Are flash cards "designed" for cameras worth it?
January 31, 2004 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Has anybody ever tried the flash cards that are "designed" for cameras? They claim to have faster write speeds. I can't help thinking the bus would be a bigger bottleneck than the speed of the card, but I keep seeing them and can't tell if it's just marketing hype or if the extra spend is worth it.
posted by willnot to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
In my experience, no big difference between the expensive "fast" card and the one that came with the camera, in practice. In a lab, perhaps. In measured trials with my camera, maybe. But a noticeable different that's worth the money? Nope. Split the difference and buy yourself an extra battery or something.
posted by scarabic at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2004

Sounds like snake oil to me. While the limiting factor is flash speed, not the CF bus, you're not going to buy a product in the consumer range that makes any noticable difference.
posted by majick at 4:01 PM on January 31, 2004

I beg to differ - at least partly. I haven't tested write speeds, as I find it varies depending on the complexity of the image I'm taking. However, I have noticed a small difference in download time and a huge improvement in time to erase the images from a 256 MB Lexar CF card (5-10 seconds) as compared to a 128 MB SanDisk CF card (30 seconds). I don't know if the Lexar is optimized for digicams, though - it just seems like the better card.
posted by dpkm at 4:37 PM on January 31, 2004

dpkm reminds me to qualify my former statement: I was talking only about taking pictures, not dl times or formatting. I actually have never thought to gauge those.
posted by scarabic at 6:15 PM on January 31, 2004

It depends a lot on the camera. Most consumer cameras don't support the increased write speeds (for example, Lexar's Write-Acceleration format), but this varies tremendously from model to model. For DSLR's, there are benchmarks available at

There are a few benchmarks for different consumer cameras (examples: Nikon Coolpix 990, Nikon Coolpix 995), but since consumer cameras go through models so quickly, I don't know of any site that specifically tracks write speeds for different brands of media for each camera model.

The bottom line is that the more expensive cards won't hurt, since these cards also tend to be more reliable (supposedly). Whether you'll actually be seeing any noticable speed difference though (either faster or slower) is a complete crapshoot if you're using a consumer digicam. The exception is that if you're using one of the DSLR's listed on Rob Galbraith's site--his benchmark results are as reputable of a CF card database as I know of.

There's some info there on card readers on the Rob Galbraith site as well, but only a few models are listed. In general, you're not going to notice much of a difference card transfer speeds if you're using a card reader that's USB 1.1 or slower. However, the faster cards do transfer appreciably faster when using USB 2.0 or Firewire readers. This also applies to the type of cable you use with your camera if you're using your camera as a card reader. AFAIK most cameras are still using USB 1.1, but many newer models use USB 2.0.
posted by DaShiv at 10:46 PM on January 31, 2004

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