SanDisk launches 256GB CompactFlash video card, catches back up with Secure Digital


posted Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 5:02 PM EST

If you've been a digital photographer from the early days, you can doubtless remember when the once-mighty CompactFlash card came to dominate the digital camera market. Those were good times indeed for the format, which had a big advantage over its main rival -- the Secure Digital card -- in terms of capacity. Today, a new flash card reminds us of the way things once were.

Those heady days of CF dominance are gone, though, and for good reason. Chances are that your camera uses SD cards these days, as most do. Relatively few cameras -- predominantly pro models -- use CF cards any more, and SD cards have long since caught up in the capacity war, as well. In fact, for a good while now they've been ahead, simply because higher sales meant it was worth the development effort to increase their capacity. And not only are SD cards smaller and lighter -- translating to smaller and lighter cameras -- they're also typically more durable, since they don't rely on the array of tiny, delicate pins used in the CF card interface.

Be that as it may, the CompactFlash card has once more caught up in the capacity war. In the process, it's risen above the ignominy of being larger in physical size only, and not where it truly counts. (Pros shooting with CF will doubtless appreciate that, because they more than anybody could probably use the extra capacity!) And the format does still have advantages -- more size means more room to protect the card's contents, for one thing. 

A new CompactFlash card announced today by SanDisk -- which is currently celebrating its 25th birthday as a flash card manufacturer -- brings the high watermark for CompactFlash cards up to 256GB. That gives parity against Secure Digital, which achieved 256GB capacity a year ago thanks to rival Lexar.

The new card offers minimum sustained write speeds of 65MB/second, entitling it to be labeled as certified to the CompactFlash Association's Video Performance Guarantee (VPG-65) rating. It can burst write to 140MB/second, and read at an impressively swift 160MB/second. All that speed comes thanks to UDMA7 transfer. Other cards in the Extreme Pro CF line are also getting a speed boost. From 16GB to 128GB, they'll share the same 160MB/second read speed, and an even faster burst write speed of 150MB/second.

The new 256GB card carries list pricing of US$1810 or thereabouts, while other cards in the series start from US$220. Each comes with RescuePRO data recovery software, and is designed for use in temperatures from -13°F to 185°F. The Extreme Pro series also has an RTV silicone coating designed to protect against shock and vibration.

More details on the SanDisk website.