No matter how fast your camera is, the speed of your compact flash card can create a bottle-neck with every click of the shutter. Frankly, a slow compact flash card can cause lost shots and video with dropped frames/audio gaps as your camera struggles to keep up. Rob Galbraith DPI was the first to conduct real world testing of compactflash cards and sd cards to show how these cards impact your camera’s performance. Unfortunately, he has not updated his database since 2008, so newer cards are not included. But, the message is still clear … your camera is only as fast as its compact flash card.
Personally, I have always relied on SanDisk cards. With every new Canon camera, I always purchased the fasted cards SanDisk offered. I bought into their hype of reliability and quality since my first digital SLR, the Canon 20D. Now that I am using the Canon 7D, I have to say, that even these SanDisk cards can fail. I documented this failure where I almost lost both photos and video due to a card failure.
I started thinking about purchasing a faster card when I saw a YouTube video by bodnara2009 called Transcend UDMA CF Memory Test. It shows a test using the Canon 7D in high-speed continuous shooting mode using several compact flash cards (100x generic, Transcend 300x 8GB card, Transcend 400x 8GB card and Transcend 600x 8GB card). To my surprise, the Canon 7D with the Transcend 600x compact flash card just keeps shooting continuously for over 430 photos (Large JPG format) before maxing the camera’s buffer. Even then, the 7D’s red light stays lite for only a few seconds before the buffer is cleared and the 7D is ready to start again. Pretty amazing!
I have been using the Transcend 600x 16GB Compact Flash cards since December 2010. They are really that fast! In fact, I filled up three cards during the American Photo Model Shoot last weekend. And, I have never had a problem with these cards (that includes shooting both photos and HD-Video).
But, the best thing about the Transcend cards is their price. The Transcend 600x cards are about half the price of the Sandisk Extreme Pro Compact Flash Card. (Both lines are rated with read/write speeds of 90MB/s.) For example, the Sandisk Extreme Pro 16GB card is $150 while the Transcend 600x 16GB card is only $76. I asked the Marketing Director for Sandisk about the difference in price at PhotoPlus Expo back in October 2010 and he just repeated the company line about quality and reliability. He also said that the market was stable and did not see a price reduction in the near future.
So, stop waiting for that sale on Sandisk and take a look at the Transcend 600x Compact Flash Cards. They also happen to be the bestselling cards in their class at B&H.