Manfrotto CFexpress Review Type B Memory Card With PCIe 3.0 Interface

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Described as the new generation of storage medium - CFexpress is over 3 times faster than CFast 2.0 and XQD, which CFexpress is based on, using PCI Express (PCIe) version 3.0. There are three types of CFexpress memory cards, namely Type C, Type A and Type B such as the Manfrotto CFexpress card seen pictured. Type B memory cards are faster than Sony's CFExpress Type A memory cards because CFexpress Type B uses two PCIe lanes, which can provide a maximum theoretical speed of 2,000MB/s (megabytes per second); whereas Type A cards use only one PCIe lane with a maximum throughput of 1,000MB/s.
The CFexpress format is, indeed, the "new kid on the block" of media storage formats and, just like USB-C is taking on USB, CFexpress is taking on the outgoing king of media storage formats - XQD - which Sony owns the IP rights to. Lexar use to make XQD cards but they have been discontinuing the XQD format since 2018, in favor of CFexpress, which is an open standard. Nobody has the monopoly of CFexpress; hence why Manfrotto is entering the market. This is great news for the consumer because it means anyone can make CFexpress cards, which will eventually make them cheaper to buy
CFexpress supports 5.9k RAW files, which are huge files with a data rate of 2.1 Gb/s (Gigabits per seocnd) so, you would only get 15 minutes of video recording from a 256GB card. Manfrotto's CFexpress Type B 256GB memory card supports 1730 megabytes (MB/s) peak read speed and 1540 MB/s peak write speed, which translates to 1.7 Gigabyte peak read and 1.5 Gigabyte write peak speed, which is impressive, although the "sustained" speed is a more accurate indicator of a the card's true performance. According to Manfrotto, the sustained speed of the CFexpress card varies if it's a DSLR or mirrorless. When shooting on a Canon C300 III, in its very highest mode the sustained speed is 405MB/s. When shooting with a Nikon Z6 mkII in 4k at 60p, the sustained is around 605MB/s.
Like everything new, CFexpress cards are very expensive and just as pricey as SSDs when they first came out. Fortunately, Manfrotto CFexpress cards are a cheaper alternative, costing roughly half the price of the competitors. For the most part, CFexpress cards are aimed at enthusiast professional videographers who will look to CFexpress cards, not as an expense but, as an investment on performance for improving workflow. PCIe is much more capable than USB, which means the file transfer speed for editing stations and archives will be faster as well. Manfrotto's Professional CFexpress Type B card is sure to be an appealing offering, especially if you're a hobbyist who doesn't have a lot of disposable income.
While CFexpress cards are primarily made for very expensive cinema cameras such as the C500 mk II and EOS-1D X Mark III cameras, CFexpress is now being supported by mirrorless cameras, including Panasonic's Lumix S1 and S1R models. If you own a Nikon DSLR camera (D5, D850 or D500) or a mirrorless Nikon camera (Z6, Z7) you're in luck because Nikon released the promised firmware update for these cameras that enables them to support CFexpress Type B memory cards. To download the firmware, you have to go to the Nikon Download Center, find your camera model, select Firmware and download it to your Windows desktop (not the download folder) for it to uncompress and open properly.
Being CFexpress, Manfrotto's Type B card has the same physical dimensions (38.5 x 29.8 x 3.8mm), weight (5 grams) and pin connection as XQD so, you will be able to use the Manfrotto CFexpress memory card in XQD slots. That said, XQD card readers cannot read CFexpress cards but CFexpress car readers can read XQD cards. This means, you will need to either get a dedicated CFexpress card reader or you can simply leave the CFexpress card in the camera and use the USB connection to download files.
CFexpress main selling points are speed and reliability compared to SD cards, making a CFexpress a worthy replacement over SD cards for laptop use, although with CFexpress you cannot write-protect to safeguards against overwriting. CFexpress shares the same super reliability as XQD so, the Manfrotto CFexpress memory card failure rate is extremely low.
If you're contemplating whether to buy the Manfrotto CFexpress card or a XQD card, consider the fact that CFexpress is the newer format so, you are future proofing yourself plus CFexpress supports 8K video. CFexpress cards will also make it quicker for the camera to write files to, although CFexpress cards won't increase the camera's buffer size. This means, you will be able to take the same X amounts of photos before the camera stops to write all those photos to the card before you can continue taking more photos again. When pairing memory cards together you also want to always use two memory cards of the same speed; otherwise, the slower card will slow down the camera's ability to offload the buffer to the faster card. You can buy the Manfrotto CFexpress memory card directly from Manfrotto. Check out other Manfrotto's reviews: Off Road Stunt Pole, Off Road Stunt backpack

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