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Which SD card for the D7000

Richard Driscoll , Apr 27, 2013; 07:35 a.m.

Please excuse me if this has been addressed recently but I don't think it has.
I've been wondering which SD cards to buy for my new D7000. Specifically which ones will offer decent speed without costing too much. Rob Galbraith has recently done some experiments:-
Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s is fastest, running at just over 26 MB/s when writing raw files.
For less money Sandisk Extreme runs at around 23 MB/s, also for raw files.
I thought I'd probably go the the less expensive Sandisk Extreme; it's probably good enough for my purposes.
However I just realised something interesting. The display in the viewfinder showing shots before buffer fills (r10, r15 etc) is not fixed for any particular quality setting; it seems to be determined by the camera determining the card write speed. All my cards are fairly slow Sandisk Ultra and for 12 bit lossy compressed the display shows r11 whereas the manual seems to be saying that with a Sandisk Extreme Pro it would show r15 (table on page 320).
So my question is this:-
Can anyone please tell me what their display shows for 12 bit lossy compressed NEF with a fairly new Sandisk Extreme card and also for a Sandisk Extreme Pro card. It seems a fairly easy way to confirm just how much slower the non-Pro version is.
Hope that all kind of makes sense ...... :-)


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Wouter Willemse , Apr 27, 2013; 07:54 a.m.

Richard, I think you're mistaken about the function of the display.... The amount of photos that fits into the buffer does depend on the quality settings. It is not a fixed amount independent of that. Plus there are other settings (Active D-Lighting for example) that can influence the amount of photos that can fit into the buffer. That figure shown there is totally independent from the write speed from buffer to memory card, though.
So, what you're suggesting to test will not demonstrate what you hope it should, I'm afraid.

Jim Momary , Apr 27, 2013; 08:33 a.m.

One man's opinion here -
- comparing a medium vs super speed card.

Shun Cheung , Apr 27, 2013; 08:41 a.m.

The timing is great that this question comes up. Yesterday, I tested several SD memory cards on the D7100 to check out their write speed, and I also checked them out on the D7000 for comparison.

The image below shows the 5 cards I usually use in these days. In particular, I tested the middle three on both the D7000 and D7100. While the faster cards clearly show an advantage on the D7100, which is UHS 104 compatible (Ultra High Speed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital#UHS_Speed_Class) and therefore can take full advantage of the (theoretically) 95MB/sec transfer rate on the SanDisk Extreme Pro, the D7000 is not.

In fact, it takes the D7000 about 0.6 sec to write a 14-bit, lossy compressed (i.e. not lossless) RAW file onto either the 95MB/sec Extreme Pro or the 45MG/sec Extreme. On the slower 30MB/sec Extreme, it is about 0.8 sec. If you would like to squeeze out the small difference, go with the 45MB/sec card over the 30MD/sec, but there is clearly no point to pay for the 95MB/sec type for the D7000. And as Wouter points out, the number of remaining frame counter is not affected by which type of card you have in the camera. I just put those cards into my D7000 again to verify.

Therefore, my conclusion is essentially the same as Rob Galbraith's. On the D7000, there is no point to buy the expensive high-speed cards. The D7100 is a totally different story.

SD Memory Cards

Richard Driscoll , Apr 27, 2013; 08:50 a.m.

At first I thought the same as you; namely that the display buffer estimate would only be affected by quality settings, D-lighting etc., but I have changed my view.
Logically the number of frames one can shoot before the camera slows will also depend on the speed of the card. Since the buffer is a FIFO (of fixed size) data is flowing in at a high rate and out at a lower rate to the card. If the card is very slow virtually nothing will get written out before the buffer fills. Conversely if the card is almost as fast as the camera processor then the buffer will take a long time to fill since the *net* inflow will be very low. If the card is faster than the camera processor the card will never fill which is the case when shooting small JPEGS.
If you look at the table on page 320 (memory card capacity) you'll find a column headed buffer capacity but I don't think it is a true capacity; I believe it is an estimate of the number of shots before the buffer fills up.
Anyway if we can get the figures for a fast card in a D7000 we'll see, since I expect them to be higher than the r11 for my slow Sandisk Ultra.

Richard Driscoll , Apr 27, 2013; 08:58 a.m.

Hi Shun,
My posting crossed with yours so I only just saw it. Please what does your D7000 display show for 12 bit lossy compressed NEF with a Sandisk Extreme Pro?
Also is your understanding of the manual the same as mine; that it's giving an estimate of shots before buffer fills up?
Would you also agree with me that the D7000 should write about 2 12 bit lossy frames per second?
Thanks all.

Shun Cheung , Apr 27, 2013; 09:12 a.m.

Richard, here is some RAW data for you to digest. The test procedure is the same for the D7000 and D7100, as I described on the following thread yesterday: http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00bZtQ However, on the D7100, I tested both 12-bit and 14-bit RAW.
You can watch the clock on my i-Pad under the stop watch mode. Again, on the D7000, I was using 14-bit, lossy compressed RAW. Here I am only showing the first 18 frames. After 20 frames or so, the D7000 slows further down to somewhere between 0.7 to 1.0 second to write each frame; I would take 0.8 or 0.9 as an average.

Shun Cheung , Apr 27, 2013; 09:13 a.m.

with 95MB/sec Extreme Pro
Please click on the link below for a larger image.

Shun Cheung , Apr 27, 2013; 09:26 a.m.

Please what does your D7000 display show for 12 bit lossy compressed NEF with a Sandisk Extreme Pro?

My D7000 shows 11 frames (r11) remaining for 12-bit lossy compressred RAW, with the Extreme Pro or any other SD card I put in there. I just tried that. Again, that counter has nothing to do with the type of card. If I switch to lossless compressed and 14 bit, it goes down to 10 frames.

I also switched off Active D Lighting, long-exposure noise reduction, and high-ISO noise reduction, and my ISO setting is 100. Some of those settings can affect your buffer size, especially long-exposure noise reduction.

Richard Driscoll , Apr 27, 2013; 09:58 a.m.

Thanks for that Shun. Same as my slow old Sandisk Ultra. It confirms what I originally thought and Wouter and you have correctly pointed out. It looks as if the display is just approx. (buffer size)/(estimated file size). The figures in the manual must therefore be an estimate of "frames to overflow buffer" with the card under test not of buffer capacity which is what Nikon say.
From your D7000 tests above it looks as if both cards allow about 12 frames before the camera slows which is what the manual quotes. Interestingly you've actually caught the display on the change in a few frames.
It now all starts to make some kind of sense.
12 bit lossy. Display shows 11 estimate is 15 (we can write out a few small frames before the buffer fills up).
14 bit lossless. Display shows 10 estimate is 10 (can't even get one out before buffer fills up).
Small frames mean camera runs longer before buffer fills *and* get written out faster.
Guess I'll go with Sandisk Extreme either 30 or 45 MB/s. According to the Sandisk Web page 4 & 8 GB are 30 MB/s. Larger cards are 45 MB/s.
Could you tell your Sandisk friend that it's confusing the way they apparently change the specs and keep the names the same. I have 3 Sandisk Ultras. One says nothing, one says 15 MB/s, and one says Class 4. I *think* they are all probably the same speed but I'm not sure .....

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