Best Memory Cards to Use for Magic Lantern RAW For the Money

This hack feels the need for speed, so make sure you have the right media

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

If you’re looking to adapt the new Magic Lantern RAW hack on your Canon DSLR to see what all the hullabaloo is about, you may have some sticker shock when you order the 1000x compact flash cards which are required to keep up with the data flow writing to it.  Here’s a quick rundown of what cards are best and why smaller may actually be faster.

I gotta give the hat tip to DJ over at DSLR FilmNoob for this list, because he’s done a lot of the heavy lifting.  On his list, notes that while Lexar Compact Flash cards are the most popular with the hacking set, they are also the most expensive, weighing in at $600 for 128GB, which yields about 15 minutes of footage before needing to swap out.  DJ also sas that while Lexar cards are very popular, they also enjoy a love/hate relationship with users. “Even though these cards usually come highly recommended,” writes DJ, “they are also the cards I see the most complaints about in forums.  Everything from failing after only a few uses to ultra slow write speeds. I’m not sure why complaints are so high on Lexar cards but I suspect people who shell out that much cash get pretty vocal when a card like this fails.”

DJ also says that he’s noted that while 12 8GB cards give you 15 minutes in footage, he’s found by personal experience that the 64 GB card actually writes faster, even though you’ll have to swap it out twice as much.  “(64 GB cards) still gives you around 7 minute threshold of recording time in RAW mode, saves you some money, and from the reports I’ve seen, actually gives you faster write speeds than the 128 GB models,” DJ notes.

So what are the options in the 1000x class?  Here’s a list that DJ has tested and taken a look at:

1. Lexar 64GB card ($299).  DJ says that while you may have to deal with some failures, the added benefit of the Lexar brand is that they offer a lifetime warranty and will replace the card quite easily.  That’s a nice amount of insurance should a card fail, but makes you realize you’re need to have a few backups, which makes the price double or even triple.

2.  Delkin Devices 64GB ($239).  DJ says that one thing he likes about the Delkin brand is that they’re pretty accurate on their write times, which are 80 MB/s, barely fast enough to take advantage of shooting RAW continuously.

3. Transcend 64GB ($200).  Transcend boasts a 120MB/S write speed, but DJ is quick to point out that is under ideal conditions, and one should take it with a grain of salt.  But it’s surely coming in over the 80 bmps threshold and he’s enjoyed steady and consistent performance with this brand, and with its lifetime warranty, it’s definitely worth having, especially when it saves in the pocketbook.

There are a few others that DJ takes a look at, and sadly, Sandisk isn’t in the mix because they haven’t introduced a card that fast as of yet.  Then again, their Extreme Pro 600x line does write at 100mbps.  But the benchmark for Magic Lantern is 1000x.  So for now, it has to stay that way.  One thing that is important when dealing with this much data is that it may be a good idea to invest in a USB 3 card and card reader so as to maximize file transfer speeds to your computer.  Otherwise, you’re left waiting to offload the card.  And when you have the need for speed, there no point is relying on slower links in the chain.

Got any card suggestions?  Leave em in the comments below.

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