Exciting times lie ahead for photographers and filmmakers as CFexpress 4.0 cards make their way into the market, promising significantly faster read and write speeds. While this advancement sounds promising, there’s a catch – it will take some time before creatives can fully harness their potential. On August 28, the Compact Flash Association (CFA) unveiled the CFexpress 4.0 specification, signaling a doubling of performance across all card formats. This includes Type A cards, primarily used by Sony, as well as the more common and budget-friendly Type B cards.

The CFexpress 4.0 specification doubles the maximum theoretical throughput, effectively making Type A cards as fast as current Type B cards. Furthermore, it propels the new Type B cards to speeds that photographers and filmmakers have not witnessed in off-the-shelf memory cards before. In light of this boost in speed, the CFA will introduce a new specification for Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) that surpasses the existing VPG 400 certification, which assures minimum transfer speeds of 400 MB/s. In practical terms, these enhanced speeds will empower cameras equipped to leverage them to offload photos rapidly and capture longer bursts at higher resolutions.

Filmmakers will also benefit, as they can shoot higher-resolution videos at faster frame rates and with greater bit depth. However, it’s essential to understand that while these new CFexpress 4.0 cards are becoming available, they will primarily impact post-production workflows. This is because current cameras are not equipped to fully utilize these speeds. Additionally, the new CFexpress 4.0 reader by ProGrade Digital will only deliver peak performance when connected to USB 4.0. While this is increasingly common, some older computers may not yet have this capability.

Just as these new cards demand an updated card reader to enable faster data transfer, cameras will also require the right hardware to record data onto these cards efficiently. While CFexpress 4.0 is backward compatible, meaning you can use a new card in an old camera or card reader without performance degradation, this compatibility extends only to the CFexpress 2.0 speeds. To unlock the full potential, photographers and filmmakers will need to await camera manufacturers’ release of new camera bodies with upgraded hardware. Nonetheless, there is some good news.

Current CFexpress 2.0 cards inserted into a new CFexpress 4.0-equipped camera will operate at their peak speeds. Furthermore, CFexpress 2.0 cards placed in a CFexpress 4.0 reader and connected to USB 4.0 will also see performance improvements. This combination provides the necessary bandwidth for these cards to achieve the promised speeds when connected to a computer. Currently, CFexpress 2.0 readers use older USB specifications that lack the throughput to fully realize the card’s speed potential, leading to underwhelming speed tests. For now, CFexpress 4.0 cards are set to enhance post-production workflows.

However, photographers and filmmakers working in the field must patiently await camera manufacturers to catch up and deliver the hardware needed to fully exploit these high-speed cards. In line with the promising prospects of CFexpress 4.0 cards, ProGrade Digital, Inc. has introduced the 3rd generation of its CFexpress Type B Cobalt-class memory card, now available in a capacious 1.3TB capacity. This new generation retains ProGrade’s industry-leading quality while harnessing PCIe Gen 4 interconnect with NVMe 1.4c host controller interface. ProGrade Digital’s 3rd generation CFexpress Cobalt cards fully adhere to the newly released CFexpress 4.0 specification.

Boasting impressive read speeds of up to 3,400MB/s, burst write speeds of up to 3,000MB/s, and sustained write speeds of up to 2,800MB/s. These high-performance cards are ideally suited for demanding, high-resolution cinema-grade video capture applications. Wes Brewer, Founder and CEO of ProGrade Digital, expressed, The introduction of our 3rd generation CFexpress Cobalt card at the 1.3TB capacity point provides the extra space and unparalleled performance needed for the very highest resolution video capture needs.

Our inclusion of PCIe Gen 4 controller technology, coupled with upcoming USB 4.0 high-speed readers will allow offloading speeds 3x greater than previously possible, providing a dramatic reduction in workflow processing time. ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B 1.3TB Cobalt Memory Card features include:

  • Maximum read speed up to 3,400MB/s
  • Burst write speed up to 3,000MB/s
  • Minimum sustained write speed up to 2,800MB/s
  • CFexpress 4.0 compliant
  • Capacity: 1.3TB
  • MSRP: $1,459.99

These cards are designed for maximum durability, reliability, and performance, ensuring years of trouble-free, high-performance capture. They come with SLC (Single Level Cell) memory technology, making them highly reliable. As these new CFexpress 4.0 cards arrive on the scene, they promise to enhance post-production workflows significantly. However, for photographers and filmmakers in the field, the wait continues for camera manufacturers to catch up and provide the necessary hardware to fully capitalize on these high-speed cards.

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