SanDisk have just announced their "Extreme IV" line of compact flash memory cards. Thie primary feature is very fast data transfer with minimum read/write speeds of 40 MB/sec. This is approximately twice as fast the the current fastest CF cards.
The high speed operation probably will not significantly affect in-camera shooting speeds for the vast majority of 35mm DSLR users. Most DSLRs are more constrained by the rate at which the camera can write to the card than the rate at which the card can accept data. However users of medium format digital backs may see noticable improvement in transfer times for their large files which can result in faster shooting and higher camera buffer capacity
The area in which the increased speed will be most noticable to most users will be in the transfer of data from the card to a PC. Using the SanDisk Extreme FireWire 800/400reader data transfer at 40 MB.sec should be possible. The cards will be avalable in 2BG, 4BG and 8GB versions. For the 8GB card, data transfer at 40MB/sec should result in a total transfer time of 3m 20s. Currently the fastest cards would take around 7m and more typical cards might take 15 minutes of more, and that's with an optimized high spped card reader. I have a 2GB 50x CF card that takes 30 minutes to download with one USB 2.0 reader and only 15 minutes with another, so the card reader does matter. The highest speeds quoted for the ExtremeIV series cards use the ExtremeIV Firewire Card Reader. Obviously the faster transfer speed can speed up the workflow process for busy professionals shooting a lot of images.
The Extreme IV series cards are also rated for operation over a very wide range of temperatures, from -13°F to 185°F ( -25°C to 85°C) and include RescuePRO software that allows photographers to easily recover accidentally deleted images, lost digital images or data. They have a lifetime warranty and there is a dedicated toll-free number for technical support.
Of course the Extreme IV series cards will sell for more than the current Extreme III cards (which have a maximum data transfer rate of 20 MB/sec). Based on suggested prices it looks like the Extreme IV cards will initially sell for maybe 50% more, however it remains to be seem what sort of discounts will become available with time. I'm guessing an initial discount price of $140-$150 for the Extreme IV 2GB cards (You can find the Extreme III 2GB cards in the $105 and up range and the Ultra II 2GB cards for around $80)
I think that most DSLR owners will probably be quite happy with the less expensive Extreme III, Ultra II or maybe even slower cards. However. for those who need to squeeze every last drop of speed from their cameras and need to quickly transfer large amounts of data to a PC, the Extreme IV series are currently "king of the hill" when it comes to compact flash memory. They should be available this month (July 2006).
For those who don't need (and/or can't afford) the Extreme IV series cards, he best value are probably fast (but not the fastest) 1GB or 2GB cards. For most people they offer excellent performance while holding a reasonable number of images. Actual card speed is a secondary issue while shooting because most cameras now have a large enough memory buffer that the actual card write speed doesn't mater unless you shoot fast enough and long enough to fill the buffer. For most people the speed at which a card can be downloaded to a PC isn't critical.
Mouseover these links for current pricing information
Here is a copy of the SanDisk Press Release
NEW YORK, NY, July 19, 2006 SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK) today introduced the new SanDisk Extreme IV line of CompactFlash digital film cards for professional photographers. The line is targeted at photographers who require the highest possible performance and the largest capacities for their medium format and high-end digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. The SanDisk Extreme IV cards are available in capacities of up to 8-gigabytes (GB)1 and deliver minimum read and write speeds of 40 megabytes per second (MB/sec.)2 making these the fastest flash memory cards in the world. This exceptionally fast card speed is critical when shooting large numbers of high-resolution images.
SanDisk also introduced the new SanDisk Extreme FireWire reader that can transfer images from the SanDisk Extreme IV cards to a computer at up to 40MB/sec. for significantly improved workflow efficiency. These new products were announced at a press conference held today at the NASDAQ Market Site in New York City.
The SanDisk Extreme IV cards are targeted at the professional photographer who needs the absolute highest performance and maximum reliability. The company will continue to offer the SanDisk Extreme III and SanDisk Ultra II lines.
The new SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash card and SanDisk Extreme FireWire reader offers photographers a number of key benefits, said Tanya Chuang, senior retail marketing manager at SanDisk. First of all, the new cards are twice the speed of the current SanDisk Extreme III cards and offer performance that is ideal for medium format cameras, digital backs and other high-resolution cameras that require the combination of high performance and large capacities. In addition, they are available in industry-leading capacities so that photographers can capture a larger number of RAW or other high-resolution images. Lastly, photographers can quickly transfer gigabytes of images from the card to the computer for greatly increased workflow efficiency, an important consideration when working under deadline pressures.
Fast Cards Ideal For High-Resolution Digital Cameras
SanDisk Extreme IV cards use SanDisk-developed ESP (Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing) technology that combine fast NAND flash memory chips and controller designs, 32-bit RISC processing and advanced algorithms in an architecture that streamlines every aspect of read and write data transfer operations. In addition, SanDisk works closely with major camera manufacturers to ensure the speed and compatibility of its cards.
Wes Brewer, vice president of consumer product marketing, said, SanDisk has led the market for high performance/high reliability cards for imaging professionals since the introduction of our original SanDisk Extreme I card in 2003. Our SanDisk Extreme III cards have provided the highest performance in the industry at 20MB/sec., minimum read and write performance for CompactFlash and SD formats, since their introduction in 2004. Its taken nearly a year and a half for our competition to match that performance level. Now, with the introduction of the SanDisk Extreme IV line at 40MB/sec., we believe that SanDisk will continue to be the preferred choice of professional photographers based on our performance advantage as well as our commitment to the photographic market as a whole.
Chuang added, The SanDisk Extreme IV line is the direct result of SanDisks passion and continued drive to provide the highest possible performance for professional photographers. On behalf of SanDisk, I would like to personally thank our major partners and leading manufacturers of professional digital cameras such as Canon, Hasselblad, Leaf, Nikon and Phase One. Without their strong support and inputs, development of the SanDisk Extreme IV line would not have been possible.
Medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad H2D-39 and digital backs, such as the Leaf Aptus family, produce enormous files that must be quickly processed and then saved to the card. Their advanced firmware lets photographers save RAW and high-end JPEG images faster so they can continue to shoot without losing their rhythm.
High-end digital SLRs may also show increased performance with the SanDisk Extreme IV cards.
Christian Poulsen, CEO of Hasselblad, said, The speed and capacities of the removable storage cards can have a serious impact on the overall performance of Hasselblad cameras. Our most advanced digital camera is the Hasselblad H2D-39, the worlds first 39-megapixel (MP) digital auto-focus camera that can capture one image every two seconds. Using a SanDisk Extreme IV card, the initial burst rate is dramatically improved from 6 frames to 10 frames versus a SanDisk Extreme III card. This is a huge gain that can mean the difference between capturing the shot or not.
Rob Galbraith, editorial, freelance photographer and publisher of the Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights website, said, The best CompactFlash cards on the market until now are capable of real-world throughput of between 15MB-17MB/second in the best shipping readers weve tested. By comparison, the 2GB SanDisk Extreme IV card, when inserted into an Extreme FireWire Reader, tops out at a whopping 38.6MB/second. Given the blazing card-to-computer speed of the Extreme IV CompactFlash cards, the time it takes to transfer a big assignments worth of photos is about to be cut significantly.
Dov Kalinski, general manager of Leaf, part of Kodaks Graphic Communications Group, said, Leaf, as a leading supplier of digital camera backs for professional photographers since 1992, has consistently led the market with innovative solutions, quality and ground-breaking speed. Integrating the new SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash cards allow us to take a leap forward in terms of mobile storage performance. Our customers will now enjoy increased portability, which is of utmost importance to a significant portion of the market.
Robert Cristina, manager of professional products at Nikon Europe BV, said, Nikon has long recognized the importance for photographers to be able to capture high resolution files without compromising speed, and this SanDisk Extreme IV initiative will be wholeheartedly welcomed by customers using our high performance cameras.
Large Capacities Let You Focus On Taking Pictures
Available in 2-, 4- and 8GB capacities, the SanDisk Extreme IV cards are ideal for photographers who shoot RAW and JPEG images that are typically very large and can quickly fill up a card.
Jonathan Torgovnik, contract photographer for Newsweek magazine, war correspondent and freelance photographer, said, Many photographers were wary of using cards larger than 1GB because they didnt want to put all their eggs in one basket. While that may have been an issue for some in the past, that attitude is changing very quickly. I always shoot RAW images, so using 4- or 8GB cards is a must. It also lets me concentrate on taking pictures and keeping the momentum going rather than worrying about filling the card after only a few shots.
Faster Cards And Readers Improve WorkflowThe SanDisk Extreme IV
While the speed of the card is important for in-camera performance, card-to-computer transfer rates are becoming an increasingly important workflow consideration. The time it takes to transfer images to a computer can be a bigger bottleneck now that card capacities have expanded into the multi-gigabyte range.
The SanDisk Extreme IV cards and SanDisk Extreme FireWire 800/400reader combine to form a high-speed system that dramatically decreases card-to-computer transfer time. Images are transferred at up to the 40MB/sec. speed of the SanDisk Extreme IV cards. For a limited time, the company will offer an introductory bundle pack that includes a 4GB SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash card and a SanDisk Extreme FireWire reader.
In the U.S. and Europe, a free 30-day trial version of Adobe Photoshop CS2 software is bundled with each SanDisk Extreme FireWire Reader. Photoshop is the professional image-editing standard and leader of the Photoshop digital imaging line, and the software supports both Macintosh and PCs.
Extended Operating Temperature Range For Reliable Use Under Extreme
SanDisk Extreme IV cards are designed to withstand the industrys widest guaranteed operating temperature range from a freezing minus 13°F (minus 25°C) to a scorching 185°F (plus 85°C). The cards also include RescuePRO software that allows photographers to easily recover accidentally deleted images, lost digital images or data. The included software is compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms.
Pricing and Availability
SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash cards and new reader will be available at the following suggested retail prices:
|Capacities||US$||Euros, Ex VAT||Availability|
|SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash||2GB||$159.99||128||July|
|Introductory Bundle Pack||2GB Card & Reader||$239.99||197||July|
|4GB Card & Reader||$399.99||323||July|
|SanDisk Extreme FireWire Reader||$79.99||69||July|
|SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 Reader||$24.99||22||August|
SanDisk Extreme IV cards carry a lifetime limited warranty. Photographers who purchase the cards also will have access to a dedicated toll-free number for technical support questions.