the USB2 card reader 19 MB/second was the maximum. On a shoot with several hundred images that is clearly a noticeable difference. The write speed difference is less extreme but how often do we write files from the computer to a SD card?

When using a SanDisk Ultra® SDHC™ Card the differences are less strong as the maximum transfer rate of the card is now the limiting factor. But also here the USB3 card reader is still twice as fast when reading files.

Reliability

With the Kingston card reader I never had any data loss but often a card didn’t get recognized directly. So far the hama® USB3 card reader never had problems with any cards. They get  mounted directly and file transfer always went fine.

Summary

For this price I think it is an excellent card reader that performs well and can always be with me in my camera bag without taking too much space.

Pro:

  • Compact size
  • Fast data transfer
  • Affordable price

Contra:

  • Position of the slots
  • Durability of the USB plug

 

Review: Glidetrack Shooter

Two weeks ago I got myself the Glidetrack Shooter, a camera slider for small camcorders and video DSLR. As additional bonus the Glidetrack Shooter can also be used as a shoulder support. It ships as SD and HD version at 0.5m to 1m lengths. Compared to SD, the HD version has a wider support feet so that it can support larger cameras or long lenses. I chose the smallest 0.5m SD version as I am mostly using short lenses on my D300S and my HD camcorder is also very compact. The 0.5m also seemed to be most suitable for traveling.

Glidetrack Shooter

The Glidetrack allows you to make smooth dolly or truck moves. In contrast to pans, tilts or zoom, the camera is actually moving, which is like taking the viewer on a physical ride and give the video are more natural and organic feeling. The dolly move is a movement towards or away from the subject without changing the focal length of the lens (combining a dolly move with a zoom is of course also possible). A move in can be used to combine a wide shot of a scene with a tighter shot and to focus the viewer’s attention to the subject in dynamic way. The truck move (also referred to as a tracking shot) is a sideways (left or right) movement. By changing the viewpoint it can give the viewer a better experience of the three-dimensional space of the scene or slowly reveal new information. The truck move is most effective with foreground objects.

Pi in Almere City from Harald Walker on Vimeo.

For my short test video I went to the parking garage in the center of Almere. Next to the parking garage the number PI has been painted in large white characters on the ground. I brought my Nikon D300S as well as the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lenses. As video head I used the Manfrotto 700RC2 mini video fluid head. In order to transport the Glidetrack Shooter with the rest of the equipment per bicycle I had to dismantle it again, so you have to watch those screws and bring tools to put it together.

After a few tryouts I quickly got a feel for it for the Glidetrack and the movement of the carriage. It is important to push the carriage, not the camera. When the load is not shared evenly across the bearings, it can result in uneven running. You can see it the video at 00:52. In this scene the camera was titled down to film the sign.
As I was using my regular DSLR camera I had a silly practical problem with the straps, which often got in the way when moving the camera. Nothing to worry about, I just have to pay more attention. I didn’t use this Glidetrack as shoulder support yet but am very pleased so far with the build quality and the first video result. I am certainly looking forward to using it more often.

Update:
Regarding Frank’s question from the comment. Yes, the pan lock lever of the Manfrotto 700RC2 mini video fluid head hits the carriage but it can be adjusted.

Manfrotto 700RC2 on the Glidetrack carriage

An additional quick release adapter might solve this problem and an adapter like the Manfrotto 357PL with its 80mm sliding travel of the plate might even help to get the camera with lens better balanced.