Best CF Card for D300?

Started Feb 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 13,214
Re: Best CF Card for D300? / Thanks

I have one or two Sandisk cards - too expensive.

Most of the cards I have are Transcend. Some are small, some are large (up to 16gb). Some are slow (very cheap), some are fast (not as cheap, but way cheaper than Sandisk).

For speed purposes, the faster Transcends are more than fast enough for the camera. The camera will only support a certain level of recording speed. A D300 has a pretty big buffer too, so even the slowest cards work pretty well most of the time.

The time when the card speed matters - in camera - is when you've shot a burst of images, and you need to shoot one or two more while waiting for the buffer to clear. A slow card makes that wait noticeably longer, possibly leading you to miss a shot. ONE image will clear from the buffer pretty well, but clearing the entire buffer can take many seconds. Even my fastest card (Transcend UDMA 300x) slows continuous shooting speed down to 1 per second or slower when the buffer is full, but the entire buffer clearing is 2-4 times as fast as my slowest cards.

What I'm thinking here is that the 300x or similar speed cards are as fast as the D300 can take advantage of.

OUTSIDE the camera, you will see enormous speed differences IF you have a high-speed card reader. (They can be tricky to find as the slow USB card readers label themselves just like the fast USB card readers). I have a Sandisk Firewire CF reader that is very quick, and recently got a Kingston FCR-HS3 USB reader that is also good. When downloading 16gb of images from a slow card versus a fast one, I can see several minutes of differences between the cards. While it is idle time (sitting and watching the data transfer), it's also normally low-priority time.

What I do is have a fast card in camera, and slower (cheaper) cards as backups for when the fast card gets full (on long vacations). My largest CF card is 16gb, simply because I quit buying new cards when the fast 16GB cards were in the $75 price range. By that time I had enough card capacity built up over the years that I just didn't need more.

On the other hand, I now have two 32GB SD cards, simply because I recently bought a new point-n-shoot, and got a deal on getting 2 cards for it. I figured I might want more capacity there for HD movies.

As for the 'best' size of card to get, I find it to be in the 12-16gb range. 4gb is definitely too small as I can fill one up too quickly and be caught with a full card. 8gb is OK, usually.

I just looked up prices on Amazon and found 16GB UDMA 400x Transcend cards for $48. 32GB 400x cards for $70.

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