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Sony Announces New Line of Pro-Oriented CFast Cards | What Does This Mean For XQD?

By Justin Heyes on November 29th 2017

Compact Flash was the de facto standard for pro-level bodies during the early days of the DSLR, and to some extent still is. This was mostly due to the faster read/write speed than SD cards, not to mention that the SD format was more expensive early on. However, there was a glass ceiling the loomed over the storage titan, the physical limitations of Parallel ATA, which the cards were based on.

With a maximum transfer rate of 167 MB/s (UDMA 7), the aging Compact Flash was replaced with the CFast standard in 2010. The new standard, which is based on the much faster Serial ATA, has found its way into cameras such as the Hasselblad H6D-100C, Canon C300 Mark II, EOS 1D X II, and the Blackmagic Ursa.

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XQD was the other alternative, but the announcement from Lexar earlier this year left Sony as the only manufacturer of a format that they helped pioneer, and recently Sony has announced that it will start to produce the CFast memory cards in the first quarter of 2018.

In a very “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” way, the new G Series CFast 2.0 memory cards will be a response to the ever-increasing capabilities of high-end DSLR and 4K cinema-grade broadcast cameras. The cards will offer write speeds of up to 510MB/s and read speeds of up to 530MB/s and be available in 32GB (CAT-G32), 64GB (CAT-G64) and 128GB (CAT-G128) capacities.

As per the press release:

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“As well as ultra-fast read and write speeds, the new CFast cards support VPG130 for reliable recording of Cinema-grade or high-bitrate 4K video. A minimum sustained write speeds of 130MB/s is guaranteed, making the new media ideal for the stable recording of professional grade 4K video, such as Cinema RAW light mode with Canon C200 video cameras.”

The new G Series CFast 2.0 series with join Sony’s extensive memory card lineup of SD cards, MicroSD cards, and XQD cards.

The move comes as an interesting development in the world of digital storage. Back in 2016, the CompactFlash Association announced a successor to both the XQD and CFast formats called CFexpress, which retains the form factor of XQD while utilizing the NVME protocol. NVME drives can be found in the MacBook Pro or other computers made over the last year, and are capable of delivering data up to 8 GB/s.

Sony’s new G Series CFast cards are planned to be available in early 2018 for a suggested retail price of $119.99 for 32GB, $199.99 for 64GB and $349.99 for 128GB.

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    I think that Sony is just coming to terms with how stubborn and “different just for the sake of being different” Canon and Nikon have been since their very beginning. The CFast vs XQD thing is nothing more than two big companies picking something different because reducing cross-compatibility helps to stop ship-jumping. 

    The different technologies themselves, (CFast, XQD, CFexpress, will just continue to leap-frog each other over the years. Whoever is the speed demon today, or whoever is more ubiquitous and/or compatible with readers and other devices, that will all change over the years.

    TLDR, just pick a camera and use whatever it offers. Having to buy a totally different set of memory cards every few years is just the CODB for folks who want to stay on the cutting edge.

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  2. Josh Leavitt

    CFast cards  seem to be sufficient for 4k RAW capture, so there’s not much of a reason for major cinema camcorder manufacturers to jump ship to XQD at this stage and incur the expensive design overhauls involved in switching to the new medium. But all of this changes when we start getting in to 8K broadcast and cinema recording. At that point, I think CFexpress will be the dominant format as it will coincide with mainstream availability of PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 computing devices.

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    • Justin Heyes

      The published information of CFexpess has it using PCIe for the near future. PCIe 3.0 X2 to is capable of transfer speeds at 1970 MB/s  – even the RED Monstro at Full 8K doesn’t break 300 MB/s

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  3. Felix C

    Did you miss some parts of the article? So what does that mean to the XQD? Or the headline was a means to clickbait? 

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    • Justin Heyes

      Sony is the only one developing for XQD and now that they are starting to make CFast, XQD might be as relevant as Memory Sticks 

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