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CFexpress cards are a new version of Compact Flash, which are high-speed memory cards designed to meet the requirements of high-resolution photo and video of the latest cameras.
If you often pay attention to the release of the latest version of SLR cameras, such as Canon EOS R5 and Sony A7S III, then you may have heard of CFexpress. As the star of the storage industry, CFexpress slot has gradually become the standard storage interface of the latest cameras. You may think, CFexpress is much more expensive than SD card, what's so good about it? You may also notice that CFexpress comes in three types - Type A, Type B, and Type C. What is the difference between them? We will solve these questions for you in this article. Let's get started.
CFexpress card uses an interface called PCIe 3.0 and NVMe 1.3 protocol. You don't need to know much, you just need to know that this latest interface is much faster than SD card. CFexpress Type C is the fastest among the three types of cards. The theoretical value can reach 4000MB/s, while the UHS-III SD card is only 600MB/s. Although SD has a similar format called SD Express, camera manufacturers seem to prefer CFexpress.Like the war between VHS and Beta Max, this is the format to watch when thinking about the future.
If you line up three different types of CFexpress cards, the first thing you will notice is that they are completely different physically. CFexpress Type A is the smallest, measuring 20mm (W) x 28mm (L) x 2.8mm (H, including labels). Type B is 38.5mm x 29.6mm x 3.8mm, while the largest Type C is 54mm x 74mm x 4.8mm.
In addition, each type of memory card has a different number of PCIe data transfer channels. CFexpress Type A has only one channel, Type B card has two, but Type C card has four. This means that the three types of memory cards offer different transfer speeds. A maximum theoretical transfer speed for Type A memory cards is 1000MB/s. For Type B memory cards it is up to 2000MB/s, and for Type C memory cards it is up to 4000MB/s.
Of the three cards, photographers and videographers don't need to pay too much attention to Type C cards. These larger cards are more suitable for computers and SSDs, and you'll find the camera compatible model is Type B, which is the model you can use with the Canon EOS R5, Nikon Z6, Panasonic S1R and other cameras.
The CFexpress Type B card is physically the same size as another card type XQD card and also has the same pin correspondence. Therefore if a camera has a XQD slot, it usually only requires a firmware update to be compatible with CFexpress.
Panasonic released an update of XQD camera in 2019. Nikon has updated the firmware for the DSLR Z6/7 and DSLR D5/D500/D850/D4S/D4, which all have XQD slots. Meanwhile, Sony A7S III made headlines not long ago, and many people noticed that it required a CFexpress Type A card. As you may recall, this is actually the slowest type card. Why did Sony choose this size? First, the maximum transfer speed of 1000MB/s is enough to record 4K footage without any dropped frames, but another reason is that the smaller size of the Type A means that the CFexpress Type A slot can also be used as an SD card slot. As a result, users of the Sony A7S III have access to dual card slots for both SD cards and CFexpress cards, which can be used in any combination (though not both in one slot at the same time), providing greater flexibility .
•Sony a7S III (Type A)
•Nikon Z6 / Z7 (Type B)
•Canon EOS R5 (Type B)
•Canon C500 Mark II (Type B)
•Nikon D6 (Type B)
•Nikon D850 (Type B)
•Canon EOS-1D X Mark III (Type B)
•Panasonic Lumix S1 / S1R (Type B)
•Canon EOS R3 (Type B)
•Sony A1 (Type A)