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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

SD vs CF Cards
Joshua Jordan, Photographer, Assistant
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 8:56 AM on 01.14.15
->> Is there any downside to using SD cards vs CF cards? Maybe besides the fact they will be easier to lose? I've only ever used CF.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:20 AM on 01.14.15
->> Read/Write speed.

CF cards are faster than SD types. Here's a chart on tech spec comparisons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_memory_cards
SD cards max out at 25 MB/s and SDHC at 104 while CF cards can reach over 160.

I did a stop watch test a while back comparing a SD card with CF in my Nikon D800E using a highly detailed brick wall as a subject. I timed from the first click of a burst of 10 frames to when the write light went out. Using cards claiming to have the same speed capability the CF card won. I then took those 10 frames on each card and transferred them to my computer using the same multi-card reader. The CF card won again.

Here's another site that did a card by card comparison for what works fastest with the Nikon D810 and its high resolution 36 megapixels. The top three winners are CF.
http://www.cameramemoryspeed.com/nikon-d810/fastest-sd-cf-card-speed-tests/

Some may say the problem with CF cards is that if one of the 50 pins in the camera bends then you're up the creek. That's true. However, I've never experienced such a problem nor do I personally know anyone who has. You would really have to jam the card in at an angle to do that is my guess. I've always been careful with my gear and keep an eye on the count-down number so not to get the dreaded blinking FULL message.

And others may say that SD cards have higher capacity to make them the winner. But think about it. If you have all your day's work on one SD card versus across 4-5 CF cards and you have a mishap such as a physical loss or card corruption, which would you rather lose? Your lone SD card (100% of your images) or one of the CF cards (20-25%)? For me, having dozens of gigabytes for still image storage is not worth the risk. Now, do I use 32GB SD cards? Yes.

I'm with you that my greatest fear is losing the wafer thin SD card. But I do use both cards. My bodies are set to use the CF card for recording stills and the SD card for video. This use of them makes it very easy to keep the cards separate in my mind and for when transferring the imagery to my computer regarding which folder they get copied to. This keeps my post workflow running smoothly.

One misconception that some have is that they need the fastest card to keep shooting. That falls apart because it is the camera's buffer that fills up and shuts down the camera to write to the card. Card speed doesn't change the buffer, it changes how fast you can resume shooting again -- and that depends upon your style.

If you're one of those who needs to shoot 15-20 frame bursts over and over again in fast succession, then you need a high read/write rate. If you pick and choose your timing then R/W speed doesn't matter -- especially if you are shooting basketball with strobes, portraits, architecture, general news/feature, etc. Even the slowest cards will work fine for those subjects. And even if you're doing one-chance sports like the finish line of the Kentucky Derby then R/W is mute because it will be the body's buffer that will shut down the camera, not the card. To alter the buffer so you can get more images then reduce your file size. Instead of shooting raw shoot jpeg. While the buffer may hold a dozen raw before having to dump it could hold dozens of jpegs for the home stretch run. After the horses pass it doesn't matter if it takes 30 seconds or two minutes to write to the card because there's nothing more to shoot.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 2:48 PM on 01.14.15
->> I use CF for sports, SD for portraits and landscapes. Canon built the 5D MKIII and the 1Dx for speed on CF, not SD. There is an SD card that is rated at 250mb/s but neither of these cameras support that SD speed. Not yet anyway. Hoping the next iteration of pro cameras from Canon will correct that.
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Joshua Jordan, Photographer, Assistant
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 3:54 PM on 01.14.15
->> Very nice post Doug...thanks!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 4:12 PM on 01.14.15
->> Joshua...

Ditto on Phil's remark about cameras built for one speedy card port but not both. It is like a laptop with one USB2 and one USB3 port. It is the port speed that acts as a bottleneck. A Honda civic is going to get to the destination at the same time as a turbocharged Porsche if they are both on the same 55 mph highway.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 4:49 PM on 01.14.15
->> I just had a conversation recently with a Nikon Rep. he said the card makers came to Nikon and explained that the CF cards have reached their max.

I just went to B&H and looked at some of the SDHC cards

Those cards go as fast at 300MB/s.

CF cards max at 160MB/s

The only card faster is the XQD 400MB/s

The SD cards are the future and the CF cards from what I have been hearing are going to go away. To many problems with pins breaking off in them on cameras and just they cannot increase speed any more.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 10:30 PM on 01.14.15
->> Stanley, The Telcos used to say the same thing about twisted-pair copper. Then came ISDN, compression, etc.
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Daniel Malmberg, Photographer, Photo Editor
Huskvarna | Sweden | Sweden | Posted: 2:33 PM on 01.15.15
->> @Mark
I understand you analogy.
But it has a problem. Even if you use the same "interface" i.e. the "twisted-pair copper" is the same. It´s actually different standards that you are talking about.
They are not compatible with each other.

You could of course use the same "interface" i.e. the pinning and form factor of the CF-cards and build new faster cards with a new standard.
Problem is that it wouldn't be compatible with older CF-cards.

Except the problems with the "pinning" as being a cause to a lot of trouble.
The CF-card standard are using the really old PATA standard for transferring data. Back when it was released. It had some advantages because of the week processor power in the computers from that time.
With the development of the hardware. That technology is totally outdated.
Therefore some kind of serial interface is the way to go for the future.

There are two standard that are the major candidates for future Pro-cameras.
XQD and CFast.
Hopefully the big manufactures will unite using the same standard in the future.
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N. Scott Trimble, Photo Editor, Photographer
Kirkland | wa | usa | Posted: 3:07 PM on 01.15.15
->> Also, I read recently, I think on Canonrumors, that for the cameras with both SD and CF slots, if you load the SD slot, whatever blazing fast speed you have on the CF card gets trumped to the fasted speed of the SD card. So, if true, don't load that SD slot when you need the speed of your Lexar Pro 1066x card...
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 7:37 PM on 01.15.15
->> Daniel, My point was that you cannot anticipate product research. Somebody might be about to discover a method to make CF cards faster. TelCo engineers were adamant about the bandwidth of the day being a "hard" barrier.

--Mark
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Daniel Malmberg, Photographer, Photo Editor
Huskvarna | Sweden | Sweden | Posted: 8:28 PM on 01.15.15
->> @Mark.
I would recommend you to read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompactFlash

To make it short.
There are several reasons why it´s good to create a new standard.
That´s not compatible with the older standard.
Just as ADSL/VDSL is not compatible with ISDN.

There is just no doubt that we will see CF replaces with either QXD or CFast in the future. And my opinion is that in the end that´s a good thing.

Hopefully Canon and Nikon will go for the same standard.

I wish you all a great weekend.
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Simon Wheeler, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 9:00 PM on 01.15.15
->> In 14 years of digital I have had one reporter break off a pin in a CF card in a reader. They then inserted the broken card in the camera and broke the camera.

I have had several SD card fail mechanically in the past couple of years. The plastic between the electrical contacts seems to be prone to breaking. Sometimes this causes them to fail, sometimes not. I have had an Eyefi card fail I suspect due to me pushing on it with my tumbnail to remove it from the camera and causing the case to split open along a seam. I was careful with it but it didn't stand up to repeated removals. I suspect they think that you will WiFi all your photos all the time and skimped on the casing. They replaced it promptly and cheerfully under warranty recently.

I will never ever buy another Lexar CF card. My last expensive one failed.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Northwest Missouri | MO | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 01.16.15
->> I'm moving over to SD cards. I can plug them into a reader built into my laptop, or a reader attached to my iPhone/iPad. Immediate deployment of photos is the key reason to move to SD cards so I can deliver photos with minimal equipment.
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Simon Wheeler, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 1:17 PM on 01.16.15
->> Would have been nice if Canon had put and SD slot in the 1Dx. I guess they don't want anyone buying Eyefi cards. Their wifi transmitter for the 1Dx is a complicated device that I can't get to network to an iPhone6
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Naples | FL | USA | Posted: 4:38 PM on 01.16.15
->> http://www.amazon.com/SD-CF-II-Type-Adapter-Supports/dp/B000YZGCIU
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N. Scott Trimble, Photo Editor, Photographer
Kirkland | wa | usa | Posted: 4:45 PM on 01.16.15
->> umm, Simon, I think its because for the cost of the camera, they focus on the best media storage for it, which the SD isn't. it has a buffer limit that CF cards don't. http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/06/the-5d-mark-iii-sd-memory-cards/
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Doug Holleman, Photographer
Belton | TX | USA | Posted: 6:06 PM on 01.16.15
->> I like having the SD card in a second slot as a backup, but I hate fumbling around with them with my sausage-like fingers, and paying high prices for a card that's slower than a cheaper CF.
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Simon Wheeler, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 6:58 PM on 01.16.15
->> Corey,
Do you have one of those? Multiple review on Amazon talk about bent CF pins in the cameras and expensive repairs. Also a lot of review say it just plain doesn't work. I've read that about most SD Cf adapters.
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Andrew Nelles, Photographer
Chicago | IL | usa | Posted: 7:19 PM on 01.16.15
->> I've used those CF/SD adapters. Worked fine with Eye-Fi cards in my experience.
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Simon Wheeler, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 7:44 AM on 01.17.15
->> Thanks Andrew. Maybe I will buy one and test it in a cheap cf card reader first to make sure I don't bend a pin in my 1Dx
Simon
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:04 PM on 01.17.15
->> I bent a pin inserting a CF card into one of my Mark II bodies five or so years ago. Using a pair of needle nose pliers and a flat head micro screw driver I was able to straighten back out. The culprit card had problems going in all the 1D series bodies but no issues with the 40D bodies. I put the card into my reserve pile not willing to take a chance in the future.

While I liked the convenience of being able to go from camera directly to the laptop, the write speed was ridiculously slow and I was using the same speed card that I use in the CF slot.

That said I still prefer CF over SD cards.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 6:26 AM on 01.18.15
->> I had a Sandisk CF card that did the same thing. CPS fixed the bent pins at no charge and Sandisk replaced the CF card and had me ship the defective back in a prepaid envelope that they included with the replacement. Never had any other issues with Sandisk cards.
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Victor Biro, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 3:32 AM on 02.05.15
->> Hi,

My experience has been the following:

- CF cards are easy to keep track of when your attention is divided
- CF cards have some useful capacities and speeds, but there always seems to be a bottleneck at reading or writing
- SD cards are cheap and widely available (In a jam and Walgreens, 7-11 or the gift store will have something)
- SD cards 'seem' slower. Every Time I have used SD, regardless of the stated write speed, my cache becomes full on my camera;
- Ey-Fi cards are a great alternative to the OEM alternative ( on D810 +$1000 for Nikon vs. $129)

Regarding bent pins, I have never had bent pins on a camera, but because readers seem to focus on size, I have had that problem.

IMHO If you get readers with long travel when you insert the CF card then the problem of bent pins is moot.

Somewhere there is a Nikon product manager scratching his head why the XQD card didn't take the world by a storm.

I will join him in his wonder, but I will continue working with CF cards until the XQD, or some variation, becomes the standard.

Cheers,
Victor
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Bob Nichols, Photographer
Tipton | IN | USA | Posted: 10:14 AM on 02.05.15
->> I did not any have interest in using SD cards until I had a CF card fail. Not just corrupt, but fail. Thankfully the photos were portraits that I could recreate.

I then bought some 16GB and 32GB SD cards to match up with my CF cards. I now always shoot with cards in both slots. After a shoot I take out the CF card, upload to my computer and then reformat both cards in the camera once I have two copies of my photos saved.

I also have the bad habit of just putting CF cards in my pocket after removing them from the camera. I kept the little plastic cases that came with the SD cards. I never put an SD card in my pocket without first putting it in a case. They just seem too flimsy.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 10:44 AM on 02.05.15
->> Out of convenience I shoot with SD cards, in the Type II CF adapters. The SD means no card reader is needed for the MacBook Air, and I can easily shoot and dump to an iPad, leaving the laptop home.

CF cards are easier to keep track of, they may have faster write speeds, but I only shoot stills, not video, so the benefits of the SD outweigh the benefits of the CF for my work flow.
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Doug Thompson, Photographer
Floyd | VA | | Posted: 6:34 PM on 02.10.15
->> Since my 1D X and my C300 both use dual CF cards I lean towards them. My 128GB Lexars haven't let me down.

Same for the 5d MKIII. Sometimes use an SD as backup. Now also have a C100 for run and gun video and it has dual SDs but I use a Ninja2 with a SS hard drive for ProRes Footage there.

Been playing around a bit with the new CFast Cards, which are faster than the Compact Flashes and provide recording with the Ninja Star and the new Blackmagic URSA. They are now cheap though: About $1,000 for a 256GB Lexar CFast 2.0, which is required for the URSA. The Ninja Star uses version 1.0 and a 128GB CFast Version 1.0 from Atomos is $239
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Simon Wheeler, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 2:37 PM on 02.11.15
->> Big thank you to Corey Perrine and Andrew Nelles. I have got several of the SD to CF adapters from the Amazon link supplied by Corey. I do have it working with an Eyefi card in my 1DX. My iPhone 6 is having a little trouble picking up the Eyefi card in a very heavy WiFi environment in my office but all seems to be working well.

I'm going to try one of the Toshiba WiFi sd cards mentioned on another thread to see if they connect any better or write any faster.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 12:15 PM on 02.27.15
->> Damn...haven't cared about Type II CF slots since the Microdrive era (think Nikon D1). After ordering one of those adapters to use an Eye-Fi card with my D3s...doh! Nikon went down to Type I only somewhere along the line, apparently. Guess I'm stuck with the clunky (but more reliable) CamRanger.
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Thread Title: SD vs CF Cards
Thread Started By: Joshua Jordan
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