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Lexar plays the UDMA 6 card, too

Lexar introduces UDMA 6 CompactFlash cards with claimed maximum performance of 90MBps.


Lexar follows close on the heels of SanDisk's announcement of its 90MB per second Extreme Pro CompactFlash card with its own player, the Lexar Professional 600X. Like SanDisk's, these expensive, ultrafast cards aren't for everyone; as detailed in the Extreme Pro post, you really need to be shooting with a fast, high-resolution camera recent enough to support UDMA 6 or frequently downloading lots of files with a fast reader to see the benefit.

I repeated the casual testing I did with the SanDisk card, and while the Lexar seems to be faster overall than the SanDisk, there are two things to keep in mind: different capacities will frequently perform differently and Lexar doesn't make the same durability claims or seem to invoke the error-correction algorithms SanDisk touts; the latter probably add some performance overhead, and might be a valuable trade-off for some shooters.

  SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition 4GB (60MBps) SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB (90MBps) Lexar Professional 600x 16GB (90MBps)
Nikon D300s
raw+JPEG burst 19MB
(frame rate/time till ready to shoot)
14.4 secs
13.1 secs
8.2 secs
Canon EOS 50D
raw+JPEG burst 21.9MB
(frame rate)
3.8fps 4fps 4fps
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
raw+JPEG burst 26.3MB
(frame rate/time till ready to shoot)
7.8 secs
5.9 secs
4.3 secs
Download: SanDisk Extreme FireWire Reader, 302 files, 3.76GB
Windows Vista 64-bit, FireWire 400 33MBps 40MBps 38MBps
OS X Snow Leopard, FireWire 400 31MBps 27MBps 33MBps
OS X Snow Leopard, FireWire 800 36.9MBps 39MBps 43MBps

Like SanDisk, Lexar is also releasing an ExpressCard reader, which is required to get the maximum download speed--both manufacturers claim they approach 90MBps--out of any of these cards. (I had a prototype version of the reader to test, but stability issues prevented me from deriving any meaningful results.)


One digression: watch out for speed claims made by both of these manufacturers, who've been making their comparisons versus 45MBps cards, thereby exaggerating the benefits. For one thing, it's a bit disingenuous to assume that potential buyers of these cards don't already own the most recent fastest versions available. Even if you don't accept that assumption, it's frequently true that the most cost-effective solution isn't the fastest option available but the next best, and the more appropriate comparison you should be making is against 60MBps cards.

Unlike SanDisk, Lexar doesn't have an imminent 64GB option, just 8GB ($199) and 16GB ($299), available this week, and 32GB (price to be determined) slated for November shipment.