Microdrives (CF hard drives)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jeff Perry, Oct 15, 2003.

  1. Jeff Perry

    Jeff Perry Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Who here owns, or has experience with, the little compact-flash microdrives? I'm purchasing a digital camera for my wife that supports them, and want to weigh the pros/cons of the microdrive vs. actual compactflash.

    Price comparison (without doing any real research):
    $175 - 1GB Microdrive
    $240 - 1GB CompactFlash

    I'm curious to know if it's worth the $65 to eliminate any potential microdrive hassles. My concerns are:

    - Reliability & longevity (moving parts & all)
    - Power draw
    - Speed

    I'll be using this in an 8 megapixel digital camera, so we'll be writing some serious data to it. Speed could be an issue.

    I'd really appreciate any comments from folks who have experience with these drives. What are their strengths & weaknesses as opposed to CompactFlash?

    Thank you...

    -Jeff
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 1998
    Messages:
    11,797
    Likes Received:
    828
    Location:
    Michigan
    You can buy four 256MB CF cards for about the same price you listed for a 1GB microdrive.

    I went the smaller multiple 256MB route. My logic was that I did not want all my photos on a single card, in case that card became damaged, corrupt, or lost. That way, I would only lose 25% of my pictures instead of 100%.
     
  3. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2002
    Messages:
    798
    Likes Received:
    0
    With the available capacity of CF cards at the prices they are today, I would not buy a micro drive. Drop the micro drive and it's finished, not so with the CF card. Micro drives just aren't as reliable as a memory card.
     
  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 1998
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm going with my gut here, but I think the microdrive just isn't a good deal. I don't think it'll be as reliable or as quick as a CF card, and I think the powerdraw is too much.

    For good info on cards, check out Rob Galbraith's site. He does comparisons of CF card performance in various cameras. Fortunately my camera, the Canon 10d, is included in his database and I try and buy cards near the top of his list. As you can see speed does vary on those cards.

    Personnally, for my 10d which depending on the mode has picture sizes between 2MB (JPG) and 7MB (RAW), I use two 512MB cards. The second card came in handy when I went to a friend's wedding recently and shot everything in RAW format. I paid about $140 each for some Sandisk Ultras that are near the top of that list I mentioned and got them through Amazon. Good stuff and I'm very pleased.
     
  5. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2000
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just got a 512MB Sandisk Ultra for my new 10D yesterday, paying about a $40 premium over the "regular" 512MB cards. After doing some tests, I've found that it has EXACTLY the same write performance in the camera as my $40 Simpletech 256MB card. There's no discernable difference at all, in single-shot-to-preview, filling the buffer with shots and letting it write them all, or partial-to-full-preview in play mode.

    The card might well download to a PC faster in a card reader, haven't tried that yet.

    When I get my next card I'm going the cheapest-available route. Techbargains.com had a deal for a 1GB Simpletech card for $165 after a $25 rebate today.
     
  6. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 1998
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    I made a post in the thread on blue tooth about USB 2.0 being significantly faster. Just for reference on speed, I did a test and dumped 450MB from my CF card using a USB 2.0 reader to my PC. It took 2.5 minutes. I'm trying it now on a USB 1.1 card reader in a 1.1 port, and I'm estimating 8.5 minutes based on the current progress. Different readers, different chipsets, blah blah blah, take it for what it's worth, but 2.0 is definitely significantly faster, and I believe that a card reader will pretty much always outperform the camera.

    Dave, could you try your comparison with cards that are mostly full and using CRW? I'm just curious if anything like that will show a difference. Of course the difference may just be in 10ths of a second, so it might not matter to anyone under most circumstances.
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 1998
    Messages:
    11,797
    Likes Received:
    828
    Location:
    Michigan
    I have three 256MB CF cards, all purchased for less than $50 each. One is a 16x speed, one is a 4x speed, and the third does not indicate any speed at all. When using the cards in my Canon Powershot G4 camera, I did not notice any performance difference between the three cards. I have a USB 1.1 card reader for the PC, but I have not bothered to time the transfer rates of the various cards to the PC (I usually do something else for the few minutes it takes to transfer the data).
     
  8. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd also skip the MD and just get a CF card. The MD can be somewhat fragile and be damaged by dropping it, for example. CF doesn't have these problems and I find it to be much more reliable. Plus the powerdraw is just way too much for my liking and with a portable device, you want all the juice you can get.
     
  9. Jeff Perry

    Jeff Perry Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent discussion, thank you everyone for your insight. I am going to stick with CF, for sure. The microdrive had it's time, but with the current prices of memory and considering it's drawbacks, it just doesn't seem like the smart decision.
     
  10. Dan D.

    Dan D. Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 1999
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jeff, looks like you got some solid advice already and made the right choice. Just to support your decision, I have a dead 340MB MicroDrive sitting in my desk drawer. It was a great deal at the time, but CF cards have caught up. Also, Scott's advice about multiple cards is right on. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. You should really look at 2 512MB cards instead of one big one. CF cards are more reliable than MDs, but far from perfect.

    For those with an iPod, Apple just announced a new attachment from Belkin that lets you dump your images from CF and other cards onto your iPod. Very, very cool.
     
  11. Jeff Perry

    Jeff Perry Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2003
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    I saw that iPod attachment earlier today. Really slick. Now, when I go out and buy an iPod for myself, I'll be able to justify the price by claiming it's for her camera, too. [​IMG]
     
  12. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 1998
    Messages:
    2,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Archos has a similar attachment for their multi-media player. A buddy of mine bought that player just to dump pictures to.
     

Share This Page