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Thread: Fast memory cards

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    Member super duper's Avatar
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    Fast memory cards

    Are fast memory cards worth it, or is the speed of the camera processor often the limiting factor? How can I find out how fast the camera is? If I wanted to photograph fast moving sport, what speed would you recommend?

    Thanks!

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    Certainly, in camera, the speed by which photos are moved from the memory buffer to the card depends on the speed limitations of the camera. Which is why camera's have buffer memory, to allow you to go on shooting, faster than the files can be copied to the memory card.

    Where card speed is a true advantage is when you are at home. Copying files off a card to a computer takes time and the faster the card, and the faster your card reader, the quicker this process happens.

    When out shooting you might get the buffer working overtime during the course of your shoot, but when you get home with 400 photos to copy, this is where a fast card has the advantage. Ever sat there for 10-15 minutes waiting for the photos to copy from the card to your computer? Would you like that to be faster? Then faster cards, and card readers allow for that.

    The new USB3.0 allows a very fast transfer speed, and we are starting to see USB3.0 card readers come into the stores now



    Ausphotography advertiser Cheap Chips has the Lexar USB3.0 Card Reader for $55.95. Currently out of stock, cause they have had about three shipments arrive now and they are all sold out within a few hours.

    To give you an example, some real world tests were done on a Lexar 8GB,600x CF card with 100 RAW files on it. Using software called HDtune, test results below.
    The card readers were plugged into USB2 and USB3 ports respectively.

    Lexar USB2.0 card reader: Downloading images from a Lexar 8GB,600x cf card, it was a bit over 30MB/sec.
    Lexar USB3.0 card reader: Downloading images from a Lexar 8GB,600x cf card, it averaged a read speed of 82.7MB/sec

    So effectively you could almost cut your time copying your files from your memory card to your computer by almost 2/3rd's. The faster the card speed the more you will benefit from the decrease in time to transfer your files from card to computer. The weakest link in the chain is what slows the transfer process.
    Last edited by ricktas; 09-07-2011 at 11:42am.
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    What sort of camera do you have Super Duper?
    Later model DSLR's do take advantage of faster cards, especially if you do some video work with it.

    For just taking still pictures with a DSLR, then a Class 6 card would be the recommendation, or if you are doing video, then you'll really need a decent quality Class 10 or the new U1 rated SD cards.
    CF cards are generally faster than SD cards, so if your camera uses these, cheaper, lower speed rated ones should be OK.

    I've had SD cards fail, but only cheap, slow ones, so if you buy a decent brand, you shouldn't have any worries.

    Rick's comments re downloading also hold true.
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    I think the user's ultimate needs and the camera body type in question will be the deciding factors here.

    For years, I used to shoot with slow cheap cards, and eeach card was purchased with $/gigabyte as the main priority... but that was due to my chosen genre of photography, which was mainly landscaping and other choices where speed was not a priority.
    I subsequently purchased a faster card(90Mb/s specs) and it made the camera so much 'nicer' to use, in that it never bogs down under rpid continuous shooting.
    Even tho the camera has a large enough buffer for 99% of needs, the abiity to clear that buffer to the card is important as well.

    I've yet to get a USB3 card reader, but my initial forray into USB3 storage has been favourable.
    I recently updated one of my external Tb drives to a USB 3 type(from USB2) and the difference is at least a 2x speed improvement(under ideal conditions foor USB2), but in general 3x speeed increase for most file type transfers).
    For small file transfers USB2 would max out at approx 14-17Mb/s rates and over large file transfers(hundreds of gigs) it wouldl max out at 8-10Mb/s.
    USSB external drive now writes at close to 30Mb/s easily.
    The drive type I used in the enclosure was not all that different(both being 2Tb 5400RPM 64Mb cache drives, but of different brands), so that could explain a Mb/s here or there, but on the whole, the USB3 system is the major factor.

    I think that for card sized transfer amounts, the switch to faster cards and USB3 may not yeild enough of a benefit for the money spent.
    That is, to spend up hunfdreds of dollars to save a couple of minutes seems like a waste, but when transferring lareege quantities of stored data(many hundreds of gigabytes too terabytes of data) the time saved is huge.
    transferring 1Tb f data over USB2 once took me over 9 hours of wasted electricity. to cut that down to 3 hours is an advantagee I think worth spending money on.
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    I did some burst shooting tests a while back with the D7000 and various speed sandisk cards.

    camera settings: continuous high speed mode, NEF 14bit lossless files, distortion control off, ADL auto, 1/8000 shutter, manual focus.

    I fired off a 10 shot burst which fills the buffer, times are from the first shot to when the buffer is clear(mem card light goes out).

    Sandisk class 2 (the cheapest sandisk ones) 29seconds

    Sandisk Ultra class 4 15mb/sec 30 seconds

    Sandisk Ultra 2 class 4 15mb/sec 15 seconds

    Sandisk Extreme class 10 30mb/sec 11 seconds

    Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 45mb/sec 8 seconds

    *I tested 2 seperate cards of each type. I also tried it with multiple cards in backup mode, times were the same as single cards.

    If your camera does not support the UHS-1 cardbus the Extreme Pro will give the same results as the Extreme class 10. I've seen the same tests done by someone else comparing the major brands and the Sandisk extreme class 10 was slighly faster than the other class 10s.

    Toshiba have a 90mb/s card but they're harder to find than an honest politician.

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    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
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    worth it to an extent. video only needs class 4. transcend class 10 are cheap and run at 20mb/s read/write
    mostly you are limited by your buffer, and your skill too. even when shooting sport, I prefer to wait for the moment rather than machinegun for 10s and praying for a good shot, so I've never had issues.
    I don't like Sandisk, I find them overpriced, and full of fine print.

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    Thanks TBH, I'm not too worried about download time (I can shower while I wait ) But I don't want to miss "that" shot due to a slow card. I was under the opinion that with a slow card the buffer would fill quickly and slow the camera down, does this sound right?

    I have a Nikon 300s (takes both CF and SD cards). I am currently shooting with a sandisk SD 45MB/s, hoping I didn't waste my money on such a fast card. I am wanting to buy a fast, large CF card and use it like internal memory, for back up, just in case something shall happen to the SD cards (I've heard too many stories of SD failure to ignore).

    So (please) recommend me a CF

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    D300s has 17 RAW buffer. AT 7fps you have 2.5s full burst.
    How likely are you to require full bursts one after the other? 90% of ppl will never see the advantage but you possibly may. It depends on your style.

    D300s only does SD at 20mb/s afaik, so you've wasted that unfortunately.
    I've looked at getting a fast CF, but decided against as I never have the need and I hate bulky CF readers.

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    Thanks for that!! Where do I find the rate for the camera? Do you happen to know the rate for a CF card? I am hoping to buy one asap!

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    I saw it in some test done, it's not listed in specs
    but u can be sure the CF rate is higher.

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    Quote Originally Posted by super duper View Post
    ......

    I have a Nikon 300s (takes both CF and SD cards). I am currently shooting with a sandisk SD 45MB/s, hoping I didn't waste my money on such a fast card. I am wanting to buy a fast, large CF card and use it like internal memory, for back up, just in case something shall happen to the SD cards (I've heard too many stories of SD failure to ignore).

    So (please) recommend me a CF
    MSY!! (I think it's Patriot brand?? ) 600x CF cards approximate pricing of $80 for the 8G and $100 for the 16G(check MSY for pricing tho).

    I got the 8G card in reality as a tester to see how well it'd perform, and I have no doubt about it now. Fast.

    As for durability(ie. failure rates) there is no given here. There is no evidence to support any notion that CF is safer than SD, and it;s simply a matter of environmental effects that will determine how each brand/type will last. User handling is a major factor too, so to say that SD is more susceptible to failure is misleading at best.

    eg. In my experience, I'd never buy a Sandisk CF card ever again, as in my close to 10 years of use of a few formats and brands of cards(mainly no name brands!!) the Sandisk(genuine too mind you) 2 gig card I used to use with my D70s, failed. The only card I've ever had fail on me. It went to god, and I still have a few 8Mb SD cards and a 256Mb CF card from last century!

    All of my cards for the D300 are no name CF cards, and I've never had issues with any of them.
    I did find that the card I used to use befreo I purchased my current card(the 8G Patriot 600x) was that I didn't realise how much faster the D300 really was, until I used the speed of the faster card.
    Now it sits in the bag as the 'next card in line' if I ever fill the first card in line(always in the camera) .. and so on.
    I still have (in CF format) two 8G A data cards, a 4G Sandisk Ultra, 2 G Sandisk Ultra, 1G Sandisk (normal), and a few other generic no names which have been used for other reasons(such as on the PDA I think??)
    I still have various other cards in draws which are useless by size and many SD cards. I've never had any SD cards fail on me, and that includes standard SD and Micro's(with adapters).

    So with your current card setup, which as someone already pointed out isn't being utilised to it's full capacity, you're better off going with a fast CF card to release the best power available in the D300s for those times when you need it.
    Get a cheap fast CF card, and use it as the priority card when shooting and then have the SD card either as backup(file copy mode) or backup for when the CF card fills.
    if you do any video, then it makes sense to determine if the SD card slot is fast enough for smooth video and if it is, then use it as the destination slot for video files .. or whatever combo you want.

    In terms of camera speed and performance with this faster (Patriot) card, In raw mode, I've got at least 24 frames in succession at 6fps(I don't have the grip), and I'm sure the light went out in less than 10sec... maybe 5 or so. Very quickly anyhow. I think I've counted 27 frames a few times(in succession) before any slowdown as the buffer filled and the camera struggled to clear buffer to the card.

    Get yerself a large CF card, but dont' use it as backup memory, use it as the first card off the rank and the SD card as the backup, second in line.. etc.

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    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    Wise words Arthur!

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    Get yerself a large CF card, but dont' use it as backup memory, use it as the first card off the rank and the SD card as the backup, second in line.. etc
    Just to be 100% sure I 'get' what you're saying-the camera will write quicker to the CF card, and using an SD as backup won't slow this down?

    Thanks heaps!!

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    And how does a "x" rating compare to a MB/s rating?

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    x=150kb/s
    but sometimes 2 brands have same mb/s but different x

    yeh you can't use SD as backup or it'll bottleneck

    as a non-burster it doesn't worry me.
    Last edited by reaction; 15-07-2011 at 1:20pm.

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    thanks

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