CF card makes any difference?


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Dec 16, 2007
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Does card speed have any effect on shooting speed? As far as i understand it all goes into the camera buffer.

Im thinking of getting Extrem III instead of IV for bigger size. III is still pretty fast but i can go upto 16GB and forget about any more cards.
Hi There. I am no expert, but I believe that even though the data is run through the camera buffer, you still need to empty the buffer, which is where the speed of the card comes in. If you shoot single frame shots then the speed isn't as important as if you were trying to take multiple shots as fast as the camera can.

As far as the card size, I would be concerned about having all my eggs in one basket. If that card fails and it is full, that is a lot of images to loose.

Just my two cents.

My understanding is that only extremely slow cards will slow you down while shooting... but that extremely fast cards unload much faster once back at home. If you've ever waited 15 minutes for 80-90 shots to come off your CF card, you know how valuable that time could be :)
Some of the newest high end cameras can utilize the faster cards to empty the buffer faster. Also, several smaller cards as safer in my opinion than 1 or 2 big cards. This has been discussed at length before. You might want to search the threads to see more opinions on this.
If you want to shoot your camera like a machine gun...then a faster card would be an advantage. If not, then I wouldn't pay a lot more for the 'fastest' card.

As mentioned, off load speed will probably be faster, and that may or may not be an issue for you.

Also, I have noticed that with slower cards, it takes longer to bring up images when reviewing them on the LCD...again, this may or may not be an issue for you.

Extreme III cards are pretty fast in their own right.
I use 1 and 2gb cards. With the image sizes going bigger I might try a 4gb some day, but I agree with the others. All the photos on one card and depending on one expensive card, instead of multiple, less expensive cards, I like the idea of more cards.

I can set the card to download to the computer and go back to shooting, while it is saving. I have a stand alone CD writer that reads from cards, for backup. Same thing, and a CD only holds 702mb, so there's a limit. Nice part is I can just back up the whole card if I don't fill them past 3/4s.

Some people may think there's nothing more interesting than watching a card transfer for 15-30 minutes. (my laptop is older with USB 1 ports, so that's my fault) I have better things to do. :lol:
If you are going to be using 16Gb cards (not a good idea anyway) speed can't be that important in the first place.

What camera and what size files are you working with?

I've got 10 2Gb. cards and they handle a full days shooting for 2 cameras, no matter what, and I shot RAW.

That 16Gb. card really spooks me.
Thanks for sharing thoughts guys! How often do CF cards fail and cannot be recovered?
Thanks for sharing thoughts guys! How often do CF cards fail and cannot be recovered?
Seems to be few and far between...never happened to me...[knock on wood]
CF Cards don't fail too often, and if they do many companies (especially Sandisk) have software to recover the data. I think the scare of failing cards comes from the days when microdrives were all the rage...these things failed all the time because they were basically a super tiny HDD, they had moving parts.
This is kind of on-topic I think, anyways, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last week, apparently some 48gb CF cards were unveiled at 40mb/sec buffer speed. That's pretty fast. But who needs that much space? Seriously.

I'm thinking of picking up a SanDisk Extreme IV 8gb card, but that's really the biggest card I'd ever get.
16GB cards are slow period...

get 2 or 4gb cards instead.


I just looked at the Sandisk 16GB Extreme III and the Sandisk 8GB Extreme III and the 4GB and 2GB that you recommended and guess what... they are all spec'd at 20MB/second sequential read and write. So when you wrote "16GB cards are slow period..." What exactly did you mean? Period.
I did have a couple of cards fail on me but it was a batch problem that was fixed. Still though if I'm shooting something important like a wedding I'll use 3 cards in rotation; card 1 take a few shots, rotate to card 2 for a few more shots, then card 3 and back to 1 etc. And I'll do this all day with the idea that if anything happens to any one card then no large block of the days work will be completely lost.
I'm using 3 x 4GB cards and I have a couple of 1 GBs and a 2GB from before.
With the newer cameras saving increasingly larger files all the time I can see the need to upgrade to 8GB or 16Gb cards coming soon enough.

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