This is a new CFexpress card with a ProGrade sticker on the front. This card, featuring the last type 4.0 spec, has a sustained 2800MB/s write speed.
Hardware,  News,  Peripherals

CFexpress Type B cards: Which to choose for the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z8?

CFexpress (Type B) cards are expensive, so choosing the right type is an important decision. As both the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z8 have a second SDXC UHS-I/II compatible card slot I suspect many users have simply opted for to use their existing cards. For stills, it’s not too difficult a decision and the faster UHS-II cards (V60 and V90) can also handle the bandwidth required for some of the lower-end video options with the V90-rated cards being the most capable. However, to access the high bit-rate options, including 8K and high-frame video, CFexpress is required.

Prices of CFexpress have tumbled in recent months and even the most affordable of the well-known brands are faster in terms of write speed than the fastest V-90-rated SDXC UHS-II cards. They’re often cheaper than those high-speed SDXC cards as well.

Nevertheless simply buying any CFexpress card in the marketplace isn’t straightforward either. Indeed it gets downright tricky finding fully compatible cards for the high-end video features of the Canon EOS R5, and the new Nikon Z9 or Z8. The main issue for incompatibility is the minimum sustained write speed of the cards, which can be difficult to ascertain as most brands only openly quote the maximum write speeds.

For the most part, you can ignore the openly quoted read speed as relates mainly to workflow, particularly when connecting your memory card to a card reader. However, it may also influence the latency in the camera when viewing images and during start-up. Faster cards will have lower latency, in theory anyway. In practice that may not always be the case, which is why it’s important to test.

What brands are compatible then?

Canon Japan has an advisory on their website [in Japanese, but easily translatable] on the recommended CFexpress and SDXC cards for the Canon EOS R5, which is revealing although still not quite clear in some aspects.

Nikon states some information about recommended cards for the Nikon Z8 in their online manual.

I’ve always championed either Lexar or SanDisk but both have changed owners recently and there have been reports of quality issues from both on the internet though I’ve not experienced any issues. As both brands suffer badly from counterfeiting, it’s hard to tell if the complaints relate to genuine product.

What’s surprising though is that the SanDisk CFexpress Extreme PRO cards aren’t recommended for the Canon EOS R5, except for the rather expensive 512GB version [affiliate link]. This ties into some research I’ve been doing lately. SanDisk doesn’t publish their CFexpress Extreme PRO cards’ minimum sustained write speeds, which is disappointing at best.

When reaching out to their PR to test, none of the SanDisk Extreme PRO cards were available nor were there any SanDisk CinemaPRO cards. With only one capacity available (256GB) these VPG400-rated (guaranteed 400MB/s minimum sustained write speed) cards look promising but it’s still not clear if they’re fast enough for the Canon EOS R5, let alone the Nikon Z8/9.

For compatibility with the high-end video features, the Canon EOS R5 for instance appears to require around 800/850MB/s and above, while the Nikon Z8 and Z9 seem to require even higher minimum sustained write speeds of at least 1400MB/s.

Interestingly, Canon claims all of the Lexar brand CFexpress cards are fully compatible, but they don’t specify which type or series. Currently, Lexar has three: Silver, Gold and Diamond. I suspect Canon has not updated its information and the post refers to the original Gold-series cards. As they have a minimum sustained write speed (hereafter SW) of 1000MB/s for the 128-512GB cards, and 1300MB/s for the 1/2TB cards, all of the Lexar Gold series [affiliate link] should be fully compatible with the EOS R5.

Nikon Z8 and Z9 users will have to look at spending more on the faster Lexar Diamond series. Intriguingly, these are VPG400-rated and all capacities from 128GB up have a SW of 1600MB/s! Note that anything under 512GB might not offer sufficient capacity for certain 8K and 4K high frame rate recording options.

Is there an affordable option?

Angelbird isn’t listed there by Canon but the budget AV Pro SE range offers an SW of 800MB/s, which is right at the limit. I can’t say if works without stuttering at 8K or using the slo-mo 4K in the EOS R5 as I’ve not tried it but and looks promising. Currently, the Angelbird 512GB SE is available for £130, which is far cheaper than other brands and even more affordable than SDXC UHS-II V60s let alone the dearer V90s.

With an SW of 1450Mb/s, Nikon users will have to choose the Angelbird AV Pro SX range, though pricing obviously isn’t as attractive as the SE models. Furthermore, there are cheaper options from other brands, such as the ProGrade Digital Cobalt cards, mentioned below.

Part of the issue is that makers talk of “up to a minimum sustained write speed,” which suggests other factors such as thermal throttling may lower the write speed further. This is somewhat counterintuitive in terms of language and may have resulted in the VPG400 rating I mentioned above. I’ve reached out for comment here with a leading brand and hope to update this post later.

While I’ve also been a fan of OWC products, their own-brand CFexpress cards are offered in two ranges the Atlas Pro and Atlas Ultra and some care is required here as well. The more affordable of the two – the Atlas Pro range – doesn’t offer full compatibility with the Nikon Z8/9 and only the OWC Atlas Pro 512GB offers an SW of 800MB/s, just on the lower limit for the Canon EOS R5. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this card seems to be permanently out of stock at Amazon! All the other capacities offered in the Atlas Pro range offer slower sustained write speeds.

The second series, called Atlas Ultra is faster with an SW of 1300MB/s, which will be fine for the EOS R5, but you’ll have to shell out for the faster 1TB and 2TB versions if you have a Nikon Z8/Z9 and don’t want to miss out on all of their features. OWC also offer a great Thunderbolt (TB3) card reader and includes free software solutions!

Most brands lower the sustained write speed on their smaller-capacity cards, but the ProGrade Digital 165GB card offers the same performance as others in the range, except for the new (gen 4.0) 1.3TB version shown at the top of the page, which offers an incredible 2,800MB/s.

ProGrade Digital looks interesting though again it gets complicated fast, mainly because the minimum sustained write speed varies by capacity and the different ranges on offer. Any capacity including 512GB in their Gold-series and above will be okay for the Canon, but you’ll have to plump down more for the dearer Cobalt models for the Nikons. In their favour, they look to be a premium brand and they offer a TB4 card reader!

It certainly makes the choice confusing and buying decisions are exacerbated by other factors, namely those associated with workflow, such as the type of card reader and software solutions offered to get the most out of what is a pretty expensive proposition on the whole. As this is a long post I will add another later talking about those options.


For those who don’t want to read what is a long post and want ‘to cut to the chase,’ the underlying issue of compatibility with CFexpress cards is the minimum sustained write speed. While I’m sure there are other contributory factors, it’s pretty much all we have to go on when choosing them. Unfortunately, not all card makers are prepared to divulge this particular metric.

Canon EOS R5

If you have a Canon EOS R5 and want to record 8K RAW movie capture or slow-mo 4K at 120/100fps, you need a CFexpress card with at least 800/850MB/s minimum sustained write speed. The following cards should be okay.

With the exception of the ProGrade Cobalt series which is what I use and work well with the EOS R5, I should make it clear that I’ve not tested any of the other cards listed.


Extreme Pro (512GB only, expensive)


Silver (512GB only, and tend to be more expensive than the faster Gold series.)

All Gold Series (128GB-2TB)

All Diamond Series (128-512GB)

ProGrade Digital

Gold Series (512GB-2TB only)

All Cobalt Series (165GB-1.3TB)


All SE series (512GB-1TB) Note 800MB/s is right on the limit


Atlas Pro (512GB only). Note 800MB/s is right on the limit

All Atlas Ultra (165GB-2TB)


Nikon Z8/9

If you’re looking for a recommended card for the Nikon Z8/9, then the choice is even more limited. Nikon recommends either the Nikon 660GB card or the ProGrade Digital Cobalt series. Note that anything under 512GB might not offer sufficient capacity for certain 8K and 4K high frame rate recording options. With that in mind, the Lexar Diamond series should also be okay. The only other cards from the above would be the OWC Atlas Ultra but that would be restricted to the faster 1-2TB capacities.

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