Is this the last generation of CF card EOS cameras?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by Marcus Ian, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. My question is simple. Do you think that this (current) generation of EOS cameras is the last which will use CF cards?
    The reason I ask is because, until now, CF represented the fastest specification utilized ( certainly the fastest cards). With Sandisk's announcement ( ) of a card capable of writing at 250mb/s, which is 150% of the max theoretical write speed of UDMA7 (167mb/s), it seems that utilization of UHS-2 SD cards w/ a bandwidth cap of 312mb/s, have taken SD from being significantly slower to one and a half the speed of the fastest CF cards in a single fell swoop..
    I've got to admit, I think it's coming, sooner rather than later, but do you think that by shifting all EOS to SD (UHS2/3 capable) platform, we'll see an improvement in performance - Certainly our buffers will empty faster, Our cameras will have the bandwidth to record 4k video -continuosly. What other improvements do you see as a result? Is it worth it to tick off photogs with a pile of CF cards (the only downside I can see)?
  2. david_henderson


    I have a pile of CF cards. They are fast enough for me and I'm concerned neither with burst speed or with video. Maybe I should be but I'm not. A fast SD card has no real benefit to me.
    But the investment I have in Canon stretches to a few $000 in lenses, bodies for backup, and various bits. I don't think that needing to spend a couple of hundred on new cards if I bought a 5D mk4 would be a deal breaker. A few minutes on Amazon and I'm sorted. OTOH a fundamental reduction in size and weight from a mirrorless full frame system such as the Sony A7 might make for a tough decision.
  3. Just for the avoidance of doubt, you mean 250MB/s not 250mb/s. B for Bytes, b for bits., M for Mega, m for milli.
    Some folks find SD cards fiddly compared to CF cards. Personally I don't have any such problem, although microSD cards are a different matter. SD cards have contact pads rather than a pin-and-socket arrangement that can be vulnerable to bent pins. They also have a legacy read-only slider which I believe is not connected to anything inside the card and whose position is ignored by many devices. I for one would be perfectly happy with a move to the SD card form factor. But you have to bear in mind that there is a new CFast standard which I understand moves from PATA to SATA communication allowing for very much faster speeds, and that is an alternative direction in which change might take place.
  4. I think it's coming. I've noticed that CF cards are harder to find now in brick and mortar stores. My trusty EOS 5D2 will probably outlive them, which would be a problem. I'll either have to stock up on CF cards in advance, or try one of the SD to CF converters coming out, like this one at B&H:
  5. you mean 250MB/s not 250mb/s. B for Bytes, b for bits., M for Mega, m for milli.​
    Yes, yes I do ;)

    Ah, yes, I hadn't considered CFast cards. Of course these cards are not backwards compatible, so would be unable to be used in existing CF card cameras. The host interface is also not backwards compatible (so a CFast enabled camera would be unable to use 'standard' CF cards), The connector looks like a mini sata connector (vs. 'pins' as in CF cards).
    I've got to admit, despite the max speed advantage, I'd be a smidge surprised by a switch to CFast due to the very limited cross compatibility, and minimal advantage of the additional speed. Of course both will likely be attenuated in time.
    But, With a UHS2 card slot, one could use legacy SD cards (at reduced speed), or UHS2 cards (albeit with reduced transfer speed w/o an appropriate reader, though an old reader would still work). I was thinking that the only caveat for top tier equipment would be the immediate extra costs of $300-1000 for a professional shooter .
    My first thought upon reading that PR was... wow, now one could shoot 25MB RAWS at max FPS, with essentially an infinite buffer - Even at 10FPS.
  6. I suspect that there are enough CF cameras out there still working for there to be a market, perhaps only by mail order, for CF cards to be available for a fairly long time.
    I wouldn't even bet on a long term endurance for the SD cards.
    I've personally lived through lots of media changes in my own brief span:
    Punch cards, magnetic tape, 8" floppies, 5.25" floppies, 3.5" floppies, ZIP disks, Optical disks, .....
    A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away​
  7. Most of the current generation of EOS cameras already use SD. All the Rebels do, the M doesm the 70D does and the 6D does. The only holdouts are the 7D, 5D MkIII and 1D X.
    With the 1D X Canon made a point of using two CF slots rather than a CF and an SD because (in their own words) it "frees the user from concerns about needing to have two types of cards and accommodating card readers and, instead, offers some interesting methods of combining the two available card slots", so I don't know how inclined they might be to have two SD slots.
    The 5D MkIII already has an SD slot, along with a CF slot. That may not change in a MkIV
    If a 7D MkII ever shows up, I wouldn't be surprised if it had an SD slot.
  8. CF seem more backwards-compatible than SD cards. SD introduced a break in the specification over 2GB with SDHC. Plastic spines on SD cards crumble after any abuse, and sometimes after too many insert/remove cycles. All those pins on CF are part of a very old parallel interface and the world has largely moved on to serial buses.
    I have used SD card without spines with the contacts flush with the card that feel robust. I don't know if there is a strong technical reason why they cannot do make them like this anymore. They inspire much more confidence. I have had to remove SD when it cracked in a slot into its wafery plastic layers. (This is a cue for someone typically to jump in that says in a decade of use that's never happened to them, so I must be at fault...)
    For the moment CF inspires more confidence, but those extra pins make it a lot more expensive.
  9. I've personally lived through lots of media changes in my own brief span:
    Punch cards, magnetic tape, 8" floppies, 5.25" floppies, 3.5" floppies, ZIP disks, Optical disks, .....​
    Raise you: punched paper tape. But the point is well-taken. Even worse that believing that any of these things is for ever is to get stuck in a dead-end that, whatever its technical excellence, simply fails to capture the market. Betamax is the classic example, perhaps XQD cards are another.
  10. For the moment CF inspires more confidence, but those extra pins make it a lot more expensive.​
    While I haven't used SD cards enough to 'make them crumble' I'm certainly not surprised to hear it, but I have had CF cards fall apart. Even high quality ones. the metal tops work their way loose, and you are left with an exposed PCB. NOT what comes to mind when I think of 'reliable' ;)
    That said, I also have never seen an SD slot fail the way CF slots all too frequently do. We've all read posts about 'bent pins' which can happen with something as simple as a careless insertion of a card. While high capacity (32-64gb) CF cards have minimized the frequency of insertions, I've got to admit, putting a memory card in my cameras is my most worrisome aspect of routine use.
  11. Quote: " putting a (CF) memory card in my cameras is my most worrisome aspect of routine use."
    I couldn't agree more.
  12. I've got to admit, putting a memory card in my cameras is my most worrisome aspect of routine use.​
    I second (third?) that. I rarely do it. I have a 50D (CF only) and a 5DIII (CF & SD). When I shoot the 50D, I rarely use a card reader for that reason. I keep my 5DIII set to write to the SD card so that I can use a card reader without anxiety about bending pins. (I use the card reader less for speed than because unlike the EOS utility, it makes it easy for me to move the files to folders that may make more sense.)
  13. putting a (CF) memory card in my cameras is my most worrisome aspect of routine use.​
    I 4th that, and it is one reason I wince when every question about a problem with downloading to the computer from a camera is answered with "get a card reader."
  14. Wince away,
    Get a card reader.
  15. I must have put a CF card in my camera or card reader 10,000 times or more. Never any problems. Just keep the card clean and don't FORCE the card in if it seems reluctant.
  16. [[I must have put a CF card in my camera or card reader 10,000 times or more. Never any problems. Just keep the card clean and don't FORCE the card in if it seems reluctant.]]
    Indeed. Millions of cameras that use CF cards have been sold. If it were really a huge issue, this would be a more common problem. Internet magnification strikes again.
  17. It may well be a novice issue, so SD cards are certainly safer for beginners. If you carry the card in your pocket and get grit in one of the socket holes in the card, then hammer it into the camera, damage will probably result. You really can't screw up with an SD card. They're almost idiot proof, so from a camera maker's point of view, they probably result in fewer repair problems.
    I don't really care either way at this point. SD cards are cheap and fast, so they are fine and all my P&S cameras use them. I have a bunch of CF cards I use in my DSLRs and I'd rather not junk them, so I'm OK with CF too. Best of both worlds would be dual cards, one CF and one SD.
  18. Raise you: punched paper tape.​
    Actually, I started with Univac round punches on a card, then IBM punch cards, and THEN paper tape, but who cares?
    I raise you a PDP-11 and an Apollo workstation.... :)
    ...just a bunch of old men with rock & roll clothes on sitting around the studio, mumbling about the good old days. Ten years from now you'll be sitting around with your friends someplace doing the same thing if there's anything left to sit on.
    from the introduction to Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa)​
  19. Abacus, anyone?
    I've not had problems inserting CF cards except for one very cheap reader many moons ago. I might have tried to force it.
    SD cards for P&S are fine, too.
  20. Raise you keying in op codes via front panel switches in order to run the paper tape reader boot program which then would load the operating system before loading the program from paper tape.
    I've junked my Ditto tape drives, 8" floppy drives and ZIP100 drives. However I can still read and write 3.5" and 5.25" floppies if I have to.
    I think CF and SD cards will be around for the foreseeable future, and SD cards may outlast CF cards. Something you can't say about Sony Memory sticks and xD picture cards.
  21. I used log tables. before that we had fingers in Playschool.
    I think I'm changing my mind about CF and SD cards. Example of "I bought CF cards so they must be best". Now I see SD cards much cheaper and and more robust with insertion and extraction, yeah, I 've changed my mind, bring on the SD. Does that mean my 7D is no longer any good?
  22. You can get SD to CF (type II) adapters. The SD card just plugs into a dummy CF card. However I don't know if the speed of the SD card is compromised. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it was. I presume UHS isn't supported either, but again I don't really know.
    See for example, and this one from B&H
  23. You can get SD to CF (type II) adapters.​
    In the context of an earlier thread I searched to try to find SD to CF (Type I) adapters and was unable to identify any, so unless I missed something cameras not supporting CF Type II, like the 5DIII, cannot use adapters. Of course, the 5DIII has an SD slot anyhow.
    Sounds as if quite a number of us on this forum go way back with our computing experience. "My" first computer was, rather briefly, the EDSAC-II at Cambridge, which still used some valves. It is widely held among computerphiles that valves give you much more refined computing power than transistors. Or perhaps I am confusing it with something else …
  24. The convenience of being able to plug SD cards into my computers without a Card Reader is handy when traveling. I'd prefer to have 1 type of card; so my choice would be SD as they are so much easier to obtain and are faster to download than a CF Reader. Performance of either is of no consequence provided they have the same read/write speed.
  25. I'm not sure any SD to CF Type 1 adapters currently exist. The type I specification means a card that would have to have very thin walls to allow an SD card to be inserted. It's theoretically possible, but the wall thickness of the adapter would have to be about 0.5mm.
    They did exist (see Minolta SD-CF1, but I'm guessing maybe they were too fragile since they seem to have died out.
    You can get micro SD to CF type I though.
    I'm told that you can take some type II CF card adapters out of their plastic shell and they will fit in a type I slot. Obviously with no casing on them, you have to be careful handling them since the electronics are exposed. I have not tried this.
  26. I didn't say that I ever had 'bent a pin' , just that doing so is always on my mind when I'm inserting a card. I'm all to aware that a piece of inconvenient dirt clinging to the connector can easily destroy your cameras ability to function. The edge-on pinhole design also makes it harder to assess whether or not there is dirt/debris present. Compare that design to an SD card, and you've got a clearly more reliable system.
    I don't think I could put up with doing "through-camera-downloads", when doing so w/ my 50D (the last camera I tried it with) I got about 2-3MB/s throughput. I'm sure that new units have improved upon that, but I still doubt that they approach the speed you get from using a card in a card reader. I'm simply not prepared to wait for hours more to download images. In a controlled environment, I do feel that the risk of damaging the camera due to a CF card insertion is minimal, which is why I support high capacity cards. Changing a CF card in the field is the riskiest time, by a significant margin.
    I also disagree w/ the assertion that the best choice is a dual card reader w/ one of each. Current versions of this have all the weaknesses of both systems. The 5D3 for example has a slow SD card interface (not UHS-2 capable), limiting the write speed of the SD card slot to 104MB/s, and it has the slow interface (167MB/s UDMA7) and physical risks of a CF slot. The electronic complication of having multiple memory controllers and formats in the same unit is significant as well. That setup costs us. It would probably drop the final cost of unit noticeably having a single memory format.
    I would also say that when I'm say shooting weddings, adding in the factor of having to deal with multiple memory formats is a bad bad idea. For casual shooting it's obviously not an issue, but on a client's time, flubbing around w/ cards is pretty unprofessional looking.
  27. I'm guessing that it will not be long (in fact no time at all since you can do it now) event photographers will be sending all images in real time to a storage unit via WiFi. I suppose the card in the camera might be used as backup...
    There's also really no reason why you couldn't have dedicated SD and CF controllers in one camera. I don't think hardware cost is an issue in a $3000 camera. I suspect the controller chips are probably less than a few dollars in large quantities. There are software development costs of course, but I doubt that the overall cost would add much to the price of a high end DSLR.
  28. You guys had electricity? Well la-di-da. We used Cuneiform pictographs on clay tablets and we were happy.
    I am surprised how few memory card types have been in use. I used the CF cards in my first DSLR and Memory Sticks in my point & shoot. I now use SDHC cards in my DSLR and P&S. I would have thought there would be more proprietary cards to each manufacture. Perhaps Sony taught others a lesson.
    CF cards had a strong user base even back in the early 1990's. We used them at the Naval Air Warfare Center to backup data on GPS tracking pods. These could be used on the latest fighter jets as they went though their paces. They were very reliable.
  29. If Sandisk (or any other card manufacturer) can announce a new faster SD card why can't there be a new faster CF card coming out too? I don't understand the internal technology of memory cards but improvements are always coming out. I think we might see a slowdown in speed (similar to the slowdown in megapixels) because I know my cameras can't utilize to the fullest the fastest cards available today. It doesn't affect my shooting or ability to shoot good sized bursts when required.
  30. Cuniform? We used rocks arranged in binary patterns to do computing back in my day. No fancy "writing".
    SD cards have a 4 bit bus with a 9 pin interface. CF cards have a 16 bit bus with a 50 pin interface and a built in "disk" controller. This means that CF cards put a smaller load on the camera firmware and can (in theory) transfer data faster. This was certainly true in the early days.
    Bit more data here -
    However advances in technology have made the technical differences negligible in modern cameras. There's certainly no reason CF cards couldn't be as fast or faster than the fastest SD cards. I suspect now that the market has shifted from mainly CF to mainly SD and that SD cards are now used in all sorts of devices, SD R&D is getting the big bucks while CF R&D takes a backseat. I presume it's partly the slightly lower complexity but mostly the larger market that makes SD cards cheaper than equivalent CF cards these days.
  31. For the controllers to handle a higher throughput, it
    would require a completely different interface, the
    cards would not be backwards compatible. Udma7 already
    saturates the bus, ie. The limitation is the bus, not
    the cards (or their controllers). To increase the data
    throughput, you'd need to completely replace it (like
    CFast does, putting the cards across a sata bus).

    From a purely physical standpoint, the 50 pin connector
    should be capable of 15-20GB per sec easy. Especially
    if it did so in a parallel sata / usb3.1 like array...
    The practical limitation s however ;)

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