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Sony XQD 16GB
The Sony XQD is a new memory card format designed by the same people who invented CompactFlash - the idea is that it is smaller than compact flash, but also designed to be tougher than SD cards. XQD is designed to support extremely high speeds and sizes, but in the meantime the first products from Sony are available as 16 and 32GB cards with 125MB/s read/write speeds. It's also being bundled with a reader, with the only camera that currently uses it, the Nikon D4, which is a good thing as the card costs £128 for the 16GB or £208 for the 32GB version with a USB card reader available for £28.
Sony XQD Features
XQD Card Size Comparison CompactFlash, XQD, SDHC, Sony Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo
Sony XQD H Series 16GB Key Features:
- 125MB/s Read/Write (Sony testing)
- Sony's intelligent controller: wear leveling, error correction code, data refresh functions to realise stable data reading / recording
- Durability for use in extreme environment
XQD Model MRW-E80 Memory Card Reader
USB 3.0 XQD Memory Card Reader Features:
- USB3.0 up to 125MB/s read / write speed lower
- USB2.0 upto 43MB/s read / write speed lower
- XQD High Speed Driver needed from sony.net/memorycard
Sony XQD Handling and PerformanceThe XQD card is designed to be inserted and removed like a lot of SD card readers and cameras, where you simply push it in until it clicks, then push it in again and it will spring out. This is easier than having to physically pull out a CompactFlash card or remember to use an eject button if available. The XQD card is certainly smaller than the CompactFlash card, but it's also thicker.
XQD card thickness comparison
Speed - Tested with the Nikon D4 - the only camera to support XQD. Its dual XQD and Compact Flash slot meant we were able to test the cameras performance with these two memory cards.
Nikon D4 Memory Compartment
We tested the camera's performance at continuous shooting in JPEG, JPEG+RAW and RAW shooting and have posted the results below.
|Continuous Shooting (JPEG)||XQD*
105 shots in 10 seconds
139 before slow down
105 shots in 10 seconds
118 before slow down
|Continuous Shooting (JPEG+RAW)||XQD*
64 shots before slow down
59 shots before slow down
|Continuous Shooting (RAW)||XQD*
72 shots before slow down
66 shots before slow down
** Tested with Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB Compact Flash UDMA 7 (the fastest available CF card). RAW was set to lossless compression, 14-bit. JPEG quality fine.
There was some benefit shooting with the XQD card, allowing more shots to be taken without slowdown.
Value For Money - The Sony XQD 16GB card is £128, or alternatively it's £129 for a Lexar 1000x 16GB CompactFlash card. 32GB versions are £174 for the Lexar CompactFlash, or £208 for the Sony XQD card. In comparison a 32GB SDHC Lexar 600x card will cost you £84, or a 16GB 600x version is £42.
Sony XQD VerdictSony seem quite keen on alternative memory card formats, even when everyone else has decided that SD cards will do, Sony still continue to make cameras that support Sony Memory Sticks. Similarly when MicroSD was first introduced, Sony decided that it would do it's own version of micro memory cards called M2 - luckily these have now been abandoned in favour of MicroSD. The new XQD cards on the other hand, seem like a genuinely good idea as they update an extremely old format: CompactFlash. It has been around for 20+ years, has a fragile connector with pins that can bend, has a number of different sizes and formats.
However, the price of the XQD cards will need to come down for them to be popular (Why buy XQD if you can buy cheaper CompactFlash?) and for that there will need to be more cameras using the format. With the only camera that supports the format so far costing over £4500 I can't see the format taking off very quickly against the two extremely well established formats of CompactFlash and SD, even if they are provided with the camera.
|The Sony XQD 16GB is recommended for those that want the ultimate speed shooting.|
Sony XQD ProsFast write speeds
Smaller than CF
Better connection than CF
Better insert technique
Sony XQD ConsPrice compared to SD
Only one camera uses it
Only one company makes it
Larger than SD
|VALUE FOR MONEY|