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Kingston CompactFlash Ultimate 4GB 100X

100X sounds a lot doesn’t it, but as we’ve seen USB2.0 multi-slot card readers are not always up to the job. If you’re transferring mixed files in lots of folders to the card then it looks like the Ultimate’s 100X rated write speed (15MB/s) is something dreams are made of. In our real world tests, the best time we got for that kind of data was 1.7MB/s.

If the data consists of a single folder of images that write transfer rate jumps up to 5.7MB/s. That’s not to say the card can only achieve that, but if you own one of our USB readers then it’s the best you can expect. A dedicated CF reader on a FireWire system is likely to improve upon our results.

Interestingly, when it came to writing images inside the Canon EOS-1D Mark II the Ultimate card was also a tad slower than Kingston’s cheaper Elite Pro CF card. 3.9MB/s was the best rate we got with the camera. If we compare that to what the similarly priced 133X Lexar Professional CF card achieved (6.6MB/s), the difference is an extra 14 second wait before the camera’s access lamp goes out – doesn’t sound like much but waiting for the camera’s buffer to free-up, even for a second, is enough for some photographers to miss some key moments.

However, the Ultimate does have an impressive side – its read speed. When copying images to your computer it is the quickest CF card on test reaching 8.1MB/s (in the SanDisk reader), thus breaking the 50X barrier. Similarly it was also the quickest card when reading the mixed files in multiple folders (via the SanDisk reader), hitting a rate of 6.3MB/s. Compare that with the same tests on the Crucial reader and it’s clear that reader is holding things back to a greater extent.

Verdict

At £135, it’s difficult to justify the extra cash over its cheaper Elite Pro cousin. Granted, it is ranked quicker over most of the tests and it has a good “real world” image read speed but inside the Canon EOS-1 D Mark II, the Elite Pro is actually quicker. In our opinion, the value/performance ratio isn’t as high as the Elite Pro or Lexar Professional cards. A lifetime warranty is stated, as is free technical support.

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