Lexar Media Professional 133x and Platinum II 60x 1GB Secure Digital Cards
High-speed SD cards for cameras with fast burst speeds and high-capacity buffer memories.Designed for DSLR cameras and devices that record and store video and multimedia files, Lexar Media’s latest premium Secure Digital (SD) cards combine high speed with high storage capacity. The ‘133x’ tag on the Professional 133x SD cards denotes a minimum sustained write speed capability of 20MB/second, which means these cards should be able to write Raw files from a high-resolution DSLR camera in less than one second. . . [more]
Designed for DSLR cameras and devices that record and store video and multimedia files, Lexar Media’s latest premium Secure Digital (SD) cards combine high speed with high storage capacity. The ‘133x’ tag on the Professional 133x SD cards denotes a minimum sustained write speed capability of 20MB/second, which means these cards should be able to write Raw files from a high-resolution DSLR camera in less than one second.
The cards are bundled with Lexar’s Image Rescue 2.0 file recovery software as well as Corel’s Paint Shop Pro 9 image/editor graphic design application. Image Rescue can recover JPEG, TIFF and RAW files from memory cards that have been erased or re-formatted as well as cards whose data has been corrupted. It works by scanning every sector on the card, after which it reports any hardware errors found and repairs any file system errors detected.
Paint Shop Pro 9 is a competent editing package that is now in Version IX (which sells for $199) and Lexar offers an upgrade to the latest version at a discount price with the card. Lexar Professional cards also come with a limited lifetime warranty and a free, dedicated customer support line.
Running at about half the speed of the Professional 133x cards are Lexar’s Platinum II SD cards, which are speed-rated at 60x and capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 9MB per second. These cards offer data transfer rates that are fast enough to match the capacities of the latest 10-megapixel DSLRs that offer burst speeds of 3 frames/second (fps).
In a survey of online re-sellers we calculated that the Platinum II SD cards (Australian RRP $49.95) sell for between 20% and 30% more than standard SD cards of the same capacity, while the Professional 133x cards (Australian RRP $71.95) are almost double the price of the equivalent standard SD cards. Whether you think it’s worth paying more for the faster cards will depend on the types of photography you practice and the capabilities of your camera. If you use burst mode frequently and have a camera that can capitalise on the speed of these cards, the benefits they provide (see Footnote below) would be well worth considering.
Regardless of the capabilities of the memory card you use, data transfer rates are primarily dictated by the camera’s internal processing system. For our bench tests, we used the new Pentax K10D DSLR, comparing four 1GB SD cards, a standard SanDisk card, a Panasonic Pro High Speed card, the Lexar Professional 133x and the Lexar Platinum II 60x card. Each card was formatted in the camera, which was set to the manufacturer’s default processing settings. Our test target, which contained a moderately high level of detail, was evenly lit and the camera’s batteries were fully charged.
Testing involved two cycles of continuous exposures, the first recording RAW+JPEG files and the second JPEG at top resolution and quality. We timed how long it took to empty the buffer memory starting from when the camera’s card status light went on and ending when it went off. Each cycle was repeated five times and the results averaged. The table below shows the results of these tests.
Lexar Pro 133x
Lexar Platinum II 60x
Panasonic Pro High Speed
Note: Our test results should be used as guidelines only. Write speeds will vary according to the amount of detail in recorded images, changes to ISO speeds and variations in other processing parameters. Firmware updates may also increase camera write speeds. Raw files are normally transferred faster than JPEGs because they require less processing. Write speeds can also be slower in higher capacity cards than lower capacities – even with identically branded cards. Taking all these uncertainties into account, it is unlikely most photographers would notice speed differences of up to 10% in the course of normal shooting.
Footnote: When High-Speed Cards Are Advantageous
Depending on its speed rating, a high-speed memory card may cost between two and four times the price of a standard-speed card. If you’re wondering whether a high-speed card is worth the money, one strategy is to look at how fast your digital camera can capture and store image files. So far no DSLR camera can transfer data as fast as the fastest memory cards and if your camera can only write Raw files at 3 fps with a buffer limit of 6-8 files, a medium-speed memory card should be adequate.
Unless you require high burst speeds or long burst lengths, most photographers wouldn’t notice speed differences of up to 10% in the course of normal shooting when capturing JPEG files. If you shoot Raw or RAW+JPEG files – especially with cameras that offer burst rates of 5 fps or more plus the capacity to record burst of 20 shots or more, faster cards should be worth paying extra for – but only if you use the burst mode frequently. If you generally take single shots, the few seconds it takes to process and store RAW+JPEG files will usually go un-noticed.
Where high-speed cards can have a big advantage is when you have to download images to a computer. In this situation, file transfer times are usually much closer than the data transfer rates claimed for the card. A fast card can allow files to be downloaded three to five times faster than a standard speed card, allowing you to view and edit your images sooner. Professional photographers and time-pressed enthusiasts will probably find this benefit worth paying for.
A further advantage of high-speed cards is higher reliability. Building a memory card for high-speed data transfer usually requires use of better-engineered memory chips. Most ‘premium-branded’ cards carry ‘lifetime’ warranties and some are supplied with built-in security features that protect stored data. Many are bundled with file recovery software that adds value to the product overall.
For Professional 133x cards:
Capacities: 1GB and 2GB
Read and write speeds: 20MB/sec minimum sustained read and write capability
Bundled software: Image Rescue 2.0, Corel Paint Shop Pro 9
For Platinum II 60x cards:
Capacities: 512MB, 1GB and 2GB
Read and write speeds: 9MB/sec minimum sustained read and write capability
Bundled software: Corel Photo Album 6 Standard
For both types of cards:
Operating temperature: -25 º C to 85 º C
Storage temperature: -40 º C to 85 º C
Shock resistance: 1000G (max)
Vibration resistance: 15G peak-to-peak (max)
Humidity: 8% to 95%
Other features: built-in erasure-prevention switch
Dimensions: 32 x 24 x 2.1mm
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