Pros: Best advertised read/write speeds
Cons: UHS-1 speeds not supported in most cameras to date
It was time to replace my 32Gb SanDisk Extreme HD video card with a new one. After 1.5 years of faithful service it got lost in transition. Fortunately it did not carry sensitive pictures.
I decided to play safe and stay true to SanDisk. The brand has not failed me and if aint broke why fix it yeh! These days there are a wide choice when it comes to choosing storage cards. Different variants of SD cards exist focusing on amateur to professional needs.
Brief on SanDisk SD card range and differences
In the current lineup of SanDisk range are 5 variants - Eye Fi, Standard, Ultra, Extreme and Extreme Pro. Within each of these variants come different storage sizes ranging from 2GB to 128GB. Not all sizes are available for each variant though. The highest capacity (64GB, 128GB) cards are labelled SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) while rest of the cards are SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity). The other labelling to note is the speed class rating. To keep it really simple speed classes are rated as Class 2 , 4, 6 or 10. The higher the number the greater the speed. The Speed class number relates to the minimum MB/s read or write speed of a video recording. Class 10 cards now come with even higher speeds and has a labelling of UHS-1....yeap you probably guessed it Ultra High Speed. UHS-1 labelled SD cards offer greater than 10MB/s transfer speeds. You would also notice in big font 30MB/s, 45MB/s or 95MB/s printed on the card. This is the rated speed which gives the maximum advertised read speed.
Note for correction: The picture shown in Epinions seems to be a slightly previous version as SanDisk Extreme Pro range is UHS-1 (which is not mentioned in the Epinions product title at the time of writing this review) and has a rated speed of 95MB/s printed on the card (Epinions product image has 45MB/s printed on the card at the time of writing this review). 45MB/s is the rated speed in the SanDisk Extreme range now and not Extreme Pro.
So here's the real deal. My experience with the SanDisk Extreme Pro 32 GB card:
To set the tone and expectations, Im a casual photographer using a Canon T3i. Most of my shooting is still pictures and zero video. Still pictures are mainly taken at weddings (mostly portraits) and on trips (landscape shots). Burst shooting is done on occasions and I shoot only JPEG and not RAW.
For the above needs any professional would advise a SanDisk Ultra would sufficiently fulfill my needs. But I like to go for the best available usually product even though I know I will not make full use of it. The positive is that the card is ready if I start shooting HD video or start shooting RAW images like crazy or upgrade my camera itself. It also gives me the comfort that I own a new piece of technology and the comfort of owning a high quality product. So after a bit of researching I ended up buying the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 SDSDXPA-032G-A75 (32 GB) SD Card. (The product number in italics). Cost=$65 from the well reputed BandH super store.
I started out shooting a few pictures outside of my house as a first trial to check if the card is not a DOA (Dead on arrival) and it was not.
The first real use was at a friends wedding. As expected I could not observe any difference between the SanDisk Extreme Pro (UHS-1, Rated speed 95MB/s) over my previous SanDisk HD Video (Class 10, Rated speed 30Mb/s). A few burst shots (~8 continous shots) of the bride throwing her bouquet was done and the card was ready instantly for the next shot. That was reassuring although I dont think that would have stressed the limits of the card or the camera.
A bit more research on my Canon T3i found that although UHS-1cards are supported in the camera it still isn't capable of handling the full speed possible with the SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s card! It so seems that the camera internal buffer determines in no small way how much it can hold in its memory before writing to the memory card.
Buying Tip: So do a check on your camera to make sure if it supports the UHS-1 memory cards before you make a purchase. You maybe able to save a few dollars by buying a say SanDisk Ultra or Extreme vs a SanDisk Extreme Pro. Very few camera models to date support true UHS-1 speeds.
In Canon range, 650D and 6D, both new cameras support true UHS-1.
In my case I did the check on camera support post buying the high end memory card so now I cannot go back with my purchase. However like I mentioned before, buying the latest and best products puts my mind in a comfort zone.
For photographers of HD video shooting, RAW+JPEG burst shooting with a professional (and UHS-1 compatible) grade DSLR then the SanDisk Extreme Pro can do no wrong.