Image from Panasonic.com
New cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and the Fuji X-T1 are capable of utilizing the latest SD cards with U-3 specifications. Personally, I’m not really that interested in the specifics, but these new cards are really really fast. Fast means that the picture gets from the camera to the card quickly, and from the card to the computer quickly. Both of these times are important for speeding up our workflow.
I think most of the SD cards I’ve seen for sale, even at non camera stores, have been Class 10 (see the “10” inside the capital C on the card below). That’s really a minimum for cameras shooting any kind of video. I’ve been using Class 10 SD cards for a while, but I’ve been using one of these U-3 cards for the past few days and I’m amazed at how much more quickly it moves things along. The little light on the camera no longer turns on saying it’s writing, and the image plays back immediately. The images come to the computer more swiftly, as well. These means I can start to edit my images that much faster.
If you’re planning to shoot 4K video, these cards allow the huge files to dump to the card. If this process isn’t fast enough, your video will show skipping or jumping sections that ruin the clip. These U-3 cards are the minimum for shooting 4K video.
There are not a lot of options for these cards, yet, but they will be the new standard. In the meantime, lesser cards should drop in price significantly. By the Holidays, the fastest cards right now should be downright affordable. A fast card makes every aspect of your workflow faster, and with so many things out there to spend my time one the last place I want to spend it is moving files slowly. Start keeping an eye on price and get the fastest cards you can afford; if 4K video is in your future, then so are these U-3 cards.