SanDisk 16GB Extreme Pro CompactFlash - Performance Testing the Extreme Pro

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SanDisk 16GB Extreme Pro CompactFlash
Performance Testing the Extreme Pro
 

Test Setup:

For this review we used the speedy Addonics ADSACF-N SATA CompactFlash card reader .  This device supports UDMA enabled CompactFlash cards and is about the fastest CompactFlash card reader we could get our hands on with short notice.  Some Firewire 800 card readers are available as well and they should certainly push the limits of this card.  As previously mentioned, we also used a Nikon D300s DSLR camera that shoots in continuous mode at 7FPS with the built-in battery and up to 8FPS with the additional MB-D10 battery pack.  For this review we used the MB-D10 battery grip in order to push the limits of this card.

For comparison in both HDTach as well as the actual camera tests, we compared the SanDisk Extreme Pro 600x card with an affordable Lexar 8GB 80x card.  Obviously the difference should be obvious, but it is interesting to see how much difference there is in the real world.

SanDisk Features
Sandisk Features

 

While the Extreme Pro supports UDMA 6 (Ultra ATA/133), the Addonics Card Reader only supports UDMA 5 (Ultra ATA/100).  This is still faster than any built-in USB card reader on your laptop or desktop computer and HDTach should show some interesting performance.

 

Performance Testing:

We start things off with a look at HDTach and compare the Lexar 8GB 80x card against the SanDisk 16GB 600x card.  As you can see read performance is taken care of by the SanDisk card.  It doesn't come close to its 90MB/sec speed, but it does burst to over 67MB/sec and averages 34.6MB/sec read speed.  Compare this to the Lexar card which bursts to 15.9MB/sec and averages a 15.6MB/sec read speed.

 HDTach - Performance
Click for Larger Image

 

With those numbers in mind, we popped these cards into the D300s and started clicking.  We shot images in bright daylight at 1/200 shutter speed at ISO100, with no noise reduction.  The Tokina 11-16mm lens was set at f2.8 and we ran through a couple of tests.  The first test was to see how fast the camera could fill the buffer and once it was full, we'd take two more frames to get our first result.  In RAW mode, the images at 4288x2848 and were averaging about 9.28MB in size.  The SanDisk card shot 20 images in exactly 3 seconds.  The buffer filled at about 18 images and we snapped a couple more for a realistic result.  The Lexar card started out pretty good, but when the buffer filled, it slowed down to a crawl as it couldn't write data very fast.  We took 19 images in 5 seconds with this card.

Once we did the initial speed test, we timed out how long it took to take 30 images.  Once again we started out with the SanDisk Extreme Pro and we took 30 images in 5 seconds flat.  That works out to six images per second - including the time it take to write to the card once the buffer is full.  The Lexar card took 19 seconds to snap the same 30 image set.  The first 17 were very fast, but the next images were painfully slow.

  • Lexar - 19 images in 5 seconds = 9.28MB/image * 19 Images / 5 sec. = 35.26MB/sec write
  • Lexar - 30 images in 19 seconds = 9.28MB/image * 30 Images / 19 sec. = 14.65MB/sec write
  • SanDisk - 20 images in 3 seconds = 9.28MB/image * 20 Images / 3 sec. = 61.9MB/sec write
  • SanDisk - 30 images in 5 seconds = 9.28MB/image * 30 Images / 5 sec. = 55.68MB/sec write

 

The above information doesn't really indicate actual write speed as the camera buffer is holding 17 images and writing as fast as possible.  The reality is that you can continue to shoot 5 images per second while the SanDisk card is writing data and the Lexar card takes over a second to write a single image.  The Lexar card is more than 6x slower in the real world.

 

Conclusion:

While I'm sure that most people wouldn't consider spending $250+ on a 16GB CompactFlash Card, if you're a budding photographer and you just have to capture that action shot to get your big break, the SanDisk Extreme Pro card won't leave you waiting.  It writes incredibly fast, reads data from the card in a snap and worked flawlessly through the weeks that we pounded this card in our tests.  We used it in low temperatures -10C without issues and I'm confident that this card will keep on kicking long after your SD cards have corrupted.  In the D300s, I used it to record my RAW images and sent the JPEGs to an SD card and this convenience and performance is fantastic.

The bottom line is this: "Would I spend $250 on this card?"  I wish I had $250 to spend on it as it gives you the freedom to shoot as much as you need to without worrying about slowing down your camera considerably while the card writes images from the buffer.  The performance you gain from this card is remarkable - if you have a fast camera - but you'll have to decide if the performance is worth the price.  This makes it hard to score value - as it is extremely expensive for 16GB of storage, but for the speed it is priced not too badly.

If you're even considering this card, you probably have over $2000 worth of camera kit hanging around your neck and this would only represent about 10% of your investment.  If you look at it that way, it's probably not a bad buy.

Pros:

  • Lightning Fast Speed
  • Durable CompactFlash Design
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Extreme Temperature Capability

 

Cons:

  • Not as fast as stated
  • Expensive

BCCRating

Silver

 

I'd like to thank SanDisk for loaning out this Extreme Pro CompactFlash card for us to look at.  My only regret is that I have to send it back...  Please post your thoughts and comments in the forum at the "Comments" link below.