19 Aug 2009 OPG Review: Delkin Express Card 34 Compact Flash Adapter
I chose to try this Compact Flash Adapter from Delkin because I like the idea of having a slimline adapter that I can throw into my laptop PC bag and forget about, rather than the slightly larger multi-card adapter that I have now. The versatility of the multi-card adapter is nice, but the only memory cards I use other than Compact Flash are SDHC cards, and I already have a slot for SDHC cards built into my laptop. I also having an adapter for Compact Flash with no cables helps me to reduce the number of cables I carry, as my multi-card adapter requires a separate cable.
On opening the box, the adapter seems to be built well. There’s some plastic but with aluminum covers on both sides, it seems sturdy enough. I didn’t find the manual too easy to understand. It is obviously an English translation from another language, and it hasn’t been done that well. It says on the box that you need to grab the drivers from the Web, which I did, but when you try to install the drivers, a message saying that the card cannot be found is displayed, despite the adapter already being inserted into my Express Card slot. It took me a little while to figure out that before my laptop computer will recognize the Compact Flash Adapter, you have to actually insert a compact flash card into the adapter. Once you do that, the computer recognizes the adapter and you can run the driver install program.
There are two modes that you can install the drivers in. One is Fast Removal Optimized, and the other is Performance Optimized. As my main aim in these tests was to see how fast the card adapter is, I chose Performance Optimized initially. My test was relatively simple, just wanting to see the raw speed on the transfer of images from the card to the computer. I simply filled a Lexar 8GB UDMA 300x Compact Flash Card with images from my 5D Mark II, and transferred them to the hard drive using Windows Explorer. I didn’t import into Lightroom or anything, I just transferred the files.
There were 314 files in total, filling the usable memory on the card to the tune of 7.4GB. Transfering to my hard drive to 4:18 (four minutes and eighteen seconds) in Performance mode. As I intended to run another test from my USB 2.0 multi-card reader after this, to ensure that multiple transfers of the same files didn’t get any faster due to caching by the OS, I did the first transfer twice. The speed was exactly the same, 4:18, for both transfers.
I then took my USB 2.0 multi-card reader from another well known electronics manufacturer, and transferred the same files from the same CF card to a new folder on the same internal hard drive on my laptop computer. This time, the transfer took 4:58 (four minutes and fifty eight seconds). This means the transfer using the Express Card Compact Flash Adapter from Delkin is around 15% faster than a pretty normal USB 2.0 multi-card adapter. The difference isn’t staggering, but it’s definitely faster.
I then uninstalled the drivers for the CF adapter, and reinstalled them in the Fast Removal Optimized mode, wondering how much slower it would be over the Performance mode, and repeated the transfer, once again, using the same card, with the same files. I was surprised to see that this transfer was actually faster than the Performance Mode, at 4:08 (four minutes and eight seconds).
The driver installer dialog states that “Fast Removal Optimized would disable the Write Cache feature of Windows and the Disk. Performance Optimized would enable the feature.” Thinking about this, why would I even want the Windows Write Cache feature turned on for this card, as my main objective is to Read from it? Apart from when writing a firmware update to a compact flash card, I can’t think of any time that I write data to a card.
Anyway, with Fast Removal Optimized selected, the Delkin Express Card 34 Compact Flash Adapter is 17% faster than my standard USB 2.0 multi-card reader, so that’s a little more significant. At 50 seconds faster per 8GB, when I come in after a day in the freezing cold after photographing Red-Crowned Cranes and Eagles in Hokkaido, and I have up to forty gigabytes of data to transfer, that’s over four minutes faster. And that means I can hit that nice warm Japanese bath four minutes earlier! 🙂
Coupled with the fact that Delkin adapter is sturdy, slimline and doesn’t require a USB cable, I’m overall very happy with it, to the point that I can forgive the badly translated manual and the slightly hard to understand logic of the drivers. I’ll definitely be picking one of these up for myself in my next order from Outdoor Photo Gear. Thumbs up!