For CompactFlash cards or any other type of memory card, it’s wise to buy the best quality versions. It doesn’t matter about the quality of cameras and lenses when a memory card fails. This is why many high-end cameras have two memory card slots, just in case one memory card decides to skip a beat or even lose data.
In reality, the majority of well-known CompactFlash card manufacturers produce products that will work seamlessly. However, buying the best available is about being safe rather than sorry. But, enough about the scaremongering and onto the features to look for.
Buying into a well-regarded brand is the first step to ensure quality, with the other categories being storage space, write speed, durability, and reliability:
- Capacity: Storage space is about buying the largest capacity card that your camera can accommodate. Basically meaning the more storage space for the most images you can store in one sitting.
- Read/write speed: A high read and write speed will allow the highest quality footage to be stored and allow your camera to work at its maximum continuous shooting rate.
- Durability: How well the card can take extreme conditions?
- Will it reliably work, time after time?
Memory cards will have all their specifications printed on their sides and, are they equally useful for storing both images and video. It’s always good practice to check the type of cards your camera accepts from either the user manual or manufacturer’s website.
With these criteria in mind, let’s check out what’s currently available for CompactFlash cards.
1. Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash Card (Overall Winner)
The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash card ticks all the boxes for high-quality memory from a respected brand. It has a minimum sustained write speed of 65MB/s and a maximum read speed of 160MB/s (the more common way of expressing read speeds) and a capacity of 64GB.
The UDMA rating of seven shows the maximum bus speed for which the card can read. UDMA 7 comes in at 167 MB/s, while UDMA 1 has 16.7 MB/s.
All this information essentially translates to the Lexar being ideal for shooting both images and high quality video without a hitch. Read and write speeds are extremely fast on this card, allowing a range of cameras to work at their full continuous shooting speed, along with 4K video seamlessly written to the card.
The Lexar cards come in a wide range of storage capacities with this 64GB version being fine for short amounts of footage, with the 128GB and 256GB versions being more expensive, but also worth the money for their capacities.
Generally, these cards aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re worth every penny for the peace of mind they provide.
SanDisk is another well-respected memory card producer, with one of their standouts being the SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash Memory Card. These cards come in a variety of storage capacities, with this example having 128GB.
The Extreme Pro series has the maximum rating for a CompactFlash card of UDMA 7, with a read speed of 160 MB/s, write speed of 150MB/s, and a minimum write speed of 65MB/s.
I’ve used the SanDisk Extreme Pro cards for some time and they are simply workhorse memory cards. They are fast enough for rapid-fire still shooting, while also being speedy enough for 4K video.
These cards are very robust, taking the knocks and drops of everyday professional shooting in stride. This card is an extremely close second to the Lexar above, with both being solid choices for peace-of-mind storage.
If you can’t quite stretch the cost of the pro versions above, then the SanDisk Extreme CompactFlash Card is a good second option.
This CompactFlash card may not be as speedy as the two offerings above, but it’s still very good for general use. The card has a UDMA rating of seven, a VPG of 20, a read speed of 120MB/s, and a write speed of 85MB/s.
The quoted speeds on this card are going to be perfectly fine for general stills shooting. On my Canon 5D Mark IV, this equates to a capacity of roughly 2200 RAW images on the 128GB version.
If you’re going to be shooting 4K video on a regular basis, the speedier options above will be needed. This is to ensure no lost frames or jumpy footage, but recording HD video is perfectly fine with this card.
The main reason for listing the Verbatim 8GB 66X Premium CompactFlash Memory Card is because CompactFlash cards are generally older technology, which means this card is most applicable to older style cameras. You may also own other products which only accept limited storage capacity, which is where this memory card nicely slots in.
Featuring a 66x read speed and a 60x write speed, this may not be the fastest CompactFlash card around, but it comes from a long-standing and respected company and is very well made. Being a small capacity card also means it is very affordable, which means on shoots where you’ve filled up every other memory card, this card can be used to squeeze out those extra shots in a session.
The Transcend 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card may not be as obvious a choice as the rest, but it has top-rated speed and plenty of reliability. This card has a 160MB/s read, a 120MB/s write speed, Ultra DMA Mode 7, 65MB/s minimum write speed, and comes in versions up to 128GB.
This card is capable of storing still images and 4K UHDTV (2160p) video at a push, plus RecoveRx software is available which can perform a deep search on the card for erased files.
On the whole, the Transcend card has respectable read and write speeds and has never skipped a beat on an all-day shoot.
6. Delkin Devices 128GB Prime CompactFlash VPG-65 Memory Card (Budget Winner)
While the CompactFlash cards at the top of this list should be your first port of call, the Delkin Devices 128GB Prime CompactFlash VPG-65 Memory Card provides good value for the money. The Delkin has a read speed of 160 MB/s, a write speed of 120 MB/s, and a minimum write speed of 65MB/s.
This card can handle HD video recording, but it may not be fast enough for 4K shooting. RAW image files will have no problem with this card, making it cheaper than the rest, while still being very reliable.
Rounding up the Best CompactFlash Cards
For simplicity, you can’t go wrong with choosing the Lexar or Sandisk options above. Both variations max out the top speed from a CompactFlash card and will provide the most peace of mind on an all-day shoot.
There are plenty of other brands and offerings on the market, but the ones listed above have the highest reputation. You never want to cut corners when it comes to storing your precious images or video.