When I first learned that the new MacBook Pro had no SD Card slot, like many creators, I was a little perturbed. The reason is that SD Cards have long been the fastest way to transfer media from cameras to our computers.
But now that the new MacBook Pros have no built-in SD Card reader, it means that creators will have to rely on an external USB-C to SD Card dongle, like this one. These dongles are cheap, small, and easy to carry around, so at the end of the day it’s not an outright dealbreaker, but the fact that I have to remember to always carry one with me presents somewhat of an inconvenience.
That said, we shouldn’t be mad at Apple for this. Camera companies have had years to innovate in this area, and have simply failed to do so. It’s the camera companies that we should be upset with, not Apple.
Take, for instance, my Sony RX 100, or any other popular camera released in the last five years. What is the common thread between these cameras? Slow sub-USB 3.x camera connections and terrible wireless connectivity options. In other words, as creators we’re basically forced to eject the SD Card from our cameras and connect it directly to our computers if we want the file transfer to finish is a reasonable amount of time.
Imagine trying to import a 10 GB 4K video via USB 2.0. It’s an absolute non-starter. Now think about how long USB 3.x has been available? Exactly, it’s the camera companies that are slow to innovate. Hence, it’s the camera companies that should be called out for this predicament.
My knee-jerk reaction was to lash out at Apple for ditching the SD Card slot, but in a recent interview with The Independent, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, made some excellent points:
“One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off.”
I agree with Schiller’s opinion about the cumbersome slot, and the way the SD Card sticks halfway out. It’s unsightly. Not to mention that I’ve had several SD Cards simply fail on me due to the wear and tear this places on cards. It’s a situation that creators shouldn’t have to deal with.
Phil goes on to opine about the usefulness of wireless transfer ability built into today’s cameras. In that regard, I couldn’t disagree more. Wireless transfer in the majority of today’s cameras is a downright abysmal experience. Not only is the wireless transfer slow, but getting it set up with the camera’s clunky menu system makes most people not even want to bother.
Again, the majority of these issues fall squarely on the shoulders of the lackadaisical camera companies. They are the ones who makes arduous menu systems that make it feel like you’re navigating an obstacle course, they are the ones who use slow interfaces, and they are the ones who continue to use inferior wireless technology.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera features a Thunderbolt interface
There are a few cameras that buck the current trend, such as offerings Blackmagic, which included Thunderbolt connectivity on its Cinema Camera, and even Canon, who’s notorious for being slow on innovation, recently included USB 3 connectivity on its flagship 5D Mark IV.
But it’s almost 2017, and this is a trend that should have proliferated years ago. Creators should demand better from camera companies, and anyone else who continues to use antiquated sub-USB 3.x interfaces on their products.
Yes, it’s an inconvenience that new MacBook Pro owners have to rely on external USB-C to SD Card dongles for transferring large media files, but that’s not Apple’s fault. We have to start demanding that camera companies do better.