Nikon D4 owners: Sony announced faster S series XQD memory cards

Sony revealed new S Series XQD memory cards that are now officially faster than Compact Flash with transfer speeds of 168MB/s.

The Nikon D4 is currently the only camera that uses the new XQD standard. Till now D4 owners could purchase only 16GB and 32GB H Series XQD cards that have maximum read/write speed of 125MB/s.

From the official press release:

"Offering sustained read/write transfer speeds of 168MB/s (actual speed), XQD™ S Series outpaces the maximum interface speed limit of Compact Flash cards (167 MB/s).

Partnered with Nikon’s D4 professional DSLR, XQD™ S Series effortlessly captures a non-stop burst of 108 RAW frames3 (at 12-bit compressed RAW, approximately 10.5MB file size). At a shooting speed of 10fps, this lets photographers document the men’s 100m sprint final from start to finish in a single, sustained burst of RAW images."

The new XQD S Series 64GB memory card will be available later this month. A 32GB version will come in September/October, 2012. Sony will release also a new high-speed driver for the MRW-E80 XQD card reader with Thunderbolt support.

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  • PhotoGradStudent

    I can’t even fill up my D4’s buffer as it is… I don’t need the upgrade on the card.

  • Same here. A price drop would be nice, though, as the 32 is currently over $100 more in Canada than the US, for no particular reason I can think of. And, since Nikon now requires not only two types of cards but two distinct card readers, someone could develop a single unit that would handle both cards.

    • Not Surprised

      Seriously, this hardware roll-out was corrupt & mismanaged. Cards faster than CF should have been available immediately & the price should have been competitive — otherwise, why the hell even put it in the D4 at all.

      Furthermore, in other application, it doesn’t make sense to have mixed formats in a professional camera. And if Nikon is promoting the format for the industry/as part of a sweet deal for Sony, its sensor helper — then Nikon should have thrown in an 8 gb card for free. Forced XQD is just a slap in the face until needed; it was not needed in the D4.

      2 CF, 2 SD, 2 XQD slots — don’t mix and match, Nikon.

      • don

        I’m sure the D4x and D4s will bring card harmony in that respect. One of the hazards of being the pioneer and early adopter: you play the role of crash dummy as the company figures out what works and what doesn’t.

        • Banksie

          I was complaining here about the mix and match card issue way back before the D4 was even available. People said it was no big deal. Well, it is a big deal and it’s a PITA to have two different protocols in one camera. It was done for one reason: not to upset new D4 adopters who already had $$ invested in current CF cards. If Nikon really wanted to help introduce a new card protocol then they should have had the courage to go all the way instead of a making a timid attempt at it.

          I agree that the D4s and D4x will resolve all this and there will be two slots of the same card protocol. And it’s one of the big reasons why I’m patiently waiting and sticking with the D3s for now.

      • @Not Surprised,
        I do agree with you about the mixing of cards, I wish my D4 would have had two XQD slots!
        But I will add this…I have the Lexar 1000x CF Pro cards (theorhetical 150MB/s) and I have the XQD 32GB H card (125MB/s)…the XQD beats the Lexar card hands down in the performance tests I have done. Even Rob Galbraith has done thorough testing and posted his results.
        I have no idea why the CF card did not out perform the XQD card.
        BTW, I did get a “FREE” 16GB XQD camera and Sony XQD reader with the D4 I bought.
        Like others, I can’t overrun the D4 buffer with the typcial shooting I do, using 14Bit RAW uncompressed, simultaneously writing to the XQD and CF in redundant copy mode.
        When I get to the home office, I use the CF card for downloading my images to the PC. My XQD card just stays in the camera as a backup to the CF card. For others who prefer to have the overflow ability when using the D4, might be disheartened by having to deal with two memory card formats; but I’ve gotten used to it and don’t think of it as a big deal as what I originally did. If I am out shooting and I run out of space on the 32GB cards I have in XQD>CF copy mode, I just plop in another 32GB XQD and 32GB CF card. If I go on vacation, and need to keep LOTS of images, I have a handful of 4, 8, 16, 32GB CF cards to act as my main copy with backups being written to a Sanho HyperDrive 750GB device; I just keep reformatting the two XQD I have and cycling between them, while keeping images on both a stack of CF cards and the HyperDrive.

        • DMc

          “Offering sustained read/write transfer speeds of 168MB/s . . .”

          I think CF is rated on burst, not sustained, throughput. Sprint vs marathon. Not the same.

  • G15

    People may not find they need the upgrade right now, however it is good to see upgrades moving on, showing the community this is the right way to go and a step to making it the new standard.

    • Andrew

      Also, if Sony keeps both cards on the market, then we should expect a price drop for the recent/previous generation card because of its slower speed.

  • Merv

    “The Nikon D4 is currently the only camera that uses the new XQD standard.”
    So even Sony cameras don’t use the XQD standard? A bit odd…

    • Not Surprised

      Well, even Sony cams are stopping to use Sony’s old memory formats — so just goes to show how well Sony keeps its media alive. Very poor roll-out….. Nikon took the bait for no reason, at the expense of its most loyal customers. Sad.

      • @Not Surprised,
        I don’t think there was a real expense realized by those who bought the D4. I imagine if you were to ask all the D4 owners out there what they would prefer, based on their current experiences with XQD, you will find the majority would do it again knowing what they know now. There is nearly a 50% write speed advantage using the now older XQD “H” series cards vs. the absolute fastest 1000x CF cards available. CF is nearly at its maximum speed now; the next (and probably last) bin jump will be to 1111x speed. XQD is just getting started, and as memory technologies improve, it don’t doubt it will easily blow CF away. I also imagine that the D4 has a buffer to memory card write advantage over the Canon 1Dx for the simple fact that it uses XQD; I can’t wait to see those results posted.

        • B!

          I too wish it came with two XQD slots instead of this mix-match situation. Whoever was wining about this format is a fool. CF technology is outdated much like firewire and SCSI, plain and simple. Embrace the future and don’t get stuck with technologies of last century.

    • B!

      People wouldn’t buy POS (not point and shoot in this case) cameras if they were forced to buy XQD cards at premium. Cheap cameras utilize cheap SD cards. Plain and simple.

  • Ken Elliott

    This will come in handy for the expected D4X with 48MP.

    • Jabs

      @Ken Elliott – Don’t know about 48mp, but I think maybe 36mp sensor from D800 but with more processing power to get almost D4 speeds and throughput. Maybe this card was designed for an upcoming D4X???

      I also think that the D4X might have 4K Video – awesome.

    • Michael

      I don’t know what the specs will be for the D4x, but I look forward to having that sensor or better in the full pro body. I love the D800 but I, like many others prefer the full pro body.

      I welcome it, hopefully next year. 2012 has been a Big year for Nikon, and with so many other things projected, I only wonder about what is coming next year other than the D4x??

      • Banksie

        I’m waiting for a D4x, too. One reason is that it will have two slots of the same protocol and the other being that for me, the D800 is an ergonomic nightmare. The D3s is light years beyond the D700 in respect to day long usage and a robust build. Same goes for the D4 over the D800. There’s a reason why there’s such a price difference and a big part of it is build quality and ergonomics.

      • B!

        You can’t beat a full pro body, getting a grip is just lying to yourself.

        • Joe

          Actually, I didn’t get the D4 because of the full grip. I hate the extra needless size and weight.
          If the D4 didn’t have a vertical grip, I’d have gotten at least 2… likely 4.

  • Jabs

    Now with Nikon leading the way with this new card and Sony upping the ante with a faster card, lets see when we have a Thunderbolt equipped Reader – sweet speed upgrade.
    Leaving the past in its dust = D4.

    • James

      S series and 64GB that card must be a pricy one as I just bought the 16GB H series and I don’t even have my D4 yet … and that card cost $130 US as it was $199 Canadian so I ordered it from B&H so I can imagine the price of this one. Yes and it’s odd as why is Sony developing cards just for the D4 and none of their own cameras or products that need memory?

  • “The Nikon D4 is currently the only camera that uses the new XQD standard.”

    It isn’t a standard if only one company makes the card and only one camera maker uses the card! 😉

    • peterw

      you claim it is an internal standard!
      that would imply that Sony and Nikon belong to the same corporation…
      could Sony have bought Nikon and Peter not having sniffed no smoke….

      • James

        I would think it would be Nikon buying Sony as Sony market was down as it has it’s fair share of losses and when will the ever update to a PS4 as the PS3 is so out of date.

        • Sky

          Even if Nikon would sell all it’s assets – it wouldn’t be able to afford buying Sony. Heck – they probably even wouldn’t be able to buy Canon which is notably smaller then Sony.

          Don’t talk crap you have no idea about.

          • B!

            Canon is so much bigger than Nikon in terms of company size, volume, product lines offered etc. that its not even funny.

            …and I am a Nikon fan! Nikon CANNOT afford to buy neither Canon nor SONY, get a grip!

          • peterw

            I don’t have any idea how they did it, but Porsche did buy Volkswagen…

            that ain’t no crap, although it was in the papers. sometime ago, I think it was around 2008.
            don’t ask me how it works, but it does.

            Probably Volkswagen bought itself back in the meantime, buying the rest of the stock of Porsche along.
            Selling it again to Hyundai, Fiat or Tata. (no that’s crap)

            I like Porsche as well as Volkswagen and Tata, and since the maximum velocity has no positive effect to the quality of my pictures, I stick to Nikon. Since Nikon is putting VR in their long lenses and delivers camera’s like D300(s) I have no need for Canon.

            • Rudi

              Sorry to say that but you are most likely misinformend. Not Porsche bought Volkswagen but Volkswagen bought Porsche as Porsche didn’t have the money and tried to fool some banks to pay the bill with the Volkswagen money when they have “bought” it. But they didn’t the bill without Ferdinand Piech!

              And to complete it: The D4 and many other Nikon designs are done by Volkswagen as well. Yes, it’s because italdesign is owened by Volkswagen!

              And, Volkswagen has the best cars I have to admit!

            • peterw

              Well, guess I am as misinformed as the papers were at that time…

              A lot of healthy companies were brought close to bankruptcy those days by companies/funds that financed the buy on selling out / robbing the valuable parts. The trick was almost common, and could have been effective.

              btw Apart from the Nikons you claim they make :), Volkswagen doesn’t give me a kick: they don’t make a Landcruiser Prado, nor a Panda 4×4. (However, you’ll find me more often in a Talbot or a Siemens-Bombardier. Most times these are much faster than any Porsche, wich would drives behind some Volkswagen, which would drive behind some kind of a Scania, etc etc.)

    • fifi

      XQD IS standard! It’s just Nikon is their first user. And some people are forgetting that photography isn’t the only market for this standard. There’s also video, broadcast, digital cinematography….

  • Mexecutioner

    How about fixing the viewfinder AF first and then I can shoot some images that are in perfect focus?

    • viewfinder AF…?????
      No AF issues with my D4, did you get a lemon?

  • michael

    Nice. Another nail in the inevitable coffin of Compact Flash.

    • Compact Flash and their bazillion bendable pins should die. I’d be glad to donate a nail or two for the coffin.

      Now if they can just get XQD prices to come down.

  • John
  • “Sony will release also a new high-speed driver for the MRW-E80 XQD card reader with Thunderbolt support.”

    There is a new XQD card reader coming with Thunderbolt? Or is it a new cable for the old card reader?

    • JB

      I assume you would have to have an additional cord…..

      I’ve been very pleased with XQD to this point. I’m happy to progress moving forward as well. Hopefully we will see SanDisk and others adopt as well.

    • Speed is nice for downloading to your computer, but it isn’t necessary. I have old USB 2.0 CF reader which chews through 8GB+ of RAW images I download regularly. I only wish the WT-5 was as fast!!

      • Well all Mac’s, except the ones just released but not yet on store shelves, only have USB 2. Which is why I would love to use the Thunderbolt connection that I do have.

        • Rudi

          I own the new MBR-R for two weeks now and the XQD card reader on the USB 3.0 is quick as hell. Much much quicker then on my iMac with USB 2.0.

          And I have to admit, I love the new XQD cards though I also would prefer two XQD slots. But I won’t miss the new cards.

  • This is certainly good news!

  • Those kind of cards are WAY to expensive for someone like me.

    Its more of a luxury than a necessity to me…Ill stick to the older version and CF cards

  • linghu

    168MB/s. for D4 what a waste, should make one CF for D800. D4 16mp , dont require that fst speed to write on the card compare to the D800 file size

    • Sky

      Ever heard of continuous shooting?

      • linghu

        I dont think People use us the D4 as a machine gun, how often people does continuous shooting on a expensive D4, only rich one does. compare with 11fps and 36mp file size with 4fps, i dont know which use more buffers,maybe some other can does the comparision

        • Sky

          D4 uses higher data transfers then D800, even despite of D800 having 36 MPx.

          And if people don’t use D4 as a machine gun – then I don’t know which other DSLR might be used so. It’s one of the main purpose of D4 – machine gun shooting. Otherwise D800 rolls over it (including high ISOs thanks to Sony sensor).

    • B!

      You are backward by friend.

      D4 records 11 fps at 16MP and D800 does 4 fps x 36MP, do the math!

  • shivaswrath

    My 16gb XQD failed this weekend at a wedding…was a “lovely” surprise.

    Yes it was 100+ degrees and I have been shooting for 6 hours…but that’s what a D4 is FOR!

    • Rudi

      So did a SanDisk in my D700… but I don’t think it was a camera failure.

  • Steve Starr

    Seems Sandisk, Lexar, and Kingston all all holding off the XQD format as of mid-June press releases.

    Leaves Sony to push the XQD format which other makers may not adopt. Might be a Betamax failure too, even if it was better than VHS. Sony can raise their prices now since they will be the monopoly maker.

    • DMc

      Betamax quality was limited by the output. TV had low resolution and poor color. Cameras are on the capture side. I doubt the capture side is as restricted. You can crop photos or delete frames. You cann’t do either to data that was never captured.

      Betamax would have a better chance today with HD TV if we didn’t have even better recordings than magnetic media.

  • DY

    I predict, based on H series prices, a new S series 64GB card will cost $700-$800.
    Hopefully they drop H series prices to something more palatable.

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