CompactFlash Cards; Temperature and Altitude limits?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by PBS, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. PBS

    PBS Guest


    My son does quite a bit of snow camping, skiing and other cold temperature
    activities. I notice that the Operating temperature specification for most
    CompactFlash cards is typically about 0-60 degrees C.

    Does anyone know of CompactFlash cards with an extended lower temperature

    Similarly, none of the specs I've found even mention altitude. Is it safe
    to assume that all/most are good up to 14,000 feet?

    PBS, Dec 10, 2003
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  2. I have to assume this is a camera-focused query.
    I think you'll find that other "things" in the camera will
    fall over long before cold and altitude affect a CF card.
    (One such "thing" would be the focusing motor and lens

    In particular, it is Not A Good Thing to let an LCD display
    get extremely cold. There are LCD displays that can get
    cold without damage -- witness automobile displays (dash,
    radio,...) that could reach -40d or more. But, I think the
    automakers have thought that through. It's probably not
    the case with most digital cameras.

    Allodoxaphobia, Dec 10, 2003
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  3. PBS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I rather expect that a CF card would operate at any temperature you
    could stand without danger to yourself, and altitude should be no problem.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 10, 2003
  4. PBS

    Paul Guest

    Extract from:

    What are the characteristics of CF cards?


    CF cards are available in capacities from 8MB to 3GB.

    While many CF applications can operate with low capacity CF cards,
    higher capacity cards are increasingly used as digital camera resolution

    Dual Voltage Support?

    CompactFlash cards support both 3.3V and 5V operation and can be
    interchanged between 3.3V and 5V systems. This means that any CF card
    can operate at either voltage. Other small form factor flash cards may
    be available to operate at 3.3V or 5V, but any single card can operate
    at only one of the voltages

    The Connector?

    The connector used with CompactFlash is similar to the PCMCIA Card
    connector, but with 50 pins. Years of field experience in portable
    devices have proven the reliability and durability of this connector in
    applications where frequent insertions/ejections of the card are
    required. Other small form factor flash cards use connector technology
    that is not reliable or durable.


    CompactFlash provides the lowest cost flash storage solution for
    capacities of 32MB and above. With the built-in controller, a wide
    variety of low cost flash technologies can be used. The built-in
    controller lowers costs further by allowing defective cells to be mapped
    out, thus increasing flash chip yields and by reducing costs in the host


    CompactFlash cards are able to withstand extremely rapid increases or
    decreases in temperature. Industrial version CompactFlash cards are
    offered with an extended operating temperature range of -45 C to +85 C.


    CompactFlash cards have an operating shock rating of 2,000 Gs, which is
    equivalent to a 10-foot drop. With typical usage, a CompactFlash card
    can be used for more than 100 years with no loss or deterioration of data.


    Typically consuming less than five percent of the power than that
    required to operate 1.8" and 2.5" disk drives, CF cards run at 3.3V or
    5V with a single power supply. This makes them ideal for a range of
    current and next-generation, small-form factor consumer applications.

    Operating System Support?

    Numerous platforms and operation systems support CompactFlash and the
    PCMCIA-ATA standard, including DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95, , Windows
    98, Windows CE, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, OS/2, Apple System
    7, 8, 9 & OS X, Linux and most types of UNIX.

    Data Reliability?

    CompactFlash data is protected by built-in dynamic defect management and
    error correction technologies.

    The CFA is a licensee of the CompactFlash® trademark which is licensed
    royalty-free to CFA members.

    The CFA(logo) and CF(logo) are trademarks of the CFA and are licensed
    royalty free to CFA members.

    This page last updated July 6, 2003
    Paul, Dec 11, 2003
  5. PBS

    Shaun Lowe Guest

    I've done a fair amount of shooting with CF cards
    in -20C temperatures for extended periods of time.
    I had no problems with the cards, the camera however
    moved a little slower than normal & the Nimh batteries
    certainly don't last as long under those conditions.


    Shaun Lowe
    Shaun Lowe, Dec 11, 2003
  6. PBS

    Harvey Guest

    Toshiba and Sandisk have announced cards that go to -40 degrees centigrade
    (-40 F) for industrial applications. A Google search on "compactflash
    temperature range" will get you there, including popular camera review
    However, I would be very much surprised if the current generation cards
    would not go lower than 0 degrees. Battery power, display sluggishness, and
    motor operation are much more likely to limit the temperature range.

    Altitude will not be a factor, from below sea level to 30,000 feet or more.
    Harvey, Dec 12, 2003
  7. PBS

    Digitalis Guest

    I once asked an electronics specialist (he designed circuit boards,
    etc.) why so much electronics is rated only to 0 degrees C. His answer
    was that the manufacturer probably just did not bother to certify it for
    lower temperature- it was an arbitrary number. Nothing special about it
    at all. Keep in mind that tolerances do change somewhat with
    temperature, but silicon is not water it *won't* freeze at 0 degrees C!

    In fact, electronics rated at 0 degrees C might operate fine at lower
    temperatures. Personally, I've operated cameras and other electronic
    devices below 0 degrees C with no real issues, just like someone else

    Electronics is sensitive to altitude since when? Any examples? Thanks.
    Digitalis, Dec 14, 2003
  8. PBS

    Robertwgross Guest

    Take a big sealed capacitor up to high elevation. Its seal will blow if you
    take it high enough. That is why certain types of components are rated only up
    to 10,000 feet or 15,000 feet. Also, the thermal-convection properties of
    components get all screwed up when the air pressure gets too low. However, I
    would not expect a CF card to be affected very easily since it is mostly a
    semiconductor device.

    ---Bob Gross---
    Robertwgross, Dec 14, 2003
  9. PBS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Generally electronic devices work BETTER at lower temperatures, and
    altitude should have no effect on them.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 14, 2003
  10. PBS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Not only is it a semiconductor device, but it is completely enclosed in
    a resin. I can't see any logical reason why it wouldn't work in vacuum.
    Anyone want to try an experiment?
    Ron Hunter, Dec 14, 2003
  11. []
    There will be other components as well as the semiconductors. Is the
    casing pressurised? I guess not. Some SanDisk products are rated to
    80,000 feet.

    David J Taylor, Dec 14, 2003
  12. PBS

    Bill Guest

    Besides atmosphetic pressure, there is also more ambient radiation at high
    altitudes........UV, ions and other forms. Perhaps they could interfere with
    some electronics. I'm no scientist, but it's a thought.

    Bill, Dec 14, 2003
  13. PBS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I have not dismantled a CF card, but it appears that the circuits are
    'potted', ie., sealed in plastic.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 14, 2003
  14. PBS

    Ryan Pfleger Guest

    I've used a digital camera and CF cards above 14,000 ft, and I've seen
    digital photography from Everest. That should be high enough for ya.
    Sandisk does make an "Extreme" CF card which has a larger temperature range
    and higher shock rating. I would think as long as you're using Type I CF
    that you don't need to worry about it, they seem burly enough already.

    Ryan Pfleger, Dec 14, 2003
  15. PBS

    Junque Guest

    It is not the altitude but reduced heat transfer in thinner air that can
    result in overheating.
    Junque, Dec 14, 2003
  16. PBS

    Junque Guest

    You would have to go to rather more than 10,000 ft for ionizing
    radiation to become a problem.
    Junque, Dec 14, 2003
  17. But the temperature drops 5 degress for each 1 km altitude, which will
    compensate some. I know IBM Microsodrives will fail in the high pressure
    under water, and will have problem if you go much above 10.000 ft
    Povl H. Pedersen, Dec 14, 2003
  18. It seems this myth is pervasive.
    Andy Williams, Dec 14, 2003
  19. PBS

    Junque Guest

    Temperature is not heat transfer.
    Junque, Dec 14, 2003
  20. PBS

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Since the temperature decreases as one goes higher, I wouldn't think
    head in a camera would be a problem.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 15, 2003
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