CFexpress Type A (Sony a1) vs CFexpress Type B (Nikon Z9)

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JimFromAZ

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Supporting Member
Hi All,
For those of you who considered the Sony a1 vs Nikon Z9, was the type of memory card a factor in your decision? If you are now using the Sony a1, have you found the Type A card to be a limiting factor in any way (cost, memory size, speed)? Seems that the Type B cards for the Z9 are twice the memory capacity for roughly the same dollars (I only see 160GB and 80GB Type A cards available). I'm talking about top of the line Delkin Black or ProGrade Type B cards for the Z9. Probably depends on what you are shooting. For those shooting BIF or sports at 20FPS or 30FPS, is the 160GB capacity of the Type A an issue?

As background, I have a Z9 on order at three different vendors (one since early November) and an 800mm PF on order, but no word yet from any of them on the Z9. I'm not NPS. Currently using a D850 with 500mm PF for BIF. I may just rent a Sony a1, battery grip, and 200-600mm to see how the system feels and shoots. But I am concerned over the price of Type A cards and their limited capacity.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions. :unsure:

Jim
 

Barbara

Active member
So far I'm relying on fast SD cards for the A1, but I haven't yet been in a situation that would really test them. I guess it's something I should think about going forward, but both cameras are pricey enough that I'm not sure the cost of cards will be much of a factor.
 

JimFromAZ

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Seems weird calling a 160 GB memory card limited capacity. I use 2 80 GB and never had a problem for my use. If I was a professional sports photographer I would carry extra cards.
That said, my wife had a single 80GB in her A1 this weekend doing a time lapse of the clouds and it hit the limit quickly. I ordered a pair of 160 GB for her right away. She should be ok with that.
Thanks for the insight, Hut2. Yes, speaking of 160GB as small does seem weird but the Type A cards come in capacities of 325GB, 650GB and even 1TB and 2TB. As you mentioned, video will use up the smaller cards rather quickly. Thanks again.
 
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John Navitsky

Well-known member
while i much prefer the cfe-b card form factor, this wasn’t really a factor. sony compensated for the speed limitations in cfe-a by putting more buffer memory in the camera. so basically you shoot full speed regardless of your card speed. in fact i shot action with sd v90 cards and didn’t have any problems. but i think long term this isn’t going to be a great choice for sony, but i don’t think this is really “a problem” for the a1 specifically. i will note that longer term even cfe-b is going to become a problem even though it’s twice as fast as cfe-a. maybe next gen cameras will have an internal nvme slot and the cfe card will just be to transfer the images
 

JimFromAZ

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So far I'm relying on fast SD cards for the A1, but I haven't yet been in a situation that would really test them. I guess it's something I should think about going forward, but both cameras are pricey enough that I'm not sure the cost of cards will be much of a factor.
Good point on the cost of cards versus the cost of the cameras, Barbara. What type of shooting do you do? Most reviews I've read recommend staying away from SD cards, especially for BIF and video. I'd like to see larger capacity Type A cards. Take care.
 

JimFromAZ

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while i much prefer the cfe-b card form factor, this wasn’t really a factor. sony compensated for the speed limitations in cfe-a by putting more buffer memory in the camera. so basically you shoot full speed regardless of your card speed. in fact i shot action with sd v90 cards and didn’t have any problems. but i think long term this isn’t going to be a great choice for sony, but i don’t think this is really “a problem” for the a1 specifically. i will note that longer term even cfe-b is going to become a problem even though it’s twice as fast as cfe-a. maybe next gen cameras will have an internal nvme slot and the cfe card will just be to transfer the images
Thanks, John. Larger buffer in the a1 makes sense. Glad to hear you are not having any issues. Take care...
 

Alistair

New member
This was quite a big factor for me. Main interest is video and a lot of capacity is needed. The money invested in cards is second only to lenses. Type A cards would have been even more expensive and a waste of money when inevitably all camera makers transition to Type B.
 

abc123brian

Well-known member
Memory card type wasn’t a consideration for me in deciding between them. For me, I don’t think the smaller capacity of CFE Type A cards would be limiting since I have 128, 150, and 160GB cards for my Z9. It could be a factor if I start shooting longer video, but right now I‘m shooting shorter clips. The speed difference is currently handled by a larger buffer in the A1 for stills, but could potentially be an issue for video capabilities and slow import speeds if that is any concern. The price difference would be the biggest con to me right now. One advantage would be the ability to use SD cards which you can buy just about anywhere. If you had a card issue, forget a card, or something else comes up, you should easily be able to pick something up to get some shots, even if it is slower.
 

arbitrage

Well-known member
The only issue I have with CFe-A over CFe-B is the price/GB. CFe-A are a rip off in comparison. So much so that I have not caved in and bought any yet. I am using 128GB Delkin Power V90 SD cards. I have two of those and rarely have to pull out a 3rd card for a day of shooting. I shoot a lot of 30FPS and I shoot a lot of BIF/action. I do shoot in Lossy Compressed RAW so that helps with card space and I do make use of the APS-C mode anytime it makes sense to also save on card space. If I was to buy CFe-A cards I would be fine with a set of two 160GB cards for my use.

Sony has a deep buffer so SD cards are still workable. I think the shots to FPS slowdown in Compressed RAW is around 150 shots. So 5s of shooting at 30FPS or 10s at 15FPS etc. That is usually fine for my use as for 95% of my BIF I do short bursts and don't hold down the entire flight pass. Only when shooting diving Osprey or Terns have I really just hammered it for the entire dive. With the SD cards the only issue is if I do hit the 150 shot buffer than the time to regain space in the buffer is a bit slow. I have had a few instances where I've been stuck having to let off the shutter to regain buffer space and then just fire in shorter bursts than I may have wanted to. This has happened recently as I fire during an Osprey's dive and then want to continue firing as it emerges from the water, does it's spin shake and often flies by with fish right in front of me. That is often too much for the 150 shot buffer. With a CFe-A I would only have to let off the shutter for a much shorter time to regain more shots.

But again, for 95%+ of my shooting I've never had issue even with 128GB SD cards so I'm sure 160GB CFe-A cards would be more than enough.

Now sure I'd love to have CFe-B in the camera because of the cost and even faster buffer clearing. But it wouldn't be a factor for me to buy a Canon or Nikon over the A1.
 
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JimFromAZ

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This was quite a big factor for me. Main interest is video and a lot of capacity is needed. The money invested in cards is second only to lenses. Type A cards would have been even more expensive and a waste of money when inevitably all camera makers transition to Type B.
Thanks, Alistair,

Yes, I imagine shooting video is definitely a factor for consideration. Take care...
 

JimFromAZ

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The only issue I have with CFe-A over CFe-B is the price/GB. CFe-A are a rip off in comparison. So much so that I have not caved in and bought any yet. I am using 128GB Delkin Power V90 SD cards. I have two of those and rarely have to pull out a 3rd card for a day of shooting. I shoot a lot of 30FPS and I shoot a lot of BIF/action. I do shoot in Lossy Compressed RAW so that helps with card space and I do make use of the APS-C mode anytime it makes sense to also save on card space. If I was to buy CFe-A cards I would be fine with a set of two 160GB cards for my use.

Sony has a deep buffer so SD cards are still workable. I think the shots to FPS slowdown in Compressed RAW is around 150 shots. So 5s of shooting at 30FPS or 10s at 15FPS etc. That is usually fine for my use as for 95% of my BIF I do short bursts and don't hold down the entire flight pass. Only when shooting diving Osprey or Terns have I really just hammered it for the entire dive. With the SD cards the only issue is if I do hit the 150 shot buffer than the time to regain space in the buffer is a bit slow. I have had a few instances where I've been stuck having to let off the shutter to regain buffer space and then just fire in shorter bursts than I may have wanted to. This has happened recently as I fire during an Osprey's dive and then want to continue firing as it emerges from the water, does it's spin shake and often flies by with fish right in front of me. That is often too much for the 150 shot buffer. With a CFe-A I would only have to let off the shutter for a much shorter time to regain more shots.

But again, for 95%+ of my shooting I've never had issue even with 128GB SD cards so I'm sure 160GB CFe-A cards would be more than enough.

Now sure I'd love to have CFe-B in the camera because of the cost and even faster buffer clearing. But it wouldn't be a factor for me to buy a Canon or Nikon over the A1.
Excellent insights, arbitrage! From watching the FM site and this site, I knew you shot a lot of BIF, but I'm surprised to hear you are using SD cards. I guess that's a testament to the a1 buffer. And like you said, it suites about 95+% of what you are shooting, except for those osprey shots (which, by the way, is one of my goals). Aside from shooting long video, it sounds like CFE type A cards would do the trick for almost all still shooting. Thanks again....
 

dtibbals

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Supporting Member
I came from Nikon and using CFE-B and now use 160G CFE-A cards. I have 4 of them. The only advantage B cards have is price and they do download a little faster to your computer. I use dual 160G cards in both of my a1's. I have filled up a card in an outing but never both. Shooting a rodeo Friday night last week and I shot about 2800 images on one card that ended up full and about 700 on card two. So I had a bit of headroom without needing backup cards. End of the day if you are doing a lot of shooting and really need big cards you can buy SD cards at very affordable prices. If I was shooting the long time lapse like HUT2 wife was you could get TB SD cards as you don't need to worry about buffer. I am usually shooting fast, I don't edit in the camera and I focus on cranking off frames for that peak moment. The rest go in the trash after downloading to a computer. If and when someone has bigger than 160G cards that don't cost as much as a lens I will buy a couple of them but so far 2 160G cards in each camera hasn't been an issue. I also can download morning shots to prep for late afternoon shooting.
 
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JimFromAZ

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I came from Nikon and using CFE-B and now use 160G CFE-A cards. I have 4 of them. The only advantage B cards have is price and they do download a little faster to your computer. I use dual 160G cards in both of my a1's. I have filled up a card in an outing but never both. Shooting a rodeo Friday night last week and I shot about 2800 images on one card that ended up full and about 700 on card two. So I had a bit of headroom without needing backup cards. End of the day if you are doing a lot of shooting and really need big cards you can buy SD cards at very affordable prices. If I was shooting the long time lapse like HUT2 wife was you could get TB SD cards as you don't need to worry about buffer. I am usually shooting fast, I don't edit in the camera and I focus on cranking off frames for that peak moment. The rest go in the trash after downloading to a computer. If and when someone has bigger than 160G cards that don't cost as much as a lens I will buy a couple of them but so far 2 160G cards in each camera hasn't been an issue. I also can download morning shots to prep for late afternoon shooting.
Great insights, dtibbals. Much appreciated. Jim.
 

FB101

Well-known member
Hi All,
For those of you who considered the Sony a1 vs Nikon Z9, was the type of memory card a factor in your decision? If you are now using the Sony a1, have you found the Type A card to be a limiting factor in any way (cost, memory size, speed)? Seems that the Type B cards for the Z9 are twice the memory capacity for roughly the same dollars (I only see 160GB and 80GB Type A cards available). I'm talking about top of the line Delkin Black or ProGrade Type B cards for the Z9. Probably depends on what you are shooting. For those shooting BIF or sports at 20FPS or 30FPS, is the 160GB capacity of the Type A an issue?

As background, I have a Z9 on order at three different vendors (one since early November) and an 800mm PF on order, but no word yet from any of them on the Z9. I'm not NPS. Currently using a D850 with 500mm PF for BIF. I may just rent a Sony a1, battery grip, and 200-600mm to see how the system feels and shoots. But I am concerned over the price of Type A cards and their limited capacity.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and opinions. :unsure:

Jim

It certainly was in the "Cons" column of my list of pros and cons when I decided to leave Nikon for Sony. Capacity was a concern, speed and cost (but at the time the Z9 wasn't announced so I was comparing to your "average" CF-B, not the price of the fancy cards needed to get the Z9 to full potential).

In practice, I bit the bullet for 4x160GB cards, a sony card reader and I have not given it a second thought. I have yet to fill 2 cards in one day of shooting (came close though) and still have 2 ready to go if I need. It's a much bigger issue if you shoot video internal (8k will chew through cards like crazy but even 4k60p is memory intensive) but for photography I wouldn't worry much.
 

JimFromAZ

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It certainly was in the "Cons" column of my list of pros and cons when I decided to leave Nikon for Sony. Capacity was a concern, speed and cost (but at the time the Z9 wasn't announced so I was comparing to your "average" CF-B, not the price of the fancy cards needed to get the Z9 to full potential).

In practice, I bit the bullet for 4x160GB cards, a sony card reader and I have not given it a second thought. I have yet to fill 2 cards in one day of shooting (came close though) and still have 2 ready to go if I need. It's a much bigger issue if you shoot video internal (8k will chew through cards like crazy but even 4k60p is memory intensive) but for photography I wouldn't worry much.
Thank you for your feedback, Frederic! I enjoyed your Flickr photos! Jim.
 

dtibbals

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Supporting Member
I looked at various cards online and am considering picking up a pair of Sandisk SDXC cards today, 128 or 256 Gb. That is what I used previously on dslr and never had failures. I think I was getting 80 shots before it slowed down when I bench tested the 128GB card, which is beyond anything I am concerned with.
2 things are driving me to this, I don't like handling those tiny little CFE-A cards with my old fingers and I want to use the front port on the mac studio and get rid of this silly card reader/cord off my desk.
I’d go with V90 SD cards.
 
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John Navitsky

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the "V" ratings are one of the best ways to gauge performance in the SD cards since it reflects the sustained write performance. v90 means it will sustain 90MB/s
 
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arbitrage

Well-known member
I looked at various cards online and am considering picking up a pair of Sandisk SDXC cards today, 128 or 256 Gb. That is what I used previously on dslr and never had failures. I think I was getting 80 shots before it slowed down when I bench tested the 128GB card, which is beyond anything I am concerned with.
2 things are driving me to this, I don't like handling those tiny little CFE-A cards with my old fingers and I want to use the front port on the mac studio and get rid of this silly card reader/cord off my desk.
Sandisk is a top performer but may be more expensive than a card like the Delkin Power V90 that is just as fast. I'm using a pair of Delkin Power and have great performance.
Screen shot from the testing on https://alikgriffin.com/best-memory-cards-sony-a1/

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 4.40.19 AM.jpg
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