If you’re a photographer with a CompactFlash card accepting camera, you might be wondering which CompactFlash card will serve you best as a storage tool. In this article, we share with you the best CompactFlash cards on the market.
Factors to Consider When Buying a CompactFlash Card
Since your CompactFlash card is your first point of storage for your images, there are certain important factors that you might want to consider when making your choices.
- Storage space
- Write speed
To put these into some simple justifications, your CompactFlash card needs to have enough storage space that you can capture your desired amount of images in one session. The card must be reliable so you know that every picture is captured and stored. The write speed will help you determine if your images/videos will save as high-quality files. And finally, durability is with regards to the CompactFlash card being able to withstand extreme situations, drops, knocks, water spillages, etc.
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Which are the Best CompactFlash Cards for Professional Use?
Here’s the list:
- Lexar Professional 128GB CompactFlash memory card (Our choice)
- SanDisk 128GB Extreme Pro CompactFlash memory card (Second best option)
- 128GB SanDisk Extreme (Best budget option)
- SanDisk Ultra Compact Flash Cards
- Delkin Devices Prime UDMA7 CompactFlash cards
Lexar's Professional CompactFlash Card is one of the best options on the market. If you’re looking for something that offers high-speeds, lots of storage, and a long life, this is the perfect memory card.
This Lexar Professional CompactFlash card is rated VPG 65. This means that the card is able to sustain a high read rate of 160 MB/s.
The card is ideal for shooting 4K as well as full HD videos and continuous RAW frame captures, such as when covering a sporting event.
- High speed performance, leverages udma 7 technologies to deliver a read transfer speed up to 1066x (160mb/s)
- Captures high quality images and extended lengths of stunning 1080p full hd, 3d, and 4k video with a DSLR camera, an HD...
- Supports the Video Performance Guarantee specification for professional-quality video (VPG-65)
- High-speed file transfer from card to computer to dramatically accelerate workflow
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SanDisk makes some of the best known and widely used memory cards in the industry. The Extreme Pro comes with UDMA 7 rating which suggests that the card has a read speed of at least 160 MB/s and a max write speed of 150MB/s, with a minimum of 65MB/s.
As you can see, this CompactFlash card is very similar to the Lexar Professional CompactFlash Card.
If you’re looking for a card that is optimized for 4K recording and high speed continuous RAW shooting, this card will meet all your high-demand needs.
- You can be confident in the good quality, performance and reliability of every SanDisk Product
- Unique, sleek design for the modern home.Features RTV silicone coating for added protection against shock and vibration
- With these speeds you can be sure that every transfer or save will end faster than ever before
- Compatible with CompactFlash supporting host devices; Dimension-1.7 x 1.4 x 0.13 inches
- Speed (X rating): 1067x
Both the Lexar Professional and the SanDisk Extreme Pro labels come with premium labels that demand a higher price. If you are not looking to shoot videos and therefore don’t require VPG-65 rating or a UDMA 7 rating the there are numerous cheaper options for you to choose from.
A very good alternative to the pricey Extreme Pro CF cards, SanDisk's Extreme cards are durable and reliable, and the best thing is that they don’t burn a hole in your pocket!
With a UDMA rating of 7 and VPG rating of 20, the performance falls slightly short of the professional line. Max. read rate is 120MB/s and the write rate is given a maximum speed of 85MB/s. Sure, these aren’t as fast as your high-end options, but you won’t have any problems with them unless you’re shooting 4K footage. With this kind of footage, things might start to get a little bit jumpy.
You can get these cards in a range of sizes to suit your storage and budget requirements.
- Exceptional Shot to Shot Performance ; Read speeds of up to 120MB/s and write speeds of up to 85MB/s
- Professional Grade Video Capture ; VPG 20 ensures sustained data recording rate of 20MB/s for a smooth and unbroken video...
- Durable Design ; Backed by rigorous stress, shock, and vibration testing and includes RTV silicone coating for protection...
- It operates in nearly any climate, with a functioning temperature range of -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit
- Warranty Backed by a lifetime limited warranty
With a read speed of 50 MB/s, the SanDisk Ultra CompactFlash memory card is significantly slower than the best CompactFlash cards that we have listed here. Yet it gets a place here thanks to its super low price.
Often you don’t need the fastest cards on earth, you just need the one that is the perfect balance between price and performance, the right fit. That’s what this SanDisk Ultra memory card is.
You might be wondering how much the slower speed will limit you, but truth be told, you can still get quite far with this card. You’ll be able to record in full HD and capture RAW image files with no obvious lag.
- Speeds up to 50MB/s for ultra performance
- Ideal combination of reliability, value, and ultra performance
- Great for entry to mid range DSLRs
- Reliability from the brand trusted by pros
- Fast write speeds to reduce lag time between shots
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This Delkin Devices Prime CompactFlash card is designed with the full HD video shooter or someone who makes measured bursts of full-resolution continuous RAW frames in mind. This is not the fastest of CompactFlash cards out there. There are better cards listed here but that doesn’t mean that this card is the worst you could buy. Far from it, actually.
This particular card has a maximum read speed of 160 MB/s and a maximum write speed of 120 MB/s. This card is good enough for full HD video recording and continuous RAW frames. But it is not so good for shooting 4K videos.
- Supports 4K & Full HD 1080p Video Recording at High Frame Rates
- RAW Continuous-Shooting Approved
- Read/Write Speeds: 160/120 MB/s
- Video Performance 65 (VPG-65)
CompactFlash Cards Vs Other Options
CompactFlash cards are widely available and are more robust and durable than their cheaper and smaller cousins – SD cards. So much so that even with the launch of the more compact and high storage SDXC cards and the next-gen CF 2.0 cards CompactFlash cards continue to garner interest among professionals wielding pro cameras.
The best CompactFlash cards are the ones which have a minimum consistent write speed of 65 MB/s, are UDMA 7 rated and come with a minimum replacement warranty of 1 year.
All CompactFlash cards have a speed mentioned on the label. This speed is invariably the read speed. This is the speed at which it is able to transfer information to a computer. While this is useful, the most important factor is the write speed. The speed at which the camera is able to write information on to the card. This speed will determine whether your recordings will be smooth or not. This should be mentioned on the packaging. You can also Google it prior to purchase.
Go for cards that offer you a minimum consistent write speed of about 65 MB/s. While 150 MB/s write speed cards are available, they don’t always offer that speed on a consistent basis. Therefore the actual speed is much less. Look for the alphanumeric label VPG-65.
Go for cards that offer a minimum consistent write speed of 20MB/s. That should be enough for recording full HD movies as well as shorts bursts of full-resolution RAW frames.
Not really. Though they share identical dimensions, they are not identical in terms of the underlying technology that drives them. CompactFlash cards use the Parallel ATA interface. However CFast cards use the Serial ATA interface. CFast cards are considered to be the next-gen products in the CompactFlash segment.
X stands for 150KB/s. That is the original write speed that has come down from the heydays of optical media storage devices like compact discs. All modern external recording devices like SD cards and CompactFlash cards bear a reference to the speeds of those legacy devices. If a CF card is labeled as having a speed of 1000x that means the read speed of the card is 150MB/s (150 x 1000 / 1000).
Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your “master guide” here at PhotoWorkout.
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