SanDisk "Extreme PRO" 32 GB CF Card is Super Slow in SLOW Continous Shooting Mode

I have a Canon EOS 50D camera and I have 3 SanDisk CF cards that I use with it. Two “Ultra” (4 GB and 8 GB) and one Extreme (8 GB) of the older generation. That Extreme card is the best in the bunch. But it runs out of space rather quickly when I do a lot of conntinous or burst shooting. So I decided to get one with higher capacity.

Since CF cards are now being phased out and replaced with new formats and technology like CFast, I could not find a 16 GB Extreme card. I don’t think SanDisk makes them anymore, because SanDisk is not listing any 16 GB models in its data sheets. The smallest you can get as of now is 32 GB, and you must be very lucky if you find a retailer that still has the 16 GB models of the older Extreme card generation in its inventory.

So I got one rather dull and cheap looking 32 GB model from Amazon. I mean the label and text on the thing looks nothing like the old Extreme series with its reflective and large print. The label on the one I got looks like it was printed by a child on a cheap inkjet printer. I am not impressed! It made me wonder if this is genuine SanDisk product or not. The packaging was also broken into, because I ordered it from Amazon and they do some advanced repackaging scheme over there to keep the cost down. The card was in a sealed blister container that can fit two cards! But I only got one card of course as I only ordered one, and they put that inside a small cardboard box with SanDisk branding that looks genuine and has high quality print, but the box is all squashed due to mishandling during packaging. The card itself came in one piece though. Although the little CF plastic storage box was a bit yellowish as opposed to white and it takes quite a bit of force to lift up the cover to open it up. Not impressed!

This card was everything but cheap, for a technology that’s being phased out, and given the dollar per GB value we get.

But least impressive was the performance! This so called “Extreme” CF card from SanDisk shoots no more than 18 frames before it starts to hiccup. Compared to my previous Extreme card with 8 GB capacity which can do 33 frames!!! In both cases this is when the camera is set to slow continuous shooting mode. That’s nearly twice as fast! So I paid twice the price for half the performance. Not impressed!

I also compared the two Ultra cards I have. All four cards have the same performance in high speed continuous shooting mode which is 12 frames, given the same lighting conditions and shooting the same

For my testing I put my camera to manual mode with 1/30 shutter speed, 3.5 / f aperture, 800 ISO, RAW & JPG (high quality) and I took all images while holding the camera steadily in my hands and shooting at the carpet near the window of my bedroom. I did my best to keep it all very scientific, and I did the shoots two times for both slow and high speed shooting mode for each card to get some kind of average. Of course I recorded my data as well, so I will now post my results in a table.

Does anyone have similar experience to share? Is it true that the bigger the card is the less performant it is? It certainly makes sense for a mechanical hard disk drive to perform better if it’s a low capacity drive due to its geometry. But does a similar principle apply to Flash technology? For example, bigger capacity means higher memory cell density and thereby lower performance in certain situations (like continuous shooting with digital cameras)?

It’s funny to look at all the badges of heroism that the “Extreme PRO” is carrying. For starters, notice the ALL CAPITAL “PRO”!!! It says “UDMA 7”. Is that supposed to mean something to end user? OK so this one is number 7, but my old card is numberless “UDMA” and it performs better. How is that possible? The sequential data transfer speed of 160 MB/s is also pointless when you are only working with photos, and you insert the card to a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port and transfer the data to a mechanical hard disk drive. The best HDDs like the WD Caviar Black can’t write faster than 120 MB/s in real world and most common situations and configurations.

Here are the card numbers, if someone wants to check them out (or avoid them).

The Ultra cards were very good for my camera. But 4 GB was just too small a capacity.

This is hands down the best CF card I had with this camera. I wish they were still made, and I regret not buying the 16 GB model when it was still available.

This is the worst card yet, and it may be the worst memory card I ever purchased. I always try to buy only the best and SanDisk has always been on top of my list when it comes to memory cards. But this little card made a dent in my confidence in SanDisk products.