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SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro – Which one to buy?

If you own a camera, you have probably asked yourself some of these questions while shopping for an SD card:

  • Should I buy the SanDisk Extreme Pro, or is that unnecessary?
  • Does speed matter?
  • Should I care about the transfer speed?

Today I’m going to test two of the best-known memory cards from SanDisk (SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro) based on their quality, performance, and reliability. I’ll go over all the aspects of these two memory cards to help you find the best fit for your needs.

SanDisk History

SanDisk is a brand of Western Digital for flash memory products, including memory cards and readers, USB flash drives, and solid-state drives. It was acquired by Western Digital in 2016.

As of March 2019, Western Digital was the fourth-largest manufacturer of flash memory, having declined from the third-largest in 2014.

Specifications


SanDisk Extreme Pro 

SanDisk Extreme
Card Type:SDXCSDXC
Storage Capacity:128 GB128 GB
Bus Type:UHS-IUHS-I
UHS Speed:U3U3
Speed Class:Class 10Class 10
Video Speed:V30V30
Max Read Speed:170MB/s150MB/s
Max Write Speed:90MB/s70MB/s
Durability:Water / Shock / X-Ray ProofWater / Shock / X-Ray Proof
Write-Protect Switch:YESYES

Things that the SanDisk Extreme and the Extreme Pro have in common are:

  • Both share V30 Video Speed Class.
  • Both share U3 Ultra-High-Speed Class.
  • Both share Class 10 speed.
  • Both are waterproof and shockproof.
  • Both share the same Bus Type UHS-I.

Speed

Memory card speed is confusing, as it is specified and advertised in different ways. The Read and Write speeds are different, NOT the same number (the camera writes, your computer reads). To simplify things, let’s focus on the three main parts of the ranking.

1- “Class 10” means a minimum of 10MB per second, which indicates that the slowest speed for Read or Write will be at least 10 megabytes per second.

2- Ultra-High-Speed (UHS) is the new generation bus interface for SD cards. Succeeding the regular high-speed specification, UHS was recently designed to support devices with higher capacity and speed requirements.

3- The new Video Speed Classes feature a range of performance grades, defined primarily by the card’s minimum sustained transfer speeds in megabytes per second. This means that V30 has a minimum sequential write speed of 30 megabytes per second.

Capacity

One of the most-asked questions is: How much storage capacity do I need? Should I buy the 128GB or minimize my investment and buy the 32GB? To be honest, there is no right answer to this question. It all comes down to your needs, My personal preference is to get 4 x 32GB instead of 1 x 128GB, but this is only me.

e.g.: If you shoot in a studio with easy access to a backup device or if you’re shooting tethered to a computer, the capacity won’t matter.

To help you decide, here is a table from SanDisk.

MegapixelsFile Size16GB32GB64GB128GB
8MP2.4MB5722114442288845776
10MP3MB457791551831036620
12MP3.6MB381476291525830516
14MP4.2MB326965391307826156
16MP4.8MB286157221144422888
22MP6.6MB20804161832216644
50MP17.8MB916183236647328
JPEG file format photos
MegapixelsFile Size16GB32GB64GB128GB
8MP24MB572114422884576
10MP30MB45791518303660
12MP36MB38176215243048
14MP42MB32665313062612
16MP48MB28657211442288
22MP66MB2084168321664
50MP178MB89179359719
Uncompressed RAW

To summarize this and give you an example, if you are like me, shooting with a big sensor camera, you’ll shoot with Canon 5Ds, which has a 50MP sensor. I also shoot JPEG and RAW, so every click made will write to the card, one JPEG file (17.8MB) and one RAW file (178MB), which brings the total to 195MB/shoot.

This means that the 64GB will record only 328 photos.

FormatRecording speed32GB64GB128GB
4K400MB/s10 Minutes20 Minutes40 Minutes
150MB/s27 Minutes55 Minutes110 Minutes
UHD400MB/s10 Minutes20 Minutes40 Minutes
150MB/s27 Minutes55 Minutes110 Minutes
2K200MB/s20 Minutes40 Minutes80 Minutes
100MB/s40 Minutes80 Minutes160 Minutes
Video

Comparison

SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro

Both of these cards were engineered using SanDisk proprietary technology that allows them to reach speeds beyond UHS-I 104MB/s, but it also depends on your device.

Packaging

From your first look at these two packages, you will be able to tell the difference immediately. With the SanDisk Extreme, you feel like you bought an SD card, as it has the typical packaging used for that type of card. However, with the SanDisk Extreme Pro, you immediately feel that you have bought something special, due to its box design.

I would love to see SanDisk change the design of the Extreme Pro box and card to differentiate between them, especially because I love the gold and black color on the Extreme card.

Burst Shooting

Burst mode, also called continuous shooting mode, sports mode, or continuous high-speed mode, is a shooting mode in which several photographs are captured in quick succession by either pressing the shutter button or holding it down. This is used mainly when the subject is in successive motion, such as with sports photography.

To effectively test this for both cards, I will be using the Canon 6D set on a burst mode and shooting both RAW and Large JPG for 1 minute continuously. Then I will compare the number of photos that were recorded on both cards.

Extreme 

From the start of the 1-minute period, the speed was constant; it took around 1.5 photos per second. At the 12-second mark, it accelerated and started taking 3 photos per second for 10 seconds, then went back to normal. When I hit the 34-second mark, it started lagging a bit and stopped completely for 2 seconds at the 49-second mark.

The result was 208 Photos, both RAW and L JPG, with a total size of 2.13GB.

Extreme Pro 

It started very fast, taking around 3 photos per second for about 5 seconds. Then it went to around 1.5 photos per second for the rest of the minute without lagging or stopping at any time 

The result was 210 Photos, both RAW and L JPG, with a total size of 2.14GB.

At the end of the test, it looked like both cards were almost similar in terms of speed. However, I would recommend the Extreme Pro, as it didn’t lag or stop in the middle.

Transfer Speed

After you are done with your photos, you need to copy them to start the editing process. As you know, shooting in 4K video or RAW files takes up memory faster and file sizes are much larger. Have you ever waited for hours to finish copying your files? Also, keep in mind that the host device can greatly affect the transfer speed of a storage product.

Long story short, I connected both of the cards to my Mac and copied 2GB of data to and from each of them, using a stopwatch.

Extreme 

Read Speed 2GB in 24.30 sec.  

Write Speed 2GB in 29.76 sec.

Extreme Pro

Read Speed 2GB in 24.19 sec.  

Write Speed 2GB in 27.13 sec.

No surprises here, as the Extreme Pro has a better read and write speed of 170MB/s and 90MB/s versus the 150MB/s and 70MB/s for the Extreme. 

Commonalities Between These Two Cards

Both of these cards are SD Extended Capacity (SDXC™), with capacities ranging from 64GB to 2TB. SDXC uses a different file system called exFAT and works differently than standard SD cards. Also, keep in mind that almost all devices built after 2010 support this file system. They both support UHS-I and 4K UHD.

Both cards have the same class ratings (Class 10, U3, and V30). Unlike card write speeds that measure maximum performance, class ratings measure the minimum sustained speed required for recording an even rate of video onto the card.

Speed Class is a minimum speed based on a worst-case scenario test, which means that both of these cards will guarantee a minimum of 10Mb/s. Compared to high-megapixel photography, video doesn’t need as big of a data pipe because the video format is a smaller “fixed stream” that uses only a portion of the data pipe. Also, your camera’s specifications should state the minimum Class Rating required.

UHS Speed Class was introduced in 2009 by the SD Association and is designed for SDHC and SDXC memory cards. This, again, means that both of these cards will guarantee a minimum of 30Mb/s in the worst-case scenario. If you use a UHS memory card in a non-UHS host, it will default to the standard data bus and use the “Speed Class” rating, which in this case is Class 10, instead of the “UHS Speed Class” rating, which is U3. UHS memory cards have a full higher potential of recording real-time broadcasts, thereby capturing large-size HD videos and extremely high-quality professional HD.

Video Speed Class or “V Class” was created by the SD Association to identify cards that can handle higher video resolutions and recording features. This speed class guarantees minimum sustained performance for recording video. This means that both of these cards will guarantee a minimum sustained speed of 30Mb/s

Both of them offer the same Durability, which is “Waterproof”, “Temperature Proof”, “Shock Proof”, and “X-Ray Proof”.

Also, both cards come with a two-year subscription to SanDisk’s RescuePro Deluxe. However, I have to say that while I did download and install it, my Mac refused to run the software; it said that the software needed to be updated. Maybe it’s only me or maybe something is wrong with my Mac.

What Alternatives Are Out There?

1- Lexar Professional Class 10 UHS-II 2000X Speed

The best SD card for professional photographers.

Card Type: SDHC and/or SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 260MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Both photography and video (including 4K)

2- SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II

An even faster card than the UHS-I Pro version.

Card Type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 260MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Pros wanting to shoot swift bursts of high-res stills and video

3- Sony SF-G Tough SDXC

A super-robust new breed of memory card.

Card Type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 299MB/s | Warranty: Manufacturer’s | Suitable for: High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)

4- Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3

Great for shooting Raw files or high-resolution video.

Card Type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 64GB | Read Speed: Up to 285MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 180MB/s | Warranty: Five-year limited warranty | Suitable for: Pros shooting rapid-fire high-res Raw stills and high-quality 4K video

5- PNY Elite Performance SDXC

Top-capacity thumbnail-sized media card for all your digital memories.

Card Type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 512GB | Read Speed: Up to 95MB/s | Write Speed: Not specified | Warranty: Lifetime (limited) | Suitable for: High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)

Conclusion

With a few differences between both of these cards, it all comes down to your needs, if you are shooting mainly video, or if you shoot mainly in a studio tethered to a computer, I would personally recommend going for the cheaper option, which is the Extreme. However, if you are concerned about the transfer rate or if you depend on burst shooting, I would definitely recommend the Extreme Pro simply because it didn’t lag during the test.

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