Dang it, why isn’t there a universal tech language out there?! I mean seriously, as photographers and videographers, we already have to deal with all sorts of random vocabulary to understand our craft, why must there be even more to decipher? Now that my rant is slightly over, let me share the super secret code that may help you understand the write performance of the card you have, and the cards you’ll perhaps end up buying in the future.

First and foremost, we’re going have to understand what “x-speed” is — Companies note the maximum transfer speeds of their cards in x-speed and/or in MegaBytes per second (MB/s) on the packaging and labels of their cards. I’m sure you’ve seen some advertisements that say x650 or x1000 on the labels that are out there, and if you don’t speak that that x-rated language, you’ve probably looked at it and said, “Well, higher is probably better… but how does it compare to the ones next to it that say 35MB/s?” Yes. I’ve definitely said that, and yes, I had no idea either.

BUT- I’m pretty much a math genius and in my computations/research, I’ve found that every ‘x’ stands for 150KB/s or .15MB/s– actually I e-mailed some memory card manufacturers to find out. So, if you find a card that is x1000, multiply 1000 by .15/MB, and you’ll get the speed of 150MB/s to compare along the rest of those lovely cards hanging on the shelf.

So there you go, x=.15MB/s and if you do the light algebra and substitute that number in for ‘x’ on the card, you’ll find the solution to understanding x-speed!

Now keep in mind, having a camera that doesn’t take advantage of higher class cards coupled with high class cards won’t yield any performance boost at all until you upgrade your camera.

Note: New packaging from various companies show both x-speed and MB/s on the product packaging, but still not on the actual card.

Set of CompactFlash memory cardsA recent trip to Best Buy showed that they only carried SanDisk cards. There was a mixture of new packaging of theirs which are now displaying both x-speeds and speeds in MB/s as well as some older packages that didn’t have x-speeds! A trip next-door to Office Depot that carried a bunch of Lexar cards as well as SanDisk cards proved to show that other brands are now incorporating both x-speeds and MB/s on their new packaging, although there was a mixture of both new and old packaging on the racks. I’m glad to see two of the popular card companies are getting on the same page as old packaging phases out though. On the cards themselves, there’s only a MB/s signifier on the labels though.