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12-30-2011, 01:15 AM   #1
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Taking it to Extremes...

SanDisk Extreme Pro Cards.

The tests were carried out with a Pentax K5 camera, a SanDisk All in One USB 3.0 card reader and a SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 card reader. With writing to the cards the test was conducted to take a series of image with the camera until the shot buffer was filled. Then once the buffer was filled a further ten images were taken. The timer was started when the shutter was first started and then stopped when the SD card writing light on the camera stopped flashing. To test the download times the card was put into a card reader to download them to the hard drive of the computer. Using a Windows 7 computer they process was timed for the beginning of the copy till it was finished with the burst speed being the highest indicated speed in the copy dialog box. The average was calculated from the time taken and the amount of data copied.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro cards are currently amongst the fastest SD cards on the market, but they are quite pricy, at the moment they are approximately twice the price of the Extreme HD video cards which are rated at approximately 1/3rd the speed. In general usage the camera with the fast card is perceptibly faster in write times and when looking through the images on the back of the camera they are once again slightly quicker. The difference though could quite easily be lost if you havenít had your morning coffee.

The Pro card has the same level of build quality as all high end SD cards, and is said to be water, dust and shock proof. I donít disagree with these claims as one of the Extreme III cards was left in a jean pocket and went through 2 full wash and dryer cycles before it was noticed. The card was fine and is still working 3 years later none the wiser for its adventure. Another card which fell out of my pocket spent the better part of two weeks on the ground in a carport and was run over at least twice a day and once again apart from a couple of scratches was fine. So there is no reason to doubt the durability of these cards.

The Pro card really does show its advantages though when it comes to downloading from the card to a computer. With the All in One card reader running on a standard USB 2.0 port the Pro card was able to copy the files over in about 60% of the time of the next fastest card. With the older card reader the performances for the two cards were identical, which suggests that both cards were able to exceed the performance of the Extreme reader. When the All in One reader was plugged into a USB 3.0 port the difference was staggering with the Pro card copying over the data nearly 2.5 times faster.

Finally the Pro cards have a nice little touch. On the front of the label there is a patch that can be written on. This is a very handy feature that is helpful for sorting cards and or tracking them in the event of loss or theft. Most other SD cards have a glossy label that even permanent markers will not stay on for long.

In the end, the Pro cards are much faster than any of the other cards in the test and by a large margin, both in camera as well as downloading the images to the computer. The down side with the Pro cards, and it is a big one, is the cost performance ratio. At the moment most cameras will not be able to match the performance of the cards. Also when downloading to a computer you will need a very high speed card reader to fully utilise the speed. On balance I think that these cards are worth the extra cost.

Taking it to the Extreme…

12-31-2011, 05:07 AM   #2
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Thank you for the info. A faster card really allows for a much better video overall when using DSLR's. The write time is key to taking advantage of bit-rate. I noticed a significant difference whenever increasing to faster cards, say class 6 to 10. I also noticed that my pictures are clearer and have less artifacts, but I'm not sure how or why. I understand it with video, but not so much with stills.
Thanks for the post.

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