New Gear: Sandisk 8GB Ultra II CF

Man, I hated crashing my Microdrive on the trail last weekend. That’s the second time I’ve crashed a 4GB Microdrive under somewhat mysterious circumstances. No more. The difference in cost is just not that much between high capacity microdrives and high capacity solid state compact flash.

Just a few days prior to the drive crash, in an almost prophetic fashion, someone at work was talking about how cheap the 8GB CF had gotten. A year ago, that kind of card would’ve set me back well over $1000. That’s why the 4GB microdrive was attractive when I bought it two years ago for just over $200 — that same microdrive is now under $80, and 6GB and 8GB microdrives are more the rage. Even at cheap, having a higher possibility of crashing the microdrive versus the solid state CF makes the ‘drives potentially just too expensive.

After doing a bunch of diagnosis on the Microdrive, I got on eBay, and found someone selling an 8GB CF from SanDisk for a fraction of the year-ago asking price. It wasn’t the cheapest one out there — there are a ton of no-name cards out there, but I’m leary of somebody I’ve never heard of — but it was available, legitimate, and was located in the US. I bid, won, and today the card arrived.

It looked unused, but came in no packaging, aside from the plastic card cover. No biggie to me, but I do wonder a little where these cards are coming from and how they’re ending up on eBay. No matter. I popped the card in the 20D, formatted it, and started shooting. And it performed flawlessly.

I did some test shooting, comparing the speed of my previous speed demon card — the Lexar 1GB 32X CF. It didn’t exactly blow the doors off, but the SanDisk card did perform better. It’s rare that I need to shoot really fast. In JPG mode, the 20D was able to shoot about 50-60 images with the SanDisk card before having to pause to write. The Lexar card was good for about 40-50 images before pausing. So far, so good.

I filled the Lexar card, and loaded it in my card reader on the Mac, and it took about 3-4 minutes to copy the data across. The SanDisk card took only a couple of minutes to copy the same amount of data.

Now, none of my observations are scientific — Rob Galbraith does a much better job of quantifying CF speeds and feeds, so that’s a better place for real numbers. For me though, this seems like a good purchase, and one that will keep me happy for quite a while!