Card Recommendations?

Most any reputable card maker's are good, but
I decided on my last one to get the Lexar 300x Professional UDMA card.
Of course I had the reader to make it work like it should, but Wow!
what a difference in speed.
I've also learned, I like using multiple smaller cards, like 2 or 4 gig better than one
8 gig card.


Senior Member
Lexar & Sandisk are my two "favorite" brands. As the size of your files grows, the size of the "optimum" card increases as well. I have a mix of 2, 4, & 8 gig cards - but like DRB1313, the faster the better.
Thread starter #4
OK, sorry more questions?
I did a quick search for cards and now more confused than before!
I looked at SanDisk and the Lexar. So I will start with SanDisk, what is the difference in Ultra II & III and the Extreme III &IV? Same question for the Lexar Platinum II & Pro. 133 - 300? Also what does the designation 80x represent. And do I need a special card reader to read any of these?
I know these are very basic things that I should know, but I don't.

80x is the speed rating. How it works is beyond me.
The higher the number, the faster the card!

Ultra II & III and the platinumII can be read by the old readers.
I'm pretty sure the Extreme and the Pro has to be the newer readers.
I will research real quick and make sure I am correct.


Senior Member
My simple understanding...

The Extremes are "faster" at transferring data than the Ultras. The higher the Roman numeral within those, the faster data transfer rate.

With Lexar, the Pros are faster than the Platinums. With the Platinums, the larger Roman numerals have faster data transer; with Pros, the bigger numbers are faster and refer to read/right speed.

I can't remember what the "standard" is, but the 16x, 80x, 133x, 300x is basically that many times the "standard" for reading/writing speed.

As best I can figure, the write speed on modern compact flash cards in a camera doesn't really mean too much because the limiting factor is the processor in the camera that limits how many frames per second can be processed for writing.

The read speed on the other hand controls how fast the data can be taken off the card & put on your computer. I've got several cards now that are faster than the USB card reader on my laptop. However, I've got a firewire reader on my desktop that will empty a card MUCH faster.

I figure that eventually I will upgrade laptops/card readers/something, so it will be good to buy faster CF cards, even though I may not be able to use them to their full speed for a few years. It seems like I generally use a CF card for 2 to 4 years before it is replaced or downgraded to a trail cam or something...

Anyway, that is my understanding of the cards & my rationale for using them the way I do...
A quick look shows that once you get to the cards that have UDMA technology, you must have the UDMA enabled reader.
UDMA= New and faster technology.

This would include the Professional Lexar and the ExtremeIV Sandisk cards.


Senior Member
I don't have any problem with the Extremes & Pros being read by my 3-year old card reader...guess it must be UDMA compatible?
Rip, I think it is capable of reading them, but I don't believe you are getting the full potential from them.
I could be all wrong, but then again maybe when I bought my UDMA card I was rooked into buying a special reader:banginghe:banginghe

PT Barnum did say there was a sucker born every day.:cry:
A good read here! Even uses your camera as an example Earl.

UDMA - what's it all about?

So just what is this exciting new UDMA technology? Actually, in IT terms, it's pretty ancient and became prevalent over ten years ago as hard disk drive technology evolved. History is repeating itself as solid state flash memory devices play catch up with electro-mechanical disk storage technology. DMA is a process by which data can be moved from a storage device very efficiently, without labouring the host device's processor. Ultra DMA is a set of definitions for faster and faster theoretical transfer rates ranging from Mode 0 (16.7 megabytes per second or MB/s) to Mode 5 (100 MB/s). You may have heard of ATA ratings for hard disk drives and these mirror UDMA Mode numbers, so UDMA 3 is the same as ATA 3 or even ATAPI 3.

But enough of the jargon - how fast is a UDMA card? Most card manufacturers, the one exception being SanDisk, rate their cards with 'x' numbers, 60x, 80x, 100x, 133x, etc. These numbers represent the theoretical data transfer speed performance compared to a standard CD music player, which plays data at a rate of 150 kilobytes (Kb) per second, or 0.15 MB/s. A 100x card is a hundred times faster than a CD music player and so is rated as being able to transfer 15MB/s. The very fastest Compact Flash cards currently available are rated at 300x, or 45MB/s.

High speed reality

So what does all this performance mean to photographers? In theory, if you can copy your photos off a card at 45MB/s, a 1GB card will only take 20-odd seconds to empty. However, typical previous generation 133x high speed cards tend to take about a minute and a half to unload using a USB card reader. That's around five times slower despite a rating that is only just less than half as fast.

Rated card speed is just one factor that determines actual transfer rates. The speed of the host computer does affect transfer rates, or more notably the kind of system interface that the USB port is connected to internally. USB also erodes raw speed through protocol latency - basically it's never 100% efficient. In our recent tests using a state of the art PC, we achieved just over 17MB/s with a 133x category card (SanDisk Extreme III), or about 113x.

We managed to achieve a transfer rate of 31.3MB/s with a 300x Lexar Professional UDMA card, or 209x, but only using a Lexar UDMA compatible card reader connected to a FireWire 800 port, itself connected to a high bandwidth PCI Express bus on the PC motherboard. The same card read using a standard USB 2.0 High Speed card reader only managed a 16.9MB/s transfer rate - slightly slower than the Extreme III card on the same reader. But in turn, the Extreme III card was notably slower when read using the UDMA reader compared to a standard USB reader. We also discovered wide variations in the speed that cards could be read via the USB ports of our test cameras.

Write performance

Reading a card is only one side of the coin. Write performance is important when the card is in the camera and being bombarded with shots produced continuously at high speed, as the latest cameras are capable of. In continuous shooting mode, images are first shunted into the camera's internal memory, or buffer, before being dumped onto the card. The buffer to card interface can be critical to the sustainability of continuous shooting. Both the Sony Alpha A700 and Olympus E-3 we tested are UDMA-compatible, but it was the Canon EOS-40D that impressed the most, despite not being UDMA compatible. Instead, the Canon relies on a more efficient onboard JPEG compression and buffer management system. The 40D does eventually choke during a lengthy continuous JPEG shooting burst, and the shooting rate drops dramatically, but it's capable of many more more high speed shots before this happens. Only when shooting for long stretches in RAW mode, over 15-16 continuous shots, do the UDMA DSLRs show better performance.

Test results

Check out our test results on page 2 of this article. If you have a camera like the Canon EOS-40D, which does not claim to be UDMA compatible, there is really no clear need to use high speed UDMA cards. If you are only going to shoot JPEGs, even the UDMA DSLRs don't benefit greatly. Their internal processing and JPEG compression routines move the bottleneck away from the card. With RAW, however, the UDMA DSLRs are doing less in-camera processing and the files to be saved are larger, so the buffer to card interface is tested more, and this is where UDMA shows its mettle.


Of the three DSLRs we tested standared high speed and UDMA cards with, the fastest shooter - the Canon EOS-40D - worked better with the slower card. This demonstrates that high speed performance is not always enhanced by the use of UDMA cards - if your camera doesn't state UDMA card support, it's almost certainly better to stick with 133x high speed cards, both to save money and to maintain optimal performance. The only exception is if you use large cards and don't want to wait for long periods when emptying them. Even so, you will need to invest in a UDMA card reader and, most likely, a Firewire expansion port. But if you shoot RAW and your camera does support UDMA, you probably will benefit from using UDMA cards.
Thread starter #11
Thanks to you both for the help. It make a lot more sense now, still don't now what to get but I have a much better understanding of what to look for and what all them numbers and letters are for. I'll have to copy and past this page somewhere for future reference.
Thanks again to you both "BIG HELP" appreciate it.


Senior Member
Looks like they have gotten you squared away on the cards.....

My advice, by you a FireWire card reader if your computer is equipped with a FireWire port(s). I used to DREAD downloading cards and it would take forever....But now I can download a full 8 gig card before quick!!!! And they used to run rebates pretty regular on those FireWire readers (go through B&H). Good luck.


Senior Member
Definately Hoss!!
Some good info here...thanks yall!

Rip, is the Nikon D70 UDMA compatable? I couldn't find anywhere in the manual that says it is...
Jason, Only the Nikon D300 & D3 support UDMA.
I know you were asking Rip, but I knew this one.
So, Basically, anything over 133x is overkill to your wallet, well except the transferring to the computer from a card reader part.


Senior Member
Jason, Only the Nikon D300 & D3 support UDMA.
I know you were asking Rip, but I knew this one.
So, Basically, anything over 133x is overkill to your wallet.
Thanks DRB!! :cheers:
Now I know what to look for and what to stay away from.