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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gadget Bag: High-Speed CompactFlash Cards

To take advantage of the latest high-res video HDSLRs, you’ll feel the need for speed and capacity, and contrary to what you may have heard, the death of CF has been greatly overstated

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A Selection Of CompactFlash Manufacturers
CompactFlash cards are available from a number of manufacturers, including Delkin, Hoodman, Kingston, Lexar, SanDisk and Transcend (many of whom also make SD cards). Note that to enjoy the speed benefits of the latest fast cards, your camera must be compatible with their standards—put a fast card in an older, slow camera, and the card won't accept data faster than the camera can deliver it. Check your camera manual to see what cards it can use.

Delkin's (www.delkin.com) fastest CF cards are the 1000X UDMA 7 line, with reading up to 150 MB/s and writing up to 80 MB/s, and capacities from 16 GB to 128 GB (a 256 GB card is due soon). The cards support VPG profiling and carry a lifetime warranty.

What exactly do those "X ratings" on memory cards mean? Well, one "X" is the old standard CD transfer rate of 150 KB/s, or 0.15 MB/s. Thus, 100X is 15 MB/s, 200X is 30 MB/s, 400X is 60 MB/s, 600X is 90 MB/s and 1000X is 150 MB/s. Note that these are maximum read rates; often, the maximum write rate is somewhat slower. And keep in mind that system speed depends on both the camera and the card. Putting a slow card in a fast camera will slow things down, but putting a fast card in a slow camera won't speed things up. For best burst and video performance, use the fastest card your camera can handle; see the camera's instruction manual.
Hoodman (www.hoodmanusa.com) offers the Steel Professional CompactFlash Card 1000X in capacities from 16 GB to 64 GB, with read speeds of up to 150 MB/s and write speeds of up to 145 MB/s. The UDMA 7- and VPG-20-compliant cards come with a lifetime warranty.

Kingston's (www.kingston.com) top CF card is the Ultimate 600X in 16 GB and 32 GB capa­cities. It can read and write up to 90 MB/s, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Lexar's (www.lexar.com) fastest CF card is the Professional 1000X UDMA 7, which can read up to 150 MB/s and write up to 145 MB/s. It's available in capacities from 16 GB to 128 GB, supports VPG-20 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

SanDisk (www.sandisk.com) offers the Extreme Pro UDMA 7 CF cards in capacities from 16 GB to 128 GB, with the 128 GB capable of speeds of up to 100 MB/s, the others to 90 MB/s. Extreme Pro cards are VPG-20-compliant and come with a lifetime limited warranty.

Transcend (www.transcendusa.com) offers a 64 GB 600X UDMA 7 CompactFlash card that can read and write up to 90 MB/s, is VPG-20-compliant and carries a limited lifetime warranty.


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