In time for next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony is launching a new generation in memory cards. Called XQD, they will initially come in 16 and 32 GB sizes, and feature data transfer rates of 1Gbps/125MB/s. Nikon is also announcing a new flagship camera in its digital single-lens reflex line, the first camera to use the new memory cards.
The target market for the new cards is the advanced photographer who deals with huge image files in RAW format. Fast write speeds mean shooters have less waiting between shots in memory-heavy formats such as RAW, and can edit previously recorded material faster.
In compatible DSLR cameras, such as the new Nikon, shooters can capture as many as 100 RAW images in continuous shooting mode, without pausing.
'Entirely New Meaning'
Viviano Cantu, director of consumer media for Sony Electronics, said in a statement that, while "memory card technology has done a great job of keeping pace," the new cards "give an entirely new meaning to speed and performance."
The XQD memory card spec, announced in November and recently approved by the CompactFlash Association as an open format, requires the PCIe expansion card standard for serial interfaces and an optimized controller in order to take advantage of the speed.
Along with the card, Sony is introducing a new USB 2.0/3.0 compatible XQD card reader. An XQD ExpressCard Adapter is available for computers with an ExpressCard 34 card slot. The memory cards will be on sale in February, at $130 for the 16 GB and $230 for the 32 GB.
The new format was adopted by the CompactFlash Association in December, and is about 75 percent the physical size of current CompactFlash cards. While CompactFlash cards are based on the older PCMCIA standard, XQD are built around PCI Express. Sony said that capacities and transfer speeds substantially higher than the initial XQD products are expected.
The New Race Is On
New CompactFlash cards are also being announced this week and next, such as the Lexar Professional 1000x, available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128 GB sizes. The company said the new cards will have a "minimum guaranteed sustained read transfer speed" of 150MB per second. In theory, XQD cards could go as high as 640MB per second for that spec, so the new race is on.
At the same time that Sony is announcing its release of the new cards, Nikon is announcing the D4, a FX-format camera that will be the top of the line for its DSLR models. It is the first camera designed to take the XQD cards, although it can also use CompactFlash.
The D4 has a new CMOS 36.0 x 23.9 mm image sensor, and EXPEED 3, an image-processing engine that's been optimized specifically for DSLR. The company said the new camera has an effective pixel count of 16.2 million pixels, features a range of light sensitivities from ISO 50 to ISO 204800, and offers a 51-point autofocus system. The D4 is also equipped with an Ethernet port for wired LAN , and it supports a separate, compact wireless transmitter.