I’ve been testing the Lexar 16GB Professional Series UDMA Compact Flash 300x Card UDMA (stands for Ultra Direct Memory Access) in my Nikon D3 for part of a larger digital media shootout piece I am working on.
The card retails at just under $240, but Amazon has it at around $200.
In these days where CF cards are a mere commodity that seems like a lot of money. Well back in the OLD days, it would have been a bargain. I can’t bring myself to tell you what I paid for an old 1GB IBM Microdrive.
This particular card is one of the the very fastest Compact Flash cards currently available. It’s rated at 300x, or 45MB/s. For comparison sake, that’s a data transfer rate that’s 300 times faster than a CD player.
(Please stay tuned for more on how this particular card stands up to its claims. Most UDMA card makers provide speed ratings that are only achievable in a lab. We’ll do real-world tests later and get those results back to you here.)
The UDMA cards are all about speed. Whether you should buy a UDMA card boils down to four things.
a. Do you have a UDMA reader? If you want to enable the faster card to computer transfers available with UDMA cards, you need a UDMA reader.
b. Do you have a UDMA-enabled camera? To my knowledge, (looking at current camera models as opposed to those no longer carried as NEW in dealer inventories) only the Nikon D3, Nikon D300, the Canon 5D MK II, the Canon 1DS Mark III and the Olympus E3 are true UDMA cameras. But I haven’t done extensive research on this. If you know of other UDMA cameras, please list them (and links that support your claims) in the comments section.
c. Do you shoot RAW? Many of the advantages of UDMA are lost if you only shoot JPEG.
d. Is speed important to you and are you willing to pay for it? Not everyone cares about data transfer rates. And not everyone can afford the premium of UDMA.
My initial tests with this particular card are very impressive. You get images through the buffer faster which means fewer lost shots. It takes just over half the time it used to take me to transfer data to my Mac when I use a UDMA card with this speed rating,
One quick thing to consider. Some older cameras, such as the Canon 40D, may actually get slower results using UDMA cards. Make sure to do some research before you go down the UDMA road. For those like me who crave performance, it’s a blast.
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