Sony unveils new, high-speed XQD memory cards

Just in time for the Nikon D4 announcement:

PARK RIDGE, N.J., Jan 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Giving photo enthusiasts and professional photographers a new level of speed and performance, the new Sony XQD™ memory cards support the recently adopted XQD specification for high-speed, high-performance digital image capture.

Using the XQD memory cards, XQD compatible high-end DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera users can capture up to approximately 100 frames in RAW format in continuous shooting mode. In addition to outstanding high-speed data transfer capability, the new cards are highly reliable to protect users' data and images.

"Advanced shooters want to capture the moment in the highest quality possible, and that often means dealing with massive files like RAW images," said Viviano Cantu, Director of Consumer Media for Sony Electronics. "Memory card technology has done a great job of keeping pace, but these new cards give an entirely new meaning to speed and performance."

The new Sony cards are based on the XQD memory card specification, which the CompactFlash Association recently approved and licensed as an open format. With its ultra high write-speed performance, and when using Nikon's new DSLR "D4," the XQD memory card can record up to approximately 100 frames in RAW format in continuous shooting mode*.

The Sony XQD memory card achieves stable continuous shooting of RAW images and blazing fast data transfer rates of up to 1Gbps/125MB/s write and read (based on Sony tests and dependent on host hardware) through the PCIe interface, a computer expansion card standard for serial interfaces.

A unique controller and optimized flash memory enables high-speed data processing, resulting in faster write speed and performance that can't be achieved by conventional compact flash cards.

Sony is also introducing a USB 2.0/3.0 compatible XQD card reader (model MRW-E80) so users can quickly and easily transfer large quantities of very high capacity data to their PC. Also, an XQD ExpressCard Adapter (QDA-EX1) will be available for use with computers with an ExpressCard™ 34 card slot.

"As users' needs continue to evolve," Cantu added, "Sony will also continue to enhance the XQD memory card line-up to meet the future requirements of the high-end digital imaging market."

The new Sony products are planned to be available in February and are estimated to sell at the following retail prices:

  • QD-H16 card, 16 GB, $129.99
  • QD-H32 card, 32 GB, $229.99
  • Card Reader, MRW-E80, $44.99
  • ExpressCard Adapter, QDA-EX1, $44.99
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  • M!

    All D4 owners would need to buy at least one. 😉

    • photowebbz

      D4 still takes CF so it’s not a requirment unless you want redundancy

  • Mike

    Actually, the price is quite reasonable for 16GB. I thought it was going to be more. In 2005 I paid $80 for a 512 mb SD card to put things in perspective. In a pinch I would imagine downloading from camera via Ethernet would dump that card pretty quick too.

    • MJr

      Tough and grippy, (reliable?) and maxiumum speed. I like it. Those flimsy SD cards (although quite tough anyway) don’t make sense for pro equipment, they’re just too small, and the CF was getting out of date while maybe just a tad too large. Seems like a worthy replacement to me. Not any replacement to SD cards obviously so y’all don’t have to worry.

    • BillM

      And in 2004 I paid $410 for a 2GB SanDisk Ultra CF card… OUCH! 😉

    • Ric

      Paid $60 for a 16mb SD card.

      • Ric

        1995 paid $20 for one CD-R.
        1986 paid $4 for one 3.5″ floppy.

      • fred


        Paid $135 for a 2MB PCMCIA flash card

    • Joe

      Wow, I remember those floppy prices, luckily $4 won’t break the bank unlike 2001 where I paid $400 for a 512 MB microdrive (mini hard disk in CF case) to go in my crappy Pro 90 IS 2.6 MP camera! These new cards are still pricey relative to $40 32 GB cards but certainly worth it for 100 continuous raw frames on the D4. That’s pretty sweet.

  • Paul

    I’ll wait for someone other than Sony to make XQDs before buying one.

    • Paul

      and why did they call it XQD?
      Why not XD? Oh wait that was already a failure.
      Hmm, ok QD then. See, QD cards have a nice ring to them.

      • EnPassant

        Maybe because the current fashion dictates there must be an “X” in the model name?

      • JLK

        Scrabble tripple-word score.

        • jaderiver

          well, we can start calling them “QD”, then everyone will call them QD soon…

        • Product names (and acronyms) are not allowed in Scrabble.
          The word “scrabble.” on the other hand, is a real word.

  • Eric

    And as soon as someone besides Sony releases one, they’ll be more reasonably priced.

    • Not Surprised

      Were CF cards getting too slow for this 16mb camera??

      I don’t think so; right as CF was getting cheap. Waste of money.

      • M!

        the XQD card takes 105 shots of NEF 14 bit uncompressed versus 79 shots in CF on burst / until buffer fills up… so it would not be a waste of money if you have encountered buffer full ever with your D3S (43 shots) and want a better margin of safety.

        • jaderiver

          majority of the pro wont shoot more then 50 shots at one burst, not even sports photography on CF, i think. But well, thats how the “tech” industries make their money, selling u things u thing u might need…
          well, we can always use the CF till more makers like Sandisk in the market and QD price will drop… 😉

          • M!

            Most pro now won’t shoot more than 50 shots at one burst because the D3S holds only 43 shots. if they are allowed 100, who will complaint? for $229? no pro will complaint spending $229 and doubling the buffer.

          • “majority of the pro wont shoot more then 50 shots at one burst”

            Unless you are shooting on field jubilation at the end of a major playoff (or bowl) football game.

          • WoutK89

            What about uncompressed Video files?
            These cards are not aimed mainly at the photographers shooting stills, but more at the ones shooting high res videos.
            Think of it as prepared for 4K

        • Rob

          What happens if they shoot with redundant slots? The CF card will be slower, so… does that mean that the XQD card will also slow down to accommodate the slower card?

          And if you don’t shoot with redundancy, then what’s the point of having 2 card slots?

          This has meh written all over it. Either Nikon should have gone feet first and given users 2 XQD slots (and 4 cards in the package as a start) or given us two CF slots. The mixture of both is not ideal.

      • Vince

        As sensors get larger and data becomes more dense, the need for higher speeds is a constant. Cameras can provide a bit of a bottleneck in extreme shooting conditions, but think about video. Now think about existing and upcoming mirrorless solutions with virtually unlimited frame rates. The need to record large numbers of frames in rapid succession isn’t just important, it’s now a necessity. The CF format simply wouldn’t allow that much more evolution.

        On the computer end of the equation, since xqd is based of a different protocol than CF, offloading speed should no longer be a problem. With video, even the fastest CF cards were pretty slow. This opens a new door for faster data access. It’s not a bad thing – no one is requiring you to buy one to replace your CF cards…

    • In fact, they’re cheaper than I expected.

      We can still wait for lower price when they start being used in more cameras, but it’s not bad for a beginning considering such a fast speed.

  • So D4s will have dual xqd slots….

  • Might be a stupid question.. but a 16MP camera like the d4… How many shots could fit on a 16GB card vs the 32GB version?

  • sflxn

    These prices seem very high. Sony is trying to squeeze early adopters. Considering SSD hard drives are way faster and cheaper than these prices/GB. I’m betting these prices will fall fast after a year.

    • WoutK89

      Penetration price. Newer is better, that sort of marketing is being used. Gadget freaks will always want to have the latest as first.

  • Geoff

    Much more reasonably priced than what I expected, high-end CF cards cost about the same for that amount of data a year ago.

  • So the new reader is not a CF/XQD reader?
    I need to carry two different card readers when shooting with my Nikon D4?

  • WoutK89

    Does anyone else wonder why the video uses a Canon camera (5D style), while Nikon is being the first to use this type of memory card, and even quotes the Sony card on their specifications webpage? On the other hand, why didnt they even use a camera of their own in this video, or will Sony not incorporate this card?

    • Rob

      I noticed that too. So many Canon cameras and lenses in the commercial, yet they don’t use it lol Complete fail if you ask me.

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