UDMA and photography

I eavesdropped on a twitter discussion between Jim and Adam on UDMA cards. As outlined in this article, not all cameras can take advantage of UDMA cards, but my Nikon D3 (and D300) are among them. Also, the read speed means faster downloads.

So it’s worth mentioning that Mark Jen pointed out this deal on high speed card reader ($25) (you’ll need a computer with a Firewire 800 interface). As well as rebates on the 8GB ($90) and the 4GB ($33) UDMA CF cards.

[More about compact flash and purchasing photography after the jump]

Compact Flash speed (redux)

If price is no object, the SanDisk Extreme Ducati edition cards seem to be topping Rob Galbraith’s CF/SD Database.)

I’m currently shooting an 8GB Lexar Professional UDMA in my Nikon D3. I’ll order 2 4GB UDMA cards and a reader using the deals above. I’m giving Lexar are try because I had an SanDisk Extreme III fail on me. While the customer support was efficient, the total turnaround was a little over a week. I’m going to shoot Lexar until I have a card fail and see their response time—Paul Tichonczuk says they’re much better.

Here is an updated CF chart:

IO Canon Nikon readers Lexar SanDisk
PIO 3 10D, Rebel 40x Ultra
PIO 4 20D, Rebel XT, 1D (all models up to Mark II), 5D, 30D D100, D2H, D70, D50, D70s most USB 2.0 readers 80x Extreme, Ultra II
PIO 5 40D, 1DMkIII, 1DsMkIII D2X, D200, D2Hs, D2Xs 133x Extreme III
PIO 6 (and UDMA) D300,D3 Lexar Pro line, SanDisk Extreme line 300x/UDMA Extreme IV, Ducati Extreme

Remember that the Nikon D40, D40x, D60 and Canon Rebel XSi take Secure Digital cards now, not compact flash. I’m not sure on the speed of the Canon Rebel XTi.

If you look at the table above, you’ll notice that Canon continues to lag Nikon by one generation. Now that Nikon makes a better camera than Canon, is now #1 in Japan, and gaining worldwide market share, if you are a Canon photographer, please, please lobby Canon to start supporting UDMA in their cameras and not letting Nikon have this advantage uncontested. There is simply no reason for Canon to cut this corner anymore. It is absurd that the manufacturer of the camera used by nearly every sports photographer in the world has a crippled write performance speed.

[Correction: Mark points out that there are USB 2.0 and Firewire readers with UDMA support from both SanDisk and Lexar. And that USB readers top out at 20MB/s while the Firewire 800 readers top out at 38MB/s.]

Photo stores

By the way, an Adorama representative e-mailed me last month about activating my affiliate account so I’m putting their banners and giving them some link love like I do B&H. Purchasing photography equipment on the internet hazardous to your pocketbook.

As far as I know there are no stores in San Francisco that hold a candle to these two in New York City. I had a disappointing customer experience at Adolf Gasser to the extent that a friend jokes that the only reason they have any business is that they’re mentioned in the back of Ansel Adams’s book. 😀

If you know of any great camera stores in San Francisco, tell me. Until then, I’ll depend on friends to give me good advice, and hopefully I can add a couple of ideas here and there.

2 thoughts on “UDMA and photography

  1. Someone asks if I really think the Ducati edition are faster than Extreme IV’s or if it is just a branding thing. The answer, according to Rob‘s tests, is yes, they really are faster. And that SanDisk media is significantly faster for JPEGs.

    I’m not too sure why. I think it may be a yield thing, like in the processors. SanDisk, unlike others, manufactures their own flash memory. This allows them to do things that the others can’t (Canon and dSLR sensors). If it is a yield thing, then during testing they can sort and tweak the cards for better performance.

    Note that since I wrote the article on “Compact Flash Madness,” Lexar was purchased by Micron Technologies, a well known manufacturer of RAM and flash memory engaged in a joint venture with Intel. (Why is Intel relevant? Many patents in flash memory are held by Intel and AMD.) We are seeing some of the power of the purchase already as Lexar media is now cheaper than SanDisk. Longtime digital photographers know this was never the case before.

    I wonder if Lexar/Micron will engage in “Ducati” style branding?

    In any case, the benefit of the Lexar/Micron war with SanDisk appears to be us, the photographer. To think that I can purchase 4GB UDMA CF cards for < $35! I haven’t had to purchase a memory card wallet since 2002. Back then, I was shooting 32MB SmartMedia and 64MB Compact Flash—how times have changed. 🙂

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