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Thursday, February 09, 2006 

Writers Cramp?

I'll try to keep this blog from getting too camera tech-oriented. There's enough on the net on that.. But from time to time, I will touch on tech topics that affect UW photography.

One of these is write speed for digicams like my Fuji F810. If you're photographing fish, or using up your air supply waiting for a camera to write a file, it is frustrating to spend an extra 3-4 secs on each shot. Like a lot of photographers now, I shoot almost exclusively in RAW format so that I have the ability to post-process files. But RAW files are large, around 12MB on the F810 and 18MB on the E900.

Toshiba (branded by Olympus, Fuji and I'm sure Sandisk and Kodak) has started shipping a new format of xD cards called type H, as opposed to the Type M cards, released last year. Reports are that the newer 1 GB type H card is writing at around 5 secs on the F810. So I sold my type M and ordered one. But I also have two 512MB xD cards.

I decided to see what the difference in RAW write speed between the newer type M and an even older "no-type" 512MB card was. The answer surprised the heck out of me.

This was a decidedly un-scientific comparison. I did reinitialize the cards in the camera before timing, as this makes a difference of 10-15%. The cards were writing a 12.5MB RAW file.

I also wanted to see if it made a difference having Image View set to: on/off/preview.

It did:

With the type M card having the preview set to "On", it was ~8.5 secs. Having it "Off" it was ~8 secs. Having it set to "Preview" (where you ok the shot) it was ~6 secs.

With the older card having the preview set to on, it was ~6 secs. Having it off was ~6 secs. Having it set to preview it was only 3 secs! This is my preferred way of shooting, btw.

So the older xD card was 2x as fast! This seems astounding as both types of cards are supposed to write at 2.5MB/sec, which makes sense for the times on the type M one.

So guess I'll hang on to that older one. The type M sure wasn't much of an improvement overall.

Sure would like to see what the write times are for the type H 512MB cards, in both the F810 and the newer E900. I think it'd be similar to these. Please post any results you have as comments.

I've now used the 1 GB Type H card in my Fuji F810 and am getting the same write speeds of around 5-6 secs with view on and around 3 secs write time when Preview is on. Or around 40% faster. There was a noticeable speed difference when shooting yesterday and I'm much happier with the camera and it's card capacity/speed now. A friend reports that the 512MB Type H cards are working at the same speed, they aren't any faster.

I'd definitely recommend upgrading/buying the much faster type H xD cards rather than the type M cards that are prevalent in the marketplace.

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About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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