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Update: Manfrotto CFexpress Card Reader Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

13 November 2023

We reviewed the Manfrotto CFexpress Card Reader a year ago and since that time have been using it with a CFexpress card as a portable external drive.

Until, that is, one day when macOS warned us that the card had been ejected improperly. We hadn't ejected it at all, though. It had simply failed to connect.


To diagnose the issue (with only one CFexpress card), we moved the unit to another computer. It did mount briefly before repeating the behavior. But we were able to confirm that the card contents were still intact.

So we swapped cables. And tried the second cable on both machines. But the card still didn't mount.

We noticed the white activity light wasn't on, although the unit was warm. So we concluded the reader was the issue.


The reader has a two-year warranty so we contacted Manfrotto customer service to report the issue and ask for advice.

Subject: CFexpress Reader

Description: The reader suddenly no longer mounts on the macOS desktop running Ventura or Monterey. I've tried it on two systems with different cables but the white light never lights, although the unit gets warm. Please advise.

Manfrotto sent an automatic reply right away, noting they would get back to us as soon as possible.

And they did, with an apology for taking as long as they did, which wasn't bad for a non-urgent issue.

And when they did respond it was to issue a warranty replacement order. Simple as that.


We were still curious about why this had happened. Clearly, if we were on assignment and relying on the reader as an external drive, we wouldn't have been stuck.

So we reached out the Manfrotto's agency who contacted the company for comment and this is what they came back with:

The memory card reader is not really designed for prolonged use as an external drive. When continuously plugged in and in constant use, it tends to heat up. This is a common occurrence for devices with high data transfer speeds, unlike most external drives that don't transfer data as rapidly and, as a result, don't require a built-in cooling mechanism.

While we are open to exploring alternatives and considering another reader, it's important to note that if the new device is also intended for daily use as an external drive, we might encounter similar issues over time.

In short, the reader's fast transfer speed heats up the unit, which can shorten its life.

Except, in our case, while we kept the well-ventilated reader attached and card mounted on the desktop, we didn't do more than a transfer a day, copying primarily 2.2-MB iPhone files from the laptop to the card.

Not, in other words, a heavy transfer load.

What should we have done?

In our original review, we noted:

The reader did get warm but not when idle. It remained cool until transferring data. Even on top of a warm hub, the Little Rubber Feet provided enough air space to keep it cool.

So the trick seems to be to remove the card when not in use. As you would with any other reader.

Or could there be another explanation. We inadvertently used the unit upside down for five months when we attached it to our M2 PowerBook because the stiff USB-C cable didn't allow any other option. Could that have caused the unit to burn out prematurely?

Manfrotto doesn't seem to think so. "When continuously plugged in and in constant use, it tends to heat up," the company said.

The safe bet is to unplug the unit unless you need it (which has the benefit of freeing up one of those rare USB-C ports). But, you know, we may just experiment a bit.


Still, that really makes the reader a bit more fragile than it should be. So we've adjusted our original four-corner rating to three corners despite our fondness for the small accessory.

But that isn't the end of the story. When the replacement unit arrives, we'll monitor its temperature when connected and when transferring files to see if there's any difference.

And we'll keep it right-side up on its Little Rubber Feet.

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