More info on Lexar, XQD and CFExpress memory cards compatibility, Hoodman rumored to start making XQD cards

First, an update on my yesterday's Lexar post - a report from the PhotoPlus Expo sent in by a reader (thanks):

Peter, in spite of everything, Lexar has a manned booth at PhotoPlus and I spent a decent amount of time talking to them. One employee there gave me a bit of a background on everything that’s been happening. From the way he describes it, Micron would sell flash memory to Longsys, who would assemble the cards with Lexar packaging, and ship out to Lexar for distribution. The rise in flash memory prices meant the white label manufacturing process and marketing costs were lost profits for Micron, as they could sell the flash memory for higher prices elsewhere. The flash shortage is temporary, and prices should come down. More importantly, according to this employee, there is a warehouse full of Lexar CF/SD/XQD cards in Tennessee, ready to go. The only issue is that they have Micron/Lexar packaging, as opposed to the Longsys/Lexar packing. That is going to be remedied with some sort of temporary license, and the cards should be ready to go relatively soon. Again, according to this employee, the new Lexar products should be identical in quality to the old ones, as very little is actually changing. Lexar, with its 40 employees has a new owner, but it’s the owner who’s been the actual manufacturer all along.

Also, per the same Lexar employee, CFExpress is essentially the next revision of XQD, and there should be full backward compatibility with XQD, and that getting D4/D5/500/D850’s to work with CFE cards should be a simple software patch.

The last part is interesting because Delkin recently confirmed to a reader (thanks broxibear) that their CFExpress cards will not work in any current camera that uses an XQD slot:

Delkin is the only manufacturer to announce a CFExpress card so far.
Some other publications have confirmed that CFexpress will be the backward compatible with XQD (Resourcemagonline, Fotosidan)

"Rather than allow the two competing standards to drive up the price of memory, the CFA and its members developed a new type of memory: CFexpress. The best part? Because it’s PCIe and because PCIe is backwards compatible, XQD will continue to work on CFexpress cameras… and, theoretically, any camera produced to work with CFexpress will work with any XQD card currently on the market."

Another rumor is that Hoodman is going to start making XQD memory cards as well (they already sells SD memory cards).

Expect also Lexar to make some new announcements at the 2018 CES show in January.

Update - Rego also announced their CFExpress plans.

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  • David Friedlander-Holm

    Oof. I know SD isn’t perfect but at least it doesn’t bring about these worries… and I know I can throw it in a lake for a decade and still get data off of it…

    • Allen_Wentz

      SD is relatively slow as hell and costs more for the kinds of capacities we want in top modern bodies. Your choice.

      As to durability I have seen no tests, but XQD _feels_ more robust, and for my largish fingers much easier to handle without dropping and store without misplacing.

      • WoodyM

        I agree with you the XQD cards are more robust I only have Lexar. Do you know if the Sony XQD’s have the same strength feel?

        • Allen_Wentz

          My XQD (now stolen with the D500) were Lexar, and I have not handled the Sony.

        • Online reviews and user experience reviews place lexar as more robust and durable than sony ones. Apparently the wear and tear prone part of sony is plastic whereas that of lexar is metal. Also with heavy use, sony ones are getting worn out at edges. You can search on google for examples. I opted for lexar from this research. I think these are the reasons why lexar XQD are more sought after than sony.

        • C Lee Hamilton

          File under anecdotal: I have a Lexar 128GB XQD. After a year the pin slot area is inexplicably warped and the plastic housing is separating at the side seam. The card only gets handled during transit from D500 to reader and back.

        • mannequindisplay

          I have both Sony XQD and Lexar XQD side by they are the exact ame card the only difference is the label on the front.

        • VELS14

          @disqus_OJmUvSLo53:disqus I’ve used the Lexar and Sony in my D4 and D5 bodies and Physically there’s no difference in the quality of the build. I have been using mostly Sony XQD cards with no problems whatsoever.

      • flaker

        300mb/s isn’t exactly “slow as hell” compared to the 400mb/s you get from XQD — not to mention, you can actually find them when you need them. The is particularly important to note that even the absolutely fastest tip-top cameras don’t even generate 300mb/s… So it’s somewhat like debating which car is better on a US freeway doing 70mph – a maserati or lamborgini… (and the slower stuff — 100mb/s or so, is basically so ubiquitous that readers are built into basically everything and you can pick up an extra card anywhere)

        I live in a top-20 population US city and I had to go online to get any… NO ONE locally stocks them.

        • Allen_Wentz

          Actually, SD operation _is_ “slow as hell” in the real world. Most real-world-using photogs report SD to be about half as fast. That is huge.

          Test a D500 or a D850 with SD and with XQD and compare the buffer performance. SD is slow as hell.

          Cards are not consumables. One buys them online once. Who cares whether or not 1/4-speed versions are available at the local Costco?

          Note if one is a landscape-only photog who never shoots moving things Nikon does allow you to choose to use SD and buy them at the local 7-11. Enjoy.

          Personally I use the SD slot only for routine backup or to move a duplicate set of images off site for security. I pull the lame SD card when I need maximum buffer. The SD never enters my workflow.

          • flaker

            If you are a photographer that doesn’t care to back up your files instantly… then you can use a XQD-only option. My files are more important than that.
            I use a XQD and a fast UHS-II SD card and have no performance issues at all… the buffer clears roughly equally fast (I’m sure I could tell a difference with a stop watch… but in real-life use for sports or weddings… it doesn’t matter) with or without the SD card in. The UHS II cards are remarkably fast (again — faster than the camera can generate images)

            The ubiquity is handy — being able to use the built-in card reader on your laptop for backing up on the way home from a job; being able to easily share cards with other photographers you may be shooting with; being able to take advantage of scale and get cards more cheaply; if misfortune befalls you on a gig you can easily acquire more SD cards, being able to take advantage of automated portable duplication/backup systems; etc, etc… All of this stuff is either impossible or a big pain with XQD.

            XQD is fast, sure… but let’s not pretend it’s perfect (it’s extreme niche-status really sucks) or imply that SD is somehow “lame”. (not sure what you hope to accomplish by literally fanboi-style insulting a flash memory format… did your kid choke on one or something?)

            • Allen_Wentz

              Your suggestion that I “apparently just holds the shutter down and does speed benchmarks all day” is pretty rude, but speaks to who you are, not about me.

              1) I do agree that most of the time SD in-camera is adequately fast. Which is why I said “I use the SD slot only for routine backup or to move a duplicate set of images off site for security. I pull the lame SD card when I need maximum buffer.”

              Why not use the faster XQD card for all the real work?

              2) Your statement “The UHS II cards are remarkably fast (again — faster than the camera can generate images)” is untrue. Unless you are talking about something other than usage on top modern D500/D850 bodies, in which case why are you commenting here? SD is what it is on some SD-only body.

              3) Part of my strong preference for XQD over SD is backup speed. Your suggestion that slower SD means you are somehow availed of faster backup is just ignorant lack of comprehension of how XQD users back up. SD is slower to back up; there is no way your SD post-shoot backup goes faster than a properly configured XQD backup does.

              4) I admit to total ignorance regarding “being able to take advantage of automated portable duplication/backup systems.” My idea of proper backup involves careful user prethought and specifically excludes anything automated. Perhaps tell me what you use, and maybe I will learn something. Especially the magic physics of how you can get a slower SD card backed up faster than an XQD.

              5) You are correct about SD being easier to go buy new cards at the 7-11 if you lost the SD cards. Personally I take very careful care of cards and I also have spares. I recently lost a body, lenses and cards – – but did not lose images. Note that my argument is _for_ XQD and faster being available, like it is in D500/D850 and against folks who want only SD.

            • flaker

              Your primary concern appears to be raw card _speed_. Not applicability to the job, not interoperability, not cost, not availability, not interchangeability, not sharing and working with other pros, etc, etc…. What else am I to infer about your working methods?

              I notice you skim over my more salient points and harp on issues I’ve already conceded (XQD is, indeed, faster). That’s a form of the strawman fallacy; if you want to change minds, you should stop using it.

              IN USE, XQD is simply not soooo much faster to make up for the myriad other reasons that dual UHS-II SD would have been a better choice.

              There is a reason XQD isn’t setting the world on fire.

              You can google portable flash backup devices just as easily as I can.

              My post-shoot backups happens while I sleep… if it takes 20 minutes of 8 hours doesn’t matter. Again, you are harping on points that don’t matter. Just, the Lamborghini is faster… but on the freeway, it’s equivalent to a Maserati and things like comfort, gas mileage, and stereo system probably makes a larger impact than the engine..

            • Allen_Wentz

              1) Your primary concern appears to be raw card _speed_.
              – Mostly correct.

              2) Not applicability
              to the job…
              – Wrong. Applicability to the job IS allowing a top new camera body to be all that it can be. Not just most of the time, but also under extreme situations. IMO it makes no sense to intentionally constrain a top body just so one can use older, slower cards.

              3) not interoperability, not
              – Correct. I value performance over interoperability/interchangeability. I use CF cards in CF bodies, SD cards in SD bodies and XQD cards in XQD bodies. Over the years each new camera has been faster and took advantage of newer cards, so I am accustomed to buying new cards to suit each new body. The D500, for instance has less buffer using SD, ergo I prefer XQD.

              4) not cost…
              – XQD at pro sizes for D850 are cheaper than SD, so I do not know why you bring cost up. Anyway cost is mostly moot unless one uses slower SD US-I cards, in which case SD UHS-I is indeed cheaper. But you are correct, I do not much care about card cost so much as about reliability and speed, in that order. Camera cards are not consumables.

              5) not availability…
              – Correct. I buy cards once and they last for the life of the camera. If for some reason I want more cards they are available on line.

              6) not sharing and working with other pros, etc…
              – Correct. I have always been a solo photog, sometimes with an assistant or another pro, but never in a workflow sharing cards. Never have felt a need to share cards. Card readers sometimes, and image files a lot, but only _after_ backup and DAM, never simply sharing cards.

              7) What else am I to infer about your working methods?
              – Well I looked up portable flash backup devices as you suggested. You were right, all of them were for CF or SD; one would need to attach a card reader for XQD.

              I decided I prefer a fast Macbook Pro with fast card reader or EC-34 card adapter and additional external drives like I have always used. A it is faster, but also I like to promptly peruse at least a selection of copied files before reformatting the card in-camera. The large display lets me review pix well enough to get insight into what I may need to improve upon or reshoot if possible. That process also verifies that the copying went well.

            • “all of them were aimed mostly at SD, and pricey. One would need to attach a card reader for XQD.

              I am thinking of buying one. Mostly WD wifi one. My idea .. Shoot on XQD with SD backup at same capacities(I simply don’t need more than 3FPS at any time) Once any one card is full, remove both, keep SD for transfer to HDD. Shoot with another duo continued.
              P.S. I doubt that these HDDs will support XQD reader. I asked a WD rep and he had no idea.

            • KnightPhoto

              Any tips you care to share about the D500 camera theft?

            • VELS14

              @flaker:disqus you’re not going to like this, but I dispute your statement “My files are more important than that. I use a XQD and a fast UHS-II SD card and have no performance issues at all… the buffer clears roughly equally fast.”

              I don’t know which generation XQD card you’re using, but in real world tests, with 2nd generation XQD cards the speed difference between XQD and SD is significant.

              I shoot sports and if I’m trying to get that great catch in an NFL came I’m shooting at 11 fps with RAW + JPG and it makes a difference that I’m shooting with XQD vs SD. For weddings, the speed differential is meaningless, as one isn’t producing enough frames per minute to matter on speed alone.

              “The ubiquity is handy — being able to use the built-in card reader on your laptop for backing up on the way home from a job; being able to easily share cards with other photographers you may be shooting with”

              I don’t understand that statement, to be honest. Yes, I can’t use the built in card reader in my laptop, mostly because it doesn’t have one. I’ve got a screamingly fast Dell mobile workstation. Once you have a separate card reader you’re all set anyway. I don’t share memory cards with anyone. Among my colleagues and peers the only people we share with is our clients to whom we don’t give memory cards anyway. As for breakdowns of cards and helping out a fellow photographer, I don’t remember the last time I had that with my cards of any type as I use a procedure to minimize that potential and purchase nothing but top quality cards from Sony, Sandisk, and in the past Lexar. But even if there was a breakdown, I along with my colleagues and peers have more than enough of our own cards to handle that. We have to have them.

              You said, “if misfortune befalls you on a gig you can easily acquire more SD cards,” With all due respect, and you make think my statement is harsh, I think that statement is totally bogus. If you have to go out to some store in the middle of a job to purchase more memory cards, you’ve blown the job as you’ve missed many shots, or if it’s a posed job unnecessarily delayed the work and done an inexcusable disservice to your client.

              Considering all the pros I know, and the thousands I don’t know, who along with me are using Nikon D5 bodies on important shoots that have nothing other than XQD slots there are clearly an awful lot of pro photographers who don’t think your points are valid. I’m sure there are some who agree, but I don’t think most do. And that’s especially true about on the job memory card purchases and not having enough cards to do the job you’re at.

              Moreover, in the future, the XQD card will be even more important for pros as image resolutions and therefore files get larger and video resolution goes up and those files require many more pixels to be stored each second.

              You said, “XQD is fast, sure… but let’s not pretend it’s perfect (it’s extreme niche-status really sucks) or imply that SD is somehow “lame”.”

              Frankly, that statement is absurd. XQD isn’t an extreme niche technology. With the large number of Nikon D5 bodies, for example, with only XQD slots in the hands of thousands and thousands, we know your statement doesn’t hold water. As to implying that SD cards are lame, I haven’t seen anyone here say that. What has been said is that for many their inferior specs no longer make them an adequate choice for many hard working professionals.

              As to your “edit” addition above, I for one find it extremely offensive. Try sticking to facts rather than attack the messengers who bring them.

            • flaker

              re: sharing
              When assisting (or having assistants) shooting with you, its’ extremely common to just “Shoot on their cards”. The lead or client/agency provides the cards and the shooter never needs to download/upload etc. Also helps keep images from ‘leaking’ past NDA’s and such.

              re: readers
              I often collaborate with other photographers and/or need to work on different computers. They all can work with SD… with XQD I’d need to bring a card reader.
              I don’t often shoot sports, but the couple of large gigs I did involved all of us shooters running cards to a central person who uploaded them for the agency while we went back to shoot.

              re: misfortune
              I (used to) run a photo booth. With the exception of the backdrop, I bring enough redundancy to run 3 at the same time. (this was back before the all-in-one solutions – 3 laptops, 3 cameras, 3 printers, 3 strobes, etc..) One night, we were working at a place running on genny power and it messed up my system. The solution was to use a memory card and swap between shots… luckily, the videographer had extra cards.
              Further, I’ve done internationally work – a month-long travel assignment – and while I’ve never had anything stolen, it’s not unfathomable to think that something might be. (say your card wallet gets stolen with your money pouch or something) With SD, it’d be an easy fix; with XQD you’d be hurting.
              I could make examples all day where a true pro might need to suddenly get memory cards on a short timeline. (I do agree that these situations are rare for a prepared professional…) It’s another layer of support. Just like how you might not need NPS, but you’re glad they are there when the stuff hits the fan and that’s a negative against using Sony or whatever (their pro support systems aren’t as developed as Nikon or Canon)

              Yes, XQD _IS_ a niche product. A total of, what, 3 or 4 consumer products use them… and those products are relatively niche products, themselves. If you really want to argue it, I can get comparison numbers to other memory format types… but I admit, I didn’t think anyone would challenge that assertion in 2017.

              As for speed – I wonder if all these anecdotal comparisons are using UHS-II cards.

              Ctrl-F for the word “lame”. Do the same with his post history and you’ll see he’s on some weird Trump-esque crusade to brand SD cards as “lame” by repeating it over and over. My look into his history was to see if I was dealing with a troll/fanboy or someone worth discussing pros/cons with. I see him as the former and you as the latter.

              You are harping on individual points. (not to mention the half-dozen other points people keep skipping over) My larger point is that all these little things add up to something larger. That “larger” might be more important than the minimal real-world speed increase…. this is particularly the case when the camera is still limited by SD due to the mixed cards (and, as far as I’m concerned, every single pro should be shooting on ‘backup’ mode….)

              Now, don’t get me wrong. In a vacuum, XQD is a much better card (I’ve got 8 128 sony G’s). But we don’t live in a vacuum. I hope a day comes when the (lack of) support system around XQD is no longer a negative.

            • VELS14

              I do tons of corporate work and I never, repeat never shoot with client cards. No client has ever asked that of me. What we do on corporate shoots is often shoot tethered, however, where everything is saved locally and on the receiving computer.

              As to collaboration at an event, etc., such as at a sports event, which I definitely do. Everything each of us does is sent wirelessly to the client.

              As to people shooting for me, they do it on my gear on my cards.

              As for speed I did the tests whether you want to believe the data or not. XQD speeds on Gen 2 cards are faster than SD or CFast cards. It’s not anecdotal. It’s physics.

              Believe whatever you want. I’ll keep happily using XQD cards and when out CFExpress cards. I’ll continue to have speed and reliability using terrific cameras.

              By the way, with the CFExpress, you’ll be seeing much wider use as CFast is dead. It’s old school for top end gear.

          • Michael Hatzel

            Are you talking about UHS I or UHS II? Because, yes, my UHS-I cards are “slow as hell”. My UHS-II card on the d850 is quick enough that I can shoot pretty much forever without overrunning the buffer.

        • VELS14

          flaker I totally agree that you can’t find XQD cards anywhere. I live in a top 5 population city and there are a few photography stores that have XQD cards in stock, but in other cities of significant population they don’t have them. It’s mail order if you’re there. But tell me this, how often do you really purchase new memory cards? I haven’t purchased a new card since the second generation of XQD cards went on sale and I bought 6 of them (I have a pair of D5’s and a D4 as an extra backup (Also have a D800 for landscapes and portraits which are used in a more leisurely pace.) (I’m a pro photographer.)) I can easily take a few thousand images in a day and my cards, 64GB or 128GB are more than adequate to handle that. Each day I upload to my portable hard drives when traveling, or to my workstation drives when in my home city, format the cards and I’m ready for more shooting.

          I understand that for some shooters the extra speed isn’t important. That’s not true for me. I’m primarily both a travel photography and photojournalist.

          As a travel photographer I’m shooting in RAW and saving my images to both cards in my D5 simultaneous to have a backup in case the worst happens. When you’re on a job, and in the middle of nowhere and can’t really go back to retake the shots, you’ve got to be sure you don’t loose them. Often travel photography also means wildlife photography. That means I’m often shooting continuously at 11 fps and if I want to be able to shoot that over a lengthy period I’ve got to have scorchingly fast cards. An SD card or even a CF card can’t do it. I did testing with the D4 between XQD and CF and the buffers fill up slowing my shooting down far earlier with CF cards which are faster than my SD card cameras. I also tested of someone elses’ D5 with CF card slots and found the same thing.

          As a photojournalist I’m shooting RAW + JPG as I’ve got to send the JPG images in almost immediately. The RAW images are for later use for Art work and/or feature work. The XQD card makes a big difference for that.

          Then there’s the speed at which I upload to my computer. The difference between SD or CF vs. XQD is significant and important to me.

          Forgetting speed for a moment, the form factor robustness is a big difference too. I know many photographers who have suffered broken SD cards and bent pin CF cards when trying to quickly swap cards during a shoot. I’ve never had that happen with an XQD card.

          You said, “So it’s somewhat like debating which car is better on a US freeway doing 70mph – a maserati or lamborgini.” I don’t think for many of us that’s a good example. For me anyway, substitute the Autobahn in for the freeway. There it makes a big difference. I’ve done real world testing to prove it too.

          • flaker

            For what it’s worth – I don’t clear cards until I’ve delivered the images… so that means I need more cards than your workflow…. but that’s not format-specific.

            I DO end up needing to provide and/or use other people’s cards… so SD is handy for that. I end up having to use D750’s (rather than D5) when I’m on the receiving end.

            “I did testing with the D4 between XQD and CF and the buffers fill up slowing my shooting down far earlier with CF cards which are faster than my SD card cameras.”

            You mean you did the test with much slower cards. SD UHS-II cards are 300+mb/s … the fastest CF cards on the market today (and likely not even close when you did your test) don’t reach half that speed.

            I can’t help but think all this “lame SD” and “slow as hell SD” stems from comparisons to much slower UHS-I and prior cards.

            Fwiw – I agree, the form factor of XQD is nice. I’ve never bent a pin.. but I’ve never really felt good about CF cards. SD cards will sometimes come out of the slot under vigorous conditions due to lack of positive hold. In a vacuum, the robustness and speed of XQD is great… it’s a better card.

            In a vacuum, Betamax was better too. 😉

      • Dogs Of Marymoor Park

        I’ve shot 110,000+ frames on the D500, all using the (Lexar) XQD, zero errors or issues with the XQD.

    • ITN

      In my experince SD cards can have poor ruggedness and longevity and I wouldn’t want to rely on them for anything that is critical work if it can be avoided.

      XQD is superb. Fast, less expensive than other fast cards, well designed, rugged casing, more compact than CF, no pins to break, and the contacts are covered so they don’t get soiled from fingerprints (causing potential corrosion).

  • br0xibear

    You can add Rego to the manufacturers of CFexpress…

    • Michele Perillo

      From the texts i read on the link you gave, they just sell parts to actual memory manufacturer. On the other hand, i believe I read a line suggesting compatibility… maybe someone who speaks better english than mine could give some advice on it…

      • br0xibear

        As you can see from the above information and links, there’s a lot of conflicting information coming from manufaturers about CFexpress/XQD compatabilty…
        Maybe you’ll just have to try whichever card in whatever slot and see if it works ? lol

        • ZoetMB

          Yes, the description above actually states that an XQD card would work in a camera designed for CF Express, but it does not state that CF Express would work in a camera designed for XQD. There’s only backwards compatibility insofar as that description states.

          • br0xibear

            “does not state that CF Express would work in a camera designed for XQD”
            Yeah, and I think Nikon marketing would have made a song and dance out of it, if future CFexpress cards would work in the D5, D500, D850’s XQD slots.
            Nikon, Sony, Lexar, Delkin, SanDisk, anyone of them could put out a press release and clear up the confusion about CFexpress/XQD compatabilty…but no, lol.

            • Allen_Wentz

              Smart IMO. There are so many hiccups that may yet happen with a new card standard in an old camera Nikon would have to be nuts to brag up CFexpress compatibility before cards have been on the street for a while.

            • ITN

              Of course they cannot promise that before cards are actually available and can be tested.

            • br0xibear

              The Nikon engineers should be able to determine if it’s technically possible for CFexpress cards to work in Nikon camera XQD slots…even if actual cards aren’t available.
              Delkin have said no…I haven’t asked Nikon, maybe someone should do that…I can’t do everything, and I don’t get paid for posting here, lol.

            • Robert

              The Delkin support person who answered your email said no, which does not necessarily mean that it is correct. The Delkin guy interviewed by Fotosidan said yes, and the way he explained it together with what Resourcemagonline wrote makes me think that it can be done. The person at Delkin you got an answer from likely did not have enough/correct information.

              Whether or not Nikon can support CFexpress cards in the XQD v2 cameras will depend on if they chose to be able to do so or not, as a firmware update would be enough if the cameras were designed for it.

            • br0xibear

              As I said above “there’s a lot of conflicting information coming from manufaturers about CFexpress/XQD compatabilty.”
              There’s lots of speculation and ifs and buts in what you posted…
              I don’t have any reason to doubt the Delkin information in their email…if it turns out to be wrong, or it changes we’ll find out in the next few months.
              There’s nothing stopping you or anyone else asking Delkin or Nikon about this subject, infact Delkin have a dedicated page for CFexpress where they encourage questions about the product.
              Take screenshots of Nikon and Delkin’s answers, send them to Peter and he can post them in a article.

            • Robert

              Maybe the keywords in the Delkin support answer are “currentl requires”. They leave room for speculation. I guess we interpret the answer differently, but as you say we will know later on. I don’t really need the CFX cards since the XQD cards ought to be good enough for the D850, but I find it interesting to follow the technology development.

          • MB

            That seems perfectly accurate…
            XQD compatibility is not mandated by CFEXPRESS standards and unlike PCiE 3 graphic cards that are large enough and produced in numbers that makes it viable to develop and implement needed circuitry for PCiE 2 compatibility the same may not be true for tiny Memory cards so IMHO chances that someone will develop CF ecpress cards that are also compatible with XQD readers are minimal…
            On the other hand CFEXPRESS readers that support XQD cards are already available… so maybe XQD cards will be produced for some time because they will be supported by both XQD and CFexpress cameras…

            • ITN

              If cfexpress card manufacturers actually want to sell those cards, there is good reason to make them compatible with xqd cameras since those exist in hundreds of thousands and no camera uses cfexpress so far.

            • akkual

              PCIe consortium and their PCIe v3.0 standard requires backwards compatability from the devices implementing it. This does not quarantee it though for CFexpress, so delkin might have give a frack about such and just made PCIe v3.0 on their cards.

        • Allen_Wentz

          IMO the real question gets to be about card readers just as much as about cards, and that is where I think the backward compatibility may become important.

          Also, computer i/o capability affects PP workflow. With modern CPUs of i5 and above, i/o is perhaps as or more important than CPU for PP workflows. IMO folks who want to stay on top of future card throughput increases should seek out a box with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity when buying a new computer.

          Photogs using PCs with only USB 2 are severely constrained in post-processing workflow. And even in its 1.0 version CFexpress is faster than the USB 3.0 in many modern PCs. USB 3.1 finally reaches the throughput of old version 1 Thunderbolt that Apple started putting in its laptops in January 2011.

        • akkual

          I assume this confusion comes from the fact that PCIe consortium requires that PCIe v3.0 implementations (that CFexpress uses) are backwards compatible with PCIe v2.0 (that XQD uses). My best guess is that CFexpress standard does not say anything about that requirement when it specifies the use of PCIe v3.0, and thus some manufacturers could decide to only implement PCIe v3.0 on their CFe cards, and then those would NOT be backwards compatible. This seems to be the case with Delkin. I guess PCIe consortium will not like this – but will they care enough to enforce, it doubt that too.

          • br0xibear

            Sorry, I have no answers…I would just be adding to the speculation, and there’s enough of that already.
            The only thing I will add to what I’ve already posted is, the resource article is dated Oct 2016, my email was May 2017 and the fotosidan article was July 2017.

    • I did, thanks!

  • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

    A silly Q – why did CfExpress come into being and why couldn’t CFA standardise and use the QXD format as the only format for the next couple of years

    • Rather than allow the two competing standards to drive up the price of memory, the CFA and its members developed a new type of memory: CFexpress.

      • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

        According to the article it should be possible to read both XQD and Cfexpress cards via a firmware update.

        • yes, that’s good news

        • Better that than having to ditch XQD devices.

          • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

            Thanks Peter and Umeshrw – Fingers cross for the above to become reality.

          • Allen_Wentz

            Not the way it works. The devices work well as designed with XQD and always will. No need to ditch anything because a new card format becomes available.

            Perhaps we have CFexpress in a D5s or whatever and it becomes convenient to use the cards on an older D500, but no big deal really because the D500 is unlikely to get faster via CFexpress.

            PP workflow will get faster, however…

            • What I meant was, better the use of cfexpress at XQD speeds than having to ditch the older XQD cameras .

    • Allen_Wentz

      Tech standards evolve among parameters of physics, engineering, manufacturing, ergonomics, competition, politics, etc. Key word is _evolve_. At different points in the evolution different stakeholders to the process may be in strong disagreement with each other, making the process very interesting to observe.

      It is a wonder we get any standards at all. Look for instance at the different standards for electricity around the world. Or at case studies of VHS versus Beta.

    • ZoetMB

      In addition to the below, most “standards” are voluntary, otherwise the organizations can get into restraint of trade issues.

    • ITN

      Canon doesn’t want to use XQD as it is a Sony trademark.

      • dylanear

        XQD is a standard maintained by the CFA, it’s not a Sony trademark.

        • ITN

          XQD is a registered trademark of Sony Corp.

          You can find it in the database of registered trademarks, as well as on both Nikon and Sony web pages.

          It is also a standard by the CompactFlash association, Nikon, Sony and Sandisk.

          It is possible that Sony requires payment from other companies wishing to manufacture XQD cards.

    • dylanear

      Because CFexpress is basically XQD 3.0.

  • Ed Hassell

    I may be misreading the technical details; but my understanding is that cameras designed for CFexpress SHOULD be able to use the current standard PCIe XQD cards but cameras designed for XQD MAY (the operative word is MAY) not be able to use CFexpress cards. From what I understand, it will depend on how XQD was implemented in camera hardware, and, if fully implemented, then a software patch — at least for the first generation of CFexpress cards. It’s the same concept as the various generations of PCIe cards for graphics and other functions in personal computers and workstations.

    • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

      Agree with your findings – hopefully CFexpress cards can be used and then there is only need for the Card manufacturers to sell cFexpress and the SD format – ditching CF, Cfast and XQD

      • ITN

        Not really, that’s not how it works. Manufacture of CF, CFast and XQD should continue until no one sees any value in use of those cameras (i.e. they become so old as to be unusable).

        • Ed Hassell

          In an ideal world, you are right; however, we both know that the world is far from ideal. Once sales drop below as certain point, it is no longer economically viable for a manufacturer to continue production.

          A far batter plan is for the consumer to purchase enough memory cards of whatever type to meet his needs for a reasonable period of time. If one or two get lost or damaged, he should still have plenty to cover immediate needs. If replacements are still available, then he should replace the missing or damaged cards.

          This is how I plan when I buy a camera: when I bought my 1st D500 a year and a half ago, I purchased a dozen 64GB XQD cards along with it. I bought a dozen more with my 2nd D500 this past spring. And, in anticipation of my new D850 early next year, when I heard that Micron was shutting down Lexar, I ordered a dozen 128GB XQD cards. I never reuse cards until I have two verified backups on my home network. My card supply is geared for 10 days to 2 weeks shooting while away. With my 3 dozen cards, I’m covered, regardless of future availability.

          Not everyone needs a dozen memory cards per camera; but having 3 or 4 should cover most casual shooting needs. Having only one and counting on getting another should it be lost or fail is not a good plan, regardless of future availability.

    • akkual

      The major difference is that PCIe v2.0 (XQD) uses 8b/10b encoding and PCIe v3.0 uses 128b/130b encoding (there is smaller ones too, but as I see it, those mainly affect the speed). If the encoding can be updated, then the camera could start support CFexpress too. The thing is that PCIe standard puts the backwards compatability role on the slave device (here the memory card), not the host device (typically motherboard, here the camera). That is, the cards should be backwards compatible. However, CFexpress may give a frack about PCIe consortium and their standards and just implement the PCIe v3.0.

  • Eric Calabros

    RIP CFast

    • Davidvictormeldrew Idontbeliev

      Bit of a &&^&^ if one brought the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II and surprising that Cfast going to be redundant due to size and power of Canon.

      • Allen_Wentz

        Not really a &&^&^. Most photogs at that level buy the cards they need and fuggedaboutit thereafter. The cards mostly work forever, and are available forever anyway, just like one can still cheaply buy Beta tape for delivery tomorrow.

  • Sorry. Haven’t read that article yet.

  • Francesc Genové

    I want the head of those who said to me that backwards compatibility was not possible with CFExpress.

    • dylanear

      Who said that? Right from the get go, backwards compatibility has seems much more likely than not.

  • dylanear

    Yes. This is possible. Not guaranteed. But certainly possible. There is a CFexpress reader announced now that reads/writes both. There is no reason XQD devices can’t read/write to CFexpress cards, just limited to XQD speeds.

  • Spy Black

    Is Hoodman actually going to be “making” XQD cards, or simply branding their name on Micron/Longsys units? Don’t think the latter would really make much of a difference.

  • Marty Haas

    This reminds me of what a vet told me about the Vietnam war. The AK-47s employed by the VC used bullets that were a touch bigger than the bullets used in our M-16s. As a result, any time they won a battle they could take the ammo off our fallen soldiers and use it in their weapons. But their ammo wouldn’t fit in ours.

    I can see this panning out so that Canon will take advantage of this new format, making it a touch easier for Nikon shooters to switch to Canon and still use their XQD cards, but Canon users will have to buy all new cards if they want to switch to Nikon.

    Of course, Nikon could also make the switch, though doing so would almost feel like surrender. All that being said, as expensive as memory cards are, they are a drop in the bucket compared to the bodies and lenses so replacing your memory should be the last consideration.

    • Ed Hassell

      Nikon will most probably make the switch (maybe I should say that ….) because, essentially, the current CFexpress standard is generation v2.5 of the XQD v2.0 standard in current use and CFexpress is the immediately foreseeable future.

      The D4 was XQD v1; whereas the D5, D500 and D850 are XQD v2. IF (yeah, “IF” in all caps) Nikon has implemented the hardware within the cameras properly, a firmware update SHOULD enable the use of the current CFexpress cards which have an identical form factor and identical pin-outs.

      Regardless, it appears as if the supply of XQD cards will resume for the time being.

  • akkual

    OK, here is some “info” about the compatability from techonlogy POV (I have done minor on digital systems in a university and have been working closely with similar stuff since then):

    The main difference between XQD and CFExpress (later CFe for simplicity) is the bus they use: XQD uses PCIe version 2.0 and CFe uses PCIe version 3.0.

    PCIe v2.0 and PCIe v3.0 are “not directly compatible”: V3.0 has several modifications at the physical layer – how bits are transferred in the electrical lines – including a different encoding. At the protocol and upper layers – the messages and headers transferred – PCIe v2.0 and v3.0 are directly backwards compatible.

    However, and here is the catch, PCIe consortium “requires” that PCIe v3.0 implementation must be backwards compatible. This means that any PCIe v3.0 device should be able to work on PCIe v2.0 too – just slower. This means the chip controlling the communication must be able to figure out which one is in use and use that.

    However, I have a feeling that CFe standard does not give frack about PCIe consortium and will probably just define that the cards must implement PCIe v3.0. This would leave it up to the card controller chip manufacturer to decide if they support both or just PCIe v3.0.

    CFe also introduces NVMe support that XQD does not have. However, CFe only “supports” it, so I would assume it is not required, and thus CFe cards would be backwards compatible on upper layers to XQD.

    To summarize the card side: XQD and CFe are not “quaranteed” backward compatible, unless the manufacturer obeys PCIe v3.0 requirements and implements both PCIe v2.0 and PCIe v3.0 physical layer on the card.

    The second question is that can Nikon update their current PCIe v2.0 implementation to PCIe v3.0. This depends totally on how they have implemented the logical side of the physical layer. If it is done with software, it is likely they can update it. If it is done with hardware, then not, unless the hardware is changed (might be possible in service). If Nikon has had future insight, they could have already implemented both PCIe v2.0 and PCIe v3.0 there and just use PCIe v2.0 for now (I heavily doubt this).

    This is my best understanding of the situation. Do not take these as facts, but as “well thought guess”.

    • Ed Hassell

      I do NOT expect XQD cards to be future compatible on CFexpress devices (although that would be possible). What I am hoping (and if I have read the tech papers correctly – I’m a non-practicing electrical engineer by education) is that future CFexpress cards will be usable in XQD devices — at least, those whose designers have correctly implemented the hardware (hopefully, Nikon didn’t take shortcuts). This being the case, a firmware update should handle the problem. VELS14’s post and blog entry appear to support my reading of the technology.

      • akkual

        If both are implemented according to the PCIe specifications, all of these options should work. Mainly the CFexpress cards in older XQD devices will be restricted in speed. It remains to be seen that does the CFexpress specs require eevryone to implement PCie v2.0 too. If they do, then all is solved and XQDs will work on newer cameras and CFexpress will work on older XQD cameras – with obvious speed penalties.

  • VELS14

    At the PDN PhotoPlus Expo last week I had a long discussion with Nikon NPS staff in the NPS suite there. One of the primary questions I hoped to get answered was the future of current XQD slot equipped Nikon DSLR bodies.

    I got my answer. In my discussion with NPS with two other photographers, we were told that Nikon is committed to producing firmware updates for their existing DSLRs with XQD slots to enable them to use CFExpress cards in the future. The cards will fit into the slots without modification as the form factor is identical between the two.

    For a complete rundown of my discussion and XQD plus CFExpress you can checkout my blog article about it at

  • Amir

    The rise of XQD,the fall of SD/SDXC!

    • Chaitanya

      Don’t think SD/SDHC/SDXC will drop in popularity, CF/CFast/CFE are for a different crowds altogether.

      • VELS14

        You’re right, though I think CFExpress is the end for the CF and CFast cards. Their technology has already hit their maximum ability. CF are PATA and CFast are SATA. They’ve hit their theoretical limit. On the other had CFExpress which is essentially the new name for XQD is PCIe based and has plenty of space to get better for quite some time as it’s scalable.

        While CF cards and CFast cards will be made for a while for older cameras because CFExpress cards can’t go into their slots, I believe within a year or three, their end has come. New high end cameras will be coming with CFExpress slots in the future.

        • akkual

          I would assume that we might even see laptops that use CFexpress as their main HDD. Definitely laptops that allow extending their HDD capabilities over CFexpress reader, as they directly use PCIe, the integration is peanuts.

  • Chaitanya

    “and, theoretically”
    This doesnt translate into real world most of the times it will be a software issue holding back backwards compatibility rather than hardware.

    • VELS14

      CFExpress are backwardly compatible to XQD. CF and CFast use a different form factor.

      • Chaitanya

        while both XQD and CFexpress use PCI-E interface both use different protocols for communication via host interface and that will be achilles heel for adoption and backward compatibility of CFexpress for current devices on market.

        • akkual

          That is not weird compatability issues. Those are just different protocol stacks of accessing a HDD. SATA and PCIE are ways to transfer messages/data. AHCI and NVMe are ways to control and access HDDs over PCIE or SATA. CFexpress “supports” NVMe, and AFAIK XQD uses its own access protocol. There is no reason why CFexpress could not also support what XQD does, the card can figure out from incoming messages, which one is used. An XQD camera most likely can be updated with firmware to support NVMe.

        • VELS14

          Except that they are designing them to be backwardly compatible and Nikon has already said they are committed to firmware upgrades to allow XQD based Nikon DSLRs to use CFExpress. They intend to have a software solution. Considering that Nikon and Canon are the co-chairs of this, it’s been hard to believe Nikon was going to let XQD users hanging in the wind and they have said they aren’t.

  • vasras

    XQD is pretty much dying. The future is nVme based CFExpress. This is not about specs per se, but about support, manufacturers, licensing. Sony may stick to XQD, after all they have a long tradition of staying with esoteric card standards that they only themselves support. But the future is CFExpress

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