Photographers use memory cards unless they shoot film. So when a new card comes out I pay attention. I’ve tested a wide variety of these cards over the last decade and here are my general conclusions
1. Most of the cards perform similarly.
2. All are subject to failure eventually.
3. As long as you are using a well-known brand card (like one from Lexar) you are probably as safe as you can be.
4. Abusing cards can lead to their failure but not always.
5. Most cards offer similar speed, performance and reliability.
That all said, two things do constantly change and that’s the size and speed of these cards. Lexar recently released their 1000x CF card which uses UDMA7 technology to offer claimed speeds of 150MB/s. Alongside that release, Lexar also released the Lexar Professional 600x SDHC card which promises 90MB per second read transfer speeds.
Both these products are top-of-the-line cards offering some of the fastest speeds I’ve seen here in the Photofocus testing labs. While all my tests are real-world, i.e., I don’t have a bunch of fancy scientific benchmark equipment, there’s sufficient anecdotal evidence to say I think the Lexar claims are believable.
The CF cards come in sizes ranging from 16 to 128GB. The SD cards come in sizes ranging from 16 to 64GB. The cards I tested were 32GB.
There is some fine print you should know about. The speeds are guaranteed when using the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader which offers up to 500MB/s transfer speeds. Not all computers have or support USB 3.0. Additionally, not all cameras are equipped to take advantage of UDMA7 (CF) or UHS-I (SD) so check with your camera manufacturer to make sure that your camera works at these speeds. In some cases, the cards will work fine, but not offer the promised speed improvements. In more critical cases, such as SDXC (which Lexar also offers in this line but which I did not test) there are many cameras that do NOT support SDXC and use of an SDXC card in a non-supported device may result in data loss. ALWAYS test a new card in your own camera before using it for anything critical.
I tested both the SD and the CF cards for several hours, running LOTS of video to and from both. These cards are designed for fast video transfer rates and those of you shooting video on your DSLR will be very impressed with the high transfer speeds. Everything worked as advertised and while I can’t vouch for these particular cards’ reliability since they are so new, I can say that no Lexar card has ever failed me.
The cards come with a limited lifetime warranty and Lexar offers free tech support. For more information visit Lexar.com.