Nikon and Kodak digital SLR owners are about to get a speed boost from Lexar Media. By implementing a feature of the CompactFlash specification that reduces some of the communication overhead between card and camera, the company claims an increase in write speed of between 8% and 29%, depending on the camera and file format, says Lexar's Director of Applications Engineering Dan Le.
Called Write Acceleration, the new technology is being introduced in Pro Series 24X CompactFlash cards, and demonstrated this week at the Lexar Media booth at Photokina.
The biggest speed increase Lexar has recorded so far, says Le, is in the Nikon D1H. The rate at which NEFs are written jumps about 28-29% in Lexar's testing. Close behind is NEF write speed in the D1X, at 23%, while Kodak's DCS Pro Back 645M shows about an 8% RAW DCR write speed boost. More compact file formats, like JPEG, should also write more quickly, says Le, though in general the larger the file format, the greater the Write Acceleration benefit.
While some or all of Kodak's current DCS camera lineup is already able to take advantage of Write Acceleration, Nikon digital SLRs require a firmware update. It's not known when Nikon will make the requisite firmware updates available, or whether Nikon will release Write Acceleration-savvy firmware for all recent SLR models. Once firmware updates are available, users will also have to consider whether the hassle of shipping or carrying the camera to a Nikon service facility for the upgrade will be worth the speed gain. As a CompactFlash speed junkie, look for me to be first in line, D1X in hand, when the firmware is ready.
What about Canon users? Neither Lexar or Canon have announced if Write Acceleration-savvy versions of Canon firmware are in the works.
The incorporation of Write Acceleration in Lexar's 24X CompactFlash cards will not affect their compatibility or performance in cameras that do not support this feature, says Le. Conversely, cards without Write Acceleration will not see a speed increase in cameras that do support it. In short, unless both card and camera speak Write Acceleration, the feature is disabled.
Current Lexar Pro Series 24X cards aren't candidates for a Write Acceleration upgrade of their own, says Le, because implementing the technology has meant changing both firmware and controller. If you want Lexar's Write Acceleration, plan on purchasing new CompactFlash cards.Write Acceleration-enabled 256MB and 512MB 24X Pro Series Lexar CompactFlash cards will be in stores mid-October.