By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
ProGrade Digital came to fill the void left by Micron’s closing of the Lexar media card division. Lexar was a popular choice for media cards because they were fast, high performing, and affordable. But since their launch, their offerings have been somewhat limited to SD and CFast cards. And while we haven’t gotten any news about Compact Flash for us old school 5D users, ProGrade has decided not to support XQD memory cards, and instead to push Nikon towards the CFexpress format.
ProGrade Digital is not planning to manufacture XQD cards at this time. We are however strongly promoting the future standard of CFexpress through our efforts in the Compact Flash Association. The CFexpress Type B form factor of this new standard is the successor to XQD, and allows existing cameras that utilize XQD cards to be upgraded to operate with the new CFexpress Type B cards if the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) chooses to update firmware in those devices. – ProGrade Digital statement to DPReview
Many were a bit surprised that Nikon has continued XQD memory card support in their recent D850. I’m guessing that was due to it being too late in the development and design cycle when the news came out. Sony still supports XQD out, so Nikon users aren’t left out in the cold, but ProGrade is pushing for a new, compatible format for Nikon, as well as Sony’s XDCam line moving forward called CFExpress.
The benefits are that CFExpress memory cards are faster with transfer rates, by using non volatile memory express (NWMe) protocol to move data from the memory card to your workflow. “In addition to the option of backward compatibility to XQD supported cameras, the new CFexpress cards utilize two lanes of PCIe (vs. one lane on XQD) and support the NVMe (Non Volatile Memory express) protocol, which provides more than twice the interface speed of XQD,” the statement added.
The cool thing is that Nikon and Sony could support it with a firmware update to their cameras, since CFexpress memory cards are backwards compatible. So if Nikon will update the D850, D500, D5 and other XQD based DSLRs with a future firmware update, it can go a long way towards future proofing their platforms and giving their shooters another option for media cards. Competition is always beneficial for the consumer, and if CFexpress catches on, then other media card manufacturers like SanDisk, Kingston, and even Sony could make it more affordable for shooters, than relying on a sole provider for XQD (although there is some news that Longsys has acquired Lexar and will once again be making XQD and other formats under that brand).
It’s also likely that ProGrade is pushing for CFexpress because they don’t want to pony up any licensing fees to Sony for the privilege of producing a slower media format. Better to put your resources into developing and supporting a faster format that will give cameras legs moving forward.
ProGrade says that an announcement will be forthcoming later this year, meanwhile they continue to offer CFast and SD Cards for Lexar clients, and the rest of us will just have to find our media where we can.
So, is this an exciting development? Or is it ProGrade’s way of getting another story in the news cycle?