Best compact flash cards
Since your lives are full of devices, and since we like to store a lot of data, the need for memory cards is fierce. We put them in our phones, tablets, laptops, but mostly, cameras. Digital cameras are basically useless without a memory card, and the one that I find to be the best suited for a camera is the compact flash card or CF card. This type is the most commonly used by photographers. Professional or otherwise.
Before getting started on technicalities, there are three things you need to always remember:
- One of the worst things that can happen when you go hunting for the perfect photo is running out of storage space. You know how it is. You take hundreds of photos until you capture the perfect one. That requires space.
- The cameras this day generate large files. At least 10MP. DSLRs can go as up as 24. And do not even get me started on the HD videos. They eat space like crazy.
- These days, memory cards are highly affordable, and the prices are still going down. The beauty of technological advancement! My point is that you should buy as much memory as you can
Types of memory cards
The beauty of technology is that it goes faster than you can catch up. There are several methods of gaining memory for your camera. However, people generally use two types.
The first one is the Secure Digital (SD) and the Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) memory card. At the moment, they the most popular type of memory card. They are compact, about the same size of a stamp, and they are highly efficient because they have a maximum capacity and excellent performance. The SDHC is a little bit more recent than the SD, and people enjoy it more, especially since the two have the same size. The difference, however, is that the SD tops out at a smaller capacity (doh!) while the SDHC goes a lot higher. As for compatibility, pretty much all digital cameras are compatible with both.
The second is the Compact Flash memory card, or the CF card, as it is otherwise called. CF cards have a much more significant capacity than SD and SDHC cards, which is why all professional photographers use them. They go very well with SLR cameras or any other device that produces large files. As for design, the CF card is a bit thicker than the other kind. The speed is also a lot better on CF cards.
Why you should invest in a Compact Flash card?
The most obvious reason is that your camera asks you to. But there are more benefits to a CF card that you probably know. If you are a professional, you probably know better, and you could teach me a thing or two. But if not, take a look at what advantages a CF card holds.
- The CF card will allow you to transfer massive amounts of data – you could say that all memory cards do that, and you are not wrong. It is just that a CF card will finish before you die. Leaving jokes aside, CF cards are the best when it comes to transferring large amounts of data at once. Why is that? Because of the transfer speed, the best compact flash cards on the market have a speed transfer of up to 167 MB/s. That is quite a lot. To get a clear picture, an SD card has a maximum transfer speed of 104 MB/s.
- Compact Flash cards are built following the ATA standards for hard drives – if you have no idea what that means, allow me to enlighten you. Basically, you will be able to replace disks in computers with a CF card and store data in FAT16 and NTFS.
- You will never run out of memory – running out of memory is a complete disaster for a photographer. That is why Compact Flash cards are to be preferred. They can store up to 256GB of image files. It will take you a while to go through all that memory.
How to choose the best Compact Flash card?
If you are in the market for a new compact flash card, you need to know how to choose the right one for you. There are many manufacturers that can provide countless CF cards, which is why the whole thing may seem confusing. All you need to do is follow a set of criteria that help you find the right product. Here is what you need to consider:
- Capacity – this is probably the first thing that interests you. Having as much memory as possible is the ideal. Lucky for you, CF cards come with a memory capacity that varies between 1GB to 256GB. Depending on your needs, you must choose the one that is suitable for you. However, keep in mind that the card’s capacity determines its price. The more memory the card has, the more expensive it gets.
- Speed – another concern is the speed of the compact flash card. You need to look both at the writing speed, as well as the reading speed. A decent compact flash card has a writing speed of about 85 MB/s, while the reading speed is about 120 MB/s. The speed is also a factor that influences the cost of the memory card.
- Compatibility – if you see a product that you like, do not forget to check it is compatible with your camera. I know that most cameras are compatible with multiple types of cards, but it would not hurt to check before you make a purchase. Save yourself some time.
- VPG – if you are a professional, you know what that means. VPG stands for Video Performance Guarantee. If you find a compact flash card that has this specification, it means that the card has gone through rigorous testing and is guaranteed to produce professional video capture streams at a minimum writing speed of 65MB/s. Basically, the quality of the photos and videos you capture is at a professional level.
As you can notice, shopping for a CF card is not as easy as shopping for a desk fan, for example. There are things that if you overlook, you may end up with something that you do not find as useful as you need. Or worse, poorly constructed.
What are the best compact flash cards?
This is a question for the ages. There are so many cards out there that it will make your head spin. However, if you follow the criteria above, you may be able to make the right choice. You can also read some compact flash cards reviews online just to see what people bought and what they have to say about it. Your last option is to choose one of the products below. They belong to different price ranges. Not everyone can afford a $200 compact flash card. Even so, they are all satisfactory. Enjoy!
SanDisk Extreme SDCFXSB 32GB Compact Flash Memory Card
You probably have gear of SanDisk before. Almost everyone buys an SD card for their phone, tablet, and so on, from them. It is the most popular brand when it comes to memory storage cards, which is why I thought you will like it. The product is excellent, and it will the job you are buying it for.
As the title suggests, this Compact Flash card has a capacity of 32 GB, but if you do not need more available memory, this model can also be found in 65GB and 128GB versions. You can take your pick. As for the speed of this flash card, the reading speed is 120 MB/s, while the writing speed is only 85 MB/s. While this is not the fastest compact flash card, it is a decent speed that is supposed to satisfy the needs of the regular user.
The SanDisk Extreme features Professional-Grade video capture. The VPG-20 ensures sustained data recording of 20 MB/S for a smooth and unbroken video stream. As for construction, SanDisk manufactured this model with durability in mind. It has been tested for stress, shock, and vibration resistance. For that purpose, the compact flash card is coated with RTV silicone. It makes it more resilient. The price is affordable. In fact, this is one of the cheapest compact flash cards you will find but still provides high-quality usage.
Lexar Professional 1066x 32GB VPG-65 Compact Flash Card
This model belongs to a different league than the previous one. Not only that it more potent, but it works at a higher speed. You can find this model in multiple capacity versions. The 32GB is the most commonly used, but you can go as low as 16 GB and as high as 256 GB. With 256 GB, you can spend all day shooting.
The Lexar compact flash card has a high-speed performance. It leverages UDMA 7 technology which means that it delivers a read transfer speed up to 1066x (160 MB/s.) This is among the highest available speeds on the market. That justifies the high price this compact flash card has. It does not come cheap, but you get everything you are paying for.
The compact flash card will help you capture high-quality images, but at the same, you will be able to capture stunning 1080p full-HD, 3D, and even 4K videos with a DSLR camera, HD camcorder, or a 3D camera. As for Video Performance Guarantee, this CF card delivers VPG-65, which is as high as it gets.
Transcend 8GB Compact Flash Memory Card
If you are a beginner, it is probably not a good idea to invest in too many expensive accessories. If you get bored, you can lose hundreds of dollars, which is why you should start small. This particular compact flash card is the perfect example of that. It is an inexpensive, not very potent CF card, but for a beginner, it is pretty good. It is perfect for an entry-level DSLR.
The Transcend CF card has an impressive transfer performance of 133x. That is about 21.5 MB/s. It is not as fast as the previous two products, but it should be enough for an amateur. After all, we are not all professional photographers. It has a built-in error correcting code that detects and corrects transfer errors. It is a very useful feature. Without it, the transfer process needs to be reset.
When you decide to buy this model, you can choose from multiple capacities. Since it is designed mostly for beginners, the maximum available capacity is 32 GB, while the minimum is 1GB. As you can imagine, this cheap, but pretty good CF card does not come with VPG compliances. Even so, it is one of the best compact flash memory cards that you will find in this price range.
Every product above represents a different category of compact flash cards. However, if I were to choose one, I think that my pick is obvious. The Lexar Professional 1066x 32GB VPG-65 Compact Flash Card has an ultra-high performance, complies with VPG standards, and it has an immense capacity. I think it is one of the best compact flash cards you can find online
As I said before, having a low-quality compact flash card is not desirable. At all. Running out of memory or having a very low-speed CF card is a real tragedy for a photographer, no matter the level of skill. That is why it is essential that you do some research on memory cards. You need to be able to make the right call and look for the best product that suits your needs. One of the CF cards above should be what you are looking for. I guarantee that whichever one you choose, you will be happy with your pick. Click here to buy on Amazon
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