Z6: XQD vs CFExpress test.

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Hugh Barstead Regular Member • Posts: 171
Z6: XQD vs CFExpress test.

At the end of the last epoch (mid December, 2019) Nikon released firmware version 2.20 for the Z6.

Among other things the new firmware (finally) supported CFExpress cards, or I should say card as the only officially supported card was from Sony.

I was fortunate to immediately acquire a 128 GB Sony “Tough” CFExpress card to complement my 120 GB Sony “G” type XQD card and considered testing and comparing the performance of the two as a mandatory exercise.

The results of that testing was mildly disappointing as the XQD card marginally outperformed the new CFE counterpart. Not so much as to make any practical difference, but the XQD card was measurably faster.

At the time I wrote it off as underdeveloped driver software. Nikon got the CFE driver close enough to the performance of the XQD card and released the firmware.

Then the world changed. By the end of April, 2020 my wife and I had to flee the United States and return to Canada. Unfortunately we had to leave our Z cameras behind.

It would be 19 months before we were able to return.

As a reunion gift, Nikon released firmware version 3.40 just days before our arrival back in Arizona. I upgraded the Z6 before I had even changed the furnace filters, lol.

Delighted with the new programming (it’s like getting a new camera) it got me wondering - had Nikon also improved the CFE driver?

Same Z6, same two cards, I felt the need to repeat the test which consisted of four bursts at highest speed (H*), 14 bit RAW, manual focus and all corrections turned off. The only difference should be the firmware version

I shot until the camera paused, waited for the green light to go out, shoot again, etc. The test ends when the green light goes out after the fourth burst.

To time, I used a D3300 to film the stopwatch on my phone. I pressed the start button simultaneously with the release on the Z6 and ended the tests with the first motion of my finger as it moved to press Stop on the clock.

Results are:

XQD: 2019 - 32.47 seconds, 2021 - 33.12 seconds.

CFE: 2019 - 34.60 seconds, 2021 - 34.26 seconds.

I will be the first to admit that my tests are not scientifically rigorous. I did, however, repeat each test three times and got results within a few hundredths of a second each time.

I cannot explain why the XQD card is slower in 2021 than it was in 2019.

While the CFE card is about 3/10ths faster in 2021 than in 2019, it is still about 1.1 seconds slower than the XQD card.

It is impossible to draw general conclusions based solely on the results of my amateur testing. I am hoping that one or more of you are able to run comparative tests and either validate or negate my results. Any volunteers?

Nikon D3300 Nikon Z6
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