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CFexpress Type A Memory Cards Review: Shoot Fast, Write Fast

The Alpha 1 is a game changer for professional photographers. Its ability to capture 50.1-megapixel images at 30fps is a must-have for different photography genres like sports, wedding, photojournalism, and more.

One of the main reasons why I have been a Sony user for the past 8 years is because the brand has been improving and refining its products based on the response gathered from us, the regular users.

I didn’t hesitate to switch to the Alpha 1 because it comes with duo media slots for the new CFexpress Type A Memory Cards. Sony made the Alpha 1 not only a beast in producing images, but also without bottlenecks when capturing photos.

Alpha 1 | FE 35mm F1.4 GM | 34mm | 1/1600 sec | F1.4 | ISO 3200

Superb response speed for versatile shooting

Shooting sports is a reflex game. There could be long delays with absolutely no action, or in the next five seconds, your best photo opportunity takes place in a blink of an eye. 50.1-megapixel files are great for cropping but it also means the files are huge. An ultra-fine quality jpeg file is around 30mb, hence shooting at 30fps means a whooping 900mb/s. With a buffer of 165 full frame jpegs, your memory storage will be full if you shoot continuously for around 5 seconds.

With a write speed of 700mb/s, the cards clear the buffer insanely quickly. While shooting a match of Sepak Takraw, I did not experience any impacted shooting response. Bursting up to 2 seconds each time, the buffer was cleared before I took the next shot.

Alpha 1 | FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS | 86mm | 1/1600 sec | F2.8 | ISO 8000

When I need more creative control over my files, shooting in raw gives me more options during post processing. However, the Alpha 1 has an insane buffer of 155 full frame compressed raw files which fills up the storage space quickly. With the CFexpress Type A Memory Cards, I don’t have to worry about this as the cards are extremely handy in such situations to maximise the Alpha 1’s potential.

Alpha 1 | FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM | 12mm | 1/1250 sec | F2.8 | ISO 2500

The versatility of CFexpress Type A cards is leveraged in other photography genres. Wedding photographers who face tricky indoor lighting will appreciate the fast-raw buffer clears. Birders can now recover highlights and shadows when their subjects fly into different scenes. Commercial photographers can do a dual card write of their raw files with peace of mind.

Alpha 1 | FE 85mm F1.4 GM | 85mm | 1/400 sec | F1.8 | ISO 100

Rugged and reliable

These cards are not just fast but also TOUGH specced. They can take the rigours of daily usage and while protecting the data inside. Think of them as the weather-sealing capabilities of a camera, but even better. Rated IP57 means that the cards are both dust proof and waterproof, so I don’t have to worry about dropping it or getting soaked in water. My data is so much safer now.

Alpha 1 | FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS | 86mm | 1/1600 sec | F2.8 | ISO 320

Engineered for videography

Sony currently has two CFexpress Type A Memory Cards, one 80GB (CEA-G80T) and the other 160GB (CEA-G160T). Being a hybrid shooter myself, I switch between videos and photos for assignments.

Do the new cards stand up to the demanding and unforgiving world of video recording? Absolutely! They are rated a Video Performance Guarantee of 400mb/s, which means you can use it for recording 8k 30p on the Alpha 1. With the huge rate of data coming in from the sensor, VPG 400 provides a fast and stable writing speed to your card, ensuring smooth operation and recording.

Alpha 1 | FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS | 155mm | 1/1250 sec | F2.8 | ISO 2500

The Alpha 1 is a perfect companion for my Alpha 7S III, as both cameras support 10bit 4K 120p and the CFexpress Type A Memory Cards. Shooting or recording at a higher frame rate, bitrate and resolution means more heat is generated by the camera body. Heat has a negative impact on the read/write performance of memory cards, but you can rest assured that with the TOUGH cards, your data is safe. I have been shooting on the new cards for months in various settings and environments and I am glad to say I have not encountered any data loss or card failure; these cards live up to the TOUGH name!

Workflow made more efficient

Memory card data transfer used to be the bottleneck of my workflow. Whether I’m backing up data after a day’s shoot or out in the field processing fast edits, I used to wait on my memory cards.

A full 64GB SD card would take about 12 minutes to offload, but the CFexpress Type A cards took only 3 minutes to transfer the same amount of data when using Sony’s new CFexpress Type A card reader, the MRW-G2.

Most card readers max out at a connection of 5Gbps, but this card reader uses SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps connection. It takes full advantage of the card’s 800MB/s read speed, meaning I spend less time waiting for data transfers and backing-up, and enjoy more time for editing (and preparing for the next job). What’s more, the card reader also supports SD UHS-II/UHS-I memory cards

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of Chong Yew. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Singapore.
Chong Yew’s Gear

CFexpress Type A Card Reader (MRW-G2)
CEA-G Series CFexpress Type A Memory Card (CEA-G160T / CEA-G80T)
Alpha 1
Alpha 7S III
FE 35mm F1.4 GM
FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM
FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS