Why Macs slow Fujis down

Don't use an iPad if you use a Fuji camera

You know the feeling – you get a shiny new camera and buy it the fastest memory card you can – and all is great.  But then you find your camera suddenly takes ages to turn on.  It’s not the card, it’s not your camera.  It’s your Mac.  Kind of.

Lots of users have noticed that plugging SD cards into a Mac and then using them in a Fuji X-series camera can make the camera very slow to turn on.  The answer lies in how the Mac operating system works but the solution may not be as simple as you think.

When you put a removable card into a Mac, it generally writes a hidden file to it called “.fseventsd”.  You can’t see it (it’s hidden) but OS X uses this to keep track of what’s going on with the card.  For example what files have been copied off it.  If you really want to know what’s going on then John Siracusa has done an in depth review of it.  (Warning: I count myself as a techie but that was way over my head.)

Other applications also write hidden files to the card.  For example, Photo Mechanic writes a file called “.pmingest.dat” to say where it’s up to with its ingest.  Normally these files do no harm.  But for some reason, Fuji X-series cameras don’t like them.  I put a newly formatted 45 MB/s 16 GB Sandisk card in my X-Pro 1 and it was pretty much instant to turn on.  I put it in my Mac, copied a file and then put it back in the Fuji.  It took nearly 10 seconds to turn on.  Every time.

So what can you do?

  1. Write protect cards before you put them in the Mac (though see below for the note on iPads).  That will stop the computer writing to it but that may make lose track of which file shave been imported if you put it in more than once.
  2. Delete the hidden files.  Apps like Blue Harvest should help keep your cards clean – but again it my mean that you duplicate files on a  second import.
  3. Always format cards when you put them in the Fuji.

Really, the last one is the best option.  But when I’m travelling I like to copy files to my MacBook and leave them on the card as well so I have 2 copies.

It’s even worse with an iPad

iPads write just the same hidden files to cards as Macs so if you have the camera transfer kit then you’ll also hit slowdowns.  Even worse, iPads don’t like it if you put a write protected card in them.  They say that the card cannot be read – when what they mean is that they can’t read the card without writing to it.

Best solution

When I’m travelling I like to load a day’s photos to my iPad or MacBook to review them over a cold beverage.  Since I also like to keep them on the original cards for backup I now like to take one card per day with me.  It’s a little awkward but falling card prices mean that it’s probably the most affordable solution unless you’re on a  long trip.

Finally

Most camera don’t do this.  It seems only to be Fujis.  Let’s all send a link to this article to Fuji.  Who knows?  Maybe it will mysteriously “go away” in the next firmware update.



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