Alik Griffin has written a really interesting article about flash card memory. Its interesting because the XPro2 turns out to be the fastest camera on the market when it comes to recording your images once the shutter has been pressed.
Alik has prepared a comparative table which gives ample information for thought on this most basic component of digital photography.
The takeaway from my own sixteen years of experience of flash or memory cards goes like this. “The larger the capacity the shorter the life”
This was true in 2002 when the first large capacity CF card with a staggering (at the time) 8Gb capacity card died after a bit over 12 months of usage it was a Sandisk. A few years later a 16 Gb card died. That was a Silicon Memory card very popular in Asia at the time. About five years later a couple 32Gb cards died with in a few months of each other. One was a Sandisk extreme and I remembered I paid what I thought was a lot at the time. Get the pattern!!! There are two elements in this equation, the period between failure and the size of the card both more or less double over time. I’m not complaining about this and rubbishing one brand over another as all cards were well used and I am pretty sure I have never lost any images. I recall that when each started to fail they popped a write error at which point I removed the card and replaced it with a spare. I did this at all times having had years of experience with floppy drives (another blast from the past) and then once at home I extracted the files with a card reader mostly a San Disk branded unit.
Only once did I have to resort to recovery software. The cards were then reformatted and only used for studio work. invariably they failed again and were tossed in the tech recycling bin.
After pondering on the third cards death I remembered reading a description about the layering of microcircuitry in the RAM manufacturing process from years previous, I had an Apple ][ at the time! So as thoughts go I did more research on the production of flash cards and sure enough there were similarities. The following read write figures may not be correct and I’m not that bothered about accuracy for this purpose. However it seems that once 8Gb cards had been produced they had an expected write life of say 100,000 read write cycles then when another 8Gb layer was added to increase the capacity to 16Gb the read /write cycles reduced by I think half. It then repeted again another layer of silicon adder to make a 32Gb and so on. The same pattern as my own CF card failure experience! So, with this knowledge I have continued to use nothing but 8Gb cards for every day work and I have not had a single failure since. Of all the brands that I have had multiple cards of the only one that has never had a failure is Lexar. Now all of this may be down to a mixture of statistics, coincidence and perhaps even luck but that is my sort of ‘rule’ and I’m sticking to it!
As another qualifier I have a 1Gb CF card that is used in a Canon sureshot it dates from 2003 It gets used very little now but I take it out every so often and use it with its handy IR remote to photograph timid creatures in the garden…