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Nerdy/Techy/Geeky Stuff

CF vs. SD Cards: Which is faster? You’ll be surprised.

Our founder, Dana Neibert, just returned from a commercial shoot in which he ran into a problem that he normally doesn't encounter. Usually, he shoots tethered which for the most part is instantaneous feedback as each image pops up on the screen as he shoots. But last week he shot a job where he was shooting to the CF memory card and shooting about 32GB every 15 minutes at which time each 32GB CF card had to be ingested into a computer so everyone could do a quick review. But waiting for 32GB of images to import while precious daylight was changing was not ideal. He was using the fastest SanDisk Extreme Pro CF cards which can transfer data at up to 160MB per second. Using what is usually regarded as the fastest CF card reader, the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot reader, each card was taking about 3.5 minutes to import into Capture One Pro. That doesn't seem like a long time unless you have 25 crew and clients standing around anxiously waiting to see the latest images. So we did a test this week as he will be shooting for the same client again in two weeks and wants to cut that time in half if possible. Doing a little research, we found that 160MB/s cards are the fastest CF cards out there. It doesn't really matter what brand as they all more or less use the same chips inside and they have to base their speed rating on practical tests or risk losing all credibility. We've always used SanDisk Extreme Pro CF cards but as far as we know the Lexar Professional CF cards perform just as well. Also, history has always dictated that CF cards outperform SD cards. But we decided to try a little SD card called the Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II. The speed rating on this card is 300MB/s which is nearly twice as fast as the fastest CF cards. But can an SD card really perform that well? Here's what we found. We filled two 32GB cards with raw camera images. The two cards were the SanDisk Extreme Pro CF and the Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II. The cards are rated at 160MB/s and 300MB/s, respectively. Below is a chart detailing the transfer speeds from each card to the latest MacBook Pro Retina with an SSD rated about 900MB/s which is more than adequate for both of those cards. You can see that CF card beats the SDHC/SDXC card using the trusty Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot reader. The internal MacBook Pro SD reader nets about the same import speed for the SDHC/SDXC card. But the SDHC/SDXC card really blows away the CF card once the dedicated Lexar UHS-II USB 3.0 reader is used. Next we checked the in-camera performance of the SDHC/SDXC card versus the CF card. We wanted to see if there were any compromises in using an SDHC/SDXC card instead of the trusty workhorse CF cards. We used a Nikon D810 which has become one of the new standards in commercial photography as it produces very large 36 megapixel images. Each card was formatted in camera and the camera shot at five frames per second until the buffer maxed out. Here's what we found. You can see the CF card barely/slightly outperforms the SDHC/SDXC in the camera. But with the price of SDHC/SDXC cards vs. CF cards and the import speed to the computer, the SDHC/SDXC card is clearly the way to go—especially when you start going to the higher capacity 64GB and 128GB cards those transfer times will double and triple. The Nikon D810 SD slot speed is only UHS-I but as cameras start to implement UHS-II slot speeds, you can expect the SD performance to greatly increase. By the same token, we're pretty sure CF cards will be introducing faster speeds in the near future to keep the race even. You can see the UHS-II card on the left has additional pins that the standard SD, high speed and UHS-I SD cards do not have. Most likely these extra pins are providing the extra bandwidth to help the UHS-II cards achieve these high transfer speeds. Like we stated above, we're really not married to any brand of memory card. But you will want to probably stay with better known name brands like SanDisk and Lexar as they do produce a quality product that, especially with memory cards, you won't want to take chances with. We chose the Lexar SDHC/SDXC card over the comparable SanDisk SDHC/SDXC as for some reason the prices are really far apart and the Lexar card comes with the ultra high speed reader. Here's a bit of a roundup of all the cards and readers covered in this article. Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC/SDXC UHS-II/U3 w/USB 3.0 Reader/Image Rescue 5 Software $54.95 at Amazon and B&H SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Memory Card (This is the SanDisk equivalent of the Lexar SDHC/SDXC card we tested—we're not sure why it is double the price.) $58.88 at Amazon and $59.95 at B&H SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card UDMA 7 $44.95 at Amazon and B&H Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot reader $34.95 at Amazon and B&H  

Time-lapse of a Glacier Moving

Yeah, yeah, yeah... another time-lapse find. This one is pretty simple but amazing:

Watch this Photo Crew Silk the Entire Front of a Yacht and Take it Out to Sea

Pretty cool time lapse of a photo crew silking the entire front of a yacht with a 20x20 silk and then taking it out to sea to shoot with. See video here.

An Ingenious Solution to Balancing Indoor and Outdoor Light

Rosco View is a system that can balance just about any indoor and outdoor light together. Shane Hurlbut has an awesome write up of how it works here. Pretty much works like a variable ND filter but on a larger scale. One of those "wish we thought of it first" things.

Canon Lens Plant Tour

Kind of cool if you're into nerdy geeky stuff like us:

The only iPhone 5 case in existence (so far)

We were playing around with the CNC this weekend and designed and cut an aluminum bumper case for the iPhone 5. One of things we liked about the original iPhone was no hard edges (more like an iPad). But both the iPhone 4 and 5 have these hard edges all the way around and they really are un-Apple like. This case is minimalist as it gets rid of the edges and gives the iPhone just enough protection against drops and falls.

DigiLegs for the DigiPlate Now Shipping

We've been working on a few add-ons to the DigiPlate system. The first of which are DigiLegs. With the DigiBase and a hard drive or two mounted on the bottom of the DigiPlate, the bottom can get uneven when you just need to set everything down during setup and teardown. The DigiLegs help level everything out. We just leave ours on all the time. You can see more details here. DigiLegs for the DigiPlate

New DigiPlate Tripod Bracket

We've been busy for the past week putting final touches on the DigiPlate. The pictures of the black anodized prototype are pretty much final at this point. We also have created a new mount that will allow direct mounting of the DigiPlate to your tripod legs. Here's a quick little video we did with the tripod bracket mount. It demonstrates how easy the bracket is to use and also how portable the whole DigiPlate system really is.

DigiPlate Mounting Options and Ideas

We've had a lot of questions asking what exactly is a 5/8" baby pin and what accessories can be bought that have it. The 5/8" baby pin is probably the most common mounting option in photography. Almost all strobe lights mount on the baby pin. Here is a video that shows a few baby pin mounting options. Here's a few links of where you can find the items in the video (and some others): Super Clamp: Cardalini/Matthelini: Magic Arm: C-Stand:  Wall/Screw Plate: More Baby Pin Goodness:

DigiPlate Accessory Clamps

We've had a lot of inquiries on what types of accessories we will be making for the DigiPlate. The first accessory we're working on is the accessory/drive clamps. These are very similar to the laptop clamps but most likely we'll be making them in two sizes. They will come in two versions that will cover .5" to 1.5" thick accessories. Each of those versions will come with shims that will extend those clamps in 1/16" to 1/2" increments and can also be used to shorten the clamping height in those same increments. So, the 1/2" clamp will be able to accommodate drives/accessories from 1/2"to 1" tall and the 1" clamp will be able to accommodate drives/accessories from 1" to 1-1/2". Here's a quickie video that shows prototype clamps in action:

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