You've been out shooting for 12 hours, you've got 4 cards full of data, it's midnight, and you have another shoot first thing in the morning. Wouldn't it be nice to have a solution that allows you to pop all those cards in a reader at one time thereby getting your download done 4x faster than if you did it with one card reader. Now there is with the new Lexar Professional Workflow Reader Solution.
Lexar knew that workflow speed is important to photographers and videographers. Often the slowest part of our workflow system is just getting the cards downloaded and backed up. Lexar's solution to the problem was creating a modular design that allows 4 different slots that can be customized to read SDHC/SDXC UHS-1, Compact Flash (UDMA 7), and XQD cards. As a Canon Mark III user I chose to have three compact flash card readers and one SDHC card reader in my system. This allows me to download and backup an entire wedding (3 CF cards of RAW files, 1 SDHC card of JPEG backups) onto two different hard drives all at one time. Convenience factor +10.
Another benefit of the Lexar Professional Workflow Reader Solution is that previously I had a plethora of cables from various card readers I had acquired over the years running across my desk. I have since removed each of those card readers and their accompanying cables making things look a lot more organized. One USB 3.0 cable, and one power cable - clean and professional looking. As previously noted the device uses fast USB 3.0 speeds and allows you to simultaneously transfer up to 4 memory cards at the fast transfer speeds.
The core of the system revolves around the Professional Workflow Hub HR1 which is the 4-bay cabinet. To complete the system you then need to pick up your choice of card readers that are compatible with the hub. One nice thing about the compatible card readers is that they can be used independently as well. Each comes with their own separate USB 3.0 cable that is not necessary when used inconjunction with the hub but a nice added feature if you decide to remove one to use while on the road for example. Something else worth nothing is the card readers each come with a rubber cover to keep stuff out of the reader, especially nice if you happen to toss it in a backpack.
Now of course one could just download the images from the card readers directly to a folder on your computer. However, my preferred method is using the program Photomechanic which is what I also use to cull all my photos after initially importing (ingesting) them. Here's an article I wrote for Fstoppers that describes how I cut my workflow time in half using Photomechanic. When you import your cards using Photomechanic it will allow you to ingest as many as you would like all simultaneously. In addition you can have the program rename and apply sequence numbers, apply IPTC data to your pictures and tell it to also save a copy of the file onto another hard drive (perfect for a backup.)
The Lexar Professional Workflow Hub HR1 can be picked up for $79 at B&H Photo Video. Each compatible card reader runs about $29 (CF, SDHC, XR1.) So putting the full system together with 4 card readers is going to set you back just shy of $200 but the I believe the convenience and efficiency of the device is well worth it. Now you can get all your cards downloaded and backed up at one time thereby minimizing any chance of forgetting a card and accidentally deleting the photos off a card you have yet to download.
What I Liked:
- Efficiency of downloading 4 cards at one time.
- Modular design allows for custom system to fit individual needs.
- Fast USB 3.0 transfer speeds.
- Minimal cable clutter
- Readers can be independently removed and used separately if needed.
- Future-proof. As new card types are introduced you could swap out the readers.
- Simple setup
What Could be Improved:
- Power plug is large and takes up quite a bit of space on a power-strip.
- Only comes in black. White option might be nice.
- Would love to see a future Firewire 800 or Thunderbolt option for even faster transfer speeds.
- No instructions included with box. It wasn't difficult to figure out but I was hesitant in removing the protective slot covers in fear of doing it incorrectly and breaking the device.