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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gadget Bag: Memory Cards For Video

Decode the package jargon to ensure you have the memory cards to keep pace with your camera’s high-quality video capabilities

Labels: Gadget Bag

As we move forward in the digital space, technology manufacturers are listening to the desires of the independent multimedia creative. Not only are they increasing optics, low-light sensitivity and adding WiFi capabilities, but they're also including high-quality HD and 4K video recording into DSLRs and compact cameras. This video functionality is allowing photographers to experiment with a new modality while still using familiar tools such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 or Sony's new pocket-sized Alpha a7S.

While there's built-in comfort with the equipment mechanics when using traditional still camera bodies for video shooting, one needs practice and a few new tools. One particularly important, and perhaps overlooked, tool is the memory card. Of course, photographers understand the necessity for high write speeds so the card buffer can be quickly written and cleared when shooting in burst mode, but for shooters looking to enter the video field, you'll need cards with quick sustained capture speeds.

Professional DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 have both CompactFlash and SD card slots. While CF cards have traditionally had the upper hand in terms of storage size, SD cards have caught up while also providing weatherproofing. But some pros still prefer to use CF cards as their primary card due to their physical size, which makes them easier to maneuver with gloves while in the field. CF cards and SD cards have different specifications and guidelines for denoting quick capture speeds, and differentiating between them will help you choose the card most compatible for your camera and your shooting preferences.

CF Card
One way to quickly note the difference between CF card speeds is to look for the VPG (Video Performance Guarantee) profile specification. The CompactFlash Association first created this guideline in 2011 to ensure that cards would be compatible with professional video capture requirements and that consumers could identify this ability easily. Cards with a VPG-20 profile are capable of a sustained capture speed of up to 20 MB/s, suitable for 1080p HD video recording without dropped frames. Since this initial profile announcement, an additional VPG-65 profile has been added, with a 65 MB/s sustained speed guideline that's optimized for 4K capture. In terms of CF cards, photographers interested in multitasking the card for still use will want to look for cards with quick write speeds and the most updated Ultra Direct Mode Access, currently, UDMA 7, at 167 MB/s.

The Extreme Pro CompactFlash from SanDisk is available in 16 GB to 256 GB storage sizes. With a VPG-65 spec, the card supports 4K recording and includes write speeds between 140 and 150 MB/s. The Extreme CompactFlash by SanDisk ranges in storage sizes from 16 GB to 128 GB. With a VPG-20 profile, it's best suited for 1080p HD video recording. A 60 MB/s write speed ensures quick still photo work. Each SanDisk CF card is UDMA 7-enabled, coated in RTV silicone for shock and vibration protection, and can operate in temperatures from -13° F to 185° F. Each card has a limited lifetime warranty. sandisk.com

Lexar's Professional 1066x CompactFlash card utilizes UDMA 7 technology and provides a VPG-65 profile for quality 4K recording, and is available in 16 GB to 128 GB storage sizes. The Professional 800x CompactFlash provides the same UDMA 7 technology with a VPG-20 profile for 1080p full HD shooting and is available in 8 GB to 256 GB storage sizes. Both card purchases include Image Rescue software to recover corrupt files, as well as a limited warranty. lexar.com


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