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Is It Worth Paying Extra For Fast SD Cards?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the depends-what-they-cost dept.

Data Storage 164

Barence writes "Are faster grades of SD memory card worth the extra cash? PC Pro has conducted in-depth speed tests on different grades of SD card to find out if they're worth the premium. In camera tests, two top-end SD cards outshone the rest by far, while class 4 cards dawdled for more than a second between shots. However, with the buffer on modern DSLRs able to handle 20 full-res shots or more, it's unlikely an expensive card will make any difference to anyone other than professionals shooting bursts of fast-action shots. What about for expanding tablet or laptop memory? A regular class 4 or 6 card that's capable of recording HD video will also be fast enough to play it back on a tablet. The only advantage of a faster card for media is that syncing with your PC will be quicker. However, a faster card is recommended if you're using it to supplement the memory of an Ultrabook or MacBook Air."

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yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991987)

It will when you record highres video

Re:yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992091)

According to the article there are lots of cases where you'd prefer to have the faster card. So it's worth it if you're going to use it in any of those cases.

Which, I have to imagine, is exactly what everyone assumes.

Re:yes (2)

rwa2 (4391) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993625)

plus... slow SD card = useless SD card in a few years. They're big enough now to be useful for /something/ . But not always fast enough to be usable for anything.

A fast one might still be useful for something... booting a Raspberry Pi 2000, or just transferring movies between laptops.

But the slow SD cards are going to the bottom of the bin no matter how big they are.

Re:yes (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992847)

It will when you record highres video

From the article (first page, you should have spotted it)

It may seem counter-intuitive that capturing still images requires a faster card than shooting video, but Full HD footage isn’t as space-hungry as you might imagine. Despite the “high-definition” terminology, each HD frame has a comparatively low resolution of just over two megapixels. Plus, since consecutive frames of a video are often extremely similar, clever compression techniques can be used to store moving images efficiently. A data rate of 4-6MB/sec is ample for continuous shooting.
Still photographs have a far higher resolution: a typical consumer DSLR may capture around 12 megapixels of detail, and high-end models often record more than 20 megapixels. Each scene may therefore contain ten times as much information as a comparable video frame

Re:yes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993517)

Anyone doing any serious video work isn't going to be recording with compression. 1920x1080, 24-bit colour video at 30FPS is going to need 186MB per second, 11GB per minute or 670GB per hour.

Re:yes (0)

XaXXon (202882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993619)

Serious video work is done at 24fps, though. So cut off 20%

Re:yes (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993627)

Anyone doing any serious video work isn't going to be recording with compression. 1920x1080, 24-bit colour video at 30FPS is going to need 186MB per second, 11GB per minute or 670GB per hour.

Anyone doing serious video work isn't going to be using a dslr that only shoots 1080p.

Re:yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993519)

From the article (first page, you should have spotted it)

You must be new here.

There really isn't any price premium (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992015)

A 16GB class 10 SDHC card can be had regularly for $9 shipped from Chinese import sites like Meritline.

I don't use these cards for cameras, but do use them in my phone, and as primary storage for several dev boards, and for those use cases, even if there was a price premium, it would be worth it.

Re:There really isn't any price premium (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992421)

Meritline - oh, great, another site for me to order cheap toys I don't need but can't resist. Thanks a lot!

Re:There really isn't any price premium (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993293)

Those prices are... suspiciously good. Anyone have experience with these guys?

Re:There really isn't any price premium (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993543)

I have ordered from them in the past a number of times. Usually just DVD-Rs, but they have been around for awhile and I always got what I ordered.

Not just for professionals... (5, Informative)

The Living Fractal (162153) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992023)

As an avid amateur photographer I once tried lower-end, slower SD cards. The wait between shots of ~1 second (disregarding the camera buffer) means you cannot even preview your shots during that time. Instead you get to wait with a nice blinking LED on the back of the camera until the preview is ready. I found this nearly unbearable after only a dozen or so shots and when I got a chance I immediately spent the money on a faster card that allows previews basically immediately. NOTE: I am using a D800, so your mileage may vary on this... with 36mp RAW files I was waiting several seconds to just preview a shot.

Re:Not just for professionals... (4, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992079)

I use a D5100, and even with its 16mp RAW files, I always use a Class 10 card to make its responsiveness decent when shooting more than one shot. Cards are cheap, time and missed shots are more important.

Re:Not just for professionals... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992213)

A lot of newer DSLRs have big buffers, and let you preview/etc. out of the buffer, so SD card speed becomes mostly irrelevant to user experience. It only really becomes an issue if you're doing burst shooting that fills up the buffer, at which point the camera does have to pause to wait for writes to complete, to free up buffer space. Normal single-shot, or even 3-burst bracketing types of shots, should never hit that point, though.

Re:Not just for professionals... (3, Insightful)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992365)

So I guess the question then is do I want to spend the premium on several memory cards, move the images off of them when I set up my 3-2-1 backups of the images and re-use them, or do I want to spend 10 or more times that to replace the camera I'm using with a camera with a bigger buffer?

If I'm already going to get the new camera for other reasons, that's one thing. Getting a camera because I want to save on SD cards seems counter-intuitive to me.

Likewise I'm more likely to take an older camera with me on vacation to shoot with, and carry a few extra high speed storage cards rather than run the risk of my new high end camera going swimming or taking a walk on me. Sure insurance may help me, but I'm a bit more comfortable with having something I am less concerned about being damaged if something goes wrong. But that's me. To each their own.

Re:Not just for professionals... (2)

EvanED (569694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992781)

...so SD card speed becomes mostly irrelevant to user experience

I've got a T2i for hobby photography and have definitely hit the buffer limit on a number occasions. I virtually always shoot RAW for the increased flexibility in lossless postprocessing, so it doesn't take much; if I set it to continuous shooting and hold down the shutter release, I get six shots before it pauses to write, and that is with a class 10 "PNY professional" card. (I just tried it.)

The most recent time I've hit it was when I was taking component shots of some HDR panoramas that I've been too lazy to stitch together. :-) I set it to do automatic exposure bracketing, so I would shoot three shots in rapid succession, turn a bit, shoot three more, etc. Those took about twice as long to fill out if I didn't have to wait for SD writing speed, and because of that it also allowed more movement of things in the scene. (It's impossible to get around all movement, but it's good to try to minimize them.)

There was also one time I was shooting a rocket launch and turned the quality down to JPEG so I could get continuous shots and I think I may have filled the buffer even then. I shot a second launch with a film camera because that could actually take more rapid-fire photos.

Basically I guess what I'd say is that I don't need a fast card almost all the time, but it is occasionally very helpful.

Re:Not just for professionals... (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992301)

Well, it's the same amateur cameras that use SD cards that don't necessarily include enough buffer space either.

My Canon EOS 7D uses CF cards and includes a fairly hefty buffer as well. The people doing the article are idiots if they think that it's acceptable to have images sticking around in the buffer longer than necessary. The buffer is susceptible to going away instantly if the camera loses power for any reason, whereas the card itself is much more durable.

I personally, wish that camera manufacturers would wise up and ditch SC for CF like in olden times. My old Canon PowerShot s10 was still using new CF cards until they grew too large for FAT16 to handle. SD cards are a different matter as they don't include the controller.

Re:Not just for professionals... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993079)

CF Cards?

C10 SDXC cards perform better than CF for usually half the costs.

Your post reads like a fanboi who thinks Canon can do no wrong

Re:Not just for professionals... (2)

MrEdofCourse (2670081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993459)

Canon has moved to dual SD & CF card slots with their new higher-end DSLRs and has had SD slots in their consumer cameras for years.. Personally, I like both for different uses. SD is great for casual stuff, and of course Eye-Fi, but when it comes to pro-photography, CF is still where it's at. Not that I'm a pro photographer... I suck, but I can appreciate the robustness of CF.

Re:Not just for professionals... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993345)

Both CF and SD include the controller: CF cards actually look like PIO IDE drives, on a mechanically different connector, and SD is its own thing. Now, for whatever strange reason, the SD spec guys really skimped on maximum size(there are a few oddball 4GB, with some quirks in certain devices, with 2GB or less being the rule), while the CF spec didn't(not sure about 48-bit LBA in older devices; but that much Flash used to cost more than a new car, so who's checking?)

If they'd just found an extra penny or two in the budget for a higher capacity ceiling in the first place, the whole 'SD'->'mechanically identical and wholly incompatible SDHC' transition could have been avoided.

Re:Not just for professionals... (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992611)

Never mind cameras, try hauling a few gig of files on or off your ebook reader on anything less than a class 10. Yes indeed, my time is worth a lot more than the few bucks extra, if it finishes at all.

depends (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992025)

I bought an 8 GB Sony U-1 card for $12 USD retail. Rated at 94 MB/s. Writes at about 16 MB/s loading Raspberry Pi images vs 3-6 MB/s for Class 4, real world. It was worth the 4 dollar premium over other name brand flash considering i will be using it for a boot drive for R Pi.

I've found reading is faster than writing anyways. (2)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992027)

I used to have an old 7" netbook for my daughter to use (I've updated her since). I used the biggest, slowest SD Card I could find. Took forever to fill up the card on a single copy operation, but it played back just fine, and overall it was a great buy. On the other hand it would have sucked for a camera.

This isn't even a real discussion question. Consider what you need the card for and pay for the one you need. If the better than what you need card happens to fall in your range get it instead.

Re:I've found reading is faster than writing anywa (4, Funny)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992629)

I used to have an old 7" netbook for my daughter to use (I've updated her since).

Ah pubescence 2.0, them were the days.

Re:I've found reading is faster than writing anywa (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993377)

Yeah, the on board SSD was 4GB. The factory installed version of Linux couldn't even update the day I took it out of the box because the drive was full. I put eeeBuntu on the thing and it worked out great. You would be surprised how many kids movies compressed to PSP size in stereo you can fit into a 32GB SSD card. She would watch movies and even play a few video games on that thing in the back seat. I gave it to my niece and nephew when I got her a newer Acer with a 10" screen.

transfering files to the PC! (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992085)

they forgot about transfering the files to the PC, if you have a lot of really large files, a card that is a power of ten faster, will be far far far better for syncing with a computer via USB, especially if its a USB3 card reader.

imagine filling a 32GB card, and trying to transfer all those files with a class 2 card?

then wiping it securely, and then reformatting it for use somewhere else.

I don't have the time for that. I need fast memory.

today I want 30 mb/s

eventually I want 300 mb/s

the future(15 years) we should be planning for 3 GB/s

Re:transfering files to the PC! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992195)

Did you just get bored half way through TFS and decide to post?

Re:transfering files to the PC! (1)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992237)

They didn't forget about it. FTA; "A regular class 4 or 6 card that’s capable of recording HD video will also be fast enough to play it back. The only advantage of a faster card for media is that syncing with your PC will be quicker." I don't really blame you for not making it all the way though the article though, it was at least three times as long as it needed to be to make it's point.

Depends on your device (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992107)

If the interface to the sd card only supports slower speeds then a fast card is useless

And for things like watching movies or listening to music the slow cards should be enough

High-definition video (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992189)

And for things like watching movies or listening to music the slow cards should be enough

Music? Yes. Even lossless stereo audio rarely exceeds 1 Mbps. Standard-definition movies? Yes; DVD Video's maximum bit rate is 10 Mbps. High-definition movies? Not so much. BD Video's maximum bit rate is 54 Mbps. To rip in real time, you'd need at least 7 MB/s of write throughput, or something faster than a class 6.

Re:High-definition video (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992235)

Those class definitions refer to write speed. Even class 4 cards are typcially >>10MB/s when reading.

Re:High-definition video (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992601)

To rip in real time, you'd need at least 7 MB/s of write throughput

Those class definitions refer to write speed.

Exactly. Who would want to sit around all day copying the rip to the card?

Re:Depends on your device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992441)

Unless you do anything with it attached to a PC, or if you ever think you might upgrade your camera.

Uhm, yes and WTF? (5, Insightful)

Maxwell (13985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992115)

"However, with the buffer on modern DSLRs able to handle 20 full-res shots or more, it's unlikely an expensive card will make any difference to anyone other than professionals shooting bursts of fast-action shots"

UHm, no. Top of the line SLR can't handle 20 shots in buffer, and any consumer grade is 1-2 max. You won't get you 3-5 FPS (mid tier) or 5-9FPS (high end) without a fast card. And don't even think about recording 1080p or 720p@60 without a class10 UHS1 type card. The whole PC PRo exercise is a useless article apparently trying to convince consumers to buy slower things because 640k is enough for anyo....oh wait we've heard this before, haven't we :). I'd love to see them record HD video on Class4 card. Not happening.

Buying a class 4 or 6 card is just stupid these days. That is the PC equivalent of actively seeking out a USB1.1 portable HDD instead of USB3. Because USb 1.1 is all the speed you'll ever need really.

You will never regret buying class 10, but you will almost certainly regret a class 6 so why bother? Heck, in a year or two there won't be any class 6 available anyway - it is too slow...

Cameras: Canon EOS550d, S90.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992207)

That is the PC equivalent of actively seeking out a USB1.1 portable HDD instead of USB3. Canon EOS550d, S90.

The different is that you don't pay a premium for USB3 (if you still do currently, it won't last long). Class 10 cards can be noticeably more expensive.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

xystren (522982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992995)

Class 10 cards can be noticeably more expensive.

I''m afraid I would have to disagree. The difference between a class 6 and class 10 32gb is barely noticeable. Check out Tigerdirect [tigerdirect.com] ... Sometimes even the class 6 or class 4 cards are even more expensive. If this was a few years ago, I would have agreed with you completely. But this is now, not then.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

xystren (522982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993087)

Granted, the above post is referring to SDHC, not SDXC which does tend to be more expensive, but that is typically due to the memory size. SDHC is limited to 32gb, while SDXC is good up to 2TB. A 64gb SDXC Class 10 run between $55 to $200 - ultimately I'm not sure why I would purchase the $200. There doesn't appear to be any sort of benefits to the specs.

Ultimately what your using it for is going to determine your needs. For the SDHC cards, the price is negligible for a class 10 card. For the higher capacities of the SDXC cards, the differences between Class 4 and class 10 are again negligible. The price tends to split when you are talking a UHS Class 1... That's where you get into the price divide, but again, it wouldn't be something that is going to break the bank.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992251)

Also, if you dont us SD cards for anything but have a slot in your laptop, shove in a class 10 and dedicate it to readyboost.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992277)

"And don't even think about recording 1080p or 720p@60 without a class10 UHS1 type card."

Do it all the time with a class 6 in a T4i DSLR and many of my GoPro 3 black edition cameras. In fact Gopro recommends only Class 6. You are simply parroting the camera sites that are wildly incorrect.

I can even record 4K on the gopros to a Class 6.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993357)

Unfortunately, 'class' ratings on SD cards are like wattage ratings on PSUs... Most people don't actually need as big a number as they think they do; but damn is there ever a lot of crap with 'optimistic' labels slapped on it in the marketplace.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993557)

You are simply parroting the camera sites that are wildly incorrect.

Nope, I'm with the grandparent (even the same camera), buying a class 6 nowadays is just dumb. I replaced my day-to-day class 6 cards with class 10's last year and I've never regretted in performance improvement. You can use a class 6 for HD video - but that's right at the bottom end of the recommended range. Cards are cheap (watch for the price wars that pop up now and again), so there's no reason not to upgrade.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (0)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992341)

You will never regret buying class 10, but you will almost certainly regret a class 6 so why bother? Heck, in a year or two there won't be any class 6 available anyway - it is too slow...

Unless you're using the card in an audio recorder, in which case a class 10 card is just a waste of money; they are generally quite happy with class 4 cards.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992429)

UHm, no. Top of the line SLR can't handle 20 shots in buffer, and any consumer grade is 1-2 max. You won't get you 3-5 FPS (mid tier) or 5-9FPS (high end) without a fast card.

Definitely not a top-of-the-line camera, but still fairly decent - Canon EOS 7D. With the latest firmware, mine claims to have a 22 shot buffer in RAW, 80 shot buffer in large JPEG. 8fps. Plus it'll potentially shoot for even longer depending on how fast the memory card is - but it does take CompactFlash rather than SD.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (2)

EvanED (569694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992813)

His numbers are a bit low; my T2i will shoot 5 or 6 RAW photos at full speed before getting delayed by the buffer (at which point it slows to about 2 seconds per shot even with a class 10 card), and I definitely consider that a consumer grade DSLR. But I feel like the sentiment of his post is pretty correct.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992875)

But I feel like the sentiment of his post is pretty correct.

Indeed - I find I very rarely use continuous shooting on my own cameras, and I don't think I've ever hit the buffer limits in a real-world situation, but faster memory cards are still bloody useful simply for copying stuff over to a computer afterwards.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992939)

Indeed - I find I very rarely use continuous shooting on my own cameras, and I don't think I've ever hit the buffer limits in a real-world situation...

With a 7D? I can believe that. I definitely have with my T2i though.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993119)

Shooting a well lit subject, my Nikon D-3 will shoot 130 frames (JPG) continuously into the buffer at 11 frames per second so yes, a "top of the line" DSLR from a few years ago certainly can do better than 20 shots in the buffer. I only use class 10 cards for this reason. For sports photography it is a marvel.

Re:Uhm, yes and WTF? (2)

nadaou (535365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993167)

You will never regret buying class 10, but you will almost certainly regret a class 6 so why bother? Heck, in a year or two there won't be any class 6 available anyway - it is too slow...

see thread here (or maybe on the Raspberry Pi forums?) about how different SD card levels are tuned. For photography and other sequential write applications indeed class 10 is great.

But for random access like the Pi might use, that sequential write speed is done at the expense of the random access, so in whosever's tests the class 4 and class 6 drives actuall far out performed the class 10 ones for small regular user files.

ymmv, and in a year the situation will be different again.

HD Video (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992127)

In my Canon I have to put a pretty fast card in to take more than about 10-20 seconds of video. I don't need the fastest but a 10 is pretty well the minimum. I would say that this test would be best if they had some older model cameras. Older being pretty common because if you bought a good camera even 5 years ago there is a pretty good chance that it still meets your needs and is still going strong.

My personal suggestion is for everyone with a halfway serious camera to not only get fast enough SD cards but to go on ebay and buy a spare battery and charger. When you suddenly need them it is too late to get them cheap on ebay and paying full retail price can really sting.

Re:HD Video (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992265)

Exactly. But the toy palmcorders will not use anything more than a Class 6.

Is It Worth Manufacturing Slow SD Cards? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992133)

No. Those are just cheap the leftovers in the storehouse they need to sell somehow.

I have a D800e and shoot raw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992157)

Slow cards mean waiting as those 45+ meg files are being written. Yes, fast Compact Flash and SD cards are expensive but if you want the write speeds for big files, then that is the cost of doing business. This is like people complaining that Raptor drives and SSDs aren't worth it. Maybe, to them. I personally have better things to do with my finite time on Earth than waiting for the darn buffer to clear.

Re:I have a D800e and shoot raw (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992435)

They're not that expensive. My latest set of 16gb CF cards were $16 a piece and even without the $5 off they were still quite cheap. It reads at 45mbps and writes at 40mbps. And I see ones for about triple the price that double the speed. Overkill for the vast majority of people, but cards last a long time and at $70 a pop, they're not that expensive for those that really need that kind of speed.

I know there are faster cards out there, but that's about half a second to write per RAW file. For most people, that's going to be more than enough speed. Now, for those that are regularly filling the buffer, that would be a different matter.

But, considering that the 266x cards are reading faster than what the HDD usually read at, I think that's probably good enough.

Know your camera's write speed! (3, Insightful)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992177)

There's no point buying a Class 10 card if your camera's write speed is no faster than Class 6. Unfortunately, though, some camera makers don't provide this information, or they make make it hard to find the write speed. Thus you may have to do some web research for your specific camera.

That being said, you'll never complain (after you have bought the card) if your card is faster than your camera.

As a side comment, I think it's better to have 2 16gb cards than a single 32gb card, purely from the perspective of "no single point of failure." My goal on vacation/shoots is to have at least one card unused at the end of the trip. (I learned the hard way what can go wrong when I ran out of cards, erased a card I thought was copied to my computer, and then discovered the backup program saw the erased card and said, "Oh, you didn't want that data after all!" No one to blame but myself for that operator headspace error.)

Re:Know your camera's write speed! (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992445)

That's why you should use a utility like teracopy to do the copy. I use it to verify that the files have been copied and then immediately delete the files on the card. That way, I know that they made it to the disk. I wish that it supported MD5 rather than CRC, but it's better than nothing and much faster than individually verifying each file is the same one.

Re:Know your camera's write speed! (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993065)

There's no point buying a Class 10 card if your camera's write speed is no faster than Class 6.

Well, with a faster card, you can copy the data out of the card quicker.

Re:Know your camera's write speed! (1)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993179)

Well, with a faster card, you can copy the data out of the card quicker.

iff the device you're using to copy supports reading the card at a faster speed! I've observed anecdotally, and read many reviews about the (usually poor) quality/speed of most 3rd party flash card readers. (Not an issue on my 2011 MacBook Pro, but it was a consideration using an external reader on my earlier MB Pro.)

Wonder why they left out Lexar (3, Informative)

RedBear (207369) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992179)

It's very odd to me that they seem to have left out Lexar completely from this little test. Back when I was really into digital photography I spent a lot of time on DPReview and Amazon and B&H Photo looking for the best deals on the fastest CompactFlash and SD cards. The top competitors seemed to always be the SanDisk Ultra/Extreme lines and Lexar's Professional cards. Kingston has usually done well also, but the most prominent/popular over the years have always have seemed to be SanDisk and Lexar.

Even 2-3 years ago I remember Lexar having "300x" cards competing with the SanDisk Extreme lineup. Just now doing a quick search on Amazon shows Lexar "600x" SD cards available, so it's not like they've dropped out of the market.

Maybe somebody at Lexar pissed off the editor of PC Pro? I can't imagine why else you'd leave one of the fastest cards on the market out of a speed test. Hmm...

Oh, yeah. PC Pro. Why the f**k am I even reading Slashdot anymore?

Re:Wonder why they left out Lexar (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992281)

You mean Lexar, the same company that had deliberately misleading advertising for some of its USB Flash products in the last year or two during the transition to USB 3.0? Lexar had advertising and product descriptions for some of its USB 2.0 thumb drives that conveniently didn't even mention that they were USB 2.0, not 3.0. You had to read the fine print in a PDF document to find out the truth, and only then because of the appearance of the USB "High Speed" logo in the margin of the document. Apparently Lexar was trying to unload its stock of USB 2.0 products before it was too late by outright misleading people.

Forget what Lexar might have been doing honestly a decade ago; is that same company really one you want to depend upon now after it pulls a stunt like that?

Re:Wonder why they left out Lexar (1)

davmoo (63521) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993335)

Yes it is the one I want to depend on, and in fact do depend on. Because Lexar 1000x CF cards are the fastest cards out there in both read and write speeds. And that's by my actual experience and testing*, and not their advertising. I don't give a rat's ass what their PR department does.

*I shoot high school gymnastics with a Canon 7D. It is not unusual for me to shoot 4000 or more shots during a 2 hour event.

Re:Wonder why they left out Lexar (1)

RDW (41497) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992425)

There's some rather more useful and still reasonably up to date testing on Rob Galbraith's site for a few high-end SLRs (unfortunately no longer updated):

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=6007 [robgalbraith.com]

Lexar cards are included, up to 600x SDHC, and 1000x CF. XQD cards are the real speed demons now, of course.

Yes (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992245)

Don't even bother with cards less then class 10, there not really worth the investment. "slower" or lower class SD cards are perfectly find but for the slight price difference you may as well spend the extra $5 and by the better card, it is faster, has better overall predominance and just lasts longer.

It depends... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992255)

If you have crap quality gear, no. you cant record to a Class 10 card with a garbage camera fast enough to use the class 10 speed. Stick with Class 4 for your low end consumer gear.

My Sony VG30 camcorder? yes it will record to the class 10 card and take advantage of it. Same as my D800. your toy level under $500 point and shoot? nope, dont worry about it.

Simply Untrue (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992273)

"... with the buffer on modern DSLRs able to handle 20 full-res shots or more, it's unlikely an expensive card will make any difference to anyone other than professionals shooting bursts of fast-action shots."

I have seen a number of reviews for inexpensive video cameras that said a 4x card was not fast enough and caused choppy video, but a faster card fixed it.

It depends: how many shoot 50+frames/minute? (1)

non-e-moose (994576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992279)

How many people _actually_ shoot more than 10 frames/minute on a regular/continuous basis? Really. Think about your personal usage. The likelyhood is that the answer is Z-Eee-Arrr-Oooh. ZERO. or close to it. Those who do are serious about their video, and are much more picky about things than simple capture rates.

Re:It depends: how many shoot 50+frames/minute? (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993045)

How many people _actually_ shoot more than 10 frames/minute on a regular/continuous basis?
Really. Think about your personal usage.
The likelyhood is that the answer is Z-Eee-Arrr-Oooh. ZERO. or close to it. Those who do are serious about their video, and are much more picky about things than simple capture rates.

Probably not many. I'd still recommend the fastest that you camera can support, because the improved read speed will be noticeable when flipping through the pictures on the camera or offloading onto the PC.

what about normal consumer point-and-shoot? (4, Insightful)

AxemRed (755470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992291)

While modern DSLR cameras might have large buffers, normal consumer-grade or even enthusiast-grade point-and-shoot cameras don't necessarily have them. IMO it makes sense for an average person to buy a higher speed card. They're probably only buying one card anyway, and the price difference between a slow card and a fast card is small enough to make it worth it.

An Ultrabook is a MacBook Air! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992303)

All others are posers.

Not according to the guy at frys (4, Funny)

joeflies (529536) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992473)

I once went to frys to pick up some extra cards, and the sales rep told me that if I buy the more expensive cards, it will improve the quality of my pictures because they will be sharper and more colorful. I am still trying to figure out how he justifies that statement.

Re:Not according to the guy at frys (1, Insightful)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993479)

That's what happens when you talk to sales, if you do a little research online you will know more than they do.

SD Card Write Speeds (3, Insightful)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992491)

The class ratings from reputable vendors tend to be reliable, but you don't always get this from lesser known manufacturers. Most Class 10 cards get at least Class 6 performance.

A Class 10 32 GB SDHC card costs $33 or less. The same card at Class 6 costs $25 or less, a whopping $8 in savings. Most people buy one card and leave it in their camera except to transfer photos to the PC to upload to Facbook, etc. Is it really advisable to recommend that people save $8 for a one-time purchase of a memory card? I think not!!

Find the card that suits your needs. (5, Informative)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992523)

For Photography, work out your budget, figure out what you need for your style of taking pictures, and buy the best memory you can afford for your needs. If you can get by with class 4 or class 6 memory, great. If you find that you need class 10, try out some of the budget options noted above and see if they serve your needs.

For other uses, you may very well find that a slower card actually works better for you than a 'faster' card. Class 10 is great for streaming large volumes of data onto the card, but experience has shown in the microsd cards that if you need to do a lot of small file manipulations, read and write, etc. a class 4 may outperform a class 10 card. This is of interest to people doing cyanogen mod implementations running off of the sdcard, but is a completely different use case from a photographer shooting high res photos, or a videographer shooting HD video.

Video and SD speed ratings (4, Interesting)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992599)

I've learned through trial and error what cards actually work on my camcorder. For still photography, I've always been a SanDisk fan. But every class 10 SanDisk SD card I have used is unable to support the highest quality recording on my Canon camcorder. Oddly, class 10 Transend cards work fine. It appears the class 10 rating is a read-speed rating - not write-speed. I've tried 6 different SanDisk cards over the years and they continue to disappoint.

Yes (1)

SampleFish (2769857) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992613)

When it comes to memory you always want the good stuff.

There are many reasons why.
#1 Buying high end cards pushes the market in that direction. I don't think they should make slow chips anymore.
#2 It makes the experience better. In almost every application. Loading, unloading, device performance. Each device will have limitations but you should seek to maximize the potential.
#3 Memory is cheap. The fast cards are available on-line for the same price as the slow cards in the store.
#4 I forgot what #4 is but I'm sure there are more reasons.

The old saying goes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992651)

The old saying goes..
Fast, reliable, cheap

Pick any two.

Um, what? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992715)

So, from the summary, it sounds like the article states that slower-rated SD cards are just as good as faster-rated ones, except when they're not.

OK.

Re:Um, what? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993039)

On my 7MP superzoom I can shoot continuous on a class 4 card, if it's a good one. But I'm told that anything higher-resolution (or RAW) and it's a no-go. And if you want to shoot HD video you want a class 10, or continuous RAW, or anything else high-bandwidth really. So in short, if you have a cheap consumer camera and you're taking cheap consumer pictures (resolution-wise anyway) then it doesn't matter, and for playing music it doesn't matter, but for high res, RAW, or HD video you should pony up for a real card.

With that said, it's twice the money for a real card! Class 4 is seven bucks on eBay, class 10 can be had for 12 but is more often 14, if you expect a lifetime warranty.

And with that said, Sandisk is now giving the third degree for memory card warranty, so I'm giving Kingston a try again...

How about when erasing sectors? (1)

EETech1 (1179269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992855)

I wonder how the write times change when they become over-write times, and sectors have to be erased before they can be written.

Yes (1)

thepainguy (1436453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992865)

I have a Canon T3i and have tried to shoot 720P 60FPS video with cheap class 10 cards and the camera pukes after a second or so.

It only works well with a Sandisk class 10 card.

Class 6 are useally as fast as Class 10 (3, Interesting)

maxbash (1350115) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992903)

I always buy Class 6 SD cards, why because there slightly cheaper then Class 10 nearly always a smiler or identical card when from the same brand. Do I sound illogical? Study the specification, Class 10 has a less rigorous testing metric, they don't do any random access tests on Class 10 cards. So far I've had the best performance with Sanddisk Ultra class 6 cards. I admit I do push the random access on some of my uses, like using it has the system drive for a Nook Color, booting UBCD4win on a ISOSTICK. and as a system drive for a couple ARM Developer boards.

One thing IS worth spending more for. (1)

sdsucks (1161899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992905)

Brand name cards for reliability & speed. I've seen more than a few cheap cards fail but never a good brand name card.

Lower classed cards of a good brand are usually faster than higher classed cheap brands too. About all a cards class rating really means is that at some point it passed a very specific write throughput benchmark. Slow cards are near useless for many purposes. If you ever want to use the card outside of a shitty camera, you'll appreciate any extra speed.

Note that most benchmark ignore read and write latency too, which can get very significant if using for other purposes.

Re:One thing IS worth spending more for. (1)

freemenow-linux (2825877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992985)

if you didnt know already i have seen some top of the line usb drives and sd cards fail more than the cheap ones

No (1)

freemenow-linux (2825877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992979)

in my personal opinion i wouldn't pay for the extra speed i just cant justify it seeing as i can go to my local Microcenter store (microcenter.com) and buy a 16gig micro SD card for around $10 and i recently bought a 32gig sd card for around $20.. now if i was doing something every day that i would need the extra speed for then yes i would spend the extra money.. and considering that i would never play a high resolution video from an sd card or usb drive let alone edit one as it is always much faster to transfer the file to the hard drive since the current r/w speeds of a hard drive are still faster than the speed of an SD card..

Seasoned professional photographers... (1)

Vylen (800165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993047)

... would take less burst shots than amateurs since they would know when to take a shot after having already framed it in their mind.

Amateurs (and enthusiasts like myself) can often use burst shooting for shoot-and-pray. Hopefully amongst those photos something good came out!

Re:Seasoned professional photographers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993323)

Amateurs (and enthusiasts like myself) can often use burst shooting for shoot-and-pray

Shoot-and-pray is not necessarily a bad thing. With some of the more active performers, you see certain precursors and it's ideal to continuous shoot in case a signature move or once-in-a-concert action shot happens. Those photos are split second and while I know some people can time it perfectly and get those moves in one shot, they're paid a *lot* more money per gig.

Raspberry Pi? (4, Interesting)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993051)

Since SD cards are the standard storage medium for the Raspberry Pi, what about a speed comparison for that?

Re:Raspberry Pi? (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993475)

If you use a class 4 card vs a class 10 card, you will be roughly 2.5x min faster, if you get a 30Mb/s card you will be 7.5x faster. Everything would load faster.

I'm guilty of overkill (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993237)

I always buy class10 32gb cards I even have one in a sony ereader where I'm using maybe a gb at most and don't need that kind of speed whatsover it's a total waste even I recognise, I guess it's a character flaw with myself I've yet to get a 64gb one but I definitely do want them even if I never use the space.

Yes, even for regular stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993259)

I keep lots of books on my SD card in my Android tablet. I noticed a huge difference in how fast the apps can even read the directory list of all the books there. Plus a huge difference in how fast the app can load the book off of the card. Synchronizing the SD card with my PC goes a lot faster too.

As far as I am concerned, the Class 2 cards are just the crap they throw at consumers to make us think we are getting something when we aren't. They are only good for putting pictures on to send to your grandma. (And all my grandparents are dead, so that should tell you something.)

THIS...was worth a study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993317)

"Are faster grades of SD memory card worth the extra cash...

Are you serious with this shit? The difference between a class-6 32GB card and a class-10 32GB card is seven fucking dollars.

Any moron not spending that extra seven dollars after spending $1500 on the latest 427-gigapixel camera deserves to miss the shot.

Let's put this another way. Chances are any device you're actually questioning could benefit with a class-10 card is likely hundreds of dollars, and therefore discussing memory speed options here is about as pointless as discussing which color memory card you should get.

I don't know what is a bigger failure, someone actually studying this, or it being on Slashdot.

Fast and small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993439)

I have done my own tests with a number of brands and speeds and now buy only one brand-
SanDisk Extreme Pro.
I have not had one single problem in the years since I switched to Extreme Pro cards and now use them in every camera they will work in. (My D70 with CF adapter will not work with these cards so I have to use an older, slower one. Yes, native CF would be better but I have a LOT of SD cards.)

The buffer sizes are somewhat over-stated in some of these comments, unless folks are using the smallest, lowest quality settings for their images. Nothing out there right now will buffer 20 20mb RAW images in-camera.

Faster is better and smaller is better- as long as the card works in the camera and the size is big enough for your needs. Multiple small cards does two things for you: eventually any card will die and if you are out and do NOT have a spare, no more pictures. Plus- two 8gb cards can cost less than one 16gb card.

My last point:
The ratings and classifications are NOT trustworthy and the errors are almost always on the low side. ALMOST always...
I do have one ancient Transcend card that is FAST compared to most of the cards I have (including Lexar.) Reads AND writes faster.

And yes, HD video can be recorded on any decent class 6 card- hell, if that is all you are doing just buy some really cheap, big class 6 or better cards and don't get too bound up about read/write speeds- you aren't pushing the cards that hard.
If you are doing portraits or stills- hell, dig out your really ancient cards because it won't slow you down.

But if you do action or wildlife- or want to be as prepared as you can be for sudden inspiration, get some good cards.

I than4 you for your 7ime (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993453)

For al practical the numbers. The are about 7000/5 the point more

Yes, you do need faster flash memory (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993457)

I thought that I was fine with the memory I had until I shot raw on DSLR, If you've never shot raw it will change your life. The files are 30Mb for one and 20Mb for the other DSLR that I have, so lets do a quick calculation to see what the time between shots would be on a class 2/4 card (~6Mb/sec) vs a class 10 (~10Mb/sec). If I wanted to save 1 file it would take me 5 or 3 seconds respectively for the larger files. This is absurd when you are shooting photography. So you ask, I have no fancy camera, why would I want a fast card? Lets suppose you fill that nice 32Gb class 4 card you bought up with files and now you want to get them off. Well it will take you around 2 hours to get those files transferred. You might as well burn a few DVD's while your at it. Now I only buy sandisk extreme, they are 45Mb/sec (with some at 95Mb/sec, which is almost fast enough to be a swapfile disk). I do have a Lexar and it is around 40Mb/sec and it does just fine. Not to mention if you do anything with video, they are starting 1080p@60fps or even 4k video on some cameras like a gopro 3, this generates large files and high throughput's, a class 10 card wont even cut it. So, you can buy a nice card now, or buy a cheap one now and a nice one later (unless you just store a bunch of text files on your flash device and only use it for that). You can pick up a faster card on sale for 25$ for 32GB. Don't even get me started on cell phones, I have an s3 and I've noticed a ~10% speed improvement after installing a faster card.

not just for pictures (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993465)

At work, we use them as the boot device and main mass storage device for our embedded systems. We build systems that deal with lots and lots of real time data. You're damn right it makes a difference.

Need it for the megapixel race (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993469)

In the newer cameras that have 15+MP sensors that are really good at taking pictures of the Sun and nothing else, and save raw images with no compression, and with rapid burst modes for "spray and pray" photography, you absolutely have to have the fastest flash cards you can get.

In Soviet Russia, your TV watches YOU! (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993553)

I live in Russia. I need a removable boot media which can be easily hidden. I do nothing bad: I just don't want my business to be stopped by seizure of computers containing vital information. Traditionally, if THEY want to extort business, they first seize all the computers under suspicion that they contain pirated OS and child porno. You can wait for end of investigation forever, while THEIR children play with your equipment, of just sell your business to THEM. If you are too impatient, THEY will find child pornography. THEY stop the politicians similarly, too, but there THEY look for MEIN KAMPF.

In such conditions, the higher class the better. And the terminal server under the chair of a crazy old lady somewhere far enough will help, too.

Good cameras don't use SD... (1)

XaXXon (202882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993623)

Don't all the high-end cameras still use CF? So much easier to work with. All my camears use CF.

The camera is only part of the reason (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993639)

I recently replaced my SDHC cards for my now aged Nikon D90 with Sandisk ultra 90MB/sec cards. The camera can't take advantage of them at all and I knew that going into it. I did it because it improves processing. Moving photos from a shoot went from a 20+ minute chore to something that is done in a minute or two on the PC. That makes it worthwhile to me. Fast cards really aren't all that expensive. Even though I shoot everything in RAW+JPEG fine, I have never filled a 16GB card in a single shoot.
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