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Magazine Of The Nikon World

Nikon Owner Issue 22

Technical Helpline

Our technical helpline is a service on our website www.nikonownermagazine.com Our resident expert, Simon Stafford, is on hand to answer your questions about Nikon equipment and photography in general.

Compact Flash card choice

Question: Dear Simon, Nearly a year after selling my D2H, since when I have used my trusty F6 exclusively, I have placed an order for a D2Hs.

I am now in a position of choosing the best Compact Flash for this camera. I mainly take RAW + Large JPEG and I use the 8-frames per second ability a lot as well. I believe I should choose either a 4Gb, or 8Gb card but checking prices of the SanDisk range for instance I have found the difference in price between an 8Gb card their Extreme III series and the latest Extreme IV series is huge, although I understand that the latter is quicker.

Considering the size of files produced by the 4Mp D2Hs, should I opt for the more expensive Extreme IV series card, or could I save some money and buy the Extreme III card if it does the same job for me? Furthermore, since I do not have any experience with Lexar memory cards, do you have any preference between these two makes and their various card models? Kind Regards, Kayhan.

Answer: Dear Kayhan, The SanDisk Extreme IV series cards can work at 266x (approximately 40MB per second), which is twice the speed of the Extreme III series memory cards but the limiting factor will be the write speed of the camera not the card installed inside it! Few if any D-SLR cameras currently available achieve a write speed over 10MB per second, so there is no gain to be had by using a 266x card that can work at 40MB per second.

However, the fast-write speed of the Extreme IV series cards is complimented by a high-read speed, which can make a significant difference in the time it takes to transfer data from the card to a computer. SanDisk have introduced a Firewire card reader alongside the Extreme IV cards that is supplied with Firewire 400 and Firewire 800 connectors; Firewire 800 supports a data transfer speed of 40MB per second but is not nearly as common as the slower Firewire 400 interface. Some high-end Mac computers have Firewire 800, although curiously this was dropped for a while from the MacBook Pro models but has now been re-introduced.

Personally, I doubt that you would notice any real benefit in using the Extreme IV cards with a D2Hs compared with the Extreme III models. However, if your work flow requires rapid upload of data from the memory card to a computer, and provided you have a compatible interface on your Mac computer (i.e. Firewire 800), the Extreme IV cards used in combination with the Sandisk Firewire card reader offer a distinct advantage over anything else available currently. Regards, Simon.