Pre-PMA 2006: Lexar has today announced new professional series storage cards with a speed rating of 133X (20MB/sec). Available in both Compact Flash and Secure Digital formats at a range of capacities these professional cards also include Lexar's proprietary Write Acceleration technology. These cards promise to be the fastest currently available, we have had a selection of them on hand for a few days and have some test results inside.

Our performance tests

To report the actual 'real life' performance of these new cards we tested them on the fastest computer devices we have (CardBus CF and SD readers) as well as the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and Nikon D2X. Remember any card with a capacity above 2 GB will be utilizing the FAT32 filesystem. Note that '1X' in Lexar's terminology refers to 150 KB/sec (hence these new cards are rated at around 20 MB/sec). When tested in the cardbus readers we used a prorietary timging tool with a 150 MB set of RAW files, when testing using the cameras we shot a burst of continuous RAW files.

Secure Digital (SD) cards: CardBus reader

As you can see the new 2 GB 133X Lexar SD card produced our fastest ever transfer rates using the CardBus SD reader, peaking at around 9.8 MB/sec write and 12.3 MB/sec read. That said this is still some way off the claimed maximum throughput of around 20 MB/sec.

Secure Digital (SD) cards: Camera

The only 'fast' camera we had on hand to test the SD cards was the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II which did put in a very impressive SD transfer performance when we reviewed it. As you can see below it derives no advantage from the new Lexar card over the SanDisk Extreme or Ultra II cards although it is faster than the older 32X Lexar card.

Compact Flash (CF) cards: CardBus reader

Again an increase in performance from the new Lexar cards compared to the previous generation 80X cards but interestingly not as fast as SanDisk's Extreme III card. The Lexar Pro 133X 1 GB card achieved a maximum write speed of around 60X and a read speed of around 72X.

Compact Flash (CF) cards: Cameras

A good step in performance over the 80X cards with both the D2X and EOS-1Ds Mark II although not the 'leap' we had perhaps hoped for. It does look from these results that Lexar has 'caught up' with SanDisk's Extreme III cards.

Press Release:

Lexar Delivers Optimal Performance with 133X
CompactFlash and Secure Digital Memory Cards

Fremont, Ca., January 17, 2006– Lexar Media, Inc. (Nasdaq: LEXR), a world leader in advanced digital media technologies announced availability of its new Professional CompactFlash® (CF) and Secure Digital™ (SD) flash memory cards designed to deliver optimal performance in all digital SLR cameras and speed-rated 133X, or capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 20MB per second. Lexar’s new flash memory products signify the company’s continued commitment to providing professional photographers with reliable flash memory cards that deliver near instantaneous image read and write speeds, and seamless operation throughout each step of the digital imaging workflow process enabling the user to spend more time taking pictures.

“Our new 133X cards allow digital SLR cameras to optimally perform as they were designed, to transfer images and information almost instantaneously, beneficial in a number of ways to the photographer’s digital imaging workflow,” said John Omvik, director of professional product marketing, Lexar. “Lexar’s new 133X cards are ideal for those photographers who require reliable, high-performance flash memory that makes the most of all the professional-level features available in their digital SLR camera.”

Like all of Lexar’s Professional series CompactFlash memory cards, the new 133X cards include Lexar’s Write Acceleration Technology (WA). The WA technology allows digital cameras to exchange and store images faster, thus attaining near instantaneous image-write speeds in cameras supporting this feature. In addition, the new 133X CompactFlash and SD cards include Image RescueÔ 2.0, Lexar’s award-winning image recovery software, a trial version of Photo MechanicÔ 4.0, the popular image browsing software from Camera Bits, and Corel® Paint Shop Pro® 9, an image editing and enhancement software package. As with all of Lexar’s professional products, each card includes a lifetime warranty and unlimited access to Lexar’s dedicated technical support team for professional photographers.

“Second to reliability, speed is the name of the game in digital photography, and Lexar has a lengthy history providing cards and accessories that are not only fast but also substantially improve workflow,” said professional photographer Vincent Laforet. “Having 133X cards in both card formats allows me to leverage both slots in my Canon EOS 1D Mark II. By storing RAW files on my CF cards and JPEGs on my SD card, I maximize my camera’s technology and reduce administrative time when I’m back in my studio,” he added.

“I am constantly working from remote locations like the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge and the Australian rainforests, so I need fast cards with the maximum capacity, said professional wildlife photographer Moose Peterson. “I am very impressed with Lexar’s new 133X CompactFlash card because I know that they are capable of rapidly storing and uploading large images, especially those taken during burst mode shooting with the Nikon D2Hs. I love taking as many pictures as I can without changing cards and I shoot confidently knowing that in addition to an immediate write speed, the 4GB 133X has plenty of room for my largest files.

In addition to a valuable suite of software, Lexar is providing additional value to its 2GB SD flash memory card package by including a high-speed USB 2.0 Card Reader with its 133X cards to proactively address an industry compatibility issues that may otherwise arise with some SD card readers. Lexar’s new 133X speed-rated Professional Series CompactFlash and SD flash memory cards are currently available in photo specialty stores and through online resellers.

Additional information regarding Lexar’s new 133X Professional Series flash memory cards can be found on the company’s digital photography website, located at www.lexar.com/dp. Lexar’s digital photography website includes valuable information and tutorials to help photographers fully utilize the unique features Lexar products offer and achieve a more rewarding experience shooting and working with digital images. Additionally, this popular site provides detailed information about new photography techniques, products and services, as well as interesting feature stories, a pro blog and background information about the many professionals who count on Lexar’s flash memory cards and accessories to help them succeed.