Memory Card Battle: Sandisk Extreme Pro vs Extreme Plus vs Extreme

Sandisk Extreme Pro vs Sandisk Extreme Plus vs Sandisk Extreme

So, you’ve purchased the camera that you have always wanted, but what about the memory card? Having a great camera with a wrong memory card will cripple the performance of your camera.

I have already discussed the difference in various types of SD cards and outlined how to select the best memory card for any camera in the detailed guide: “How to Select the Best SD Memory Card for Photography.”

Today, I want to compare three models of Sandisk cards that are the most popular among professional photographers.

The Sandisk Extreme Pro, the Sandisk Extreme Plus and Sandisk Extreme are among the best cards in the market based on their quality, performance, and reliability.

First, let's compare the specifications of all three models.

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Specifications: Sandisk Extreme Pro vs Sandisk Extreme Plus vs Sandisk Extreme

Card Type:

SDXC

SDXC

SDXC

Storage Capacity:

64 GB

64 GB

64 GB

Bus Type:

UHS-I

UHS-I

UHS-I

Speed Class:

U3 / V30 / Class 10

U3 / V30 / Class 10

U3 / V30 / Class 10

Max Read Speed:

95 MB/s

90 MB/s

90 MB/s

Max Write Speed:

90 MB/s

60 MB/s

40 MB/s

Min Write Speed:

30 MB/s

30 MB/s

30 MB/s

Durability:

Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof

Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof

Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof

Operating Temperature:

-13 to 185°F
-25 to 85°C

-13 to 185°F
-25 to 85°C

-13 to 185°F
-25 to 85°C

Storage Temperature:

-40 to 185°F
-40 to 85°C

-40 to 185°F
-40 to 85°C

-40 to 185°F
-40 to 85°C

Write-Protect Switch:

Yes

Yes

Yes

Price:

Write Speed Matters?

When we take pictures with our digital cameras, the digital data is temporarily stored in the camera’s buffer. The buffer is the internal memory bank that is similar to the Random Access Memory (RAM) you find on a computer. When the buffer is filled with digital images, the camera starts to offload the data to a memory card. This is when the memory card’s write speed comes into play. The faster the write speed, the faster the camera’s buffer is emptied and the faster we can continue shooting.

The maximum write speed of the Sandisk Extreme Pro is 90MB/s, the Sandisk Extreme Plus has a max write speed of 60MB/s, and the Sandisk Extreme has a max write speed of 40MB/s.

The issue with the maximum write speed parameter is that it only indicates the burst speed and cannot be maintained for a long period without fluctuations. This is not a problem for still photography, but if you are shooting 4K videos, the write speed should be constant without any ups and downs.

This is when the concept of “minimum write speed” was introduced. It indicates the maximum speed value that can be sustained for a long period without dipping below that value.

The minimum write speed of the Sandisk Extreme Pro, the Sandisk Extreme Plus, and the Sandisk Extreme is identical at 30MB/s.

Clearly, there isn’t much to separate.

The only photographers who can take advantage of the faster write speed of the Sandisk Extreme Pro are those who shoot a large number of photos in long bursts. For example, wildlife and sports photographers.

Where Read Speed Matters?

The read speed is how fast the data can be read from the card and transferred to another computer or device.

While 99% of photography depends on faster write speeds, read speed is paramount for sports photographers, photojournalists, and event photographers. Especially vital during international sporting events when shooting and transferring images needs to be immediate, a faster read speed certainly comes in handy.

The Sandisk Extreme Pro has a read speed of 95MB/s while the Sandisk Extreme Plus and Sandisk Extreme have a read speed of 90MB/s.

To illustrate the point, sports and event photographers tend to shoot JPEGs whenever they don’t have time to edit pictures. A 16GB card can hold about 1,400 36MP JPEG pictures. To transfer them, it will take about 23 minutes at 95MB/s and 22 minutes at 90MB/s.

The difference is very small and usually only matters if you are a professional photographer whose job depends on how fast you can deliver your photos.

Conclusion

There are certainly a few places where having a faster memory card makes a difference. For most purposes, however, there isn’t a huge difference between three of the most popular and highest quality SD cards on the market—the Sandisk Extreme Pro, the Sandisk Extreme Plus and the Sandisk Extreme.

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