D7100 RAW Burst Test – Reloaded

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Nikon’s new “flagship” DX camera, the D7100, boasts a lot of features.  Unfortunately, a sizeable buffer is not one of them, and effective RAW shooting speed can suffer greatly if you’re not using a top-of-the-line SDHC card.  My RAW burst test shows just what an impact card speed has on high-speed shooting of RAW images.

Note: Effective 12/4/2013, tests have been reformulated.  Updated 6/1/2014.

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For the D7100 test, I applied “real world” settings that I would typically use shooting sports, including buffer-eating Active D-Lighting.  I used the 1.3x crop mode and maximum shooting rate of 7 fps.  RAW settings were lossless compressed, 12-bit.  3 test bursts of 10 frames (all cards re-tested with 3 15-frame bursts beginning 12/4/2013) were shot and timed under controlled conditions, with exposure of 1/1000 @ f2 and ISO 400 utilizing the Sigma 50/f1.4G HSM lens.  I tested a bevy of UHS-I speed-rated cards, and clear winners emerged.

D7100 RAW Burst Test
* – newly tested

See below for detailed test results.  For another interesting comparison, see The Wirecutter.

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Grade: A+

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/s (16GB card tested) – SanDisk’s card includes a lifetime warranty, and includes a one-year subscription to RescuePro data recovery software (retail version only).

SanDisk Extreme Pro 16 GB SDHC Card 95MB/s

Grade: A

Transcend Ultimate 95/85 MB/s (32MB card tested) – Transcend’s newest high-end card makes the dean’s list, and includes a download of RecoverRx software (which is already freeware, but Transcend conveniently provides a link).

Transcend SDXC R95/W85 MB/S Card

San Disk Extreme Plus 80 MB/s (16MB card tested) – Newly rebranded with a gold label, this card matches the performance of the “Extreme 80 MB/s” card, and includes a deluxe version of RescuePRO file recovery software.

SanDisk Extreme Plus 80MB/s Card

PNY Elite Performance 90 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Very speedy card, very inexpensive.  Highly recommended.

PNY Elite Performance 90MB/s SDHC Card

Lexar Professional 600x (16GB card tested) –  includes a lifetime warranty, and a license for Image Rescue 4 recovery software.

Lexar Professional 600x 16GB SDHC Card

SanDisk Extreme 80 MB/s (16GB card tested) – This card’s read speeds are just a tad slower than its 95 MB/s cousin.  Just be sure you’re really getting the 80 MB/s version and not the older 60 MB/s or 45 MB/s cards.

SanDisk Extreme 32 GB 80MB/s

Delkin Elite 633x (16GB card tested) – This card achieved a throughput of 54 MB/sec in the test, in a statistical dead heat with the other three cards in this group.  It is the priciest of the honor roll, includes a lifetime warranty, but no recovery software.

Delkin 16 GB Elite 633X SDHC Card

Kingston 90/80 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Kingston’s fastest card yet, with an unassuming lack of a name.  U3 rated.

Kingston UHS-I Speed Class 3 Card

Grade: B+

Toshiba Exceria Type I (8GB card tested) – Toshiba’s latest entry, not widely available in the US, claims read/write speeds of 95/90 MB/s, and performs reasonably well, though just slightly shy of the top performing group.

Toshiba EXCERIA Type 1 Memory Card

Kingston Ultimate 90/45 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Gold label card with close to rated write speed.

Kingston 90/45 UHS-I Card

Panasonic 90/45 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Gold label card with close to rated write speed (sounds familiar).  U3 rated.

Panasonic 90/45 MB/sec Gold Series Card

Grade: B

PNY Elite Performance 60 MB/s (16GB card tested)  – This card provides a great balance between cost and performance.

PNY Elite Performance 64GB 60 MB/s SDXC Card

Grade: B-

SanDisk Extreme 45 MB/s (16MB card tested) – The third-string entry is no slouch at all, turning in decent performance of 40 MB/sec.  It also comes with the Deluxe version of Rescue Pro, a nice bonus.

SanDisk Extreme 45MB/s Card

Transcend 600x (16GB card tested) – Transcend’s best offering at the moment, with reasonable performance.

Transcend 16GB UHS 85/30 MB/s

The following cards showed less than desirable performance, though they’re not the worst.  I would not recommend using them if RAW shooting speed is a concern.

Grade: C+

Toshiba Exceria Type II (16GB card tested) – Another from Toshiba’s new Exceria line is rated with a 60 MB/s write speed, and trails its 90 MB/s brand mate by a full letter grade.

Kingston ultimate 95 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Fell a little short of its claimed 45 MB/sec write speed, but may work for less demanding applications, especially if the read speed holds true to close to the 95 MB/sec claim.

Grade: C

Patriot EP Pro (32GB card tested) – One of a trio of cards that finished at 34 MB/sec, there are better choices.

A-Data 95 MB/s (64GB card tested) – Claiming a 45 MB/sec write speed, this card wasn’t quite the overstatement I’ve come to expect from A-Data.  Middling performance of 33 MB/sec with this card.

PNY Pro Elite (16GB card tested) – PNY has never reclaimed its early good standing in my D300 CompactFlash card tests (RAWJPG), though like the Kingston, their claimed speed of 35 MB/sec is close to their test result of 34 MB/sec.

Kingston UltimateXX 233x (8GB card tested) – While not a top performer, at 34 MB/sec – about “224x” speed – the Kingston comes the closest to its rated speed.

Pretec 567x (16GB card tested) – Not even close to 567x, this is another Pretec card misleadingly labeled as “Class 16″ (there is no such thing), but does clock a respectable 31 MB/sec.  Does come with recovery software, which I’ve not tried.

Grade: C-

Transcend Ultimate 95/60 MB/s (64GB card tested) – Medicore performance from the slower of Transcend’s new “Ultimate” cards marketed for 4K video recording.

Kingston Ultimate 60 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Came out just about the same as its “UltimateXX” predecessor.

G.Skill (64GB card tested) – More known for computer RAM, G.Skill’s SDXC card is pretty basic.

Samsung Pro (16GB card tested) – Samsung’s best…isn’t, at just 30 MB/sec.

Fuji Elite Performance 85 MB/s (16 GB card tested) – Fuji doesn’t specify whether the 85 MB/sec rating is a read or write speed, and it’s obvious why.

Grade: D+

Wintec Professional PLUS (32GB card tested) – “PLUS” as in “D+.”

Polaroid 35 MB/s (32GB card tested) – Not really shaking like a Polaroid picture.

Komputer Bay 600x (64GB card tested) – Achieved closer to 200x write speeds in the test.

Patriot EP (16GB card tested) – A tad slower than its “pro” cousin at 27 MB/sec.

 Grade: D

Delkin 600X (8GB card tested) – Pretty big difference between “633” and “600” in Delkin’s testing labs, though they do only claim 30 MB/s for this card’s read speed.

Grade: D-

Lexar Professional 400x (16GB card tested) – This was a clunker in the D7000 RAW Burst Test, so no surprise to see it pulling just 22 MB/sec here.

Panasonic UHS-I (8GB card tested) – Panasonic’s “black” card will leave you in a black mood at 20 MB/sec.

Wintec Elite 95 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Oddly, this card claims 95/50 MB/sec read/write speeds but performs worse than the “Professional Plus” card above, which claims only 60/40 MB/sec speeds.  Not the first time I’ve seen this kind of discrepancy.

Grade: F

Panasonic 25/90 MB/s (8GB card tested) – Panasonic’s “gold” card lags at 19 MB/sec.  There is a 45/90 MB/sec card on Panasonic’s web site, but it can’t be found for sale anywhere at the moment.

Hoodman 60 MB/s (8GB card tested) – Hoodman has always emphasized the reliability of their cards over speed.  At least they’re honest.

Sony 94 MB/s (8GB card tested) – Sony should stick to their, um, Memory Sticks.  This bugger limped in at just 18 MB/sec.

Transcend 45 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Trascend puts out a real dog here at just 12 MB/sec.

Sony 40 MB/s (16GB card tested) – This is, in fact, significantly slower than the “94 MB/sec” version, true to its labeling.

Verbatim 600x (16GB card tested) –  Cough.  10 MB/sec?  Barely meets its Class 10 rating.

Kingston 30 MB/s (16GB card tested) – Just in case anyone is considering this card, note that Kingston only claims 30 MB/sec READ speeds, and doesn’t specify a write speed.  This one meets its Class 10 (10 MB/sec) rating and nothing more.

Samsung Ultra 30 MB/s (16GB card tested) – SanDisk’s Ultra cards usually turn in decent performance, but not this time.  This particular card was sold through Best Buy with the “Picstor” sub-brand.

As always, your mileage may vary and conditions will affect burst depth, as well as settings such as RAW compression and bit-depth settings settings, noise reduction, Auto Distortion Control, or ISO settings of H0.3 or higher.  But even with faster cards, Nikon really seems to have crippled the D7100 as a high-speed camera for RAW shooters – and buffer depth is similarly troublesome when shooting uncropped DX-mode images at 24MP.

8 thoughts on “D7100 RAW Burst Test – Reloaded”

  1. This was hugely helpful – thank you! I just got a D7100 and am trying to figure out how to work with the small buffer, so this info is great.

  2. How many frames before slow down, and how many frames after slow down ? :

    – with a 95mbs card
    – 12 bit lossy
    – 1.3x
    – active D-Lighting on
    – High ISO NR on (low)
    – ISO<600

  3. How do you like the D7100 so far? Other sports photographers I’ve talked with so far are impressed with it.

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