Sunday, December 31, 2017

My 2017 year end review video - I hope you enjoy it!

As is now tradition at the end of each year, I have created and posted my 2017 year end video. This video shows my favorite images from the year, including photos from Tanzania, Costa Rica, Australia, New York, California and events I have captured along the way.

I created the video using Photodex ProShow Web.

I hope that you enjoy watching the video and that you have an amazing 2018.

To watch the video, you can click on the image above, or click HERE.

Happy New Year!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I finally took our OWN family portrait! How I took the shot with just my camera, lens, tripod and phone.

Today was a special day for the Cable family. We actually had both kids in town and had the whole family together for once. Since I have been taking all of our friend's family portraits for the holidays, I figured that it was about time that we get one of our own family.

I mentioned this yesterday and my daughter suggested that, with the Olympics coming up and us having all this USA clothing, we use this as a theme. I loved the idea and so this is what we did.

But it was just us, and even though I have some photographer friends in the area, I did not want to bother them to take the photo. I was trying to figure out the best way to take the photo, when I remembered that the Canon 5D Mark IV has WiFi and can be mounted on my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod and easily triggered from my iPhone X. Because the Canon CameraConnect application (which is free) allows me to make changes to the aperture, ISO, shutter speed and more, I was able to determine the proper settings while in the posing for the shot.

And one feature of the app that REALLY helped, was being able to see what was in the viewfinder. I can't tell you how many times I have tried using a wireless trigger only to find out that the composition was not good. With the CameraConnect app I could look at the live image on the screen, and move us around before hitting the shutter release button.

There were numerous times when I noticed that my head was out of the frame or that the flag that my daughter was holding was partially out of the shot.

I set the camera to a 2 second timer so that I could hit the shutter button on the app and then hide the phone and look up before the photo was taken.

I took 17 photos, using the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 70-200 2.8 lens, to make sure we had one with everyone looking good (including the dog who was looking everywhere but the camera). As I usually do, I had my Canon 600 EX-RT flash on the camera and set to -1 stop of flash power.

Once I got home and looked at all the images on my computer, I determined that one photo had the best composition, but that I looked better in another photo. If you look at the partially retouched image below, you will see the original photo of me, with the iPhone clearly visible in my hand). Using Adobe Photoshop CC, I took myself from another photo and cloned it into a separate layer in the main photo. I thought I was done, but then my daughter pointed out that she did not like her pose (and we all agreed). So I then took her from yet another photo and dropped her into a layer of the image.

For both of us, I created a layer mask and painted us into the scene. If you look at the image above you will see my original pose and my daughter as I was halfway done masking her into the image.

The layer masks did the trick and I was all set. Voila, we had our first family photo in a long time!

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 70-200mm lens at 150mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/200 sec, Canon 600 EX-RT flash at -1)

Here is the final photo.

We now have a holiday photo to share with all of you.  We hope you like it.

Happy New Year from the Cable Family!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Have you ever tried using your camera's auto focus micro adjustments for your lenses?

A couple of months ago I was contacted by a company call Reikan Technology, asking if I would like to try their FoCal software which would assist in fine tuning the microadjustments of my lenses. At that time I had two thoughts going through my head, and they were:

* I have never really used the microadjustments before, so do I need this?
* The software sounds really interesting and if it can painlessly help me fine tune my lenses, I am interested in knowing more.

I have to admit that testing this solution was not too high on my list as I entered the holiday season and am in preparation mode for the upcoming Olympics. But last weekend I had a little free time and decided to give FoCal a try. What I found was quite interesting.

What are micro adjustments?

Let me start by discussing the camera's ability to make micro adjustments to your lenses. Over time, your lens may start to fall out of calibration and your focus may end up being slightly off. I remember having this problem with my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS II lens at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. My lens was back focusing (which means that it was focusing a little behind my subject) and not tack sharp on the athlete I was trying to capture. Since Canon Professional Services is at every Olympics, I gave them my lens to have them calibrate it (while using one of their loaners in the mean time). But since most of us do not have CPS reps hanging around our homes or studios, we may have to do some of this work ourselves.

Inside most DSLR camera menus, you will find a menu option called "AF Microadjustments" (it si called this on Canon cameras - it may be AF fine-tune on your Nikon camera).  Inside this menu, you can fine tune the focus parameters of each lens that you own. If you have a zoom lens, you can make adjustments to the wide end and the telephoto end of the lens. The goal is to make these micro adjustments so that your lens is giving you the absolute sharpest images you can get.

Do I need to use this software to make micro adjustments to my lens?

Before I talk about the FoCal software, let me first tell you that you can make micro adjustments to your lenses manually. The cheapest and easiest way is to lay a ruler out on your table, put your camera and lens on a tripod, and then, when shooting down the length of the ruler, focus on a specific mark (ie. the 2 inch marker). You take a photo, zoom in on it, and look to make sure that your focal point is tack sharp and not the area directly in front or behind your spot.

How does the FoCal software work and is it better than the manual method? 

First, I installed the software on my desktop Macintosh. After installing the software and reading the instructions, I went to their web site, downloaded their target and printed it on my Canon Pro-1000 printer. Like they recommended, I printed the target on matte paper so that glare would not be an issue. I then set up the software and prepared to connect the camera to the computer via a USB 3.0 cable. It was at this point that I realized that it would be easier to install the software on my Macbook Pro so that I could move the computer around with the camera as I performed the tests. I then installed the same software on my laptop and prepared for the tests. I should mention that the software runs on both Macintosh and Windows machines, and does work with both Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras.

One of the things that FoCal does really well, is give guidance for doing a proper lens test. The software will evaluate the distance between the camera and target, as well as determine if there is enough light to perform a lens calibration with good results. When I first started testing the software, it was in the evening and there was not enough light on the printed target, so I waited until the next morning to give it a proper try.

I started with my Canon 5D Mark IV body and the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 II lens. For the first test, I set the lens to it's widest setting (24mm). With the camera and lens mounted solidly on my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, and aimed at the center of the target I had printed, I then connected the camera to my laptop using a USB 3.0 cable. The software was smart enough to tell me that the target was the incorrect distance from the camera, so I moved it closer. Then the testing began.

The software took control of the camera and changed many of the settings for the tests. (Note: I was relieved to see that my settings were saved and sent back to the camera at the end of the tests.) It was fun to watch the software firing the camera over and over. Then I would get a dialog box on my Mac as well as a voice prompt telling me how to adjust the microadjustments on the camera.

This process repeated itself 4 or 5 times before I was given the recommended microadjustment for the wide focal range of this lens. I then repeated the process at the telephoto end of the lens (70mm).

When both tests were done, I then moved on to testing my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS II lens, Canon 100-400mm II lens and Canon 16-35mm III lens. And I did all these tests on my Canon 1D X Mark II and Canon 5D Mark IV cameras.

After testing my Canon 1D X Mark II with the 70-200 2.8mm IS II lens (since this is my most used combination), I decided to take some photos of the target with the microadjustment set to 0 (like it has been forever) and then set to -12 like FoCal suggested.

I then downloaded the images and compared the two photos on my computer to see if the microadjustments helped. If you click on the image below, you will be able to see the larger image and see the difference between the 0 adjustment (left) and the -12 adjustment (right).

You can click on the image to get a full resolution view

Although the differences are subtle, there is definitely a sharper image on the right. And being a picky photographer who wants everything as sharp as possible, this is a good thing.

Does this mean that I don't need to have my camera manufacturer adjust my lenses?

After going through this exhaustive process, I wondered if this would negate the need to have Canon adjust my lenses (which I usually do whenever I am at an event where CPS is present, like the Olympics or when I speak at the Canon facility in Southern California). After talking to some friends of mine who are pretty technical, I have come to a conclusion. This test will definitely help me get sharp images, but it only tests the far ends of the focal length of the lens. In other words, for a lens like my 70-200mm, I am testing the results at 70mm and at 200mm, but everything in between. Canon is able to make physical adjustments in the lens to get me the very best calibration possible. So...for those times when I have may of my lenses at a CPS event, that will still be my preferred method.  But for all those times in between, I think that FoCal will be used to give me peace of mind, knowing that my lenses are giving what I paid for, super sharp images.

Are there any downsides to using the FoCal software?

As I mentioned earlier, I tested many different lenses with the software and then repeated all of them on each camera body. Because most of lenses are zoom lenses, I had to test each of them at their wide and telephoto focal lengths. This took a couple of hours for me to complete. So, it is not a trivial process.

Is the software worth $139?

Honestly, in a world where us photographers are spending a lot of money on cameras, lenses, lighting accessories and so much more, I think that this price is very reasonable for the results I got. I paid a lot of money for these cameras and lenses and did so for a reason -  I want the best images I can get! Using programs like FoCal will give me a little more confidence that my cameras and lenses are working at their optimum performance.

You can purchase the software from B&H photo here. There are different versions of the FoCal software, but I recommend the PRO version since it lets you calibrate lenses beyond 400mm, run extra tests and run and save calibration reports.  And I should mention, as is always the case, I have not been paid by the company to write this blog.

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Preparing for the Winter Olympics: Shooting the USA vs Canada Women's Hockey Game

Last night was one of the last exhibition hockey games between the women of Team USA and Team Canada. The game was part of "The Time is Now" tour and the second to last game between these two teams before they (and I) head to Pyeongchang, Korea for the Winter Olympics in 7 weeks. I was lucky that this game was played at the SAP Center in San Jose which is just 15 minutes from my home.

This was another chance for me to get warmed up in preparation for shooting a lot of hockey at the Olympics and spent a little time with my friends from USA Hockey before the mayhem of the Olympics Games.

For this assignment, I went with my trusted Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS II lens. Since I am down at the ice level, this lens is all I need to capture the action. When at the Olympics, I will also have another camera body with a Canon 8-15mm fish eye lens to capture the close-up action on the glass. I may also use a remote camera behind the net with a Canon 24-70mm lens attached.

As the athletes were introduced, I ran up the steps from my glass position to get this overhead shot of the whole team.

Once the National Anthems were completed, I ran back down to the glass. I saw the team huddle together by the goalie and grabbed this shot.

The big difference between shooting here in a NHL rink, is that I can shoot through one of the holes in the glass. At the Olympic games, they do not have holes and we have to shoot through their plexiglass. At the Olympics, I will use the same camera and lens but will also put on a 77mm rubber lens hood. They are very inexpensive and really help to minimize glare and reflections from the glass.

It was great to see so many fans show up for the exhibition game. (Photographer's note: Most people think that the sole job of the photographer is to capture the game, but in reality our job is to tell the story of the event. That story includes the fans, player reactions, and much more. Next time you are shooting a sporting event, remember to capture photos that tell the story.)

The game started with the American's dominating the Canadians. But since I was positioned to shoot in the defensive side of the ice (pre-determined by Team USA) in the first period, I was looking for big defensive stands. Here is the goalie, Alex Rigsby, making a stop at the beginning of the game.

Using back button focusing, when I saw the Canadian's coming down the ice with the puck, I would prefocus on the Alex in case they shot directly at her. If they did not shoot at the goalie, I would follow the action and focus on the other athletes.

Part of shooting hockey is being lucky, to have the good action on the right side of the rink. In this case, one of the Canadian skaters had a break-away and came right at the USA goalie. But Alex made a great stop and the Canadian skater flew over the goaltender. This made for a great action shot.

Since this same photo position was available for the second period, I decided not to move to my designated spot (also on the defensive side of the rink for period 2). I wanted to be on the offensive side for two periods if possible. And as luck would have it, I was able to capture the sole goal for the women of Team USA. (Photographer's note: There are two things which make this photo a winner. Firstly, you can see the puck crossing the line and in the net, and secondly, you see the reaction of both Brianna Decker (#14) and Lee Stecklein (#2). Without the puck showing, this would not be nearly as strong.)

Right after the previous photo, I grabbed this reaction shot of the ladies celebrating the first goal of the game.

As the ladies got together to celebrate the goal, I quickly reframed to portrait mode to get a vertical shot of this moment.

Oh, and at this point, you may be wondering what my typical camera settings are for games like this.  For this game, I was changing settings a lot just to experiment. I am usually shooting in manual mode, around ISO 1600 at 1/1250 second, but it really depends on the lighting at the rink and the speed of the skaters.

Here is Hannah Brandt (#20) crashing the net, but unfortunately the puck got swept away before she could get the shot off.

Early the second period, the Canadian team scored their first goal. I turned and saw this lady celebrating, and grabbed this shot. I did not submit this to Team USA, but took it for all of you reading the blog, because it tells the story. Yes, there were Canadian fans there too. :)

I love getting shots like this, with all the skaters focusing on the puck in front of them.

Here is a shot of Kendall Coyne (#26) on a break-away, one-on-one against Ann-Renée Desbiens (#35)

The goal tender made a great stop to avoid going down 2 to 1. You can see the puck by her right leg.

The American team went down 2 to 1 in the second period but made a push to try and tie the score. I got this shot of Cayla Barnes( #3) cranking out a big slap shot from the blue line. 

And here is Amanda Kessel (#28), who is the sister of Phil Kessel (two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins) passing the puck towards me.

During the third period, I decided to shoot through the plexiglass and not use the NHL hole. I did this to practice the same technique that I will be using in Korea in February. As you can see, I was still able to get some pretty reasonable results, even though this glass is pretty scratched up and not as clear as Olympic glass.

During one of the breaks, I saw Tony Granato come up behind me. Tony is the coach of Team USA's mens hockey team, but also used to play for the San Jose Sharks. He was about to be interviewed by Jon (the In-Arena Host for the Sharks).  It was fun to get caught up with him on his visit back to the Bay Area.

Then it was back to the action...

Team USA had some good scoring chances in the thirds period but could not manage to get the puck past the Canadian goaltender..

After the game, my daughter (who joined me on this adventure) and I went back to the photo editing room and packed up my gear.

As we were walking below the arena, I had Ali stop to get a photo of her by the San Jose Sharks locker room. Then we went upstairs to get some photos of the athletes who were signing autographs for the fans.

There was a really long line for autographs, but the ladies were extremely friendly and gracious. Here is a young lady getting her photo with Hilary Knight.

As you can tell, everyone was very happy to have a chance to meet the athletes and wish them the best as they head of to Korea.

Even though Team USA did not come away with a win last night, it was a great night. I got to show my daughter what it is like to photograph a hockey game, and give her a taste of what it is like to work with Team USA. I had the chance to see old friends and meet new ones. And it gave me a chance to get warmed up for all the photography that is ahead of me at the Olympics.

I leave for Pyeongchang on February 5th, which is coming up really quickly. And as most of you know, I will be blogging every day from the Games. Get ready everyone, we are almost there!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

She thought I was there to photograph holiday photos (but it was really a wedding proposal)!

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from our good friend's son. Dan told me that he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Brittney, and wanted to know if I could photograph this for him. As I do for all of our friends. I told him that I would be more than happy to volunteer my time for this momentous occasion.

Dan picked the location (at an estate near our home) and told Brittney that he was having me take holiday photos for them.

For this shoot, I went with just my Canon 1D X MK II, Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II lens, and one Canon 600EX-RT flash.

(Canon 1D X MK II, Canon 70-200 2.8 lens at 168mm, ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash on camera at -1)

My wife (who was not going to miss this for the world) and I arrived and saw a great spot for holiday photos. A tree had dropped a bunch of it's yellow leaves on the grass and I wanted to start there. I had Dan, Brittney and her son Jayden, sit down on the grass. As you can see, I got down low to the grass to include the grass and leaves in the foreground. I took this photo at f/3.5 to focus on the three of them, and diffuse the estate in the background.

(Canon 1D X MK IICanon 70-200 2.8 lens at 95mm, ISO 1000, f/5, 1/500 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash in high speed sync mode)
Keeping with the holiday theme, we had them play around with the leaves as I continued taking photos.  Knowing that there would be a lot of motion, I changed the camera settings to get a higher shutter speed. And...knowing that the shutter speed would be too fast for the flash sync speed, I changed the flash to high speed sync mode.

After they played around for a little bit (which also gave Jayden a break from posing), I had them sit down in the grass again, but this time I faced the other direction to get the tree with fall colors in the background.

(Canon 1D X MK IICanon 70-200 2.8 lens at 120mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/320 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash on camera at -1)
My wife asked the three of them to stand up and walk away from us, towards the tree. I changed the camera to IO Servo focus, moved the focus point lower to stay on Jayden and fired away as they walked.

Keeping the same settings, we had them turn around and walk back towards us. They provided the extra fun for Jayden as I continued capturing photos of this awesome family to be.

It was about 20 minutes before sunset, and Dan and I wanted to make sure to get photos of the surprise before we lost our sunlight. Just as we had planned, I suggested that we get some photos of just Dan and Brittney, while Dan's sister and friends watched Jayden.  I took some nice portraits of them and then...

Dan dropped to one knee and broke out the ring. As you can see, Brittney was totally surprised!

(Canon 1D X MK IICanon 70-200 2.8 lens at 140mm, ISO 500, f/4, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash on camera at -1)
This is probably my favorite photo with Dan on one knee (beaming with excitement) and Brittney overwhelmed by the moment. At this moment I was even crying a little behind my camera. It was so special to capture these photos for them, and overwhelming to see this unfolding in front of me.

The first time she put the ring on and saw it on her hand.

It really does not get any better than this. I walked up a little closer and captured this loving gaze between Dan and Brittney.

(Canon 1D X MK IICanon 70-200 2.8 lens at 170mm, ISO 500, f/4, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash on camera at -1)
After the proposal, I had Dan and Brittney sit back down on the grass, but this time, I just let them talk. I did not want them posing at this time. I wanted them to have their own time with me capturing them exactly as they are.

Since I was lying down in the grass and the flash was very low to the ground, it threw a little too much light on the grass. For these three photos, I did a graduated filter in Adobe Photoshop to darken the grass in the foreground.

After a couple of minutes of them having their own time, I did ask them to look up at me for one posed shot.

(Canon 1D X MK IICanon 70-200 2.8 lens at 100mm, ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash on camera at -1)

One of the last photos was this one, with Brittney's showing us her new ring. At the last second, Dan lifted his hand and pointed at it too. I loved that!

As I have said numerous times before, it is moments like this that reaffirm why I love being a photographer. Not only do I get to give these two nice images for them to keep forever (and I did send them all these retouched images within two hours of taking them), but I get to be a part of life changing moments like this one.

Congratulations to Dan and Brittney (and Jayden too)!!!!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Memory cards past, present and future - What you need to know about the different card formats

A couple of months ago, I asked all of you to email me with ideas for future blog posts. One of the suggestions that came up numerous times was the request for me to explain all the different memory card formats.

I guess that my 12 years in the industry, marketing memory cards for Lexar, makes me slightly more knowledgable than most photographers about this subject. With that in mind, I am writing this blog post to explain the many different memory card formats, including those from the past, current card formats and what might be the card of the future.



The SmartMedia card goes way back, This was the first memory card I ever used in my first digital point and shoot cameras. The card was paper thin and rather remarkable in it's day. The capacities ranged from 2MB all the way up to 128MB. At the time, that was huge. Today, the larger cards would barely store one image from the current digital cameras on the market. I remember using 4MB and 16MB cards that were produced by Toshiba. It wasn't until I visited Tokyo that I was able to find 128MB SmartMedia cards. These cards are long gone, but still hold a special place in my heart.

xD-Picture Card

The xD card format is another old card format and was proprietary, and only used by, Olympus and Fujifilm. This card ranged from 16MB to 2GB and was designed as a competitor to the SD card format. Ultimately over time, the SD card format won the battle and xD was phased out.

MultiMediaCard (MMC)

This memory card was very confusing from the outset. The format looked almost exactly like SD cards (without the locking tab), even though they were different. Most camera companies opted not to use MMC as their card format, although there were a few cameras which did rely on this form factor.


Before the advent of the microSD card, this was the memory card designed for small products (like cell phones and MP3 players). miniSD was around for a couple of years and then gave way to the more popular microSD card.

Memory Stick

The Memory Stick format was designed by Sony back in 1998 and used almost exclusively by them for their digital cameras, video cameras and gaming devices. Sony used MemoryStick products exclusively until 2010 when they gave up on the form factor and moved most of their products to SD cards. There were numerous types of Memory Stick formats through the 12 years, including Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, and Memory Stick Micro (otherwise known as M2). The Memory Stick Micro cards were designed for smaller devices, much like the miniSD cards of today.


CompactFlash (CF)

Th CompactFlash card has been around for a long time (since 1994) and is still a very popular card format for DSLR cameras. Canon and Nikon continue to announce CompactFlash (CF) based cameras, and have been using CF cards in their higher-end cameras since the late 1990s. There have been different iterations of the CF card, including Type I and Type II (which were different thickness) and even different speeds (CF 2.0, CF 3.0, CF 4.0, UDMA). Even though this is still a current form factor, you will start to see the end of CF in the years to come. The technology is now older and the maximum card capacity (512GB) and maximum speed (1066x) has been reached. The CF hosts (cameras, card readers...) use pins to connect to the card and they can bend if the card is inserted incorrectly. There is also the problem of particles enter the holes on the CF card connector. Newer cards do not use this antiquated connection and use more reliable connectors.  Both Canon and Nikon have continued making cameras with the CF card slots, mainly because of the popularity of the card and the fact that so many photographers still have a large investment in their CF cards. Many photographers, myself included, like the larger size of the CF cards, making them harder to lose or misplace. But, with that said, I was not happy that Canon included a CF card slot in the newer 5D Mark IV. I would have preferred to see a newer faster technology used.

Secure Digital (SD)

Secure Digital cards (more commonly called SD cards) have been around for almost 20 years and is the most common memory card format for digital cameras. These cards were designed with a locking tab which could be moved to turn the card into a read only device. There have been many variations of SD cards over the years (capacity specs called SDHC and SDXC and speed specs like UHS-I, UHS-II and recently UHS-III) helping the technology advance in both capacities and speeds. I remember having a 4GB SD card on my desk at Lexar and everyone commenting on how amazing that capacity was. The truth is, the card was a 512MB card with a fake label on it (for a photo shoot talking about what might come). Now SD cards exceed the speeds of CF cards (2000x) and have reached capacities of 512GB. More than 10 years ago, the SD Association came out with Speed Class Ratings (Class 2, 4, 6 10...) which I have always hated. These class ratings did nothing but confuse customers. These cards are small in size (which the camera manufacturers like) and have continued to keep current with capacities and speeds. SD cards are used in many of today's cameras, including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji and others.


Then microSD format is a variation of the SD card format, but much smaller. These cards are commonly used in compact devices like mobile phones, action cameras and drones where size is a commodity. microSD cards have become the standard for compact sized electronics in the last 10 years. The largest capacity microSD at the time of this blog post is 400GB, which is astounding. It is hard to believe that companies can cram that much NAND memory into a card so small that it can be swallowed.


XQD cards are one of the newer card formats introduced about 5 years ago. The card specs come from the CompactFlash Association, with this card being one of the replacement options for the now aging CF card. The XQD card is larger than SD cards and smaller than CF cards (falling somewhere in the middle of the two in size) and offers some real advantages over the older standard. Not only are there no pins which can be bent, but the cards can read and write data faster (up to 1000MB per sec) and reach a theoretical limitation of 2 terabytes in capacity. Currently, the XQD cards are mainly being used in Nikon's higher-end cameras and some other video cameras from Sony. The format has not become widespread at this point, and I do not expect it to do so. (See below to see why I believe this to be true.)


Another card format coming out of the CompactFlash Association is the CFast card. Even though this card starts with the letters CF, and the size is almost identical to CF cards, it is not compatible with CompactFlash based cameras. This is another new card format (like XQD) which offers very fast data transfer rates (up to 600MB per sec) and larger capacities. And also like the XQD cards, there are no pins which can be bent on these cards. Canon was one of the first camera companies to adopt the CFast cards, first in their XC10 video camera and later in their top-of-the-line Canon 1D X Mark II. Other companies, like Blackmagic Design have adopted the technology for their video cameras. I currently use the CFast cards in my 1D X Mark II cameras, both for fast buffer clearing, but more for blazing fast downloads to my computers.


Even though the XQD and CFast cards are newer types of memory cards, I think that their days may be numbered. There is a new card format coming which I think might be the future for high-end cameras. This new card format is called...


Just like the XQD and CFast formats, CFexpress is a standard proposed by the CompactFlash Association. And like all the predecessors, this card format promises even faster data transfers (anywhere from 2000MB to 8000MB per sec) and larger memory capacities. These newer cards use something called a PCIe 3.0 interface to achieve crazy fast speeds. And what is really intriguing about these cards is that they are the same size as today's XQD cards. This means that Nikon could, by changing their camera firmware, allow all their XQD cameras to utilize CFexpress cards. As of today, there are no cameras on the market which use CFexpress. As a Canon photographer, I would love to see Canon and other camera companies adopt this same technology to once again give all of us a common form factor to invest in. would not be one common form factor since SD is a standard today, but it would be a future standard for higher-end cameras, offering huge bumps in speed and capacity.

Hopefully this helps all of you who are interested the past, present of and future of memory cards. And thank you to all of you who wrote in and suggested the article.

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