The joy of [insert three letter acronym containing an 'X']

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,196
The joy of [insert three letter acronym containing an 'X']

I haven't been in this forum long. But I've been here long enough to see two or three threads bashing XQD, but no one really defending it.

Brother Joseph's gonna' lay it on you straight.

Now, I made a rather big leap last week: D3/D90 to N7/N6. By today's standards, D3 is a dog. The fastest I got her to go, with Sandisk's finest CF, is a sustained write of 8.27 megs/second. With my usual lossless compressed NEF workflow, files average 14megs. Once the buffer fills, she's down to 0.59 frames/sec.

But why do you need high sustained frame rates?

HDR, panoramas, focus stacking, astrophotography, etc., obviously.

I've got a couple of the Sony "G" 64G XQD cards. The card say R:400 W:400. The nice folks at benched 240megs/sec sustained write with that card in a Z.

That's 60% of the card's rated speed. This is the Tao of all memory cards: CF, SD, XQD: they all tend to get somewhere near half the speed in a real camera that they get in manufacturer's benchmarks.

Let's look at SD. Not Aunt Sarah's grab a no-name card from WalMart SD, but the big iron:

The Sony 64GB SF-G Tough Series UHS-II SDXC is, according to cameramemoryspeed as fast as SD gets. It's rated 300G/s, which is essentially the current limit of SD. On a computer, when the moon is full, it does 273G/s. Canon's, Fuji's and Sony's best on this card is 179, 163, and 147G/s, respectively, or 60%, 54%, and 49% of rated speed. So, Canon and Nikon, head to head as always, both got their cameras up to 60% of the rated speed of their cards,

Except the XQD's rated maximum and, more importantly, it's real-life transfer rate in real cameras is 33% higher than SD. And XQD isn't anywhere near its limits.

Yes, but SD is cheaper. It's cheeeeeeper!

Not when you're pushing the boundaries.

Currently at B&H you've got:

$130 Sony 64GB XQD G Series

$115 Sony 64GB SF-G Tough Series UHS-II SDXC

So yes, at video, sports, astronomy, focus stacking, panorama, HDR level XQD is only 10% more expensive, but it's 33% faster, and it's much more futureproof. The limit for the current generation (XQD 2.0, from 2014) is 1G/s, two and a half times what current cards are doing. By the time 1000megs/sec gets common, we'll have transitioned peacefully to CFexpress, form factor and interface compatible. The Z is supposedly already CFexpress compliant, and Nikon is supposedly adding that to the Z firmware in the next major update). CFexpress in the XQD size tops out at 2G/s. That should accommodate 8K raw video, or 10 frames/sec from that 150megapixel Z9 I've got on preorder.

(I did my own benchmark too, and got 208megs/sec. My workflow is slightly different than cameramemoryspeed: they do mixed uncompressed NEF + large, fine* JPEG. I bench the way I work, 14 bit lossless compressed NEF. I can see the compression slowing me down a bit).

Do people really need that speed? There's a lot of people shooting 4K these days, and we're about to see a jump to 8K, with a possible layover at 6K.

My own workflow for panoramas, stacks, HDRs, stop motion, etc. is lossless compressed 14 bit raw. They weigh about 62megs. Thing is, I'm getting about 3.4 frames/sec, and I have CL set to 3 frames/sec.

The current automated slide can run at about 2 fps, and "silent mode" is also "vibration free mode".  I do have to get some bigger cards, the 64gig cards just barely miss 1000 shots. 8 minutes to shoot that stack, instead of 30. I can live with that.

tl;dr? XQD costs about the same as the best SD, but it's already considerably faster, and it's future proof. Nikon got this one right.

-- hide signature --

Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.
Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.
Ciao! Joseph

 Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list:Joseph S Wisniewski's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon D2X Nikon D3 Nikon D100 Nikon Z7 +45 more
Nikon Z6 Nikon Z7
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