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Thread: Compact Flash Memory Cards

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    Compact Flash Memory Cards

    I'm planning a holiday of a life-time, and expect to take (too) many pics. I'm therefore looking to buy 4 x 4Gb Compact Flash cards - I think it's wiser to spread the pics over a number of cards. But I would appreciate any advice on the most reliable cards - I really don't want to lose my pics!

    Thanks,

    DaveB

  2. #2
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    Re: Memory Cards

    Hi Dave,
    I use Sandisk Extreme III Cf cards.I've shot over 7K photos with no issues.I also have seen decent reviews on Lexar cards.
    Regrads,
    Jim

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Where are you going, and for how long? I'd agree with Jim on Sandisk Extreme. Size wise depends on my first question.

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    Re: Memory Cards

    I 3rd sandisk. I have various sizes and flavours of sandisk cards and never ever ad prob (in any size or sd, produo etc etc).

    They are cheaper than many but higher quality, better speeds than many and more importantly reliable.

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Sandisk are great - but - make sure you get them from a reputable dealer (approx 100% sold on eBay are fakes). B&H / Adorama / Amazon are all good sources.

    Lexar are also a good brand but there have been confirmed reports (by Canon) of compatability issues with some sizes. As a rule I tend to suggest Sandisk for Canon cameras and Lexar for Nikon.

    Sandisk Extreme III is probably "best bang for buck" at the moment - if you get something faster the camera won't be able to take advantage of it.

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Thank you all for your replies and advice. Until now I have always used Sandisk Ultra ii, but I'll give Extreme iii a try. Can anyone tell me what the benefits of Extreme iii over Ultra ii are; I use a Canon 20D.

    (My trip will take in the Canadian Rockies, Alaska and the States of Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming ). In all, two months.

    Thanks again.

    DaveB

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveB View Post
    Can anyone tell me what the benefits of Extreme III over Ultra II are; I use a Canon 20D.
    Hi Dave,

    Possibly a small increase in writing speed, but to be honest, not a lot. Probably biggest benefit is faster writing speeds when you eventually upgrade to a later model camera - the 20D was a great camera (have very fond memories of mine), but she's getting pretty long in the tooth these days. And of course your read speeds whould be considerably improved if you're using a USB II compliant card reader.

    Considering the price of these things these days it's almost silly not to get the Extreme III (in my opinion).

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Hi DaveB - I also use Sans Disk Ultra II and have never had any trouble with them. They also appear to be pretty cheap at the moment, about 20 in Jessops yesterday.

    However, I suggest that you might be wise to invest in a small backup system. I use a Digimate III (Google and ye shall find). It is simply a small portable hard disk (40GB) fitted with card reading slots. I'm not sure how much mine cost about 3 years ago (maybe 100) but it has been well worth the money. It requires very little power to run and one full charge may well see you through a couple of weeks. Recharging will be a dawdle where you're going.

    Cheers

    David

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    Re: Memory Cards

    I think 3 extreme are good choice for price/speed. I use them but never considered iv extreme for simple reason price to speed ratio isn't great. IV are not much faster than iii but cost a lot more. III is good enough for most, some things I use them in need to save large volume of data quickly and I don't want buffer issues but in cam ii is prob fine. I don't think many things will see the increase in speed on the IV transfer rate, unless you're using as removable storage in a pc.

    In that case it might be worth getting the slightly faster card than you considered because if you share the card between things (ie. not just camera) then it might be noticable. Likewise transfer from card to pc can make a difference speed wise if you fill it with images on a very regular basis (for instance if you filled 6 cards a day when shooting the speed increase is pretty essential, but most wont).

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey View Post
    IV are not much faster than iii but cost a lot more.
    When I got my Extreme IV they were rated at 40mb/s, and the Extreme III "only" 20mb/s ... I did a test with my Canon 1D3 - (probably one of the fastest cameras out there) - and discovered that it can only write at 15mb/s - so in theory it can't even max out an Extreme III.

    These days Extreme IIIs are rated at 30mb/s - so - in my opinion - there's nothing to be gained in using an Extreme IV (in fact I'd rather have an Extreme III that was twice the capacity). Infact I ran out of space on my 8GB Extreme IV last night whilst shooting ... luckily the camera auto-switched to the 16GB SDHC Card

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    Re: Flash Memory Cards

    I have a Sandisk Extreme III 16GB with a 4GB for backup.

    Here is some interesting info on cards, fwiw.

    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/cam...?cid=6007-9254

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    Re: Flash Memory Cards

    I have always gone with the philosophy of spreading the risk over a number of cards and these are generally Sandisc Extreme III and IV 4Mb with some legacy Lexar 2Mb ones. I have one 'backup' 16Mb one, not to back up onto, but to use in case of emergency! Camera is Nikon.

    I generally try to backup to notepad computer as often as possible. With its 10.6" screen it offers much more flexibility than photo backup devices, but slots into the back of my backpack taking virtually no space.

    I also have a 5" screen OQO computer (Do a Google for it) for when weight/size is a problem. Again it offers wifi and normal computing facilities at thumbpad size etc and is much more flexible than the backup devices. Can even send the pics off online which is great if you are running out of space.

    How ever many cards you take, you will always find you need more, so get a couple in reserve.

    Never had any problems with data loss within the camera but have experienced loss in data transfer to computer, usually operator error, but even then it is usually recoverable with the right software and know how.

  13. #13

    Re: Flash Memory Cards

    I use Sandisk Extreme IV. Colin is correct that cameras are not necessarily going to max the card out when writing photos, but I sure notice the improved read speed when I am copying photos from the card onto my macbook pro or Power Mac G5 (400 and 800mpbs firewire). I hate sitting around waiting for this copy to take place, so am prepared to pay more to get the IV rated cards.

    Also, when I am travelling, I usually take my macbook pro with me (so I can do research on where I want to go and take photos, catch up with emails, update my website and the like.) I archive photos to a DVD each time I have 4G of photos... which these days shooting raw means very often.

    Regards,
    Graham

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    .... the 20D was a great camera (have very fond memories of mine), but she's getting pretty long in the tooth these days.
    (my italics) Think we have caught Colin with his true love and finding out how he manages to spend so much time on the forum without getting into trouble with another half??

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    (my italics) Think we have caught Colin with his true love and finding out how he manages to spend so much time on the forum without getting into trouble with another half??
    Nah - I just keep the site open on my 2nd monitor during the day while I do other things in the office

  16. #16

    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    When I got my Extreme IV they were rated at 40mb/s, and the Extreme III "only" 20mb/s ... I did a test with my Canon 1D3 - (probably one of the fastest cameras out there) - and discovered that it can only write at 15mb/s - so in theory it can't even max out an Extreme III.

    These days Extreme IIIs are rated at 30mb/s - so - in my opinion - there's nothing to be gained in using an Extreme IV (in fact I'd rather have an Extreme III that was twice the capacity). Infact I ran out of space on my 8GB Extreme IV last night whilst shooting ... luckily the camera auto-switched to the 16GB SDHC Card
    If you look at Bm7b5's link, the canon writes data very slowly to the CF and SD cards. With the canon 1d mark III, you only get 14.8MB/s speed shooting RAW with a SD card, and 10.9MB/s with a CF card.
    On the other hand, the Nikon D3 tops out at 30.3MB/s with a CF card.

    My point is the canon is very slow and thus not a good gauge on how fast the card's write speed is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Lexar are also a good brand but there have been confirmed reports (by Canon) of compatability issues with some sizes. As a rule I tend to suggest Sandisk for Canon cameras and Lexar for Nikon.

    Sandisk Extreme III is probably "best bang for buck" at the moment - if you get something faster the camera won't be able to take advantage of it.
    Interesting info. May I know where you got that information from?

    I'll like to clarify this point. The camera will not experience a faster FPS with a faster card. But, there are other factors. Take a look at this:



    • Frame rate - Initial frame rate
    • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (until buffer full)
    • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
    • Next burst - How soon after the burst the buffer has emptied / CF compartment light goes out

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond3x/page13.asp (D3x)
    Burst of RAW images (14-bit NEF, FX / Full Frame Mode)

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond3/page13.asp D3
    Burst of RAW images (12-bit NEF, FX / Full Frame Mode)

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond700/page13.asp (D700)
    Burst of RAW images (12-bit NEF, with MB-D10 and EN-EL 4a)
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Blazing fire; 14th March 2009 at 10:02 AM.

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    If you look at Bm7b5's link, the canon writes data very slowly to the CF and SD cards. With the canon 1d mark III, you only get 14.8MB/s speed shooting RAW with a SD card, and 10.9MB/s with a CF card.
    I think that something is a bit screwy with their data - for the following reasons ...

    - CF cards (with their 16 bit interface are faster than SDHC cards, with only a 4 bit interface - and yet the RG page lists the SDHC card as having a considerably higher throughput - doesn't add up.

    - When I had a 1D3 it took 16 seconds to write 20x 12MB RAW files to a Sandisk Extreme IV card - that works out at 15MB/s (very close to RG's 14.8MB/s, but for the wrong type of card) - again, doesn't add up

    - On my current 1Ds3 I've tested the camera with the same 8MB Sandisk Extreme IV card, and a Class 6 SDHC card - and have noted that it takes many times longer to clear the buffer when writing to the SDHC card.

    ... so I suspect that they're got their figures crossed up somewhere there.

    [Edit: Just did a quick check on my 1Ds3 for you; - Shot a burst of 10 shots (19.8MB each) - took 9 seconds to write to a Sandisk Extreme IV and 58 seconds to write to a class 6 SDHC card]

    On the other hand, the Nikon D3 tops out at 30.3MB/s with a CF card.

    My point is the canon is very slow and thus not a good gauge on how fast the card's write speed is.
    I'm not sure I follow your logic, as we already know how fast various cards are as it's part of their specification. Currently the latest revisions of the Extreme III CF card are rated at 30MB/s, and the Extreme IV's 45MB/s - so if the Nikon 30.3 is to be believed (and I have no reason not to) then it would appear that the D3 and Extreme III would be perfectly matched - or put another way, again, nothing to be gained by going to an Extreme IV.

    Interesting info. May I know where you got that information from?
    Not sure where I first heard it, but if you go a "google" on canon - lexar - failure you'll turn up some links you can follow - first one that popped up was http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-tr...4451873-1.html.

    Data Recovery expert Bob Bernado also had a interesting comment to make here (near the end) http://photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00M3cq

    I'll like to clarify this point. The camera will not experience a faster FPS with a faster card. But, there are other factors. Take a look at this:


    Frame rate - Initial frame rate
    • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (until buffer full)
    • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
    • Next burst - How soon after the burst the buffer has emptied / CF compartment light goes out
    I agree - not sure I really understand your point though - in a nutshell, any camera is free to go as fast as it's able until the buffer fills - and from there on in it's frame rate will be directly proportional to the speed at which the camera can write from the buffer to the card (assuming zero processing latency which is pretty much assured with the 1D3 / 1Ds3 by virtue of the dual Digic processors.

    Or put another way, "if you never fill the buffer when shooting then it won't matter what speed card you use" and "if you do fill the buffer then you'll benefit from a faster card up to the point where it exceeds the camera / card interface speed" - which at this point appears to be (give or take 1%) a maximum of 30MB/s - which is Extreme III territory, not Extreme IV territory (Keep in mind too that Dave is only shooting with a 20D - which (off memory) transfers around the 6MB/s mark max).

    Did I miss anything anywhere?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 14th March 2009 at 11:35 AM.

  18. #18
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    Re: Compact Flash Memory Cards

    I'd agree with the transfer to pc issues but don't see much difference between III and IV on paper (although I've admittedly not tried IV). III are not exactly slow and I transfer data off them a fair bit in a situation where it needs to be off the card, processed (sound files btw, 2 hour shots of raw audio makes for big files) and uploaded in a very tight time window. The III is definately not bottlenecking the process by realworld standards IMO.

    Same with transfering photos, I usually end up with about 1 to 2 Gb when I go out with camera, I take lots and bin what i don't want after looking at them on large screen. The transfer is quick enough and such minor speed gain isn't noticable unless you're transfering very large amounts of data (ie. 20Gb a day, 1 or 2 is very little extra time I find).

  19. #19

    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I think that something is a bit screwy with their data - for the following reasons ...

    - CF cards (with their 16 bit interface are faster than SDHC cards, with only a 4 bit interface - and yet the RG page lists the SDHC card as having a considerably higher throughput - doesn't add up.

    - When I had a 1D3 it took 16 seconds to write 20x 12MB RAW files to a Sandisk Extreme IV card - that works out at 15MB/s (very close to RG's 14.8MB/s, but for the wrong type of card) - again, doesn't add up

    - On my current 1Ds3 I've tested the camera with the same 8MB Sandisk Extreme IV card, and a Class 6 SDHC card - and have noted that it takes many times longer to clear the buffer when writing to the SDHC card.

    ... so I suspect that they're got their figures crossed up somewhere there.

    [Edit: Just did a quick check on my 1Ds3 for you; - Shot a burst of 10 shots (19.8MB each) - took 9 seconds to write to a Sandisk Extreme IV and 58 seconds to write to a class 6 SDHC card]
    Yup, kinda strange . Btw, thanks for taking the effort to confirm this!


    I'm not sure I follow your logic, as we already know how fast various cards are as it's part of their specification. Currently the latest revisions of the Extreme III CF card are rated at 30MB/s, and the Extreme IV's 45MB/s - so if the Nikon 30.3 is to be believed (and I have no reason not to) then it would appear that the D3 and Extreme III would be perfectly matched - or put another way, again, nothing to be gained by going to an Extreme IV.
    I'm a rather skeptical person so I don't trust manufacture's specifications. The extreme III maybe rated at 30MB/S but if you look at the test results, questionable as it seems, there is a disparity between the rated and the actual speed. It can be caused by difference in platforms and testing methods. Therefore, it is sometimes better to buy something which exceeds one's needs on paper. Take a look at this:

    SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s Edition 16GB - 21.8MB/s. Difference of 8.2MB/s
    SanDisk Extreme IV 45MB/s Edition 16GB - 27.1MB/s. Difference of 17.9MB/s

    Furthermore, it is possible to have different speeds between identical models but different capacity. It makes me wonder how they get such ratings. Look at this:

    SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s Edition 4GB - 22.1MB/s
    SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s Edition 32GB - 16.5MB/s

    Not sure where I first heard it, but if you go a "google" on canon - lexar - failure you'll turn up some links you can follow - first one that popped up was http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-tr...4451873-1.html.

    Data Recovery expert Bob Bernado also had a interesting comment to make here (near the end) http://photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00M3cq
    Thanks for that interesting link!

    I agree - not sure I really understand your point though - in a nutshell, any camera is free to go as fast as it's able until the buffer fills - and from there on in it's frame rate will be directly proportional to the speed at which the camera can write from the buffer to the card (assuming zero processing latency which is pretty much assured with the 1D3 / 1Ds3 by virtue of the dual Digic processors.

    Or put another way, "if you never fill the buffer when shooting then it won't matter what speed card you use" and "if you do fill the buffer then you'll benefit from a faster card up to the point where it exceeds the camera / card interface speed" - which at this point appears to be (give or take 1%) a maximum of 30MB/s - which is Extreme III territory, not Extreme IV territory (Keep in mind too that Dave is only shooting with a 20D - which (off memory) transfers around the 6MB/s mark max).

    Did I miss anything anywhere?
    Agreed! I originally wanted to clarify that point but I think you did a much better job. Just a question, how often do you max out the buffer?
    *Do note these are negligible differences that can be ignored.

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    Re: Memory Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    Yup, kinda strange . Btw, thanks for taking the effort to confirm this!
    No problem

    I'm a rather skeptical person so I don't trust manufacture's specifications. The extreme III maybe rated at 30MB/S but if you look at the test results, questionable as it seems, there is a disparity between the rated and the actual speed. It can be caused by difference in platforms and testing methods. Therefore, it is sometimes better to buy something which exceeds one's needs on paper. Take a look at this:
    In any system like this the limitations of the overall performance are probably going to be the sum of various delays along the way, but I strongly suspect that there's probably an archilles heel somewhere that accounts for a lot of it - and I suspect it's more on the camera side than the card side when you're talking Extreme IIIs and IV's for Canon.

    I've heard of someone getting a small gain by going from an Extreme III to IV, but it was relatively insignificant.

    I suspect that the cards probably can write at the speeds specified, but (a bit like printer speed tests where I'm sure they print a single full-stop in draft mode for the test) probably under certain conditions that just happen to be "ideal"

    Agreed! I originally wanted to clarify that point but I think you did a much better job. Just a question, how often do you max out the buffer?
    *Do note these are negligible differences that can be ignored.
    Not often - depends what I'm shooting. If I'm trying to capture some nice waves on the beach - and I've filled by CF Card (and am on to the SDHC card) then yeah - not hard. The one of the few downsides of the 1Ds3 compared to the 1D3 is that the buffer is only good for 12 shots -v- 30 (assuming RAW). This weekend we have some high-powered boats racing (F1) - and it's easy to max it out in those circumstances unless I shoot JPEG.

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