Shortly after the official announcement of Nikon D4 and Nikon D800/D800E, Lexar announced the blazing fast Lexar Professional 1000x Compact Flash memory card with UDMA 7 support. When choosing memory cards, sport and wildlife photographers follow just one rule – the faster, the better. So, this card was welcomed not only by those who purchase cameras compatible with UDMA 7 standard, but also by people who shoot with older cameras.
I had the chance to shoot with Nikon D800 these days, and I made a test with memory cards with it as well as with Nikon D300. Well, some of the results were not surprising but others were. If you are interested in the methods of measuring, read this article, where I explain the details.
The memory cards I tested are Lexar Professional 1000x 16 GB CF UDMA 7 and Transcend 600x 16 GB CF UDMA 6. I have been shooting with the latter for almost 2 years and it has proved to be very fast on different cameras.
As for the tests – I don’t really remember, but it is likely that I had left Active D-Lighting on as it never occurred to me that it might affect the shooting with both cameras.
When used with Nikon D800, Lexar transferred 17 RAW files for about 24.5 seconds, while the Transcend card was able to transfer them for about 30 seconds. The difference is not small, but I personally expected a somewhat larger difference of about 1/3 – say 20 seconds or less. The huge buffer of Nikon D800 combined with low fps affect the shooting and thus memory cards over 600x are no longer crucial for the rapid transfer of frames.
The big surprise came with the Nikon D300 body, which supports UDMA 6 standard and has a smaller buffer and more fps. During the test, I used a genuine Nikon grip as to achieve 8 fps with the powerful battery of Nikon D3s. Although D300 does not support UDMA 7 standard, this doesn’t prevent it from superb performance with the Lexar card. When pressing the shutter button, the camera shot 28 files (12 bit mode of course) for 20 seconds without interruption, while with the Transcend card the device stopped at the 20th frame after performing for exactly the same time of 20 seconds – a difference of 8 files!
This test clearly demonstrates that the new fast cards with higher UDMA class may be useful for older cameras. Just to make sure – you should always test the cards with your own camera and then take a decision what to buy.
Once I did the test, I decided to look at the data of the review of D300 in dpreview and in the last table I saw that they have achieved 17 frames with the slower SanDisk Extreme IV 2 GB CF card. With my 600x card I had 3 more frames, while the new Lexar card broke the charts with 28 files before the buffer stopped for a moment.
I would recommend Lexar Professional 1000x 16 GB CF UDMA7 card for both cameras (Nikon D800, Nikon D300), if you are able to afford it. Using this ultra fast card is less crucial with Nikon D800, while with cameras with more fps and smaller buffer, it is of greater importance.
The current prices of both cards in BHPhoto to the date of the test (17.05.2012) are:
Lexar Professional 1000x 16th GB CF UDMA 7-139 USD.
Transcend 600x 16 GB CF UDMA 6-59 USD.