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 (opens in new tab) are now available for order on Amazon in Europe over the weekend in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB – costing between £174.99 (opens in new tab) and £691.99 (opens in new tab) – although delivery is estimated as being from one to two months. The cards are now available to pre-order (opens in new tab) in the US for between $149.99 (opens in new tab) to $599.99 (opens in new tab) .(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab). The reader is designed to support USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds, and has a USB-C connector.
Adoption of this new format has already begin. The new Canon EOS C500 Mark II (opens in new tab) 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
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 (opens in new tab) that will offer 6K and 8K video resolution.
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 (opens in new tab) that it has developed firmware updates for its Nikon Z 6 (opens in new tab) and Z 7 (opens in new tab) full-frame mirrorless cameras (and its D850 (opens in new tab), D500 (opens in new tab) and D5 (opens in new tab) 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
Sandisk is not the only company that will be releasing CFexpress. As we have previously reported, Sony (opens in new tab), Lexar (opens in new tab), Delkin and Prograde Digital (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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).