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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #1
TijmenDal
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Default How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Hello there,

I have a quick question:
What should I look out for when buying a CF card?
How important are the speed, brand, age, capacity (and maybe other things as well?) when buying a CF?

Why would I want to have high speed when not shooting video?
Also, if anyone has any recommendations (price vs overall quality), could you link me to a site/review or something?

Regards
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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #2
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Any of the faster cards from well-known brands such as Kingston, SanDisk or Lexar will work well. Most memory writing and reading performance depends on the camera's design.
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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #3
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

I purchased a 32GB Transcend for my 50D and have been happy with it's performance.

http://www.amazon.com/Transcend-Comp...0977701&sr=8-4

Many people will say 32GB is too large because if it fails you lose alot of pictures. I decided to get a 32GB anyway.
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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #4
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

+1 on Transcend. BUT...keep in mind that if you are shooting mission critical stuff you are better off with multiple smaller cards in case you have a card failure you won't loose your whole day of shooting.

By "faster" we mean 400x to 600x. I would go with a UDMA 6 - 600x 90MB read/90MB Write if you can afford it.

Don't be disappointed when you see UDMA 7 coming VERY soon with double those read and write speeds.
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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #5
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

I suggest you want cards and reader that are UDMA spec compliant so that downloads are faster. I would suggest the Sandisk Exteme 60MB (interface speed) series. For reading files in the field, we use the Lexar expresscard plugged into the expresscard slot on the laptop. It will faster for a UDMA card that using a reader connected via USB 2, FW400 or FW800. Also it is less bulky and does not need any cables.


We are shooting using the 16GB sized units and like them very much. Unless we are doing lots of fast action wildlife shoots...we usually each will not fill a 16GB card in a day shooting raw format. But we had long shooting days with animal herds when we have filled the first card...and almost the second one.


So consider the total scenario.....what card you use....which reader you use to download it......and even the interface (SATA, eSATA, USB 2, USB 3, FW400, FW800) and speed (5400 vs 7200 vs 10000) of the hard drive used for storage. All of the links in the chain can make for a relatively quick and easy download....or a painful experience.
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Last edited by MCAsan : 28th of November 2010 (Sun) at 15:08.
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Old 28th of November 2010 (Sun)   #6
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beau1k View Post
+1 on Transcend. BUT...keep in mind that if you are shooting mission critical stuff you are better off with multiple smaller cards in case you have a card failure you won't loose your whole day of shooting.
Meh. That's debatable. One card means fewer or no swaps and less chance losing a card in the process.

Honestly, if I'm shooting something like a wedding and I have smaller cards, I'm going to be shooting until the card is full or nearly so, changing during downtime. When is downtime? Yep..between events. That means I'll probably have the entire prep on the first card. Lose that and I'm screwed. I'll probably have the entire ceremony on the second card. Lose that and I'm screwed. I'll probably have the entire portraits on the third card. Lose that and I'm screwed. Doesn't matter which card gets lost...I'm screwed. I mean, I'm definitely not going to shoot with cards that only fit 20-30 shots each so that even the ceremony is split into 2-3 cards. The most important shots only go on one card anyway. Can you swap cards out fast enough to get shots of the first kiss on two cards? I can't.

Now, with one big card in the camera I don't have to change it out all day long. If I know where my camera is, I know where my card is. If I know where my card is, I know where all the photos are. Memory cards are mature to the point that errors, while they do occur, are extremely rare.
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #7
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beau1k View Post
By "faster" we mean 400x to 600x. I would go with a UDMA 6 - 600x 90MB read/90MB Write if you can afford it.
Which could be a horrible waste of money. Unless you know which camera the OP is using (does it even support UDMA) and what sort of thing they're shooting (lots of high speed bursts or single studio shots) and how they transfer images to the computer (USB1.1 or Expresscard) then any sort of advice may not be helpful.

I see cdifoto has already covered the egg-basket juggling point.
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #8
TijmenDal
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Ok thanks a lot everyone!

I was looking on eBay and saw Transcend cards 16GB for 28€ or something, they had 133x 'speed', but from this thread I'm starting to think that isn't enough.

And how does speed affect taking photo's in burst mode? Shooting burst on a 5DmkII on the highest settings, you'd probably need more than 133x speed I reckon? But how is this with the 20D? Of course I don't want to get the minimal standard, I'm trying to think long term here, bear with me: Let's say I want to upgrade to another camera (with video! 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps) in a year or I don't know when, what would be the minimal writing speed I'd need on those highest settings (if I'd get the 550D I would need an SD of course)? I know people with a 550D shooting video always say they need class 10 stuff because otherwise they can't shoot well. How does this go with compact flash? What does class 10 mean and what would be the maximum writing speed of that?

I think I'll probably go with some 400x (60mbs) I reckon that would be enough, good quality and what not. The only thing I'm worried about is if it would be able to hold up when shooting in HD Video?

EDIT: I just saw that the xxD line went from using CF to SD storage. The 50D used CF still, but the new 60D uses SD's. Now, is this something that's gonna happen with all camera's now? Is the 7D mkII gonna have SD instead of CF? Or are there advantages from CF over SD?

Last edited by TijmenDal : 29th of November 2010 (Mon) at 05:16.
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #9
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by TijmenDal View Post
But how is this with the 20D?
The 20D can't write faster than around 12 MB/s - so, anything faster won't change the camera's performance in the slightest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TijmenDal View Post
Let's say I want to upgrade to another camera (with video! 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps) in a year or I don't know when, what would be the minimal writing speed I'd need on those highest settings
Video requires a card capable of just 8 MB/s. I reckon it's be difficult to buy a card slower than that nowadays.

For most people 30 MB/s is easily fast enough.
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #10
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by hollis_f View Post
The 20D can't write faster than around 12 MB/s - so, anything faster won't change the camera's performance in the slightest.



Video requires a card capable of just 8 MB/s. I reckon it's be difficult to buy a card slower than that nowadays.

For most people 30 MB/s is easily fast enough.
Even when shooting 60fps at 720p you don't need more than 8mb/s?! Wow...Then why would I even want something with 60mb/s? Just to download it faster to my computer? Because I couldn't care less about something like that...
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #11
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Still photos at sustained full burst rate tend to be more demanding than video does. Take the 18 MP of the 60D at 5 fps against its 720x1280x60 fps and you're trying to write 90 MB (still, RAW) vs 5.5 MB (video) per second. That's using Canon's quoted 17.9 MB RAW file size vs 330 MB/min video (1080p 30 fps or 720p 60 fps).
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #12
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon View Post
Still photos at sustained full burst rate tend to be more demanding than video does. Take the 18 MP of the 60D at 5 fps against its 720x1280x60 fps and you're trying to write 90 MB (still, RAW) vs 5.5 MB (video) per second. That's using Canon's quoted 17.9 MB RAW file size vs 330 MB/min video (1080p 30 fps or 720p 60 fps).
That's quite the surprise I must say! Thanks a lot man! That's really, really helpful! Now that I know this things get a bit different, because shooting at 8.2mp burst would mean I would need half the writing speed, amiright? Or doesn't it quite work like that?
I think I'll just pick up some cheap CF for the moment (maybe 133x?) and settle with that. Or is the overall quality very low on a low-speed CF?
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #13
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Some cards are rated with numbers like 300x
While others are rated with numbers like 30mb/sec
What's up with that?

When you take one picture at at time, or even bracket 3 at a time, what does a faster card do for you?
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #14
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by jm2e View Post
Some cards are rated with numbers like 300x
While others are rated with numbers like 30mb/sec
What's up with that?

When you take one picture at at time, or even bracket 3 at a time, what does a faster card do for you?
30mb/s is the writing speed to/from the card. 300x means 300x the speed of an original CDRom (150kb/s). 133*150kb/s = 20mb (more or less).

Only when taking pictures at higher qualities in continuous shooting you might need/want the speed (or so I've been told)
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Old 29th of November 2010 (Mon)   #15
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Default Re: How to buy Compact Flash (CF) cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by TijmenDal View Post
That's quite the surprise I must say! Thanks a lot man! That's really, really helpful! Now that I know this things get a bit different, because shooting at 8.2mp burst would mean I would need half the writing speed, amiright? Or doesn't it quite work like that?
I think I'll just pick up some cheap CF for the moment (maybe 133x?) and settle with that. Or is the overall quality very low on a low-speed CF?
8 MP on the 60D is a JPEG setting; about 3.5 MB/frame or 18 MB/sec to flush to the buffer. Shooting in RAW M, you'd get about 10 MB files for 50 MB/sec.
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