RobGalbraith.com
Go to advertiser website.
     Home
     RSS
     CF/SD/XQD
     About
     Contact
Go
Go to advertiser website.
 
Faster, higher capacity CF cards coming  
Tuesday, March 4, 2003 | by Rob Galbraith

If you've been hankering for speedier CompactFlash cards capable of gobbling up hundreds of even the highest resolution RAW digital SLR files, recent announcements by Lexar Media, Sandisk and SimpleTech will soon have you reaching for your wallet. Here's a rundown of what's coming in the months ahead.

Lexar Media

Lexar Media, the long-time write speed performance leader in pro digital SLR cameras, has introduced cards speed-rated up to 40X and in capacities up to a whopping 4GB (though the highest capacity cards sport a 32X speed rating). The company has developed a new controller, new firmware and is using some of the fastest available flash memory from Samsung in the upcoming cards.

The new line of Professional Series CompactFlash from Lexar is detailed in the table below:

Capacity
Speed Rating
Type
Write Acceleration?
Expected Street Price in US
Ship Date
256MB
40X
I
Yes
US$140
March 2003
512MB
40X
I
Yes
US$250
March 2003
1GB
32X
I
Yes
US$400
March 2003
2GB
32X
I
Yes
US$700
March 2003
4GB
32X
II
Yes
US$1500
Q2 2003

lexar_4gb.jpgAll cards are Type I, except for the 4GB model, which is the slightly thicker Type II (all popular pro digital SLRs accept both Type I and Type II CompactFlash cards). All of the new Pro Series cards include Write Acceleration (WA) technology, which translates into faster performance in cameras that support WA. Recent Kodak digital SLR and back models, as well as the Nikon D100, D1H and D1X all are WA-savvy. Bundled with the cards is Lexar's own photo recovery software Image Rescue.

The company is also introducing new High Speed Series CompactFlash cards with a 16X speed rating. The cards are to be available from photo retailers only, and will not replace the current 12X High Speed Series models, which will continue to be sold (at a broad range of electronics retailers).

Note: Lexar's X speed rating, where X=150KB/second, is an indicator of the minimum sustained write speed of each card sold when tested with the CompactFlash Association-approved TestMetrix performance testing device. Actual in-camera write speed performance will almost certainly be less than the 6MB/second (40X) and 4.8MB/second (32X) the upcoming cards are rated for, because of limitations in the camera's write speed interface, the fact that most cameras will simultaneously juggle multiple tasks alongside writing photos to the card and other factors. In general, however, a Lexar card with a higher X-rating will be quicker than a Lexar card with a slower X-rating, up to the write speed limits imposed by the camera.

Sandisk

Sandisk is clearly targeting the pro digital photographer with its spate of PMA announcements. These announcements include faster Ultra series CompactFlash cards in capacities up to 1GB and a new Extreme line of CompactFlash cards that offer equivalent performance to the upcoming Ultra cards but are qualified to be used in extreme temperatures:

  • Sandisk Ultra. Sandisk is promising up to 6MB/second sustained write speed for the revved Ultra Series. The cards are to be available in capacities ranging from 128MB to 1GB, with the expected street price of the 1GB Ultra card, for example, to be about US$329. The new Ultra cards are slated to ship in May worldwide.
  • Sandisk Extreme. The internal components, and the performance, are expected to mirror the Ultra series cards. Each Extreme card will, however, be tested and certified fit to withstand temperatures as chilly as -25 Celsius, and as balmy as 85 Celsius. It's important to note that an Ultra series card may be able to cope with the same temperature range, since it has the same components on the inside. The key difference is that Sandisk is promising that, by virtue of the additional testing, an Extreme card will work when it's really cold or really hot. In addition, the company plans to bundle data recovery software (with the ability to handle photo file formats, as well as certain other non-image file formats, including Microsoft Word documents). Sandisk plans to charge a premium for the extreme temperature qualification and recovery software bundle: the 1GB Extreme card is to sell for US$369, or $40 more than its Ultra twin. Sandisks' Extreme line will be available in capacities of 256MB, 512MB and 1GB, and are expected to hit store shelves in May. Extreme cards will be sold in North America only, through photo retailers exclusively.

All of Sandisk's Ultra and Extreme CompactFlash cards are Type I. The company has also announced the addition of SD cards to their Ultra lineup, as well as an upcoming fix for the Ultra ImageMate Reader. This FireWire CompactFlash reader currently sports a finicky card slot that sometimes prevents the successful insertion of a card. Sandisk plans to soon introduce a retooled version of this reader that fixes the problem, and also promises to replace any affected readers already in the hands of customers.

Note: As with Lexar and other CompactFlash vendors, Sandisk's test bench write speed figures rarely translate directly to actual write speed in pro digital SLR cameras. It's also worth noting that the test bench data provided by one manufacturer shouldn't be compared directly with apparently similar data from another manufacturer, since there is no standardized testing method among CompactFlash vendors, and because often the figures given describe different measurements. For instance, Lexar's X-rating is based on a measurement of minimum sustained write speed; Sandisk and other vendors often quote maximum sustained write speed. In the end, the only benchmark that really tells the story is the write speed of a card in the camera you use.

SimpleTech

Using an Hitachi-developed technology called Xcell, SimpleTech's new PRO X Professional Series  256MB, 512MB and 1GB CompactFlash cards promise 4MB/second write speeds. The 256MB and 512MB cards are Type I; the 1GB is Type II.

SimpleTech's PRO X CompactFlash line is available now, says a SimpleTech press release; the suggested list price (which can be somewhat higher than the street price) for the 1GB is US$349.

Send this page to: Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook Google Bookmarks Google Bookmarks Email Email
Go to advertiser website.
2000-2013 Little Guy Media. Not to be reproduced without written permission.