The state of memory cards is evolving almost as quickly as digital cameras themselves, but I think we’ve finally hit a new standard that has some staying power. CFexpress is the fast and robust memory format that’s being employed by some of the hottest new cameras, including Canon’s EOS R5 and C300/500, Nikon’s D6, Z 6 and Z 7, and Panasonic’s S1 and S1R, among others, and is a card format that’s sure to be seen in future cameras as well. At the forefront of this new memory card format is ProGrade Digital, who has recently released an improved second generation of cards while approaching this format with a tiered response that caters to different styles of image makers.
Before we get into ProGrade’s offerings, it’s worth having a quick refresher on why CFexpress is such an important update in the world of memory cards. The main incentive is speed. And lots of it. CFexpress cards use the PCIe NVMe, Gen 3 interface and incorporates up to two lanes of data with up to 1 GB/s theoretical transfer speeds per lane – for a maximum speed capability of 2GB/sec. This is notably faster than cards using a SATA interface, like CFast cards, and has more room to improve over the existing XQD format that already tops out at 500 MB/s transfer speeds.
In practical terms, CFexpress is catering to the contemporary crop of image makers, including those working with 4K, 6K, and even 8K video output, along with raw video recording and high bit rate recording, and even benefitting stills photographers who work with fast continuous shooting speeds and high resolutions. This card format is helping to ensure that camera performance and development aren’t hindered by just a memory card.