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This Is The World’s Fastest SD Card

By Kishore Sawh on February 23rd 2017

When the field of photography transcended the analogue in favor of digital (mostly), the balance clearly tipped in favor of tech companies, and that’s Sony’s forte. It’s hard to argue, if not impossible, that Sony is producing the most forward thinking and advanced cameras around, pushing boundaries and defining markets, so it should come as little surprise they would have released the world’s fastest memory card, and here we have it: The Sony SF-G Series UHS-II SD series.

The new cards sort of crumble what we previously assumed was possible relative to SD card read/write speeds stamping a read speed of 300 MB/s and an almost equal write speed of 299 MB/s. Sure that’s not quite CFast and certainly not near the theoretical limit of XQD, but it’s far beyond what’s filling your SD slot now. This kind of speed upgrade will, of course, allow for longer continuous bursts of shooting with high res files, and aids shorter buffer clearing times. Essentially, the speeds will help you take full advantage of the performance envelope of your camera.

[REWIND: It Is About Gear & It’s Not | Is Your Gear Outperforming Your Vision?]

That said, however, you’ll need a UHS-II supporting camera to reap the rewards, but that’s always the case when there’s new memory card tech, and the adoption evolution timeline of cameras for these things is shorter now than they used to be.

In addition to their main talking point, the cards are waterproof, shock-proof, x-ray proof, and temperature resistant, and come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB variants. To provide a full experience in conjunction with their release, Sony has a new card reader that’s purpose built to take advantage of the performance of the new cards. You can expect the cards to be released next month, with the card reader to follow soon after.

Some Of The Fastest Cards On The Market

If you were to go to B&H or Amazon and search for fast memory cards your results would be, well, overwhelming. There is an absolute bounty of cards out there and unless you’ve tested them or know precisely what you’re looking for it’s hard to know which are the real performers.  As such, here’s a short list of some of the fastest cards around:

*Note that not all cameras can take these cards and you should verify which your camera is able to use. Also, despite what’s written on the cards for read/write speed, and write in particular, you can expect that to be lower in practice. In fact, many cards will just issue the read speed and not specify the write speed. 

Fastest SD Cards

SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card: 32GB-128GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-II / U3 / Class 10
  • Max. Read Speed: 300 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 260 MB/s
  • Min Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof
  • Built-in Write-Protect Switch
  • Supports Advanced Shooting Modes
  • Downloadable RescuePRO Recovery Software

Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II SDXC Memory Card: 32GB-128GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • Class 10 / UHS-II
  • UHS Speed Class 3
  • Max. Read Speed: 300 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 260 MB/s
  • Built-In Write-Protect Switch
  • Downloadable Image Rescue Software
  • Includes SD UHS-II Reader

Delkin Devices UHS-II SDHC Memory Card (U3): 32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • Class 10 / UHS-II
  • Max. Read Speed: 285 MB/s
  • Min. Write Speed: 100 MB/s

For those without UHS-II and still want a fast UHS-I SD Card:

SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC Memory Card (V30): 32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-I/V30/U3/Class 10
  • Max Read Speed: 95 MB/s
  • Max Write Speed: 90 MB/s
  • Min Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof
  • Temperature Proof
  • Built-In Write-Protect Switch
  • Downloadable Photo Recovery Software

Fastest CF Cards

Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash Memory Card (UDMA 7) 16GB-256GB

  • 256GB Data Storage Capacity
  • 1066x Speed Rating
  • Max. Read Speed 160 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed 155 MB/s

Fastest CFast 2.0 Cards

SanDisk Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card (ARRI and Canon Cameras) 64GB-512GB

  • 512GB Storage Capacity
  • SATA III 6 Gb/s Bus
  • Max Read Speed: 525 MB/s
  • Max Write Speed: 450 MB/s

Fastest XQD Cards

Sony XQD G Series Memory Card :32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • Max. Read Speed: 440 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 400 MB/s
  • XQD Format Version 2 Compliant
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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dan Sifuentes

    Even if you have a camera that can take advantage of a card like this, will you really notice a speed difference?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I would say, a resounding ‘yes’, but the caveat being, it depends on what you shoot. Shooting sports, reportage, wildlife… things that use bursts or where you need to keep your finger down to capture a precise moment, it can make a difference. Video too. In reality, for the average shooter, you’d still see an advantage and benefit if you’re using a high resolution camera like an A7Rii or 5Ds etcetera as so many do, even if shooting 5 FPS etc. If you’re shooting portraits, probably not. 

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    • Anders Madsen

      Funny you should mention the A7Rii since that camera will not benefit from these cards in any way – the controller seems to be the limiting factor and it will not write more than 36.6 MB/s regardless of the card used. :)

      The Lexar 2000x cards are capable of 163.4 MB/s in the Nikon D500 while a Sandisk Extreme 60 MB/s card will do 48.2 MB/s here. In the Sony A7Rii, the performance of these two cards is identical.

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