CFexpress cards are here! Canon is first to use SanDisk's superfast memory cards

SanDisk Extreme Pro CFexpress card
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Is a new era in memory card speed about to begin? SanDisk has become the first manufacturer to place CFexpress cards on sale – a new class of memory cards that will promise blisteringly fast data transfer speeds of up to two gigabytes per second. And then following quickly after, Canon has launched a camera that can use these superfast memory cards.

The first SanDisk Extreme Pro CFexpress cards are now available for order on Amazon in Europe over the weekend in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB – costing between £174.99 and £691.99 – although delivery is estimated as being from one to two months. The cards are now available to pre-order in the US for between $149.99 to $599.99

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

This first generation of SanDisk's Type B CFExpress cards offer read speeds of up to 1700MB/s and 1400MB/s write speeds.

SanDisk is also releasing a bespoke CFexpress card reader, which will sell for $49.99. The reader is designed to support USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds, and has a USB-C connector.

Canon Cinema EOS 500 Mark II is the first ever camera to used the CFexpress memory cards

Canon Cinema EOS 500 Mark II is the first ever camera to used the CFexpress memory cards (Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Adoption of this new format has already begin. The new Canon EOS C500 Mark II cinema camera uses twin CFexpress card slots and we expect it to begin appearing in other cameras too, specifically high-end models which demand ultra-fast recording speeds

There are rumors that the Nikon D6, which has been announced as being in development, will use two CFexpress card slots. 

The transfer speed will not just for supporting the high-frame rate of professional stills cameras – it will be particularly welcome in future filmmaking cameras that will offer 6K and 8K video resolution.

Sandisk Extreme Pro CFexpress card reader

Sandisk Extreme Pro CFexpress card reader (Image credit: Sandisk)

XQD compatibility

But other, existing cameras, could be converted to use the new CFexpress cards almost immediately, via a firmware update. The Type B CFexpress cards have the same form factor as the XQD memory cards that are used in a number of existing Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and Phase One cameras or camcorders – and are therefore backward compatible

Nikon has already announced that it has developed firmware updates for its Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 full-frame mirrorless cameras (and its D850, D500 and D5 DSLRs too)  which will allow these cameras to be used with CFexpress memory, instead of XQD cards. Now that the cards are finally on sale, the free firmware updates may now be released. 

Sony, Lexar and others

ProGrade Digital CFexpress card

ProGrade is one of three other manufacturers that has CFExpress cards in development (Image credit: ProGrade Digital)

Sandisk is not the only company that will be releasing CFexpress. As we have previously reported,  Sony, Lexar, Delkin and Prograde Digital have all exhibited their versions of the new cards at trade shows over the last year, although the on sale date for these has not yet been announced. The only other company to have announced the actual launch of its CFexpress cards is Angelbird.

Although this first generation of CFexpress looks even more expensive than XQD cards, the hope is that the format will be cheaper in the long run – not least as this standard does not require paying a manufacturing license to Sony (as is the case with XQD cards).

Read more:
The best memory card for your camera: top SD, microSD, XQD & CF cards

The best memory card readers

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.