Fixing Extremely Slow rsync on OS X

Last night I moved out my photo collection from my MacBook Pro’s internal SSD to a neat little Samsung T1 USB3 SSD. And since Time Machine still can’t handle backing up external drives correctly (it removes the external drive’s contents from the backup when it is not connected), I created a small script to do the backup using the good old rsync.

Backup of the T1 goes to a dedicated AFP share on my FreeBSD server (shared using Netatalk). An Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock provides gigabit Ethernet connectivity for the MacBook Pro. I usually see file transfer rates in the 60MB/s – 110 MB/s range from this setup. So the 3MB/s average what rsync produced here was a bit shocking.

And the transfer rate jumped up to the usual range when I downloaded something from the Internet! And went down to 3 megs when the download finished…

It seems that the nine year old version of rsync included in OS X Yosemite can’t handle the OS’s network power management features correctly. When another app wakes up the net to full speed, it works fine, but rsync alone can’t do that.

The solution is embarrassingly simple: install rsync from the ports collection. Did that, updated my script, and presto, I suddenly get transfer speeds in the 50MB/s – 80MB/s range…

Zooming Out – The Move to an All-Prime Setup

I have been shooting with Canon’s L series zoom lenses (the 17-40, 24-70 and 70-200 IS to be exact) for almost a decade. Everything seemed fine, I made several great images with them. The seduction began on a cold January night in Norway two years ago – I tried a friend’s TS-E 24. I was immediately sold. So much that I didn’t want to put the 24-70 on the camera any more. Bought a TS-E 24 later that year and the 24-70 started to collect dust.


Floors, 100mm f/2 on a 5D Mark II

The final nail in its coffin was a vacation in Sicily last year. To travel light and be able to enjoy the vacation itself besides shooting, I bought three primes. In addition to having image quality that puts the 24-70 into shame, I really loved to work with them.

There was something that inspired my creativity – maybe the discipline of not being able to easily change the shot’s angle of view and forcing me to move around, maybe the freedom from having to think about focal length choices. I don’t know, I just like the process and the results.

Last year I sold both the 17-40 and the 24-70 and just used the two 24s and the 50. And an interesting thing started to materialize: instead of thinking about which focal length should I use I started to see in 24mm and in 50mm. When I realized this I regularly threw the “travel 100” into my bag. And I preferred it to the 70-200.

The final decision to replace the 70-200 was born last weekend. After going through my former images and checking which look do I prefer on the long end I ended up with a conclusion I find shots in the 150-250mm range uninteresting, and that the 70-200 was more in line with my vision on cropped sensor bodies than on full frame. From here the decision was pretty straightforward: get a 135mm f/2L.

I ordered one on Saturday and selling my 70-200. The lens arrived yesterday (isn’t Amazon great?) and I’m waiting for an opportunity to put it through its paces. The cactus and palm house of my favorite botanic garden will open this weekend, and I’m planning a visit next week. I’ll post my experiences.

So my current setup consists of the 24/2.8, 50/1.4 and 100/2 travel trio and the TS-E 24 II, 50/1.4, 100/2, 135/2 quartet for regular use. I plan to add a TS-E 17 and a TS-E 90 instead of the 100/2 when Canon updates the current 90 (I don’t like the fixed placement of tilt/shift axes).

Unfortunately I start to find the 300mm focal length interesting again. And the only option there is the 300/2.8 IS II. Which is heavy and expensive… So I’m hesitant at the moment.

All in all, if you aren’t shooting in a rush, and can move around, I highly recommend to give a try to Canon’s relatively inexpensive and great fixed focal length lenses. They might shake up your vision and photography – just they did with mine.

Solved: C1 Crashes with Images on an AFP Share

I originally posted the following on the Phase One forums.

I almost pulled all my hair because of this issue, so I thought the solution could be helpful for others (especially FreeNAS users).

The problem:

I recently moved to storing all my RAW files on a central server in the studio to be able to access them from my Macs as well as a Windows notebook (which I use on the field during trips). The server is a beefy machine, with dual gigabit Ethernet connections and an 8 disk super fast ZFS array. It runs FreeBSD 9.0 with Netatalk 2.2.1 for file sharing towards Mac clients and Samba 3.6.3 for Windows file sharing. It could serve files faster than the local SSD disk in my Mac… Basically this is the same software stack you get when you use FreeNAS.

From Windows 7 running the 64-bit version of C1 everything was fine, but when I worked on my files from a Mac then C1 crashed every 5-15 minutes bringing down even the Mac (I had to pull the plug several times because even shutdown didn’t work). Frankly I was unable to work at all with C1 from Macs (running OS X 10.7.3).

The server’s log was full with the following error message:

afpd[6065]: sys_getextattr_size: error: Result too large

The solution:

After hours of debugging the solution is really simple: you have to add the “ea:ad” parameter to the shared volume’s config line in AppleVolumes.default.
The line for my Photos share is the following:

/tank/Photos ea:ad options:upriv dperm:0700 fperm:0600

No more error messages, and C1 6.3.5 shines! I’m a happy user now :D