In the past few weeks there have been a bunch of new CFexpress card launches. We are fortunate to have most of the companies sending us samples to performance test. Expect some results starting this coming week. What we can already report is that the average price of cards is coming down.
Where you had to by a 2 TB card previously to get pricing near $0.25 per GB, several brands have been reducing the cost of their 512 GB and even smaller cards to pricing approaching $0.30 per GB. Just today, CanonPriceWatch pointed to a ProGrade deal along those lines, although they did this with their Gold line of cards, which are slower than most brands.
Pergear released a whole suite of cards last week as well, with similar pricing, and with claimed speed statistics close to the ProGrade Gold models. Acer Storage did as well. A set of those cards are on the way here for real-world testing.
Angelbird dropped a new firmware upgrade last week. The latest version (2.12) fixes some unspecified issues for the AV PRO and AV PRO XT models as well as providing better compatibility for some older Nikon models that received firmware upgrades of their own that allowed for the use of CFexpress cards (Z6, Z7, D5, D6, D500 and the D850).
The Angelbird update also applies to the Mark II versions of their CFexpress cards, to be released tomorrow. Angelbird was the first of the manufacturers to allow for user-upgradable firmware, incorporating the function in their CFexpress card reader.
An early set of copies of the Angelbird Mark II cards arrived this afternoon from Austria, so those will be added to the performance tests to be conducted.
Also added to the pile of cards to be tested is a homebrew solution, employing a Sintech casing and controller paired with a Kioxia m.2 2230 PCIe NVMe SSD drive and a disgusting amount of silicon heat paste; a DIY project involving $95 in parts for a 512 GB card that – for the last two weeks at least – has operated within 3 percent of the fastest tested cards.
The last comprehensive review of all of the available CFexpress cards over on Camnostic.com was conducted on relatively early R5 and R6 firmware. In the year since, several CFexpress-specific firmware issues have been addressed, so the update will require retesting the older models as well.
"Angelbird released an installer to upgrade its AV Pro XT CFexpress cards‘ firmware – an apparent first in the new CFexpress card category. The new firmware version 1.20 eliminates the a startup delay seen with the Canon R5. A mix of interactions between the original R5 firmware and the older card firmware caused a four-second each time the camera woke up, but subsequent RF firmware upgrades mostly relegated the issue to a single delay each time the camera was first turned on, or the Angelbird card was inserted into the slot. The new card firmware eliminates even that initial delay."
Lets hope that you can throw some light also on the video recording capabilities of the cards, specifically the sustained minimum video data writing rate over a fixed time.
Poorer cards like the Prograde Gold cards for example cannot manage the highest data rates of the R5, for video.
In my case they very kindly allowed me to replace my Gold card and purchase one of their Cobalt cards, works flawlessly.
Thanks in advance.
"Through a series of both card and camera firmware upgrades, a single, consistent interface has arisen, leading to high reliability. Canon drove this process with the release and ongoing firmware development of its EOS R5 camera. It actively cooperated with card manufacturers to get most vendors all on the same boat of reliable performance."
=> if this is correct, why hasn't Canon updated their support pages with a current list of compatible cards?
There were several CFexpress-related firmware changes Canon made. Canon noted them in general terms explicitly in their firmware release notes, but didn't indicate precisely what changed. Leading up to that, I happened to be talking with a couple manufacturers regarding the review, and some performance issues I noticed. They indicated that they had some interactions with Canon and expected Canon to address it in firmware. So I know of one particular issue that was addressed: that cards that were set to act as "removable media" had a few-seconds startup delay. Some of you all will recall that issue in the early days of the R5, and a firmware update fixed it.
The conversations were interesting because the card manufacturers had the attitude that - as with any new standard - there were going to be some choices that some companies made that were different than the choices that other companies made, and that it might be slightly messy until norms were established. This was a great example. Some might wonder why the feature in Lightroom where you can set the program to eject a disk after pictures are downloaded from it doesn't work with most CFexpress cards. It's because the firmware for these SSD drives is expected to be set to non-removable media, unlike SD cards.
The original Camnostic review was extremely light on video performance. At the time it was written, companies were revving firmware to try to eke out more time with the R5 (this was just after the first R5 firmware upgrade, when Canon took off the arbitrary timer limit). All were moving targets to some extent.
Interestingly, because after that firmware upgrade, the time you can shoot high bitrate video is determined mostly by three factors:
1) Is the card's minimum sustained write speed fast enough?
2) How much heat does it generate (affecting camera)?
3) How much heat can it take before it throttles (affecting card)?
When we did the original review, we actually recorded heat on the cards after the standard test. Was a huge pain because we had to let the camera cool to a common temperature between each run (and there were many, many runs). We stopped this practice when we couldn't discern statistically significant differences in heat generated. It turns out, though, that some of the more recent card releases appear to run cooler. And one in particular runs a lot hotter. So we might get stuck doing the thermometer thing all over again if these affect shoot times, and they almost certainly do.
I think it was a bit of an outlier behavior for Canon to have published that list in the first place, and it was necessary only because their R5 was really the first major product to use the format. My sense is that it'll never be updated, and is completely out of date as it stands now.
Apart from that, the firmware also handles how the data gets to and from the flash chips, which is where the optimizations live. If you make the firmware lie about the data being transferred out of the fast buffer, safely into flash, it will benchmark really, really fast. Just don't lose power or remove the drive :)
The 'controller' on flash storage is a full fledged computer, including the need for a non-trivial amount of software to do its job.
Great point, David. I'm corrected. Makes it more mysterious to me as to why they keep recycling the list and not adding very reliable and popular brands. Angelbird is absent and has perhaps the best reputation among video shooters, while they feature Lexar, which doesn't.
For example: https://www.thessdreview.com/our-re...ing-the-capacity-sustained-write-trade-off/5/
I only have 2 delock CFExpress Cards - they where very cheap, but they often crash at 4k120fps - which obviously sucks :-D
Finaly some improvement in the market!
I believe that it was important for Canon to release compatible CFe cards for the R5 in particular as there would have been many complaints that the slower ones didn't work for video. I do appreciate that Canon were happy to review the Sony Tough cards even though they are from a competitor.
There are many sites that have compared card speeds etc for different cameras with Angelbird (a relative newcomer to the market and has only USD3m/yr revenue) achieving high scores. Given your feedback about Canon's active engagement to remove incompatibilities, ongoing lockup reports and Canon's reluctance to update their support page, I am hesitant to buy any card not on the list.
I see your logic, but I see it a bit differently. Angelbird has (and soon, reportedly, ProGrade) user-updatable firmware. To me, that's the big deal. There's a higher chance my Sony Tough card will get bricked with a new camera firmware release than an Angelbird card. Delkin had a policy where they would swap out your old card for a new firmware version, if the new firmware was relevant to your use. They (Delkin) have a 2-day service policy.
By contrast, Sony never paid up on a "lifetime guarantee," pricey SD card I purchased years ago that just didn't work. They make a really nice CFexpress card, but I'm not counting on any support for it.
The process of making my own CFexpress card out of parts was pretty educational. One big takeaway: it's really easy to buy the right size of SSD drive and just slap it in. What this means, though, is that you're relying on a controller designed by some other company and have no control over firmware. In my case it was Toshiba, and the SSD chip was harvested from someone upgrading a video game console.
Only those companies willing to go through the trouble of writing their own firmware layer, and purchasing smaller-lot, custom configured SSDs, additional flash memory, etc., and creating a mechanism to re-flash that firmware will have this capacity. Personally, I want to own those cards, because they're writing that firmware specifically to optimize the performance of my R5 and someone else's Z9 - not that game console.
I have high hopes for the new ProGrades for the same reason. I was told we should see them this summer. If you're looking for Canon-blessed brands, that might be the optimum choice for you.
"The Delkin 48-hour replacement guarantee covers new cards sold in the United States, to the first buyer.... Shipping address must be a U.S. deliverable address as determined by UPS."
I can't find a camera store reseller in Australia for Delkin unfortunately.
Similarly for ProGrade, I can't find a local reseller here :-(
The only option would be to ship from B&H or via Amazon (stock in the US). Sony Tough is available locally though (and Angelbird!)