'Ultra' / 'High-Speed' SD cards VS. regular SD cards

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Steven, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Steven

    Steven Guest

    Greetings all,

    I have a question regarding the 'Ultra' / 'High-Speed' SD flash memory
    cards. Manufacturers claim "up to a five times boost in performance
    over traditional secure digital cards" or even more, however will I
    notice a difference in 'Burst' mode re: frames per second and/or time
    between shoots?


    Steven, Sep 30, 2004
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  2. Steven

    Frank ess Guest

    I can't speak about SD memory cards, but my experience and experiments
    with a few CF cards in two cameras (set out below) give me the
    impression that there is little to choose among newly produced memory

    It seems to me most of what differences appear depend on the camera.
    Certain dSLRs have integrated with Lexar's WA speedup technology. Most
    digital cameras have not. Apart from that, at least one of the more
    recent, higher-MP cameras seems to have architecture that accommodates
    whatever potential the card may have.

    _I set up my Nikon CP5700 on a tripod, filled the monitor with a view of
    a CRT
    showing the Windows Time/Date adjustment facility, so the photograph
    would include a record, and I could see what was happening in real-and
    verifiable, if needed-time.

    Camera saw everything at 1/15 second, f2.8, same view for every

    RAW, full-size exposures after format of a CF card in camera.

    I waited until the on-screen digital counter said xx:00 or xx:30,
    depending on how long it took me to record data and reformat the card
    between shots. As soon as the 00 or 30 digits appeared I pushed the
    shutter release button. The effect of this was that the camera monitor
    screen went blank at :01 or :31, very consistently.

    The camera monitor and the CRT were in a sight line, so I could look at
    the time and still see when the camera recovered a view (screen
    un-blanked). I recorded that interval for the first few trials, but
    ceased when it seemed clear the time was the same independent of card
    type or speed: 8 (eight seconds, approx.).

    Once the camera monitor acquired a view, I watched the little recording
    symbol until it disappeared, and recorded the time I saw on the CRT time

    Re-format the CF card, repeat the exposure, three exposures per card,
    change cards, repeat for each card. Actually I had to repeat a repeat or
    three, as I nodded off and failed to note the time on a few trials.
    (more seniorness)

    These are the cards I used, and their sources:
    Viking 512MB, two years old, no speed marked on card, Amazon.com
    SanDisk 512MB #1 plain, one month old, Costco
    SanDisk 512MB #2 plain, one month old, Costco
    San Disk 512MB Ultra II, two weeks old, Costco
    Lexar 512MB 40X #1, eight months old, disremembered online source
    Lexar 512MB 40X #2, two months old, BandH
    Lexar 1GB 80X, less than a week old, Adorama

    These are the times I recorded as elapsed between button-push and
    symbol-gone. I chose the mode if times were not identical; otherwise,
    they were consistent (identical) among trials.

    CP5700 and
    Viking 512MB 83 seconds
    SanDisk Plain #1 32 seconds
    SanDisk Plain #2 39 seconds
    SanDisk Ultra II 22 seconds
    Lexar 40X #1 25 seconds
    Lexar 40X #2 20 seconds
    Lexar 80X 22 seconds

    Then, with absolutely the same setup, I used the 8MP, ISO 50

    CP8700 and
    Viking 512MB 23 seconds*
    SanDisk Plain #1 16 seconds
    SanDisk Plain #2 17 seconds
    SanDisk Ultra II 16 seconds
    Lexar 40X #1 18 seconds
    Lexar 40X #2 16 seconds
    Lexar 80X 16 seconds

    I take this to mean that identically inscribed cards (two SanDisk
    Plains; two Lexar 40Xs) can be as different one to the other as the
    differences between comparable but differently branded cards in these
    cameras; cards perfomed fairly consistently relative to each other, in
    two different but similar cameras; the remarkable differences are
    attributable to the camera; the camera can drag a mediocre performer to
    the level of much more expensive cards (SanDisk Plains' latencies went
    from 32-39 to 16-17 seconds, an improvement of 200-240%, Viking improved
    by 360%, and the others were better by 125-140%, camera-to-camera).

    * First trial with the Viking card in the CP8700 was a mind-blower: it
    lost the view at shutter-release, reacquired it with the writing symbol
    on screen, and as near as I could tell, was still writing at five
    minutes! Then eight minutes. At ten minutes I started pushing buttons,
    but everything was frozen. I had to remove and reinsert the battery tray
    to make it come alive again. Reformatted the Viking card (again) and the
    rest of the trials went as expected, but quite a bit faster.

    This morning I sat in the waiting room while my car was serviced, and
    did this:

    CP8700, 1GB 80X Lexar CF card, ISO 50, 1/125, f7.2, camera propped up
    and as little disturbed as I could manage, framed a glass doorway with
    New Car displayed beyond,

    I took one dozen RAW photos, releasing the shutter as quickly as the
    camera would allow. I counted down between screen blank and view
    recovery (about 8 seconds) and looking at EXIF info for actual
    button-push times.

    The camera would accept a new photo (shutter release) as soon as the
    view was reacquired, for the first four photos, even though the writing
    symbol was displayed. After that, the hourglass buffer-full symbol would
    display for increasing amounts of time, but never exceeded sixteen
    seconds after view reacquisition.

    After the twelfth shutter release, I let it close itself out, and it
    wrote for about 24 seconds.

    I take this to mean the CP8700 writes to the 80X Lexar card at 16
    seconds per 12,374KB RAW image, and that a user can depend on the camera
    to allow about four exposures per minute as long as battery and memory
    hold out. Does that sound right?_

    Frank ess, Sep 30, 2004
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  3. Steven

    Lila Duncan Guest

    Lila Duncan, Sep 30, 2004
  4. Steven

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Maybe. Any system is only as fast as the slowest of its parts. If your
    camera is not fast enough to drive the flash card at full speed, then
    your benefit will fall short of the maximum. I would try to manage a
    test before spending more money for the faster card.
    Ron Hunter, Sep 30, 2004
  5. Steven

    Keith Guest

    When I got my Canon S1 IS this summer, it came with a 32MB "fast" card. I
    thought "high speed, maybe I need to get new CFs to replace my SanDisks".
    Ran a couple of simple tests (Canon "fast" 32 MB and San "ordinary" 64 MB) -
    set camera to "continuous shooting" and held down the shutter release AND
    (reformatted the card) set camera to "movie" and shot until cards full.
    (stills at 1024x768 superfine; movie at 30fps 640x480 fine). No
    image/frames lost, so whether the camera can't take advantage of "fast"
    cards, has a big enough buffer for handling a 64 MB card or what, I see no
    benefit (to me) of buying "fast" cards. Although I haven't run re-tests
    after upgrading the firmware to the latest version....

    Keith, Oct 1, 2004
  6. Steven

    Rick Guest

    Canon's "fast" card is simply a rebadged SimpleTech
    SLOW card. Try a Sandisk Ultra II and you will see
    better performance -- maybe not in every function but
    certainly in some.

    Rick, Oct 1, 2004
  7. Steven

    Steven Guest


    Thanks for yout very thorough message!! I wish there was more
    information about the actual testeted speed differences for practical
    applications on the market. Have not see a comparison as you discribe
    in PC Mag, G4TechTV, or similar forum.

    Thanks again,

    Steven, Oct 1, 2004
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