In a world where USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports offer us such insanely high speeds, something like USB 2.0 flash drives and normal SD cards feel prehistoric in comparison.  Now SanDisk has always been on the forefront of mobile storage with their SD and CF cards, plus their recent entry into the bleeding edge solid state hard drives arena. And then, of course, their myriad memory sticks which can be found literally everywhere.

Today I’ll be looking at their recent product line up, the Extreme Pro series, which for the SD and microSD cards offers read and write speeds of up to 95MBps and 90MBps respectively. Our particular test card is 16GB, although SanDisk does sell them in 8GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities as well.

The idea behind the Extreme Pro series is to allow photographers to take full advantage of their high-end DSLRs and be able to take maximum resolution pictures instantly and at the fastest burst rate (for instant continuously shoot at 9fps or whatever your DSLR is rated to have). The speed advantage then carries over when you’re transferring all of the gigabytes worth of pictures from the card to your PC for processing.

Technically the Extreme Pro series won’t give you any speed advantage in terms of capturing JPEG + RAW pictures because your DSLR’s buffer rate will be the real bottleneck here. Indeed while testing the Extreme Pro card, I had to switch from our AMD A8 equipped laptop to an HP Z1 workstation as the laptop’s built-in SD card reader simply couldn’t go more than 19MBps read/ write speeds. Heck, even cameras like the new Black Magic Pocket Camera which shoots 1080p footage in RAW with a rated 200Mbps (27.5MBps) storage rate won’t be able to take advantage of the SanDisk Extreme Pro.

For comparisons I’ve used the SanDisk Extreme 8GB (30MBps) and SanDisk Ultra II 4GB (15MBps) cards as these were the only one’s lying in our office.

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And so our HP Z1, with the Intel Xeon E31245 processor, 8GB RAM and a Hitachi 7,200rpm hard drive.

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In conclusion, the SanDisk Extreme Pro series is an extremely fast card, so fast, in fact, that not even a modern workstation is able to take advantage of the speeds it offers, let alone a modern camera. Basically the SanDisk Extreme Pro series of SD cards is ahead of the curve. And for that, you end up paying a steep price, but at least you’re future proofing yourself. And if nothing else, the high read speeds mean that you’re spending ages getting pictures off your DSLR to the computer, so saving time there is worth something to consider.

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It’s obviously not for everyone, but for professional photographers and enthusiasts, the SanDisk Extreme Pro series is definitely worth consideration.


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