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Thread: Recomended Lexar card reader

  1. #1
    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Recomended Lexar card reader

    I recently replaced my motley collection of elderly flash cards.

    After quite a few hours searching and reading up on the possibilities, I settled on B&H as the best vendor - cheaper than most, enormous range to choose from, and you can be confident of getting the genuine article, not some no-name cheapie remarked as a Sandisk Mega-Lightspeed-Wonder.

    I ordered 2 x 128GB Lexar 1066x Compact Flash cards (for the 7D II and the 1D IV) at US$100 each, a 32GB Delkin SDHC for the 1D IV at US$27 (this is the largest SD card the ageing 1D IV can use), and a 64GB Sony SDXC for the 7D II at US$42.

    All four are either the fastest available or near enough as makes no difference to it. They are all for use in my two birding cameras, where speed really does matter. (The cameras I use for landscapes and family happy snaps get the hand-me-downs because with single shots, card speed is irrelevant.) It is very important to look carefully at card speeds. Nearly all vendors quote read speed, which really doesn't matter a damn. Who cares if it takes 5 minutes 20 seconds to upload your pictures for the day instead of 4 minutes 52 seconds? The important speed is the write speed, because if you shoot bursts of action, buffer-full can be a bit of a disaster. When you press the shutter, you want to take the pictures, not wait around for the buffer to clear - you've probably spent an entire day getting into position for the shot and waiting for the bird / footballer / rally car to come along.

    So if you are buying a flash card, look hard at write speed. You can pretty much ignore all the other specs except those that tell you if it is compatible with your camera. In general, the price difference between decently fast and very fast cards is quite small. (If you only take single shots, you can get good quality but very slow cards for next to nothing. You'd be mad to spend $US100 on a Lexar 1066x when you'd get exactly the same benefit from a $30 card from the same manufacturer or one of equal quality. Well, almost - your upload speed will be slower, but if you only take single shots you are not going to have all that many files to upload anyway.)

    One more thing about cards before I get onto the reader: why have both SD and SF cards? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just get SD, and faster to just get CF? Yes, indeed, for most purposes. But with dual-slot cameras, if you shoot raw + JPG (as I always do) you can send the larger raw files to the CF (with is the faster one of the two) and the JPGs to the SD. This is faster than sending them all to a single card. Whether the benefit is significant, I can't say. It used to be on the 1D IV using my slow old cards (they were state-of-the-art wen I bought them, but that was a long time ago), however recent cards are so much faster that maybe it doesn't matter now.

    On average, JPGs are a bit less than half the size of raws, so you want a CF card around twice the capacity of the SD. (In the case of the 1D IV, which is limited to 32GB SDHC, a 64GB CF would have been big enough: I only got the 128 for it because lots of Lexar cards went out of stock as soon as they announced their impending closure and I couldn't buy a 64 at a price much lower than the 128.)

    While I was at it, I ordered a Lexar USB3 dual-slot reader for US$34. (Please excuse dust - I'd had the thing out of the factory packaging for about 20 seconds when I took the shot, honest!)




    I have a variety of older USB2 card readers, but my favourite has long been a Lexar multi-card one which is compact, inexpensive, and particularly well-designed insofar as it pops up out of a little case for use and can be popped down again for storage, thus avoiding getting the slots clogged up with dust and fluff out laptop bags. Here it is alongside the new one.




    The new one is finished in impractical black for reasons of fashion at the cost of utility - white is a vastly more practical colour as you can read markings and see slots and so on much more easily. And it doesn't show the dust. But there isn't much to see on a flash card reader, so let that pass.

    Notice the nice, small size: just big enough to have an SD slot and a CF slot without cramming. Notice also that it doesn't bother with all the useless, confusing slots for 16,937 different sorts of obsolete, non-standard rubbish cards like XD and Sony Memory Stick and every other damn thing: just the ones you need. Full marks for that.

    In use, it is much, much faster than any USB2 reader, of course. They claim it is also faster than most USB3 readers, which is doubtless true. It is noticeable how much difference there was when reading different cards: the new 1066x Lexar with the 7D II images was clearly faster to read than the slightly smaller images on the ancient 16GB Sandisk Extreme IV I used for trying out my newly repaired 7D.

    Anyway, overall, I'm very pleased with the Lexar reader and happily recommend it.

    (Disclaimer: B&H paid me US$500 to write this mini-review ... but only in my dreams.)
    Tony

    It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

  2. #2
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    +1 on both the cards and card reader.

    For my D800E I only got the 800x speed rated Lexar CF card.
    I read an article on card rating speed on the web, and that is about the fastest write speed that the D800 was capable of, when taking into account cost as well.
    That is, the 1000x rated card offered little to no additional benefit considering that the cost almost doubled for the same sized card.

    Strangely tho, I'd have thought that a Lexar card in a Lexar card reader would transfer data faster than another branded card. But(again) I was wrong.

    As well as the Lexar 800x CF card(32G) I also have my old Patriot 600x(8G) CF card that I still use in the D300.
    In the Lexar card reader, the Patriot card is faster to both read and write. Read is a lot faster, but write speeds are only just faster.
    Note that this is movign data on the PC to the card via the reader.
    I can't do any involved and accurate in camera tests, as the Patriot card is not recognised in the D800E.
    On the brief tests I've done on the D300, they're about the same speed rating in terms of shots fired up to the point that the camera slows down.

    So on the PC, where speed isn't limited by the systems internals, the cards will be working at close to their limits.
    In the cameras tho, the cameras bandwidth limits are limiting what the cards can do.

    Only one very slight annoyance with the Lexar card reader design. The top shell opens as it does, and the USB port is attached to the rear side of the opening shell.
    When the shell is opened, the (supplied) cable is so stiff, it doesn't allow the car reader to sit perfectly flat on a flat surface. i.e. there is very slight pressure on the cable.
    So far no problems for me in terms of fatigue on the cable or the USB port on the reader, but I don't trust USB ports if there may be any pressure on them .. too many weak designs have been broken here.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC

    {Yongnuo}; -> YN35/2N : YN50/1.8N


  3. #3
    can't remember
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    Yes Arthur, all good points. In my case, the "flat surface" my card reader rests on is more often than not a tarp on the sand next to my swag. If it bothers you, you could try bending the cable to a suitable shape (without putting pressure on the connector, of course). I've never done it, but I'd get it nice and warm by dipping it in hot water (keeping the connector dry), bend it to shape, tie it to something like a coat hanger to retain the new shape, then slip it into the freezer overnight. My engineering qualifications? None. I guess it would work though.

    One of the things I did was check out the max write speeds of the cameras before I chose the cards. The 7D II being newish can use all the speed of a 1066x; the 1D IV although quite old was top-of-the-range when new and very fast in its day. It is hard to find specs on what the practical max write speed is for it as, when the world was young and the 1D was just a puppy, there weren't any cards fast enough to max it out in tests, and who tests new cards on discontinued cameras? But I gathered that it was certainly fast enough to benefit from cards in the 800x range, so why not go to the 1066 anyway? The price difference was neither here nor there. And besides, there is a 5D IV in my future, and who knows what credit-card-destroyer after that? Might as well get good ones and be done with it.

    Note two things: (1) the price difference between medium-fast and fast cards is now quite small - nowhere near the "almost double" it was when you got yours. (2) The 1D IV, while old, is nevertheless much newer than your D300, which probably took its first wildlife pictures as the animals filed off the Ark two by two.

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