As with any Compact Flash card review, especially in the world of wildlife photography, the first question we ask ourselves is who is the reviewer and why should I trust their opinion. Let me begin by saying I am not a world renowned wildlife photographer, yet, so I’ll have to answer the trust question with a little story. Before I was hot and heavy into wildlife photography I photographed hunting retriever field trials. This is where hunting retrievers run land and water tests to get their certifications. Long story short on this particular day a dog by the name of Willie was running the water test and part way through the test he sank under the water like a stone. I rushed down from where I was shooting and into the water about waist deep. We eventually found him lying on the bottom and carried him to shore. He’d been under a good 30-45 seconds so he had no pulse and was breathless so I and a handler began canine CPR and after about three minutes managed to revive Willie. You can read the full story here, but by now you’re wondering how this story has anything to do with a Lexar Compact Flash card review.
Just so happens that after we sent Willie off to the clinic I realized two of my Lexar CompactFlash Cards were in my pocket, which of course had been totally submerged in water during the whole ordeal. As I pulled them from their protective cases they began to drain. I had all but reconciled that the pictures of the dogs that had run previously would be lost and I would be buying two new cards when I returned home. Of course I wouldn’t be writing this review if that were the case, but you already had that figured out. That story took place in the summer of 2009 and I am pleased to report those two cards are still working like a charm which I find amazing. I get the whole water resistant thing, but these puppies appear to be waterproof although I don’t see that advertised on the Lexar site, perhaps they don’t want to brag.
For those of us into the fast paced action of wildlife photography we demand a CompactFlash card with blazing speed to keep up with the high frame rates. These days I shoot with the Lexar 32GB 600x CompactFlash Card.
There’s nothing worse than getting to that climactic moment only to hear the dreaded click pause pause click sound of a full buffer and slow writing card. This is where the Lexar 600X CompactFlash cards save the day. With write speeds of 90MB/s you’ll be getting bursts of approximately16-17 RAW before the buffer fills/slows, then roughly 6.5 seconds to fully empty.
My COOL Wildlife Photography tip of the day comes to you from the many images I have missed due to a full buffer. Even with a 600X card it is best to time the action and the climactic moment if you can and shoot in bursts to capture the moment rather than going with one long burst. This gives the buffer time to clear and you a better chance of capturing that truly magical moment.
I should also mention that when paired with a Lexar USB 3.0 Dual Slot Reader (US Customers Buy Here & Canadian Customers Buy Here) your off load time from card to computer is blazingly fast, almost 10X faster. I find it interesting that a wildlife photographer will spend the entire day in the field to capture one single image but when we get home to review our images we are suddenly the most impatient folks on the face of the planet.:)) For those of you shooting video the card has been tested and guaranteed for full-HD video recording at 20MB/s write speed, perfect for those capturing 1080p HD video.
One question I had before I purchased the Lexar Compact Flash card was will it work with my camera? I did not realize this until I did a little homework but the Lexar team works with major camera manufacturers to ensure all Lexar memory cards are fully compatible with their digital cameras. With 800 digital cameras and memory card devices tested you can be reasonably assured that your camera will be compatible but it’s worth a quick Google search just to be sure.
The fact that Lexar throws in a limited lifetime warranty, a free dedicated customer support line and a free copy of their downloadable Image Rescue® 4 software to recover lost or deleted photo and video files is an added bonus. These cards do not come cheap but neither does this obsession we call wildlife photography. The Lexar 600X Compact Flash cards are available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities so you can lower the capacity to meet budget constraints if you need to.
Here’s the bottom line for me, when it comes to memory cards I don’t skimp. I get the fastest, most reliable card money can buy, and for me that is the field tested, pond scum submerged, Lexar CompactFlash Card. I get so few real award winning pictures every year that I can’t afford to have memories of the one that got away because of a failed CompactFlash card. I prefer they get away because of my own stupidity, but that’s a subject for another post.
Verdict: The Lexar 600X Compact Flash card gets a COOL Wildlife photography two paws up.