This is a followup to my previous post on testing a Transcend 4GB 120x Compact Flash card. In that post, I found that its write speed was actually slower than the 80x version of the same card (tested in a separate post).
I contacted Transcend Japan about the slow card, and to their credit they replied very quickly at each step along the way. However, their initial reply was full of wishy-washy ways to avoid the issue, saying that there could indeed be situations where tests shows the 80x is faster than the 120x and that the speed rating they give is only for relative comparison only, blah blah blah.
I replied that since the testing conditions were exactly the same between my tests of the two cards, the one rated 50% faster turning out to be actually slower was clearly a problem with the card. I made it clear that I didn't actually expect a 50% speed increase, but that the slower result was an indication of a problem.
So, they said to send it in and they'd test it. They didn't offer to pay for shipping, and I didn't push it, so I overnighted it to them at my own expense. I sent them the card (model number TS4GCF120; serial number 129542-0419) last week and heard nothing from them until a new one showed up today: serial number 130417-0103.
I ran one test with the card as I received it (that is, I didn't format the card first), and then I ran the test again after having formatted it directly in the camera (Nikon D200). The latter test replicates exactly what I'd done previously.
In all cases, the tests are with a Nikon D200 in manual-focus, manual-exposure (1/200, wide-open aperture) mode at ISO 1600. Measurements were taken from audio-recordings using Adobe Audition. The tests were of uncompressed raw (“NEF”, uncompressed) images, which are about 15.6 megabytes each.
|Card Tested||Initial frames|
at 5 fps
|Subsequent Frames||Maximum Write Speed|
|Transcend 4GB 80x||22||2.156 sec/frame||7.23 MB/sec|
|Transcend 4GB 120x |
Previous card (in-camera format)
|22||2.265 sec/frame||6.88 MB/sec|
|New card (as-received)||22||2.209 sec/frame||7.06 MB/sec|
|New card (in-camera format)||22||2.108 sec/frame||7.40 MB/sec|
So, the new card 120x can be slightly faster than the 80x card, but this difference is within the margin of variability of the test: another test of the 120x card under conditions identical in every respect to the final-row test shown above, came in with an average subsequent-frame write speed of 2.168 sec/frame, making it slower than the 80x card's test.
In the end, both the 80x and the 120x card are plenty fast enough for me and the D200. What this test shows is that the 80x and 120x cards are essentially identical under my use conditions, and thus the 120x card is not worth the cost premium that its “120x” label garners. At least, in my case, the cost premium was less than $20, so while disappointed, it's not that bad.
So, I recommend the 80x version of Transcend compact-flash cards, as they're an excellent value compared to comparable products from San Disk and Lexar.