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CF/SD Performance Database Archive - Continued

February 8, 2006: The Nikon D70 section of the database is no longer being updated, as we no longer have access to this camera.

The Nikon D70's method of buffering photos before writing them to the CompactFlash card means that the card's write speed directly impacts the number of frames that can be recorded in an extended sequence.

For example, in photographing the detailed, difficult-to-compress scene we use when benchmarking cards and cameras for this database, slower CF cards in the D70 limit the number of JPEG Fine frames shot sequentially to 9. Insert one of the fastest CF cards, shoot the same scene, and the sequence limit jumps to 12-13 frames before the camera stops firing briefly. Switch to JPEG Normal with the same quick card inserted and, as Nikon's marketing materials have emphasized, the D70 will shoot continuously until the card is full.

Set to RAW .NEF, the camera will pause noticeably after 4 frames (the buffer limit for this format) with a slower card loaded. With a faster card, the pause after frame 4 is reduced to more of a hiccup before the camera fires again to record a 5th frame. Using our test scene again as an example, the D70 is ready to shoot an additional RAW frame after about a 1/2 - 3/4 second wait when the card inside is the Sandisk Extreme 512MB. This wait time extends to over 5 seconds when the card is a Sandisk "standard" 1GB.

The wait time will vary with the ISO and scene content as well, since these factors impact the size of the compressed NEF being written to the card. All other things being equal, however, a faster card equals a shorter pause after frame 4. Another RAW NEF example: squeezing off 3-4 frames, quickly recomposing, shooting 2-3 more frames, recomposing again, then shooting another 3-4 frames is possible almost perpetually when the D70 is loaded up with any of the Sandisk Extreme and Ultra II cards benchmarked below.

Combine the D70's unique approach to image buffering with its ability to write photos quickly (for this class of digital SLR) and you have a camera that welcomes a fast CompactFlash card.

CompactFlash Write Speed - Nikon D70 (Firmware Version A: 1.01 B: 1.02)

The data in the table below was derived by timing how long it took the Nikon D70 to write out 9 JPEG Fine and 4 compressed RAW .NEF (this camera lacks an uncompressed NEF setting) photos to the card. Timing commenced when the camera's card status light illuminated, and stopped when the light went out. Each test cycle was performed 3 times (if the card's capacity allowed for that) to ensure accurate results.

Card-to-card speed variation within the same brand and model, photographing scenes of varying detail and at different ISO settings - these and other factors may slightly alter write speed performance. As a result, write speed differences of 5% or less from card to card in the table below should be considered insignificant. If one card's write speed is within 5% of another's, the two cards are likely to offer effectively the same performance in the real world. Similarly, it's unlikely that most photographers would notice a difference between the fastest card and one that was up to 10% slower.

The results are arranged in the table from fastest to slowest (based on JPEG write speed). The top 10% (based on JPEG write speed) are marked in blue.

Brand and Model
(Card Identifier)1
Key Components Source2
Card
Type3
Date Added or Updated
Write Speed -
JPEG Fine4
Write Speed -
RAW .NEF4
Sandisk Extreme 512MB
(Edge stamp: AX0310WJA CHINA)
Sandisk I 2004/3/18 4.167MB/sec 4.561MB/sec
Sandisk Ultra II 512MB
(Edge stamp: AX0308VZ CHINA)
Sandisk I 2004/3/18 4.151MB/sec 4.552MB/sec
Lexar 512MB 80X Write Acceleration *second edition*10
Lexar
I
2004/7/29
4.051MB/sec
4.468MB/sec
Lexar 1GB 80X Write Acceleration *second edition*10 Lexar I 2004/7/29 4.005MB/sec 4.322MB/sec
Sandisk Extreme 1GB
(Edge stamp: BB0307VZ CHINA)
Sandisk
I
2004/3/18
3.945MB/sec
4.560MB/sec
Sandisk Ultra II 1GB
(Edge stamp: BB0306VZ CHINA)
Sandisk
I
2004/3/18
3.937MB/sec
4.560MB/sec
Sandisk Extreme 2GB Sandisk I 2004/3/18 3.921MB/sec 4.407MB/sec
Lexar 2GB 80X Write Acceleration *second edition*10 Lexar I 2004/7/29 3.916MB/sec 4.314MB/sec
Kingston Elite Pro 512MB
(Edge stamp: 1GC5121MY0-2EA00)
Samsung I 2004/7/29 3.915MB/sec 4.122MB/sec
Sandisk Ultra II 2GB Sandisk I 2004/3/18 3.895MB/sec 4.405MB/sec
Sandisk "new" Ultra 512MB
(Edge stamp: AX0303TV CHINA)
Sandisk
I
2004/3/18
3.332MB/sec
3.346MB/sec
Transcend 1GB 45X
(45X on front label)
Transcend
I
2004/3/18
3.276MB/sec
3.581MB/sec
Sandisk "new" Ultra 1GB
(Edge stamp: BB0303TV CHINA)
Sandisk
I
2004/3/18
3.239MB/sec
3.241MB/sec
Lexar 1GB 80X Write Acceleration *first edition*10
Lexar
I
2004/7/29
3.228MB/sec
4.009MB/sec
Lexar 1GB 40X Write Acceleration
*new and improved*
9
Lexar
I
2004/3/18
3.185MB/sec
3.803MB/sec
Kingston Elite Pro 1024MB
(Edge stamp: THNCF1G02CA)
Toshiba (SLC)5 I 2004/7/29 2.957MB/sec 3.304MB/sec
Microtech (Pexagon) X-treme 1GB
(Edge stamp: THNCF1G02CA)
Toshiba (SLC)5 I 2004/3/18 2.929MB/sec 3.237MB/sec
Microtech (Pexagon) X-treme 512MB
(Edge stamp: THNCF512MCA)
Toshiba (SLC)5
I
2004/3/18
2.928MB/sec
3.239MB/sec
Lexar 2GB 40X Write Acceleration
Lexar
I
2004/3/18
2.816MB/sec
3.391MB/sec
Lexar 1GB 40X Write Acceleration
(Edge stamp, first two digits: 38; WA on front label)
Lexar
I
2004/3/18
2.812MB/sec
3.340MB/sec
Lexar 512MB 40X Write Acceleration
(Edge stamp, first two digits: 38; WA on front label)
Lexar
I
2004/3/18
2.709MB/sec
3.151MB/sec
Ritek/Ridata 52X/PRO. 1GB
(Edge stamp: S4N88116)
unknown7 I 2004/3/18 2.703MB/sec 3.012MB/sec
Lexar 4GB 40X Write Acceleration8
Lexar
II
2004/3/18
2.698MB/sec
3.166MB/sec
Transcend 512MB
(30X label on packaging)
Transcend
I
2004/3/18
2.692MB/sec
2.902MB/sec
Lexar 512MB 24X Write Acceleration
(Edge stamp, first two digits: 38; WA on front label)
Lexar
I
2004/3/18
2.676MB/sec
2.913MB/sec
Delkin Devices PRO 640MB
(Label: CFPRO-640D)
For Delkin6
I
2004/3/18
2.659MB/sec
3.006MB/sec
Delkin Devices PRO 512MB
(Label: CFPRO-512D)
For Delkin6
I
2004/3/18
2.658MB/sec
3.015MB/sec
Ritek/Ridata 52X/PRO. 2GB
(Edge stamp: U3F06116)
unknown7
I
2004/3/18
2.381MB/sec
2.884MB/sec
SimpleTech PRO X 512MB
(Internal: STI/FLASH 1T)
SST
I
2004/3/18
2.160MB/sec
2.297MB/sec
Sandisk "original" Ultra 512MB
(Edge stamp: AX0211RX CHINA)
Sandisk
I
2004/3/18
2.015MB/sec
2.078MB/sec
SimpleTech PRO X 1GB
(Internal: STI/FLASH 1T)
SST
II
2004/3/18
1.980MB/sec
2.124MB/sec
Hitachi Microdrive 4GB8
Hitachi
II
2004/3/18
1.694MB/sec
2.025MB/sec
Hitachi Microdrive 1GB
Hitachi
II
2004/3/18
1.466MB/sec
1.695MB/sec
Viking 512MB
(Edge stamp: THNCF512MMA)
Toshiba (MLC)5 I 2004/3/18 1.114MB/sec 1.232MB/sec
Kingston Memory 1024MB
(Edge stamp: THNCF1G02MA)
Toshiba (MLC)5
I
2004/3/18
1012K/sec
1.142MB/sec
Kingston Memory 512MB
(Edge stamp: THNCF512MMA)
Toshiba (MLC)5
I
2004/3/18
998K/sec
1.140MB/sec
Sandisk Standard 1GB
(Edge stamp: BB0205NK CHINA)
Sandisk I 2004/3/18 759K/sec 922K/sec
(1) To help determine whether the card you purchase is substantially similar to the one tested, the card's description includes an identifier - series number, internal name or other unique value - where possible and applicable. See How can I be sure the card I buy is the same as the one tested in this report? for information on interpreting the card identifier. With CompactFlash cards from companies that source components from other manufacturers, it's particularly important to compare the identifier noted here with the card you might select.
(2) Many companies sell CompactFlash media; relatively few actually design and manufacture the key internal components, including the controller and flash memory. This column lists the manufacturer of the controller.
(3) Type I CompactFlash cards are 3.3mm in thickness; Type II, 5.0mm.
(4) K/sec = Kilobytes per second (1 kilobyte = 1024 bytes); MB/sec = Megabytes per second (1 megabyte = 1024 kilobytes).
(5) Companies that source CompactFlash cards from Toshiba may opt for either the faster single level cell (SLC) or slower (but less expensive to manufacture) multi level cell (MLC) architecture. The Kingston cards tested were MLC; the company does, however, offer SLC-based CompactFlash cards on special order. Kingston's SLC-based cards have "-S" appended to the end of their part number, ie CF/512-S. Not all of Kingston's distributors will have the SLC cards listed among the products they can ship to dealers. For more information, contact Kingston.
(6) Delkin has not revealed the design and manufacturing partner for their Pro line of CompactFlash cards.
(7) These cards contain controllers from an unknown manufacturer, likely of Taiwanese origin.
(8) This camera's built-in formatter will format cards over 2GB as FAT32 with a 32K cluster size. This cluster size ensures more efficient camera-to-card transfers than the more-typical default FAT32 cluster size of 4K.
(9) This card, which began to ship in mid-March 2004, contains faster memory than the original 40X card. Lexar has revamped their entire 40X Pro Series lineup, from 256MB to 4GB, with the faster memory, though we've only tested the 1GB model. The packaging for the revamped 40X doesn't indicate that the card inside is different from an original 40X, though the card itself does: if the series number stamped on the card's edge ends in C977, it's a revamped 40X.
(10) Lexar began shipping their 80X line of cards in late June 2004. The card marked *first edition* in the table is a production model representative of the 80X lineup that began shipping in late June 2004. For now, it's safe to assume that any 80X card available at dealers until at least the middle of October 2004 (and perhaps beyond) will be a first edition model. Lexar promises that second edition models will be readily identifiable as such when they hit store shelves, with details on how to distinguish them from first edition cards forthcoming at the time of their release. Note that the first edition/second edition designation is our own, and is not how Lexar plans to distinguish the original and revamped 80X line.
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