Best Compact Flash memory cards | Top 10 CF cards

Compact flash comparison benchmark top10
In this article we will make a comparison of the best compact flash memory cards or CF cards for SLR cameras and analyze the performance and benchmarks, to help you choose the best cf.

What are Compact Flash Memory Cards? Many Canon and Nikon SLR cameras and high-end professional cameras use Compact Flash cards or CF cards as the Canon 5D MKII and MKIII, D700, 7D and Nikon D300s, D800 and many other. Some allow you to use only one CF card, others have two compartments, one for CF and one for SD cards (eg. Canon 1D Mark IV, Nikon D300s, D800). CF cards are generally better performing (with some exceptions) than SD cards, this is why they are chosen by professional photographers or those who make a certain type of photography (using continuous shots) or video at very high resolutions, and are generally slightly more expensive than SD cards. CF cards are also used by some videocameras, and in digital audio.

How are compact flash memory cards classified? On CF cards you can find a multiplicative parameter compared to a standard reading speed of 150KB/s (the original speed of the first CD-Rom). Eg. a card listed as 400X can read up to 400 x 150 = 60MB / s. For clarity, in the list of CF cards we will insert both the value in MB/s and the multiplication parameter of each card.

What does UDMA7 stand for? UDMA 7, which stands for Ultra Direct Access Mode 7, is the most recent transfer mode of UDMA interface. UDMA 7 allows a maximum transfer rate of 167MB/sec . This can be compared to the previous UDMA mode, UDMA 6, which allowed transfer rate up to 133MB/sec. Essentially UDMA7 cards are the fastest at the moment (except the CFast 2.0 that have a different architecture and can reach 500MB/s). Most Canon and Nikon supports UDMA7, if you can update the firmware . A UDMA7 card can also be used on specific older devices, but it could reach speeds below its potential.

VPG_20_65_Logo What do VPG-20 and VPG-65 stand for? VPG stands for Video Performance Guaranteed . VPG-20 logo printed in Compact Flash means that the CF card is certified to record professional videos to a guaranteed minimum speed of 20 MB per second, ideal for video in Full HD at 30fps. If the card is VPG-65 ensures the recording to a minimum of 65 MB per second, so suitable to record video in 4K Ultra HD. This logo ensures that the video stream will be saved without interruptions that could cause problems with the quality of the videos or dropped frames.

Which compact flash you should choose? It is not important to buy the best CF, but the one that best suits your needs. Eg. for those who make single-shot photos and videos in full HD, with any SLR camera, can simply buy any of the compact flash cards listed below (up to 400x). While those who make many continuous shots or burst, for example sports photographers, hunting photographers of animals in motion, for example during a safari, or who does video at higher resolutions such as Ultra HD 4K, need very high-performance cards, from 6-800X (90-120MB/s) and over, depending on the reflex being used and the size of the RAW files. The importa issue to avoid is that the camera’s buffer become full to avoid the risk of losing some frames.

Before beginning the list of the best compact flash memory cards, please note that there are CF card readers that can be connected to PC or notebook via USB3, as this Lexar CF reader that reads quickly both CF and SD cards. It is UDMA7 and reads all the cards listed below, important fact to avoid the risk of losing the data on the card.

Here is a list of Compact Flash Memory Cards in order of performance, from the most powerful to the worst one:

Lexar Professional 32GB 1066x

Speed: 1066x – 160 MB/s
Price: 55$ – 61€ – 40£
Standard: UDMA7 – VPG-65
Warranty: limited lifetime
Recommended for: Professional and enthusiast photographers or videomakers. 4k, 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode.

This CF memory card is for any use, even professional, for single shots and bursts with fullframe cameras,Ultra HD 4K videos, ultra fast 3D videos. CF card tested with Nikon d800 shooting in raw in continous mode, the camera stops shooting after 19/20 shots which is a lot for the big files thatthe D800 produces. It ensures the recording of Full HD, 2K and 4K video with VPG-65 Video Performance Guarantee specification for professional-quality video (cinema quality). VPG-65 specification (Video Performance Guarantee 65) allows you to record Full HD video and 4K cinema quality video with a guaranteed minimum write speed equal to 65MB/s. It includes Image Rescue software to recover deleted photos and videos or in the event of damage to the card. 

This compact flash memory card is the best seller in the CF cards category on Amazon worldwide.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB 1066x

Read speed: 1066x – 160 MB/s
Write speed: 1000x – 150 MB/s
Price: 59$ – 59€ – 49£
Standard: UDMA7 – VPG-65
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Professional and enthusiast photographers or videomakers. 4k, 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode.

This compact Flash card suits for any use, even professional, for single shots and bursts with fullframe cameras,Ultra HD 4K videos, ultra fast 3D videos. CF card tested with Nikon d800 shooting in raw in continous mode, the camera stops shooting after 19/20 shots which is a lot for the big files thatthe D800 produces. It ensures the recording of Full HD, 2K and 4K video with VPG-65 Video Performance Guarantee specification for professional-quality video (cinema quality). VPG-65 specification (Video Performance Guarantee 65) allows you to record Full HD video and 4K cinema quality video with a guaranteed minimum write speed equal to 65MB/s. With this memory card’s dependability and extreme speed, you’ll experience faster shot-to-shot performance, increased workflow efficiency, and better use of advanced functions, such as multiple frames per second shooting and continuous burst mode shooting. The SanDisk Extreme PRO CompactFlash Memory Card can operate in temperatures ranging from -13ºF (-25ºC) to 185ºF (85ºC), so you can record rich Full HD video or snap the perfect shot in almost any climate. These cards are tested with rigorous stress, shock, and vibration procedures and feature RTV silicone coating for added protection against shock and vibration. The SanDisk Extreme PRO CompactFlash Memory Card comes with a one-year subscription of RescuePRO® recovery software6. RescuePRO software makes it easy to recover deleted photos or videos and save them to your computer’s hard drive–even if the files were deleted months ago.
Read speed up to 160MB/s (1067x) and write speed up to 150MB/s (1000x); UDMA 7. Waterproof, impact-resistant and resistant to X-rays.

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Lexar Professional 32GB 800x

Speed: 800x – 120 MB/s
Price: 68$ – 37€ – 25£
Standard: UDMA7 – VPG-20
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Enthusiast and amateur photographers or videomakers. 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 8-9 shots).

This CompactFlash memory card suits for single shots and continuous shots with SLR, and full HD videos. This is a very performing CF memory card. It can also be used for continuous shots until 8-10 photos and over without filling the buffer (except D800). Ensures the recording of Full HD videos thanks to the VPG-20 specification (professional quality). VPG-20 specification (Video Performance Guarantee 20) allows you to record Full HD video with a guaranteed minimum write speed equal to 20MB/s . Includes Image Rescue software to recover deleted photos and videos or in the event of damage to the card. It was the best-selling compact flash on Amazon thanks to an excellent quality/price ratio.

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Sandisk Extreme 32GB 120MB/s

Speed: 800x – 120 MB/s
Price: 45$ – 45€ – 33
Standard: UDMA7 – VPG-20
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Enthusiast and amateur photographers or videomakers. 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 8-9 shots).

This CF can be used for single shots and bursts with SLR up to 8-9 pictures, and full HD videos. It is quite fast reaching 120MB/s in both reading and writing speeds, allowing up to 8-10 shots in bursts mode and over, even with fullframe SLR with RAW files until 20mpixel. It ensures the recording of Full HD videos, as it is VPG-20 (professional quality). VPG-20 specification (Video Performance Guarantee 20) allows you to record Full HD video with a guaranteed minimum write speed equal to 20MB/s . Includes Rescue Pro software to recover deleted photos and videos or in the event of damage to the card.

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Transcend Extreme-Speed 32GB Compact Flash 800x

Speed: 800x – 60 MB/s
Price:34$ – 43€ – 29£
Standard: UDMA7 – VPG-20
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Enthusiast and amateur photographers or videomakers. 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 6-7 shots).

This CompactFlash card can be used in single shots and bursts with SLR cameras, and for full HD videos. Transcend, as Kingston, is a good alternative to Sandisk and Lexar, powerful and reliable, with a lower price than the first two. Fast CF memory card, reaches 120MB/s in both reading and writing speeds, good for any camera used in single shot or in bursts of up to 6-7 shots before filling the buffer. It ensures the recording of Full HD videos thanks to VPG-20 standard (professional quality). VPG-20 specification (Video Performance Guarantee 20) allows you to record Full HD video with a guaranteed minimum write speed equal to 20MB / s . Not recommended for Video Ultra HD 4K where you need a VPG-65 card. Recommended for Canon 50D and 7D and many other SLR.

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Kingston Compact Flash 32GB 600x

Speed: 600x – 90 MB/s
Price: 44$ – 37€ – 25£
Standard: UDMA7
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Enthusiast and amateur photographers or videomakers. 2k and fullhd videos. SLR and Fullframe SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 8-9 shots).

This CF can be used for single shots and bursts with SLR up to 4-5 continous shots, and full HD videos. Kingston is a good alternative to Sandisk and Lexar, as to quality and reliability, with a lower price than the first two. Quite fast Compact Flash memory card, it reaches 90MB/s in both reading and writing, allowing you to record video in Full HD and in bursts of up to 4-5 photos, with not too demanding SLR (not recommended for the Nikon D800). Not recommended for Ultra HD 4K Video, where you need a VPG-65 card. This card includes software MediaRECOVER® , which allows you to recover and restore deleted files and corrupt.

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Sandisk Ultra 32GB Compact Flash 50MB/s

Speed: 333x – 50 MB/s
Price: 28$ – 27€ – 22£
Standard: UDMA7
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Amateur photographers or videomakers. Fullhd videos. SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 2-3 shots).

This CF card is for amateur photographers expecially for single shots with SLR cameras. Sandisk cards are fast and reliable, with a goord price. This card reaches 50MB/s in both reading and writing speed, so it is not fast as the previous CF cards, but fine for any SLR camera used in single shot or bursts of 2-3 photos. Not recommended for FullHD video where you need a VPG-20 card and bursts of many photos as for action shots and sports. Recommended for Canon 50D and 7D and many other SLR.

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Kingston 32GB Compact Flash U2 266x

Speed: 266x – 40 MB/s
Price: 24$ – 23€ – 13£
Standard: UDMA7
Warranty: lifetime limited
Recommended for: Amateur photographers or videomakers. Fullhd videos. SLR, in single shot and burst mode (upto 2-3 shots).

This CF is not very fast but can be used for common uses, like single shots with SLR. Kingston as mentioned is a good alternative to Sandisk and Lexar, with good quality and reliability, and a lower price. This card reaches 40MB/s in both reading and writing speeds, so it is not very fast but fine for any camera as long as used in single shot. Not recommended for FullHD videos where you need a VPG-20 card and for sports photography where you need many shots in burst mode.

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Read our related posts on the best memory cards to find the best SD card, the best micro SD card and the best usb3 flash drive.

More info on Compact Flash memory cards:

Wikipedia Eng


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1 Comment

  1. James McColloch

    thank you for the info i prefer the cf cards over the more easy to loose sd cards (don’t ask me how i know) i’ll be checking back again for more trusted information in the near future.

    Reply

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