The Hoodman RAW FireWire 400/800 Compact Flash Card Reader is Built For Speed

I just bought Hoodman’s new FireWire RAW CF card reader and have to say it rocks. I’d been using a previous Hoodman RAW USB 2 reader for the past couple of years, and while faster than most other USB card readers I’d tried, the thing doesn’t hold a candle to this new FireWire reader.

For my first test of the reader it moved 90 full high res RAW files from my SanDisk card in less than a minute. The reader boasts download speeds of 42MB per second!

The Hoodman RAW 400/800 FireWire Compact Flash Card Reader is Built For Speed

As the megapixels (and files sizes) on digital cameras continue to get bigger and bigger and bigger (my Canon 5D M2 is up to 21 megapixel per frame now), getting these large images off of your camera faster and faster becomes more of a task.

Don’t be confused by Hoodman’s “RAW” moniker on this product. It’s just a name and the card handles both RAW and JPG format images. But they should probably rename this product simply to RAW SPEED. The reader comes with a standard FireWire 800 connection which is native on my MacBook Pro. It also has an adapter that comes with it if you need to use it with a FireWire 400 card. Of course, since you are all about speed though you’ll want to use that faster FireWire 800 connection.

No more waiting around while cards offload. This reader makes offloading your images a snap, getting you your empty cards back as quickly as possible to keep you shooting and shooting and shooting. The jump from USB to FireWire 800 speeds make this upgrade a pretty damn good one to make. I also find that frequently I’m using all of my USB 2 ports on my MacBook Pro and so I don’t have to unplug anything else to keep it going.

Best $80 I’ve spent in a long time.

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  1. nice. did you ever use the lexar firewire card reader by any chance? would be nice to know how they compare.

  2. William Beem says:

    I agree. I bought a 16GB RAW card and this reader at Photoshop World in Las Vegas back in October. It’s an amazing difference compared to any of my previous USB readers. My Nikon D700 shoots at 12 megapixels and that was large enough to cause delay for me. I can’t even imagine the frustration you felt waiting for those larger files from your Canon.

  3. phototristan says:

    I disagree that buying a Firewire card reader makes sense. Reason being, USB 2.0 is almost as fast and it’s definitely more compatible to plug into someone else’s computer on location or in a studio, or whatever. Not everyone has Firewire, especially those who use Windows PCs.

    Lastly, Firewire is basically a discontinued and soon to be dying format so why invest any money into it?

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    teymur, haven’t used the Lexar one. I had a Hoodman USB 2 reader before and was very happy with it and so decided to go with Hoodman again.

    phototristian. USB 2.0 is *not* almost as fast. It’s like night and day. You might be confusing USB 2.0 with FireWire 400. This works with FW 400 with an adapter but with FW 800 natively. FW 800 is *a lot* faster than USB 2.0. At least in my experience. What makes you think FW 800 is dying?

    Certainly if you don’t have FW 800 this probably doesn’t make sense, but if you have FW 800 it’s amazing the bump up in speed.

  5. Good to hear it works as boasted, TH!

    Not very useful for me as i’m still toying around with a 6 mp dslr that only uses SD[HC] cards, but I’ll be keeping this one in mind when I look to upgrade in the next year or so.

    Also, out of curiosity- with a 21mp camera after a day of shooting TH style, how much space does that eat up, anyways?

  6. thanks a lot! next time I’m in the US I will get one and test it.

  7. s2art says:

    Damn Amazon won’t ship this to Australia!

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    Eric, a good article. I think that the difference in speed between FW 400 and USB 2.0 is likely negligible. The bump up in speed to FW 800 though is substantial. Interesting that MacBooks don’t have FW 800. I love it on my MacBook Pro.

  9. tonykinney says:

    Thanks for the tip TH, I went went straight to Amazon and ordered one. I’ve been attempting to upgrade my CF reader since I went from my 20D to a 7D. I had to send the Lexar FW800 back because it was DOA, wasn’t too impressed with the design either. This is more like it…..

  10. A firewire UDMA card reader, when paired with a compatible UDMA card, makes a HUGE difference. I’ve been using the SanDisk FW reader since I got my 5DII, and it is leaps and bounds ahead of USB. The theoretical speed of USB and FIreWire is not that different, but the load imposed on the system by USB makes it slower in practice than FireWire.

  11. curt johnon says:

    Just bought a Hoodman RAW 8 gig udma6 X675 card. Can’t find any readers for UDMA6. Should I return this card and get a lower rated card for this Firewire reader?

    Thanks for any insights. (5DMKII, MacBook Pro i7, Firewire 800)


  12. Jared Chapin says:

    Holly carp! Anyone who thinks USB 2.0 is as fast as FW 800 need to have their head checked out.

    Curt I have called Hoodman before to ask if their 800 Card reader was UDMA the people i talked to didn’t seem to know. Check this card out reader out.. Looks like the silver verson of Hoodman.

  13. Joey Tranchina says:

    I bough one at MacWorld, before I went to Africa for a project where i would not have regular access to electricity and wanted to conserve battery-time.

    When I tested it, I found several other reasons to love it. It’s solid and seriously manufactured for professional work. I think, younger photographers have not had the experience of working with equipment were the word “professional” had meaning beyond ad copy. Like everything that Hoodman makes, this is the real deal.

    PS. When I thought about it, as I wrote this, i couldn’t even remember where my other card readers were. I got up and found them in the back of a drawer in my studio and put all of them (all but one) in a box to donate to my local charity thrift shop.

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  15. Tara says:


    I am having a hard time finding Hoodman memory card reader. I really want it but there is no where to be found! Can you help me to find this product so I could purchase it as soon as possible? Thank you so much.


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