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A Memory Card Torture Test 309

An anonymous reader writes "Would you buy a Ferrari and put regular gas into it? I don't think so. So why are most of us buying expensive digital cameras and using cheap memory cards? If you want to find out how much better a high speed memory card is, check out this group test of high capacity compact flash and SD cards."
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A Memory Card Torture Test

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  • Interesting. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JPamplin ( 804322 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @09:37AM (#15762717) Homepage
    You'd think cards developed to the same spec would have equal performance. Is that really not the case with SD or others? Interesting article.
    • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shanep ( 68243 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:08AM (#15762792) Homepage
      You'd think cards developed to the same spec would have equal performance. Is that really not the case with SD or others? Interesting article.

      I don't know about SD cards, but CF cards are compatible as IDE devices, which itself has various specs with varying performance. Various PIO and DMA modes, etc. This would be like comparing hard drives and then saying, "You'd think drives developed to the same spec would have equal performance".

      Some cards are built using high density, low speed, low durability CF, while others go for lower density, high speed, high durability CF and multiples of them in one card. Some newer fast cards employ DMA modes over PIO. Also don't forget, the spec itself is not always the bottleneck, so individual models can vary in performance up to the limit of the particular spec used.
    • Re:Interesting. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Like the spec that says a car has four wheels and steering wheel, yet the performance of a Ferrari is markedly different than that of a Geo?

      Most of the specs define physical and electrical characteristics, the speed and performance is somewhat abstracted, the device will tell you when it's done, or when it want more data, and can do so in it's own sweet time.

      You pay for performance. The higher performing silicon is available in smaller quantities, and commands a premium. Either because the die operates at t
      • Re:Interesting. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Shanep ( 68243 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:23AM (#15762831) Homepage
        Most of the specs define physical and electrical characteristics, the speed and performance is somewhat abstracted, the device will tell you when it's done, or when it want more data, and can do so in it's own sweet time.

        Interface specs usually do define signal rates and word size (for parrallel). So specs usually do define a top speed. Certainly in the case of CF.

        (Of course serial interfaces also define word sizes and sometimes allow for various sizes, however that typically does not change the bits/second rate by much, if at all, depending on the spec.)
      • Re:Interesting. (Score:3, Informative)

        by madcow_ucsb ( 222054 )
        Exactly. And people would be wise to remember that. Take the whole USB vs 1394 arguments that come up from time to time. Some people insist that since high speed USB 2.0 runs at 480Mbps versus Firewire's 400Mbps, USB is *obviously* faster. Nevermind the fact that 480/400 are signalling rates that have absolutely nothing to do with throughput. Speaking as a USB developer, the spec just says that when a host or device sends a 512 byte USB packet, it goes down the wire at a speedy 480Mbps.

        But the spec doe
    • Re:Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Saturday July 22, 2006 @11:11AM (#15762951) Homepage
      Some specs allow for variation in performance. For example, if the raw performance of the memory cells is expected to increase significantly, the spec will be designed to allow for the highest speed expected to ever be achieved (or the highest speed economically feasible), but to allow devices to negotiate a slower speed by doing things such as inserting delays. i.e. the spec defines compatibility and not performance, AS LONG as performance can be negotiated to be the lowest common denominator of two devices.

      I have heard stories of some of the highest speed cards breaking in older readers, perhaps the autonegotiation was designed with the assumption that cards would always be slower than a reader's capabilities, or those readers aren't fully meeting the specification and no one noticed.
      • Re:Interesting. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        I have heard stories of some of the highest speed cards breaking in older readers, perhaps the autonegotiation was designed with the assumption that cards would always be slower than a reader's capabilities, or those readers aren't fully meeting the specification and no one noticed.

        Most early USB 2.0 (not USB 1.1) readers just plain don't work. Even using the words "high speed" with those readers makes me laugh. They fail at USB/1.1 speeds.

        The most common early USB 2.0 flash reader chipset (commonly

  • The Rob Galbraith DPI website has a huge database [] of performance with various cards and various cameras. I use this as a benchmark for deciding when I need a new CF card vs. the Camera I have, and the family of camera I'd love to upgrade too one day.
  • You can't put regular gas in a Ferrari?

    What's the difference between regular gas and this special stuff? Does that mean when you buy a Ferrari you spend half you life looking for Ferrari-approved filling stations?

    (These are serious questions ...)


    • by Anonymous Coward
      "You can't put regular gas in a Ferrari?" No, most high end cars require preimium gas.

      "What's the difference between regular gas and this special stuff?" Premium gas has a higher octane number which prevents pre-detonation, aka "knock", which allows high performance engines to operate at higher compression ratios.

      " Does that mean when you buy a Ferrari you spend half you life looking for Ferrari-approved filling stations?" No, most every gas station I have been to in my life sells "regular", "silver", and "
      • That's a good, simple, clear, and concise explanation. But it leaves a couple of important questions unanswered. How is a fancy camera like a high-performance car? And how is brand-name memory like high-octane gas? Comparing a digital camera to a Ferrari is bullshit.
    • I think they meant, would you put regular (85 or 87 octane) gas into your Ferrari, instead of ponying up the extra 20 cents a gallon for premium (91 or 93 octane).

      Higher octane gas resists burning better. In a high compression engine (or a turbo/supercharged engine), the extra pressure can make gas detonate instead of burn. That detonation is bad for the engine. Lower performance engines don't put as much stress on the gasoline, so they can burn lower-octane gasoline. Putting high-octane gas in your low
      • Many high-end engines require the highest octane gas, so you'd likely have to pay for the more expensive gas anway.
      • Just to expand a bit...

        Actually relating to the ferrari question, if Ferrari tells you to put regular gas and a cup of water into the gast tank, you put regular gas and a cup of water in the gas tank! THEY designed the engine. Back in the 50's engines were so inefficent that it didn't make much of a difference, but with all the sensors, and gizmos on modern engines to get a better burn you need to put the correct octane in your car.

        Some engines produce less power if you put a higher octane than the car is
    • well, don't you know that one is supposed to always use bad car analogies in anything related to computers ? More to the point, if you, like many of us can only afford, have a Ferrari that is more than 15 years old (say a Mondial) , it is better to use cheap oil (with characteristics appropriate to the car) than modern, expensive, synthetic oil, which is too fluid.
    • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @11:23AM (#15762993)

      You can't put regular gas in a Ferrari? What's the difference between regular gas and this special stuff? Does that mean when you buy a Ferrari you spend half you life looking for Ferrari-approved filling stations?

      Someone (with a lot of money) bought one of Schumacher's old F1 cars and yes, it was contractually required that the car only be run on a specific brand of fuel.

      The article summary is pretty oblivious though- you run the octane your car requires, 95% of the time. Gasolene companies love to make you think that filling up your low-compression engine (that requires 89) with 94 octane will make it faster, or "clean" it more. All grades of gas from the same brand have the same level of detergents, generally...furthermore, each kind of detergent is good at removing certain deposits but leaves others, so you're actually best off rotating which brand you fill up with. If you're obsessed about it, just pop in a bottle of Techron cleaner one tank before your next oil-change; it's the stuff BMW, Audi, and others recommend, though they'll charge you a lot more for Techron in a BMW or Audi bottle.) Also, most gas is delivered from port by a distributor that slosh-mixes in a bottle of stuff that "makes" the gas Exxon, Shell, Hess, BP, whatever. When a supertanker crosses the ocean, it doesn't have a "Shell" crude compartment and a "Exxon" crude compartment, etc. It's all the same stuff, a commodity...even though Shell likes to run commercials saying their gas meets manufacturer standards blah blah blah. EVERYONE's gas does, because EVERYONE's gas comes from the same damn crude, gets refined at the same places, and distributed by the same companies.

      This is similar kind of "inadequacy" based BS. High end digital cameras have large buffers in part because flash memory is so effing slow; a Nikon D70 has enough buffer for something like 40 full resolution JPEG shots! Running a slow memory card in them won't harm them, damage them, etc etc. There are other factors to consider as well- my canon 10D has a 9 shot buffer for RAW shots, and some sort of in-between buffer for writing them to the card. I used to hit the end of the buffer all the time, because I never noticed that it wouldn't process the buffer while the shutter was held half-down in the focus position. Talk about a design flaw- but knowing that, I kept my finger off the shutter button whenever possible if the buffer had anything in it (displayed in the viewfinder) and the problem disappeared.

      As someone who has shot with a semi-pro dSLR for more than two years, I can summarize that article in one sentence: "if you need to shoot images as fast as possible and have a camera with a limited buffer, buy the fastest card within reason, only if Rob Galbraith's tests show it'll make a substantial difference. Otherwise, buy a reasonably heard-of brand with a decent warranty in case it stops working." Why? Because just like with the gas, under the label you'll often find exactly the same thing- and only a very small number of people actually NEED the extra speed of a card that costs 50%+ more.

      Oh, last piece of advice: don't buy huge memory cards. Three reasons: 1)you pay more per MB, usually. 2)You put all your eggs in one basket- if you drop a card and step on it, accidentally hit "erase all", or loose it... you get the idea. 3)"Photo tanks" with laptop hard drives offer MUCH cheaper $/GB storage. You could shoot 2,3,4,5GB/day in RAWs on a big vacation and still not fill the smallest of these widgets after a week. Buying one without a drive and putting in the old laptop drive you've got hanging around from an upgrade (provided it's not too power-hungry) is the way to go, as even 30-40GB is a BOATLOAD of space for digital photos.

      Oh, and should you be on a trip- bring a few DVD-Rs, and burn the files to one or two if you really want to have the photos. Laptops get stolen/dropped/lost/seized/whatevered, and you can be absent minded / mistake-prone about transferring photos after a week of fun in the sun (aka rm -rf * type mistakes). Put one set in your suitcase, another set in your SO's/friend's/etc.

  • 20 pages of spam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    this is nothing more than spam, 20 pages of fluff (with 5+ adverts per page) in order to sell a few memory cards on a website called "trusted reviews", yeah right

    no wonder digg is getting popular

  • 19 Pages? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @09:54AM (#15762753)
    19 Pages? Ay Caramba!

    Hint: skip to page 18 for the conclusions.

    You don't get any more professional than padding your 3 page article to 19 pages with lines like this (from the conclusion):

    You could say we tested a number of things.

    Yeah, you could say that. One of those things was my patience.
    • Yeah, and there's the whole "using a stopwatch to time transfers from the computer to the card" thing..
    • by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:16AM (#15762813)
      You know, it's interesting, going down this list [] of "trusted reviews." Most are submitted by "an anonymous reader" and none of the reviews are very professional--and they take up page after page in order to increase ad impressions. It's ridiculous! I don't usually take time out to criticize the editors, because it's generally off-topic and for the most part they do a decent job, but let's stop falling for anonymous submitters looking to increase ad impressions, okay? Start by rejecting stories from this so-called "trusted" reviews site.
    • I thought the sheer number of pages was the "torture test".

      Strangely enough, I read 1/19 of TFA.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @09:56AM (#15762757)
    When I bought my camera 6 months ago, I searched and searched, and found there was simply no way to know what performance to expect from a given card / camera combination. Labelings like "32x" apparently don't mean a whole lot, the same card doesn't work equally well in all cameras, packaging and labeling are not changed when the card is re-engineered, and there are so many different cards available that no benchmark table is even nearly complete - often there's no overlap at all between the cards used in a benchmark and the cards available from a chosen vendor.
  • by AmIAnAi ( 975049 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @09:57AM (#15762759)
    I'm still waiting for the first review that says a particular card gives warmer colors or cleaner pictures.
    • Only if you purchase my special green marker for $19.99 and write a green line around the edges to prevent electron scattering. Those stray electrons can really show up in photos and you wouldn't want that. You also get higher definition too. Yeah, that's it!

    • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @11:25AM (#15763001)
      I'm still waiting for the first review that says a particular card gives warmer colors or cleaner pictures.

      That's actually determined more by the USB cable you use. Thinner cables are gonna give you better color rendering. Of course if you work in black and white, it doesn't matter. Go ahead and use the cheap stuff. But with color, you don't want multipath blurring your color signals together. And this gets even more important as you shoot multiple frames per second.

      And the same thing goes with your storage media. If you work in high resolution color, you need a RAID. That way, you can spread the put the color streams on different physical media to prevent color-bleed. This is even more critical with digital photography, just a one-bit bleed from one pixel to another can ruin a great photo.

      So, by all means, get a cheap card if you are going analog black-and-white. But you get what you pay for if you are shooting high-res digital color.

    • Is Monster Cable making flash cards now?
  • When I buy a Ferrari I usually sell it straight away. Then proceed to buy the latest monster setup from Alienware, take a journey around the world, put half of what is left on a high-interest bank account, and donate the other half to Médecins Sans Frontières or the Red Cross.
    So there you have it! :p Straight on topic hehe...
  • by KokorHekkus ( 986906 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:02AM (#15762773)
    More of a high end performance test.

    There was one proper torture test done by the UK Digital Camera Shopper magazine where they dipped in cola, run through a washing machine, dunked in coffee, trampled and then for sport hit with a sledgehammer and then nailed to a tree. They didn't survive the last two tests though...

    Wonderfully resilient stuff I'd say.

    Couldn't find the article freely availabe on the mag, just a ref at BBC news: []
  • check your speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:02AM (#15762774) Homepage Journal
    What blows my mind in this issue is not the memory cards, but the cameras themselves. A friend of mine just bought a new Canon camera. Sorry I don't recall the model, but it was the newest 8 megapixel SLR they had. Nice camera, he paid a lot for it too. It takes full motion movies. He took my advice and got a 1gb card for it. So we take a few movies and some pictures and plug the camera into their new iMac. And wait. and wait. and wait some more. My god, why is this going so slow? It's been 10 minutes and it's not even 10% done!

    The computer shows the camera is hanging off the USB FS (full speed, 12mbps) bus. Why? Is there a problem with the computer? Get out the manual for the camera. Oh.. my.. god... the camera is USB full speed, not high speed. (this is a difference between 12 mbps and 480 mbps for USB cable download speed!) I had to look in several places to confirm the horror. What were they thinking? This camera takes 200mb movies. That takes HOURS at that speed to download.

    So we shuttle back down to the camera store and bought him a nice firewire card reader. Back home, we dump then entire card in 10 minutes, movies and pictures included.

    This is inconvenient but gets the job done. There is simply no excuse to pay thousands for a camera that takes movies, and have the manufacturers shave a little off the price of manufacturing by substituting a slow USB chip in the camera. And that's all it is, one teeny little chip they just picked the slow one over the fast one. (they are functionally interchangeable, there is no need to redesign the camera) At the bulk they buy chips that can't have saved them more than a dollar per unit.

    I have owned two Canon cameras myself and then there is this one. They have performed very well in all cases as excellent digital cameras. But incidents like this make me seriously consider changing brands. If that would have been my camera purchase, it would have gone right back to the store where it came from. Go to store, go directly to store, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
    • I have a Cannon digital camera too. Takes great pics, but the USB interface died altogether after about a year. Had to buy a CF card adapter for my PC and load the pics that way.
    • Re:check your speed (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cheile ( 724052 )
      You're probably talking about the S3 or S2 as no SLR will do movies as the mirror would have to bounce up and down 24 times a second.

      Regardless of which one your friend has it seems to be that the Mac is not correctly identifying it as both the S2 and S3 are USB 2.0 capable. (As are the actual SLR cameras that Canon has).


      • Re:check your speed (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Full Speed USB is 12 Mbps and still technically USB 2.0. So just because something says USB 2.0 it doesn't mean it's capable of doing more than 12Mbps
    • This is finally starting to change.

      The relatively new Canon SLR XT [] has a USB 2.0 High Speed interface.
    • Re:check your speed (Score:4, Informative)

      by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Saturday July 22, 2006 @11:17AM (#15762971) Homepage Journal

      the newest 8 megapixel SLR they had... It takes full motion movies.

      Stop right there... none of Canon's SLRs can take movies. The burst shooting mode has been used to make sort of stop-motion movies, but that's not full motion by any stretch of the imagination. Also, all of Canon's current SLR line has hi-speed USB.

      So what camera are you talking about, anyway, since it's obviously not a Canon dSLR?

      • Re:check your speed (Score:3, Informative)

        by jedrek ( 79264 )
        I know the Canon line-up pretty well, they have three 8mpx DSLRs - 350D (Rebel XT); 20D (discontinued); 30D - and all of them have USB 2.0, none of them does more than 5fps. The last camera I can think of that might not have had USB 2.0 was the 1Ds or 1Ds MkII - it had firewire instead.
  • Simple answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:03AM (#15762782)
    "So why are most of us buying expensive digital cameras and using cheap memory cards?"

    Because if your camera can write 1MB/s, it doesn't matter if your memory card has theoretical write speed of 1MB/s, 2MB/s, 4MB/s or 10MB/s. You will get 1MB/s of write performance in any case.

    It's interesting that they tested memory cards with Canon EOS 1D Mark II camera that costs $3500. I wonder how the results would look if they would've used $350 camera instead.
  • Meh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Unknown Poltroon ( 31628 ) * <> on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:08AM (#15762793)
    I was interested in checking out this review, then i saw i would have to page through 20 pages of, well, pages, to make sure i hit their quoat of ads. No thanks, ill read up on fast memory at somone elses site.

    Yes, i am aware that half the pages on the internet are like this, and i am also aware that the website owners need to make money. I dont care.
    • You must have missed the well-labeled drop-down menu that lets you jump directly to whatever page you want. :-P I checked out the intro, the SD roundup, and the conclusions with no intermediate pages. Done!
  • I, personally, buy a camera with the goal of taking good-quality pictures. I buy a memory card with the goal of storing a lot of stuff. I will admit that transfer speed is on the priority list . . . it's just not very high on the priority list. So this isn't anything like "buying a Ferrari and putting normal gas in it". This is more like "buying a Ferrari and eating a McDonald's burger in it". It doesn't have much effect on what you bought the item primarily for.

    (I mean, unless you get secret sauce on the s
    • If you have an SLR and are taking pictures of moving objects, like planes or cars, you're going to be using the multiple capute modes to be taking 5-10 pictures with every button press, and snapping that button like mad as the object flys by.

      If you're memory card can't keep up with the camera writing the data, you won't be able to take very many rapid-fire pictures before the buffer fills up. You could miss the best shot because of that.

  • Not a good analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @10:16AM (#15762812) Homepage
    I have an expensive ($800) Digital Rebel XT 8MP camera. It doen't matter how slow of a card I put in it, it works great. It has it's own high speed cache to store like 8 pictures or so depending on settings, and write to the card seconds later. I can easily take a few shots a second, but, it's rare I need to shoot that. While some high end cameras have the write to card weakness, it's certainly not universal among the Ferrari Cameras. Those of you driving around in old yugos might need every bit of speed increase that you can get, you're better off getting a better camera though IMHO.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know convenience is the only thing I should worry about but my camera's memory has beautiful saturation, 25 million pixels and proven image stability of over one hundred years; all in a package no bigger than a cassette of Kodachrome. Oh, wait...
    • That's 36 shots in that package, and they cost at least $0.50 each when everything's included. When I was recently on Safari I took over 5000 shots in a week - with your materials that would have cost $2500 and filled up a pretty decent sized case. As it was it cost nothing (I already had the cards) and everything fitted on my laptop. Sure it's partly a matter of convenience but if I were using film I simply couldn't have taken the shots I did - film was expensive out there and in short supply, and luggage
  • So the review is 19 pages long mixes different incompatible formats.
    And doesn't even review the fastest cards on the market. I think they're Sandisk Extreme III, but who knows I haven't seen a review.

    I didn't think memory card speed mattered much, but then after playing with a high speed card on my camera it's quite nice to take pictures as fast as I can press the shutter for as long as I want.

    Once you get used to taking photos of kids at a few fps, going back to a slower camera and card is quite painful.
  • Aaargh..19 small pages, each framed with 3 giant ads..I can't see! I can't read! the noise, the agony! Sorry, had to click away. So, what was the spammers conclusion about memory cards? How many ads can it hold?
    • Apparently his conclusion is he can't run a benchmark.

      I didn't read the setup slide [honestly because I skipped to the conclusion] but he probably was testing in windows, with a stop watch and without a ram drive [on a USB 1.0 port...]

      Conclusion, don't expect mad speed from SD or CF specially on cards which are max size [where RAID'ing isn't possible].

  • Hey, how about this editors...

    I'll pay for a slashdot account once you

    1. Stop allowing "anonymous" people to post to ad ridden review sites

    2. Stop posting stories about ad ridden review sites that split the story to 30 pages

    3. Stop even thinking about talking about ad ridden review sites

    4. Mirror the occasional real story so we can actually read it the same day the story is posted.

    It's called "not selling out". If I give you money I want something of value in return. If I wanted a barrage of retarded stories I'd head to Fark. At least they don't pretend to be a "news" website.

  • They used USB2 readers. USB2 is 480Mbps - theoritical - or about 60MB/sec. Some of these cards are have more than 50MB/sec read/write, so it seems very likely the testing is being compromised by the actual USB2 speeds. There may be a much larger difference amongst cards than they found.

    The other limitation I noticed is that they timed based on when the windows "copy" dialog appears and dissappears. But whats to say it won't continue writing for a while after that (from cache?)

  • It doesn't matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Even at 5 frames per second my Canon EOS 20D SLR cannot write faster than my memory card can accept even though I'm using a plain "slow" CompactFlash. There is no reason to buy "high speed" cards unless you have a lot of extra money making your wallet heavy. And, just to clarify, yes I would put regular in a Ferrari. Unless you have a high-compression ratio in your motor, regular gas will perform *exactly* as well as premium. It always amazes me how much the marketplace relies on ignorance for profit.
    • Re:It doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AaronW ( 33736 )
      I can easily exceed the rate of whatever memory I put in my Nikon D70s when I shoot pictures back to back. Then again, I often shoot in raw mode to allow me to perform better post processing of the images. Each image is 5-6MB in size, so at 3 pictures per second the flash will not keep up. The faster flash definitely makes a difference if I am shooting a lot of pictures, since the raw buffer is only 4 pictures.

      Granted, the higher end cameras have larger buffers which helps mitigate the problem, but faste
  • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @12:01PM (#15763095)

    Really, how can you have a roundup of CF cards without any from SanDisk? They're only what, the biggest company in that market? And they just released a new line of CF cards that they're touting as "the world's fastest cards" so this would have been a good time to see how good the performance of their products really is. Maybe instead of picking four random CF cards, Trusted Reviews should have just stuck to the SD card side of things this review, and then they could have done a more comprehensive CF card review in a future article. That way, they could have hit people with twice as many ads.

  • work about as well as a 1980 Pinto
  • Sandisk just announced their Extreme IV cards a couple days ago. They're going to be a little pricey for a while though... xtremeiv.asp []
  • Flawed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philask ( 216894 )
    Far be it from me to point out flaws in other peoples tests but these guys are using card readers which are simply slow. Getting 2.2 MB/sec write speed out of a Lexar Pro 133x CF card is pathetic, see more realistic results here (as well as tests on real cameras): xcards.asp []

  • by Strolls ( 641018 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @01:04PM (#15763331)
    In the Photography Forums [] that I tend to read we get the "which CFcard is best" question several times a week and everyone always refers the poster to the tables from the Rob Galbraith test last year []. They actually have a number of different pages, having tested cards with a number of different cameras, but that doesn't matter, nor does the fact that it's currently a little out of date - the salient fact is that for many of the expensive flash memory cards the bottleneck is the camera's write speed.

    I currently have two CFcards for my camera, a cheapie that came free with the camera & a SanDisk Ultra II. The SanDisk Ultra II was about twice the price of the cheapie memory, but it'll also write about twice as fast. The Extreme III, however, is what SanDisk are currently pushing as their fastest highest-tech card for your camera, and loads of people buy it. Check the table, however, and you'll see it's only a couple of percent faster in my camera... and at twice the price, of course.

    So this is why the Rob Galbraith tables [] are more useful than some 19-page review full of ads - you can just glance down the page & easily compare the brands that your supplier offers for a real-world comparison and see if they're worth the price.


  • by tarm ( 583789 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @01:05PM (#15763333)
    Another (and I think better) comparison site is here [] and it has also compares different cameras in conjuction with different cards, which is fantastic if you have one of those cameras. Even if you don't, you can tell whether the card is fast.
  • Define "Expensive" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @01:08PM (#15763346)
    So why are most of us buying expensive digital cameras and using cheap memory cards?

    Well, I suppose that all depends on how you define an expensive camera.

    $300, while expensive, is not expensive for a camera. Kind of like how $3000 is not expensive for a car.

    Expensive cameras generally start at around $900. That's around where professional SLR digital cameras *start*, and go up from there. And believe me, anyone who spends $2000+ on a camera, doesn't fuck around with buying cheap cards. That's in no small part because they need very *large* memory cards to store pictures in RAW format.

    "Most of us" don't spend that much money on a camera. Most of us spend around $300-$500. And thus, since we generally don't have a lot of money left over to spend, it's spent on cheap memory cards. Not that it's a big deal these days, since today's cheap memory cards are last week's hella fast and large memory cards. I just picked up a 1 gig SD card that's rated at 133x for $30. And I'm told I could have gotten it at 1/3 that cost elsewhere. Our Canon A80 has a 1x write 256M CF card from 2 years ago, and it was considerably more expensive than that.
  • by kg261 ( 990379 ) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @02:38PM (#15763606)
    There are a lot of different aspects to testing nand flash performance. The burst speed of a 25MHz 4-bit bus (used in original SD) would be about 12.5Mbytes/sec. But data is not written immediately to flash, but stored in a buffer. An often quoted read/write speed of 9Mbyte/sec likely involves writes to consecutively addressed blocks and the SD memory block management system has a ready supply of erased blocks. Put a filesystem on top of the NAND memory block management system, and things get more complex. Fragmentation is going to be a problem here eventually as well. Did this test do any long term testing? Another factor (for PC testing) is the SD interface. Is this over USB or and SD slot such as those found in a laptop. The peak rate may be 60Mbyte/sec, but add protocol overhead, and again, random access times can be heavily affected. I went through this a little while ago and wrote a test program which measures peak USB flash memory performance 'under' the filesystem to as to try to attain the quoted peak speeds. I have write and read results for plain blue Sandisk (5 and 8 MByte/sec) and Lexar (5 and 4 MByte/sec) at []

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