Well, we have to say this has been a revealing round-up of some of the SD and CF cards available today. You could say we tested a number of things.

First, we should all be aware that many card readers have a big influence over the speed at which our workflows can be carried out. Study the graphs and it’s relatively transparent that these introduce a major bottleneck. For instance, look at the multiple directory results using the two multi-card readers. Both 8-in-1 USB 2.0 devices, but it seems that the model from Crucial is slowing things up. That’s not to say the SanDisk isn’t either, but just less so.

Second, when we copied images to and from the SD cards, the overall speeds tended to increase too, highlighting the premise that the type of data and its directory structure has a noticeable influence too.

Next, we also showed that a single-slot dedicated card reader is faster than some standard multi-slot readers. This emphasises the need for more manufacturers to consider designing the card and reader in unison, so that greater real world transfer speeds are ensured. Indeed, some are already at it.

Another interesting point is the rates achieved by the SD cards. On the whole, they look faster than CompactFlash and if you own the Canon 1D/1Ds mark II, then using SD cards would appear to be the faster option.

Finally, even though many of the cards not mentioned here will operate without any major issues in your device, there are some significant differences between cards of different make, speed rating and price. Overall, you don’t have to spend a huge amount to get a decent level of performance but inevitably, the faster cards tend to be the pricier ones.

Here’s a summary of the cards that impressed the most.

The Winners



At around £55 less than it’s 100X Ultimate stable mate, the Kingston Elite Pro 4GB 45X CF card seems the better value choice if in-camera performance is more important to you than transferring your images over to the PC. That said, it’s not the slowest card either, so if you’re on a budget this is a sensible choice. A lifetime warranty is stated, as is free technical support.

Editor’s Choice

Ranked as the best card for overall average read and write speeds, the 4GB Lexar Professional CompactFlash 133X card with Write Acceleration takes our fancy. It performed well in a camera that does not support WA, has decent data read speeds and manages to eek out the best write rates from our readers. The Image Rescue software adds extra value and a lifetime limited warranty is stated.

''Secure Digital


At only £17 or so more than its own Elite Pro SD card, Kingston’s SD Ultimate is recommended for its well-rounded performance. A lifetime warranty is also stated, as is free technical support.

Editor’s Choice

At £68.50, you might think it’s a bit expensive, but a bundled SD reader doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy one. It also ensures you’re going to get the most out of the card, which in a world selling all kinds of readers, is usually far from certain. With some of the best read and write rates the Lexar Professional 133X SD card is overall, the preferred choice. And yes, a lifetime limited warranty is stated.

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