CFexpress Options Bloom: More, Faster, Cheaper

tiggy@mac.com

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Jan 20, 2014
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In the past few months CFexpress Type B cards evolved from the super-expensive-but-fast option for flagship bodies to super-fast, almost-as-cheap-as-SD-UHS-II cards. And they got faster still. Wise, Delkin and Angelbird launched new cards and Mark II versions of older cards. Each launched a flagship line designed for more reliable high-bandwidth video recording and an improved large capacity line that is cheaper. Camnostic updated its  review of CFexpress Type B cards to compare these new offerings and others against a rapidly growing library of legacy cards. Below is a summary.
New-Angelbird-CFexpress-Type-B-Cards-300x213.jpg
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unfocused

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I suspect I am like many people in that I am more concerned about reliability than anything else. I've pretty much decided to stick with SanDisk and ProGrade because they have been very reliable for me.

I wish there was some information on the reliability of these new brands. Angelbird prices are very tempting but I can't imagine losing 512gb of pictures because of a card failure.
 
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entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
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I suspect I am like many people in that I am more concerned about reliability than anything else. I've pretty much decided to stick with SanDisk and ProGrade because they have been very reliable for me.

I wish there was some information on the reliability of these new brands. Angelbird prices are very tempting but I can't imagine losing 512gb of pictures because of a card failure.
Same here, speed is nice but reliability is infinitely more important to me. I've been using Delkin and SanDisk 128GB cards without problems - 128GB is enough capacity for about 2000 RAWs on the R5. I always shoot duplicate RAWs to the SD for insurance.
 
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LSXPhotog

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I picked up an Angelbird 512GB card earlier this moth in preparation for a video job I have in Indiana. It is working great for video so far...BUT, I do have a weird issue where the camera will crash out of the playback menu if I scroll through photos too quickly. I've never seen anything like it. I'm going to call Angelbird to see what might be the cause of this or if they have a firmware solution...because they've actually created firmware for their cards working in specific cameras like the R5.

Other than that, I switched everything over to ProGrade back when I had my 1DX Mark II and needed to buy CFast cards. They've been an incredible brand for me and their customer service is based in the United States and they genuinely want to help you resolve any issue you may encounter - including sending me a no-questions-asked brand new replacement card so they could run tests on my card when it got it. As it turned out, I had a problem with a Lexar reader and NOT the card itself. This was quickly resolved by upgrading to the best card readers in the business from ProGrade. haha
 
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David - Sydney

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I've had no issues with Sony Tough/Sandisk 128GB cards for dual raw recording. Very rare that I run out of space. Recording occasional 4k120 shot clips does fill the card faster though :)
They were approximately the same cost back when the R5 was released.
I can imagine that the only users of 2TB cards would be recording 8k raw or 4k120 and need the bit depth for internal recording rather than external to Ninja V+
Also the OP mentions 4kHQ but I think that it should be 4k120. 4kHQ isn't mentioned in the advanced guide that I can see. The bandwidth varies by ALL-I/IPB/Log/HDR and UHD vs DCI
 

northlarch

EOS R5
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Sep 10, 2020
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It’s tough to tell which brand is “the best” with these cards. Seems each brand has a group of users that hate them and love them—mixed reviews on all of them. Personally, I’ve always used the SanDisks and therefore consider them to be most reliable since I’ve never had issues with them, but a lot of photographers seem to like ProGrade these days. What brand is the best on the market in terms of build quality and reliability? Are there really any differences in materials used?
 

calfoto

Long Time Lurker
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Feb 27, 2013
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I’m just wondering why no one seems to make anything less than 64GB cards? There are many times my shoots could have been accomplished with a 32 or even a 16GB card but none seem to exist
 
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David - Sydney

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I can understand that higher capacity cards are dropping in price but are the smaller capacity cards dropped similarly?
There are some togs who shoot >2500 shots in a session and of course video shooters (or hybrid) but I would suggest that a significant number of stills users that wouldn't need >128GB cards.
 

puffo25

EOS R5 - Fine art landscape, travel,astro and pano
Jul 18, 2017
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italy
I use Prograde Cobalt and found just perfect and 100 percent reliable.
 

AlanF

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Same here, speed is nice but reliability is infinitely more important to me. I've been using Delkin and SanDisk 128GB cards without problems - 128GB is enough capacity for about 2000 RAWs on the R5. I always shoot duplicate RAWs to the SD for insurance.
Have you tried cRAW? You will fit ~4000 onto a 128Gb card, and from all reports I have seen there is no discernible loss of quality from RAW. Much easier on your hard drives as well.
 
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tiggy@mac.com

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Didn't Tony Northrup do a survey on card usage across thousands of people, hoping to pick out which brands might be reliable/unreliable? Or was that just SD cards? Just in my head? That's the type of data that would be useful in this sort of discussion.

Aside: I was going to write that YouTube's search function - and video search generally - is pretty poor, but really I'm complaining about most of the industry's content moving to video from the written word. Dagnabbit.
 
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tiggy@mac.com

R5
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Jan 20, 2014
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Didn't Tony Northrup do a survey on card usage across thousands of people, hoping to pick out which brands might be reliable/unreliable? Or was that just SD cards? Just in my head? That's the type of data that would be useful in this sort of discussion.

Aside: I was going to write that YouTube's search function - and video search generally - is pretty poor, but really I'm complaining about most of the industry's content moving to video from the written word. Dagnabbit.

Found it:

It was just SD cards. Key conclusions:
1 - SSD drive formats appear to be more reliable than older memory forms.
2 - Aside from Transcend being an outlier with far more failure likelihood, the other brands were fairly close in terms of cards failing at some point during ownership (around 1/5th to 1/4th of people experienced failure in any given brand).
3 - The assumption that Sandisk and Lexar (now ProGrade, sort of) give better performance over other card brands was misplaced with SD cards. They both offered at least one failure experience to about 28 percent of users, which was beaten by Samsung, Sony and PNY. We don't have the data yet, but I see nothing so far indicating that brand is a good indicator of CFexpress card reliability.

A couple additional points:
4 - We do have anecdotal evidence of some card companies reacting better to user needs, such as service, communication and reacting with firmware updates. Speaking as someone who runs a small software company as a day job, I find that more indicative of likely future reliability than how loyal the brunt of photographers is to particular brands based on their experiences in the 2000s.
5 - Being involved in these reviews over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to speak personally with some interesting people inside these companies. I was able to communicate directly (connected via LinkedIn stalking) to the guy who led the small team who wrote the firmware for the drives first put in Western Digital chips that went into CFexpress cards. It was terribly enlightening, but even he didn't know which CFexpress cards had which chips in them afterward. SanDisk was obviously using them, but at the time there were only 2 or 3 parts makers churning out components specific to the market, so that same code was likely in others. The biggest thing I took away from him was an expanded view of the variables affecting speed, heat and reliability. There were many.
6 - I could be wrong on this, but a signal to me about the willingness to iterate the product is that the product line gets updated with some frequency. That's a cultural and organizational issue as much as a prioritization. My personal sense is that people avoiding some brands due to the small size of the companies is actually avoiding those firms staying most on top of the standard. But I've been talking to people inside those companies, asking questions, so I have some inputs telling me about those cultures that I don't think I expressed much or well in the reviews.
 
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entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
884
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UK
Have you tried cRAW? You will fit ~4000 onto a 128Gb card, and from all reports I have seen there is no discernible loss of quality from RAW. Much easier on your hard drives as well.
No I haven't - for some reason the cRAW option is greyed out in the menu. Any idea why that would be?
 

allanP

Contax/leftover Canon and a shift to medium format
Jan 3, 2014
77
46
Aside: I was going to write that YouTube's search function - and video search generally - is pretty poor, but really I'm complaining about most of the industry's content moving to video from the written word. Dagnabbit.
Yes, this bad habit bothers me too.
 

AlanF

Stay at home
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Aug 16, 2012
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No I haven't - for some reason the cRAW option is greyed out in the menu. Any idea why that would be?
No idea. Play around with different settings and see if it reappears. Perhaps, it is due to saving on two cards.
 

allanP

Contax/leftover Canon and a shift to medium format
Jan 3, 2014
77
46
No idea. Play around with different settings and see if it reappears. Perhaps, it is due to saving on two cards.
Unlikely, I use it too.
I haven't seen inaccessible C-RAW if RAW is possible