DigitalCameraReview.com
SanDisk launches Extreme Pro CompactFlash cards
by JerryJ -  9/14/2009

Today photographers have a new solution for high speed digital photography without waiting for what seems like an eternity for the camera to finish writing images to the memory card. The new SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash memory cards promise to provide the fastest, most reliable, high-capacity memory cards designed for professional photographers.

SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash Memory Card
The cards feature a new "SanDisk Power Core Controller," an advanced memory controller that enables lightning-fast read and write speeds of up to 90MB/s over a UDMA-6 bus, doubling the performance from previous SanDisk high-end cards.

SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash

For increased reliability, the SanDisk Power Core Controller's firmware algorithms and 42-bit ECC engine maintain data integrity and extended card endurance through optimized wear leveling. SanDisk even includes a voucher for a free download of RescuePRO recovery software to recover images, video, and other files from the Extreme Pro CompactFlash card in the unlikely event that you accidentally delete an important image or a file is lost on the card. To further increase overall card durability, the SanDisk Power Core Controller features an integrated design that requires fewer individual components on the card's printed circuit board.

SanDisk Extreme cards offer guaranteed operation at extended temperatures ranging from minus 13 F (minus 25 C) to 185 F (85 C). SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash cards also feature RTV Silicone coating for added protection against moisture and humidity. The cards can withstand accidental drops of up to nine feet, and carry a lifetime limited warranty.

The cards are shipping worldwide beginning today with capacities ranging from 16 to 64GB. Prices will vary based on capacity and retailer. SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash cards are fully compatible with any camera, card reader or other device that supports CompactFlash cards.

SanDisk Extreme Pro Compact Flash Hands-on Preview
We decided to see just how fast these cards are, and we were pretty impressed. Using the D300s and the 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro we could clear a buffer worth of 20 RAW images (11.6MB per image) in approximately 8.5 seconds. However, a Lexar Professional UDMA CompactFlash card rated at only 300x was able to perform the same task in about 10 seconds.

That brings us to the one and only "catch" when dealing with the newest UDMA 6 CompactFlash cards: Hardware makes a difference. The SanDisk Extreme Pro might be rated at a write speed of 90MB/sec, but that doesn't mean every camera or CompactFlash reader is capable of such speeds. When testing the write performance of the Extreme Pro card, SanDisk recommends the following UDMA 6 cameras:

In other words, a budget-priced DSLR or older camera isn't likely to push the Extreme Pro CompactFlash card to the limit. Along those same lines, a typical USB card reader might not be able to read/write to the Extreme Pro any faster than a typical CompactFlash card. Below is a sample of our laboratory benchmark test showing the read and write speeds of the SanDisk Extreme Pro with a generic USB CompactFlash card reader. As you can see, the card reader was only able to push the Extreme Pro to a read speed of about 16MB/sec and a write speed of about 14.5MB/sec. This is why SanDisk also recommends the Extreme Pro ExpressCard Adapter which is rated at the full 90MB/sec.

SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash

Overall, we happily recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash cards for working professionals using top-of-the-line digital cameras. However, if you're using an entry-level DSLR or an older camera and CompactFlash reader then don't expect these cutting-edge cards to speed up your digital life.