Disappointing 400X write speeds in D200

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tombest, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Today I received a Transcend 400X, 16 GB card for use in my D200. This is my first truly high-speed card for my camera and I was excited to check its write speed compared to the other cards I have been using. I will be taking a trip to Cumberland Island (St Mary's) in Georgia in a week and I needed more memory and decided to go big.
    So, I rattled off a string of shots with the the newly formatted card to see how fast it would write. It seemed about the same or slower than the 8 GB Kingston 133X and * GB Sandisk Extreme III (30 MB/sec) cards I have been using. I decided to get out a stop watch and record how long it took to fill the buffer and write to the card from the time the buffer started to fill and the shutter began to slow. Imagine my surprise when the 400X Transcend wrote slower than either of the other two... by several seconds. They all seemed to capture the same number of shutter releases in the same amount of time before the buffer slowed the party down but the difference came in how long it took to clear the buffer and write to the card. I tried the test shooting JPEGs, uncompressed RAW and RAW + JPEG - Large, Fine. The most data to record came from the RAW + JPEG and the 400X Transcend took over a minute to completely write the 19 shots where the other two recorded almost identical times to each other, 8 seconds faster. What gives? I know that the D200 can't take advantage of the UDMA capability of the Transcend but I fully expected it to be faster than the other cards that are rated at slower write speeds.
    Does anyone know why there was no improvement in transfer rate and actual slower performance? I didn't get hosed on the card and have no intention of sending it back for a cheaper one, but the reviews I read on B&H led me to believe this card was fast. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Not all cards are created equal, even the so-called "high speed" ones.
    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/camera_multi_page.asp?cid=6007-9406
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The speed limitation is on the D200 side. You can get some really fast CF cards and it won't make any difference.
     
  4. Not to mention that you are putting a "400x" card into a camera that was designed five years ago. The hardware may not be able to support highest speed that the card can.
     
  5. The D200 can not make use of the faster write speed of the latest UDMA-enabled cards - in fact, the D200 maxes out at below 10MB/s no matter the card (and of course slower for cards with a slower rating than that). Also, for cards of the same speed, the larger ones write always a little slower than the smaller ones. There was very little improvement going from a SanDisk UltraII to an ExtremeIII (old). Not even late model cameras can use the write speed the fastest cards now offer - given the right card reader, transfer to the computer can speed up quite substantially though.
     
  6. I didn't try unloading the card onto the computer, so is it possible that I might realize a faster upload time? And out of curiosity, if I were to upgrade to a D300/D700 would the write speeds be different?
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    All Nikon DSLRs that were introduced from 2007 on (e.g. the D3 and D300 introduced in August 2007) and use CF cards are UDMA compatible. For example, I once compared my D2X and D300 side by side. The D300 can write one NEF file onto an UDMA CF card in about 1 sec while it takes the D2X about 5 seconds. (Also I used lossless compressed NEF on the D300 but since the D2X does not have that feature, I shoot uncompressed NEF, thus the D2X NEF file is somewhat larger. Both cameras are 12MP and I shoot 12 bits on both.)
     
  8. Yes, write speeds should be different.
    Think of the circuits in a D200 vs a D300 as a country road (55mph, two lane road) vs the more powerful D300 as a freeway (70mph, 4 lane road). Obviously you can put more cars through faster on the larger and faster freeway. And now, your memory card is a freeway, so now you are trying to go from a country road to a freeway. Your data transfer speed up until you are completely on the freeway isn't any faster than before. However, freeway to freeway should obviously be faster.
     
  9. There are several things to this :
    - Often smaller cards have better access times, so when comparing make sure to test on same capacity cards..
    - Also, faster cards do not increase the speed of the processor in the camera when its already going at maximum speed, so much also depends on the processor in the camera, and the memory buffer in the camera.
    -Allthoug supporting UDMA 0-6 , these cards seem to be basicaly designed to be used with UDMA mode 5 or 6, i'm not sure which (technical) acces mode is used by a Nikon D200 camera, but if the Nikon uses mode 0-3 it will not fully utilize the cards possibilities because UDMA Mode 3 reaches a maximum transfer rate of 44,4 mb/s whare mode 4 already already supports 66,7 MB/s ...
    Here is a comparison of D200 and D300 which also mentiones the differen modes of both camera's ( scroll down or do a Find on "UDMA"... http://www.digitalreview.ca/content/Nikon-D300-Digital-SLR-Camera.shtml
     
  10. Thanks for all the feedback. I can clearly see that there is more to this than I thought. I didn't realize how restricted the D200 was in terms of write capability and the Rob Galbraith site has been very enlightening. It seems that the D300 can write 3 times as fast as the D200! Pretty amazing.
    I suppose I made an uneducated decision a few years back as I chose to buy a used D200 when the D300 was introduced. It was an affordable bargain at the time but in retrospect I would have done well to hold out and save for the D300. With the introduction of the D7000 and a D300s replacement looming in the not-so-distant future I suppose I should seriously consider an upgrade. The D200 has produced some great photos for me but I am well aware of its limitations.
    Thanks to all...
     
  11. You can always buy a used D300 now and sell your D200. I've seen used D300 bodies sell for less than $1000 on the auction site.
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    With the introduction of the D7000 and a D300s replacement looming in the not-so-distant future I suppose I should seriously consider an upgrade.​
    And then in another 2, 3 years, you will wish that you had either bought a D7000 or whatever replaces the D300S instead of picking up an old D300/D300S now. :)
     
  13. I don't consider the D300s a very substantial upgrade from the D300, unless you think adding an SD card slot and 780p video is a big deal, which I do not. A used D300 is a good way to go for a lot of people right now.
     
  14. And then in another 2, 3 years, you will wish that you had either bought a D7000 or whatever replaces the D300S instead of picking up an old D300/D300S now. :)
    Yup, that's the curse of the digital age in photography ... Film cam's can last a liftime, digital's are almost outdated the moment you buy them .... :)
     
  15. Digital cams are only updated because you think they are. Once we hit the 10MP level, the gains in tech have been marginal. You could easily buy a D300s and it would serve you well for a decade (assuming the camera lasts that long). Heck, I have been shooting a D200 for almost 5 years, and still shoot it today for some commercial work. It is still my primary camera. I didn't see the D300 as that much of a jump. The only thing that attracted me was the better AF, and I still didn't bite.
    I figure every other generation will most likely be my upgrade path at this point.
     
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yup, that's the curse of the digital age in photography ... Film cam's can last a liftime, digital's are almost outdated the moment you buy them .... :)
    Film SLRs couldn't really last a lifetime, but improvements came slowly such that it felt like a lifetime. Back in 1998 about a year after I had bought my F5, I went back to try my F4 and I didn't want to use it any more; the way the whole F4 works felt totally wrong. A few years after that, I had a chance to talk to John Shaw about that, and it turns out that he had exactly the same feeling after the F4 to F5 transition. I was glad to learn that it wasn't merely me. :)
    Digital cams are only updated because you think they are.... Heck, I have been shooting a D200 for almost 5 years, and still shoot it today for some commercial work. It is still my primary camera. I didn't see the D300 as that much of a jump.​
    I think it is safe to conclude that you don't shoot any sports/action and don't shoot much low-light.
    If you shoot sports, the speed difference between the D200 and D300 is very obvious. As I wrote earlier in this thread, since the D300 is UDMA compatible, how quickly it can empty the memory buffer makes a big difference. Forget about the D200, even on the D2X, I used to run into the buffer full problem once in a while shooting wildlife action, and it is very frustrating since there is action in front of you while your camera is stuck. In 3 years of using the D300 and D700 (and for a while testing a D300S), I have yet to run into that situation once.
     
  17. Film SLRs couldn't really last a lifetime
    Well ok, not a lifetime, but my 1982 FM2 & 1970 SL66 have been in use 'till 2006 - 2008, when it became time to go digital 'cause there are next to none film labs around here anymore
    I do not see my D300 last for 20 years ...
     
  18. If you require a fast buffer transfer to the card then you should probably look for the newest body offered like the D7000. The D300 is still something I would consider if action shooting is required. Either would have better ISO preformance over the D200. If you don't require these features you current D200 is probably good enough. Read/write speeds are always improving for computer equipment as files seem to always get bigger. If you have a good recent reader you may be able to benefit still. I liked my D200 but it's ISO performance left something to be desired at times.
    Film availability runs it's course also. I hated to see Ektar 25 disappear for 120. A digital body also includes the "film".
     
  19. Shun, I shoot ski/snowboard. Heck, the af in the N80 is fast enough if you do it right. It is all about how you track and what you use to focus on. I know I don't need to grab them until they are at the lip of the jump, so I focus on that, then let the camera go from there. It hasn't had an issue picking up the rider/skier. Yes, I would probably have a few more keepers if I did have a newer AF system. But only once or twice has it been an option. Heck, haven't had an issue with auto racing, tennis, or ski racing either. The only issues are me not paying attention/being fast enough.
    The biggest thing is, since the transfer speed/buffer are so small on the D200, I only need a limited number of frames in a sequence, so I can use the technique I described.
    Low light, well, yeah, don't shoot it. Can't. One reason I do want to upgrade.....
     
  20. The fastest card the D200 is rated to support is 80X.
    Using a faster card in a product that's not designed to support it will result in transfers at the product design rate, or possibly slower.
    - Leigh
     
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun, I shoot ski/snowboard. Heck, the af in the N80 is fast enough if you do it right. It is all about how you track and what you use to focus on. I know I don't need to grab them until they are at the lip of the jump, so I focus on that, then let the camera go from there.​
    Zach, they key to your comment is "I know I don't need to grab them until they are at the lip of the jump."
    You are shooting a sport the has a fixed course, somewhat similar to various type of racing, including auto racing. In fact, in your case the lip of the jump is at a fixed location where the action will be. That is a lot less challenging to the photographers and the AF systems.
    Sports with a fixed course are very different from like American football, soccer, etc. where there is a large field and the player are free to move around with unpredictable movements. When we shoot wildlife action, there are similar challenges since wildlife does not follow some script or direction. Under those circumstances, the quality of the AF system makes a huge difference.
     
  22. All wrong.
    The problem is not the camera or the card speed. It's the brand - Transcend. A lot of Transcend cards simply don't work well in the D200. They're often slow, unreliable or otherwise.
    I have best experiences (in pre-UDMA Nikon models) with A-Data cards. A 266X card is is at least 2X faster than a (good) 80X card). They may not work as well in the newer models though; but they shine in D200 and similar.
    This is the reason I don't like or recommend Transcend cards... Although they're fine with newer cameras.
     
  23. @Alex -- no, the previous comments are not all wrong. The transfer speed is, in fact, limited by the camera in the present scenario under discussion.
     
  24. Shun, you are quite right on that one. It's also the same reason I would say an event/wedding photographer would be better to look into a better AF system.
    Plus, ski/snowboard usually has some good contrast between subject and background which helps.
     
  25. Douglas, the camera IS limited, but not as much that this card would work slower than 133X cards. Sandisk Extreme IV and A-data 266x work quite faster than Extreme III for example. The difference is surely noticeable when flushing the buffer.
    One can't have 400X in a D200, but a lot of Transcend cards work slower than they should. I'd return the Transcend and get a Extreme IV non-ducatti, which should be quite cheap. Not a night-and-day difference, but faster than Transcend.
     
  26. I've used them all, A-Data, Transcend, Lexar, Sandisk and in Siberia too.
    The only failures I've had have been from two Ri-Data cards I purchased that were flawed; the entire batch was flawed and they got a horrible name from that. I don't even see RiData in the market now.
    Sandisk and Lexar both have failed me, but never with an A-Data or Transcend.
    Right now I shoot Transcend 600X UDMA cards purchased offshore, in my D300 and they work like a charm.
    I think they empty the buffer as fast as the design will allow; after I've finished rattling off frames at 8 frames per second to fill the buffer, then the buffer clearance slows to a little better than a frame a second, but it's slower with other cards.
    One problem is that when I search for a focus point, I must wait quite a while, often, if the card is newly inserted, or I haven't just searched for an active focus point before, especially with a nearly empty card. The D300 can take three or four second to return a display with the focus point selection and showing the active focus point, and I believe that is a function not only of the size 16 GB that I shoot, but also how full or empty it is.
    I have tried to download my 16 GB Transcend card through a D300 and it goes fast enough, but really at a crawl compared to any USB 2.0 compliant card reader. With those the download just races . . . . it astonishes me.
    So many years I was card reader resistant and only downloaded from whatever camera, and could recall with Adobe Downloader which reads, then rewrites certain EXIF data that it would take forever. A download could take hours for a 4 GB card with an older camera.
    Now with a newer camera, not downloading through the camera but through a high-speed compliant 2.0 USB card reader and a 600X Transcend card, the downloads just race along.
    They could get faster I know, but if they stayed this fast, I could live a lifetime and have no regrets. (and Transcend doesn't know me from Adam).
    And remember, all these brands have actually BEEN to Siberia or Siberia-like cold -32 C to -42 C, well beyond tolerances, and and I've never had a cold-related failure from any card.
    But with failures from both Lexar and Sandisk, I won't pay a premium for those, and they almost always sell at a huge premium; discount cards (except RiData) have worked fine for me and will continue to. (I note the reviews on the 600X UDMA Transcend that I saw after I bought mine were NOT superb, but my cards have performed flawlessly and on download, with amazing speed (with a card reader).
    Just two of those 16 GB cards will handle a lot of shooting, too, even with JPEGs (large) and raw files.
    Just in case, I keep a pocket full of other, lesser speed 16-Gigabyte cards, too. Never know when you cannot download; laptops do fail and if carrying one laptop and it fails, there is some law that says the second then becomes about 100 x more likely to fail also (It's happened ,and on a six-week Europe trip when I was writing . . . . no computer, means nothing written or buy a new one- -(laptops are about impossible to repair overseas).
    john
    John (Crosley)
     
  27. Lots of good feedback. The Transcend card I just bought is not radically slower than my others and since it is twice as big as my others, the slightly slower write speeds could be attributed to that. My original confusion has been cleared up since the best of the best of the best cards will still write less than 10 MB / second in my D200. Smacking the buffer doesn't happen all that often for me as I am a recreational photographer shooting mostly wildlife in S Florida. I don't sell my work and don't do jobs for hire but I do like quality gear and have what I can afford. I didn't understand the limitations of the D200 or I would have bought a little cheaper card but at $3.50 a GB for the Transcend only the Kingston Elite Pro 133X was cheaper (in a reasonably fast card). And again, B&H had great reviews on this Transcend.
    The only time I had a real problem with slamming the buffer was at a local wetland where I spotted a Green Heron on the prowl. While I waited, it managed to grab a frog and began the process of consuming it. The Heron took its time, dunking the frog frequently to get it where it wanted it. I was shooting furiously and even though I was shooting JPEGs, I missed some of the action waiting for the buffer to empty.
    A few weeks ago I took my D200 with my 70-200 F2.8 VR (not II) into a Best Buy and asked permission to attach my lens to their D300s and D700 on display. Both cameras handled vastly different than the D200 and the shutter rate on the D300s was crazy fast. Even though both are 12.2 MP cameras I actually liked the images better from the D700 than the D300s, feeling that there was more detail in the shadows. It was subjective but I understand the love affair with the D700. Both were amazing and made me want to lay plastic down to have one. (I have some older lenses without motors so the D7000 may not work for me.) After reading the write speed capabilities of either of them I can see the value in either and would shoot more action if I owned one. The D200 is not great at following moving birds. Oh well... In time... Thanks again for all the replies.
     
  28. I have some older lenses without motors so the D7000 may not work for me​
    As far as I undertand it, the D7000 does have a builtin motor, so it should work with all the lenses that the D200 does....
     
  29. Tom Best,
    Here's some date just gathered from using a 600X UDMA Transcend card, while you were posting.
    There were 13.58 Gigs in this 16 Gig capacity card, with 1152 images, including JPEGS and NEFS and some lone JPEGS from using in-camera edit. All JPEGS were full size and all NEFS were not compressed.
    I used Abobe Downloader in Photoshop CS4 for downloading and have it set to change entirely the file name to something rather long, (fits my needs) add photographer and copyright info, and then once the file is transformed, to send the file to memory . . . in this case a Simple Drive 2 Terabyte attached by USB 2.0. Computer is a dual core, 64-bit homemade/fast but not too fast.
    Download was done by a USB 2.0 compliant card reader. If it had been from the camera, I still would be watching the download far into the night, as even a D300 downloads far, far slower than through a card reader.
    The JPEGS just whizzed by and no NEF took more than a second to download. Total download time for this 13.58 Gig card -- 27 minutes, start to finish.
    In the past to download that much info, off several cards no less, from a D2X, D2Xs or a D200 has taken me all night, when tethered to the camera (card readers came late in life to me).
    I used to dread downloading and would sometimes put it off when I could, although when cards were max 1 gig, then 2 gig, it wasn't so onerous, but if 8 or 16 gigs, and old speeds, I would have to change my shooting habits (I shoot LOTS, but then I get LOTS and lots of 'special moments' caught in this 8-frame-a-second bursts when I have spied a very pregnant situation.
    The photos weren't particularly complex, such as one would find with autumn leaf shots with hundreds of glorious colors -- those are extremely data dense images, and each image is different in the amount of data it packs. Each image will download in a different time, since all have different amounts of data, but a 600X card is worth some extra money. It still isn't['t twice the speed of a 400X though, and I'd probably be pretty happy with a 400X card, too. 133X is just way too slow for my tastes and even 266X.
    I think that gives you (and other readers) an idea of how quickly a super fast card with large capacity can be emptied WITH A CARD READER.
    I've tried a similar experiment with my camera(s), say a D300, and Ive fallen asleep before the download was finished, only to find it finished and my battery drained as well.
    Hope this helps you (and other readers as well)
    john
    John (Crosley)
     
  30. John,
    I Agree totally on this last part, the faster cards may not be of much help in a D200, but when downloading to your PC using a good card reader gives you all advantages of the faster card since your PC and Reader combo can do rights to the faster card .
     
  31. I recently saw the specs on download from a site recommended by a member, for my Transcend 600 X card, there called a 'PRO' card.
    On download it was in excess of 80 mg per second.
    With a full card e.g. 16 gigs, it can unload thumbnails into an Adobe Downloader and fill it up sometimes in less than a minute, other times in a minute or two, provided internal computer connections are 'up to snuff' (internal connections sometimes vary . . . . I think Adobe allows its downloader to 'see' the card in a variety of ways, and some work faster than others - at least that's my experience.)
    Full downloads that used to take half the night from a card reader instead of from a camera, now are over in less than half an hour for a 16 gig card, whereas with a 2 gig or a 4 gig card, even 166 X speed, they seemed to take 'forever' and God help you if you ran out of battery at the end of one card and had another to download and didn't have a spare battery available.
    I vote for the higher speed, and with NO glitches so far. I couldn't be happier. Those 'frames per second' shots I rattle off into my camera' buffer seem to clear plenty quickly and I almost never run into a 'buffer full problem' no matter how hard I shoot, and even then it will clear a frame a second anyway, no matter what, shooting JPEGs (large, fine) and RAW, together. I suppose with just JPEGs, it would allow me to machine gun them almost forever, even if the buffer tried to fill up. Just wait a fraction of a second and shoot a few more seconds at 8 frames per second (depending on data density, or course).
    john
    John (Crosley)
    john
    John (Crosley)
     
  32. Beware your card reader!
    My last card reader just died.
    I went to Fry's Electronics and bought a blister pack one that looked substantial and sturdy, with its own cord for about $10.
    On first use, first on one computer, then another, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my computer, then my hard drive, or what.
    Photos were downloading at a snail's pace.
    The new card reader was USB 2.0 and theoretically with a 600x Transcend card should have been as fast as I've written above, but NO.
    Apparently it pays to TEST a card reader, or at least go with one that's been reviewed.
    Live and learn and now I'm 9,000 miles or so away from Fry's where I bought it two days ago.
    With no plans to return for a while. Sales slip lost in a baggage 'lost' by United Airlines, and so small even if it is found, who'd recognize it?
    Ugh!
    I'm back to downloading from my camera, and draining my batteries, even my huge EN-EL4a batteries don't need the extra work.
    john
    John (Crosley)
     

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