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on May 12, 2013
I posted this about the Transcend 32 GB SDHC card that was getting trashed in reviews by Canon owners. It also applies to the Sony card (read down), and readers may find it helpful in evaluating SD cards in general.

The 1-star threads on the Transcend are like watching a committee of blind men describing an elephant. Unsurprisingly, no one has the complete picture, but a lot of Canon owners think these cards are bogus. SD card technology is very complex, the Class system is often misunderstood, and there is a long history of compromised cards appearing on eBay -- or even from reputable dealers who have been hoodwinked. Kingston cards are most often faked (or taken from the midnight production run); that's because Kingston has about a third of the flash card market and doesn't forge their own chips, but any manufacturer can be spoofed. It doesn't pay to buy cheap cards on eBay or less reputable sources.

An SD card contains a controller chip and flash memory chips, even the microSD versions. Realize that SD means Secure Digital, and that security comes from crypto managed by the controller (MMC cards didn't have that bloat, but Hollywood DRM requirements made sure they faded). The controller can be pretty powerful: the Samsung SD controller is a 32-bit ARM TDMI chip with 128 k of code space -- that's cell phone power. It handles I/O and fading (when the card slowly wears out its NAND sites after about 100,000 hits so writing is randomly distributed and kept track of), the factory self-test, and a host of other functions, but it can also be programmed to report a false storage capacity. Sometimes the firmware on the controller or its crypto or something else on certain cards leads to problems with certain hardware, as it has, for example, with the Samsung Galaxy III and maybe the Canon cameras. Usually the card is found to confirm to SDcard dot Org specifications and the hardware is to blame, but you never know.

To test the actual capacity of your card, use H2testw, which is free. It writes the full amount of data to the card and then reads it back (this nukes whatever was on the card). This can take more than an hour with a 32 GB card but it tells you if the card indeed holds 32 GB or if it has problems. H2testw also gives you read and write speed numbers, but it's unclear whether the numbers are for random read/write, or sequential read/write or a mix. Sequential write is what photographers and videographers most care about.

Sometimes a Class 6 card might appear to test faster than a Class 10 card, when using computer read/write tests or even in a camera that wasn't designed with higher capacity cards in mind. That's because such cards use smaller block sizes (there's no cache on an SD card). Explaining the significance of this is getting too far into the weeds for an Amazon review, and modern devices and their firmware should not have that limitation.

To test random and sequential read/write speed, use CrystalDiskMark, also free. Run the full suite; it won't take long. CrystalDiskMark requires that the card be formatted, and the most reliable way to do that is to use the free tool from sdcard dot org. A 32 GB card will may report 39.9 GB before formatting and 29.8 GB after; don't worry, you haven't been ripped off.

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to read the manufacturer's ID off the SD card, even in Linux, to determine who actually made the card, because you have to have the card connected directly to a motherboard; an SD-to-USB adapter won't work because it doesn't pass through disk data, and that's what's in nearly all computers. But what do you care, so long as the card's as big and fast as claimed?

Now, what about the Transcend 32 GB SDHC C10 card? Here are full test results from CrystalDiskMark:

Transcend 32 GB SDHC C10
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.2 (C) 2007-2013 hiyohiyo
Crystal Dew World : [...]
* MB/s = 1,000,000 byte/s [SATA/300 = 300,000,000 byte/s]

Sequential Read : 19.953 MB/s
Sequential Write : 13.786 MB/s
Random Read 512KB : 19.618 MB/s
Random Write 512KB : 13.827 MB/s
Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 3.003 MB/s [ 733.2 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 1.414 MB/s [ 345.1 IOPS]
Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 3.491 MB/s [ 852.3 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 1.842 MB/s [ 449.8 IOPS]

Test : 50 MB [F: 0.0% (0.0/29.3 GB)] (x5)
Date : 2013/05/12 18:19:47

So you can see that the sequential write speed, what matters to a photographer or videographer, is over 13 MB/s, more than 30% above the C10 spec. The other speeds aren't too shabby, either. There's no way that this card is too slow for a contemporary camera, still or video, that is functioning and designed properly.

Also on Amazon for a very attractive price is a Sony 32 MB SD card. Here are the full CrystalDiskMark test results for it:


Sequential Read : 19.998 MB/s
Sequential Write : 14.115 MB/s
Random Read 512KB : 19.772 MB/s
Random Write 512KB : 13.173 MB/s
Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 3.682 MB/s [ 899.0 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 2.302 MB/s [ 561.9 IOPS]
Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 4.517 MB/s [ 1102.8 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 2.323 MB/s [ 567.0 IOPS]

So the Sony is slightly faster, 40% over spec, on its sequential write. H2testw also reported full capacity and no errors for this card, so they are both top notch (The Sony doesn't come with a little case and the case for the Transcend case is about twice as big as it needs to be and so won't fit in the little pockets in a modern camera bag. Big deals.)

Just for reference, here are the results for a contemporary USB thumb drive:

SanDisk Ultra 32 GB USB thumb drive

Sequential Read : 22.508 MB/s
Sequential Write : 7.985 MB/s
Random Read 512KB : 22.365 MB/s
Random Write 512KB : 1.767 MB/s
Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 3.719 MB/s [ 908.1 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 0.520 MB/s [ 126.9 IOPS]
Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 3.871 MB/s [ 945.0 IOPS]
Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 0.482 MB/s [ 117.7 IOPS]

As you can see, this USB drive is faster than the SD cards for reading, such as for playing music, running software, or looking up data, which shows that it is nicely optimized for its intended functions.

As an aside, anyone who thinks they have lost data on an SD card can recover pictures using the free tool at z-a-recovery or recover everything(!) with the free PhotoRec tools.

So, if people want to whine about these SD cards in their particular cameras, they should run these simple, free tests and reach their own conclusions about whether the cards are "too slow." The cards test above spec objectively. And they both work flawlessly on my still (not Canon) and video cameras. I think they have gotten a bad rap on Amazon from people who don't have the full picture, so to speak.

I've also posted this as a review on the Transcend 32 GB page. I hope you found it informative.
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VINE VOICEon April 18, 2013
Yes, this Sony card is close to 40MB/s when reading from it but the write speed is really slow. How slow? It's actually slower than my 4 year old Sandisk Extreme III Class 6 card! For example, here are the approximate transfer times of a 400MB file using my Macbook Pro built in SD card reader.

Sandisk Extreme III Class 6 Card:
Write 31.8 Seconds
Read 23.3 Seconds

Sandisk Extreme 45MB/s Class 10 Card:
Write 24.5 Seconds
Read 22.3 Seconds

This Sony 40MB/s Class 10 Card:
Write 44 Seconds
Read 24.2 Seconds

So, as you can see, the write speed is significantly slower than even the old class 6 made years ago. I would only buy this if you're willing to trade speed for capacity. That means that some of you may have problems with the newest cameras in burst mode with RAW.
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on November 19, 2014
After about a month of use my canon s110 starting giving me memory card errors, so I backed up the photos on the card and attempted to format it, no dice, windows is unable to format the card. Bad card, and I can't delete pictures & videos off of it. I emailed sony support with the model number and stated the problem, NO RESPONSE at all. So after a few days I got on chat and explained the problem, after 10min back and forth they said they were unable to help me and call support. Will never buy sony anything again.
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on June 13, 2013
I'm sure it's a great card but unfortunately I cannot use it because it is a SDXC card, not a SDHC as pictured/described. It's not enough to bother for a RMA so I went ahead and tried it on the HF100 to make sure it doesn't work and it will not read/format the card.

Please update the description for the product since I noticed someone else had the same problem. Unfortunate for me that the review was too far down to notice.
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on April 25, 2014
Why do manufacturers persist on making horrible packaging?

There is a hole in the back of the flat (pressed) box where I stuck the letter opener in order to release the card from the packaging. I ended up damaging the plastic leads on the contact, because this is exactly where Sony decided to place the hole.

Good job Sony!
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on May 30, 2013
As of the end of May 2013, the Sony 32 GB SDHC R40 is on sale for under $20, so the card is a bargain in light of its reasonable performance specifications. Note however that to maximize the performance of this card, your host device must be UHS-1 compatible, which means many older devices will find this card to be a poor performer. In newer devices, this is a good card-reasonably fast, waterproof, and with recovery software (if needed) available for download.

After receiving this card, I tested it against a bunch of other SD cards in my personal inventory. Note that there is some room for error (due to hand/stopwatch reaction time). Nevertheless, it's a good relative overview. I tested using a UHS-1 capable reader and files of known size. Here's a summary of the results:

Sandisk Extreme SDHC (45 MB/sec label)
READ: 44.9 MB/sec (with bursts above 50 MB/sec)
WRITE: 34.32 MB/sec

Sony 32GB SDHC UHS-1 R40 (the card being reviewed here)
READ: 39.61 MB/sec (with significant initial burst of over 100 MB/sec)
WRITE: 19.07 MB/sec

PNY "Professional" 16GB, (20 MB/sec label)
READ: 14.78 MB/sec
WRITE: 20.74 MB/sec

Patriot LX Class 10 16GB memory card (from Fry's Electronics)
READ: 11.15 MB/sec
WRITE: 19.79 MB/sec

Sandisk Ultra, with UHS-1 label
READ: 36.76 MB/sec
WRITE: 10.67 MB/sec

And just for fun--here's what a number looks like for an older compact flash with UDMA controller:

Sandisk Extreme IV 4 GB compact flash
READ: Not tested
WRITE: 33 MB/sec

So, as you can see, while this Sony card is not the fastest performing card out there, it's performance is still quite good in the latest gear. Also, a quick word about video and transfer rates. Digital video is recorded in "megaBITS" per second, while these cards are speed rated in "megaBYTES" per second. That makes it a bit confusing. At the moment, digital SLRs from the factory are at about 24 up to 100 megabits/second in terms of their video rate. To convert bits to bytes, divide by 8...so that becomes 3 MB/sec to 12.5 MB/second. For most digital SLRs out there, even the Sandisk Ultra is fast enough for video, but if your camera has a high bitrate option, this Sony has enough headroom for sustained file writing. The Sandisks are still king of the mountain, but they do cost more. Sandisk has long underrated their higher end cards; even older Sandisks are often faster than newer cards from other makers (like the older compact flash example above). If you absolutely need the higher performance, go with the Sandisk Extreme or Extreme Pro, but you'll pay for it. From my own numbers, I'm comfortable with the Sony for day to day use for my D800. If I really need speed though, I'm going with compact flash over SDHC.
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on December 28, 2017
This is an SDXC memory card. It can only be formatted in exFAT or NTFS. These two format modes do not have a file size restriction. Any storage device that is 64GB or larger must be formatted in exFAT or NTFS. This is a reliable and safe card to store your files.

This is important because not all recording devices will break up files into more manageable file size. All GoPro cameras will break up the files into more manageable sizes. Why? Suppose you record an activity that cannot be replicated. Suppose you fly four hours across country, drive another two hours to your destination. Then you're off shore fishing, or hiking a very scenic in area. If your recording device does not break recording into smaller files while recording there is the possibility that the single very large file could become corrupt and you've lost all the video for that expensive and long trip.

If the files were broken down into smaller files and at the end of the hike or fishing tip and if one or two of those files were unreadable you'd still have the remaining files that you can stitch a decent video together.

On devices that won't break down a recorded event into smaller files, a smaller SD card would be necessary for they can be formatted in FAT32 which is native to nearly all recording devices. The largest file size that can be recorded in FAT32 is 4GB..

I have experience that occurred a few months ago during a trip to Zion National Park. I recorded several hikes with a Hero 5. I downloaded all the videos to a laptop and was not able to do any post-production work until after I returned home. Our days were so filled with activities there was only time to download the files to ensure enough room on Micro SD card. During post production there were two files out of the 10 that was created on the Angels Landing hike. Those two files could not be ready on any devices I own. I was able to create a complete video based on the remaining files. The story that I was trying to tell was incomplete due to the corrupted files.

Imagine how I would have felt the recording device created one huge file and it was corrupted. I'd have the memory in my mind but not anywhere else.

On other devices it is easy to pause and restart a recording. That action will create a new file each time. However, depending on the activity you may not have hands free to stop and start a recording. On the Angels Landing hike I used the elastic head mount for the GoPro and both hands to make the climb.
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on June 20, 2013
Despite what you might think, not all SD cards work with all devices. This card does not work with Pentax cameras, because Sony SD cards are slightly smaller than most manufacturers. Additionally, the build quality on this card is very low. The lock switch must be only partway in the 'unlock' position for it to work on any device. If the switch is all the way in the 'unlock' position, it is read as being locked and isn't usable. I purchased 2 of these cards, and both had this flaw, so I can only conclude it is a problem with Sony, not with any specific card. Save yourself some time and trouble, and go with SanDisk SD cards. They are the gold standard for a reason.
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I was delighted to get this at a very reasonable price, especially with the high data transfer rates listed. It arrived in retail packaging for US market, "made in Taiwan" and just as pictured in the listing. It passed the disk check without any issue and formatted perfectly in my device. I can't comment on the UHS-1 speed as I do not have a device capable of that speed - so the actual transfer speed on my equipment is no different than my other Class 10 memory cards.

The reason I'm giving it only four stars (rather than five, as I normally would do for something that works without any issues) is that I am unable to get the Sony website to recognize the model or serial number for product warranty registration. I don't expect I'll ever need it - but it means that I can't download and use the "File Rescue" recovery software promised with the card because that needs a recognizable model and serial number to download. Maybe this particular model is too new for Sony to have it up on their website - but that's their mistake, not mine.
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on October 21, 2017
No problems here! Purchased for use with my on Amazon on 4/11/15 to use with my then-new Sony NEX-5T camera (new from Amazon at the time of purchase - I tested the shutter count to prove it). This is pretty much the only card I've used with this great little camera (other than maybe 5 or 7 test shots on a MicroSD card w/adapter that you can subtract from the number below...I was doing a simple performance and compatibility test at the time). The card (and camera) are still working beautifully after several years and 18,270 shots (writes) later, as determined by the SONY Alpha shutter count tool site (click on the screen capture below to see it properly).
Conditions: while I'm always pretty gentle with SD/microSD cards in hand, I love landscape photography, and the camera that this card inhabits has been outdoors in 5F degree weather through 94F weather for hours on end, in snow, in light rain, blazing sun, and travelled thousands of miles.

Can't complain. The only "problem" I've ever dealt with was having to reformat the card once or twice AFTER I got all of my images, yet foolishly failed to properly eject the camera/card when using it in mass storage mode. Expected, and no big deal.
review image
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