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I'm currently using the popular Lexar CF and SD reader that a lot of my fellow photographers use. I've recently seen someone with an ethernet contraption on the bottom of their camera, and it didn't look OEM.

I'm curious if I'm missing some sleek way of getting the images from my Canon 5D III to my computer or a hard drive faster.

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It is not possible to transfer images out of the memory card faster than its maximum read speed. All you need then is a sufficiently fast card reader.

With USB 3.0, there is enough bandwidth to exceed the transfer speed of the fastest current Compact Flash and SDXC cards. Lexar claims 500 MB/s top speed which is faster than Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mb/s = 128 MB/s), so it would not be any faster if you used Ethernet.

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    In addition, that's 1000 Mb/s signalling speed. You have a decent amount of overhead there, so in practice, you might expect to get some 100 MB/s out of a 1000 Mb/s network pipe. – a CVn Dec 9 '15 at 15:09
  • @ltai for the network speeds, its 1024Mb/s = 128MB/s – thebtm Dec 9 '15 at 18:20
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It depends a bit on your workflow, but your best bet might be to purchase something like the Lexar Professional Workflow HR1(Link). It has four bays built into it and will let you transfer up to four memory cards at once via USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2.

If you only are downloading a single card at a time, you are really stuck with what you are likely use to already via single card readers that use USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2 such as the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader(Link).

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I found that the real speed of typical CF card readers are not very good, and not labeled. They often quote the maximum USB wire rate which is completely irrelevant though imply that is the product's speed.

You need to find a card reader that can read fast. Look for current USB3 offerings and if you can't find reviews that mention it then "test & return".

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In addition to the many other answers, I would like to point out that you can't transfer data any faster than you can write it to your computer's disk(s).

If you're using a single regular (rotating platter based) hard drive (i.e. not SSD), writing to that hard drive will in most cases be much slower than reading from a CF or SD card. If it's not the case, you need to buy a better CF/SD card!

Another issue is your definition of "fastest": if you mean in terms of MB/s, then I believe your question has been answered. If you mean in terms of ease of use / workflow / manipulation, then there may be other options that enable the transfer of the pictures to your computer as they are taken, including via Wi-Fi or through tethering. Please clarify your question if that's what you meant.

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Try to avoid using USB cable for transferring photos for camera. It's often much slower then real memory card speed. Rather use quality card reader for transferring. On the other side, try SSD with lower activity (no OS on it).

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