Most of my cameras utilize Compact Flash (CF) cards. When you’re shooting lots of images, or capturing big files (D800), you want to be able to move data quickly. CF cards continue to gain speed (Lexar announced a 3333x CF card this week at CES). I currently have 16GB UDMA 7 CF cards (SanDisk Extreme), but there are faster ones out there if you’re willing to spend the money. While a fast card is certainly going to help you clear your camera buffer faster, I’ve found that the real speed gain comes on the image transfer side.
My Nikon D4 included a free 16GB Sony XQD card and reader. The new XQD standard promises very fast data throughput. Sony’s spec states 125MB/s transfer rates are possible. CF cards currently top out at 90MB/s. In my testing with the XQD card I was able to shoot 83 14-bit lossless compressed NEFs in the D4 before the buffer filled and shooting speed dropped. That’s a lot of frames! Of course, most photographers don’t find themselves ripping off 80 frames at 10fps most of the time. You may as well shoot video if you want to do that. Continue reading The Sony XQD Memory Cards: Mac Owners Beware