Lexar 16x 512MB Card

Moose Peterson--11/25/01

Lexar has come out with a new series of CompactFlash Cards, their 16x series. They have on the market the 320 16x and 512 16x right now and have announced a 640 16x card to be released in the next 60 days. Does it make a difference to your photography; is this extra speed worth the money?

Lexar CompactFlash Card Speed Comparison

File Format

40 frames Ė  512 16x

40 frames Ė  512 12x

1 frame Ė 512 16x

1 frame - 51212x


24.1 sec

24.8 sec

.15 sec

.18 sec


24.0 sec

24.7 sec

.18 sec

.21 sec


25.2 sec

25.8 sec

.19 sec

.23 sec


2.186 min

2.216 min

3.17 sec

3.24 sec


3.497 min

3.541 min

5.46 sec

5.68 sec

HI Raw

1.047 min

1.076 min

2.41 sec

2.45 sec


test performed with D1H, set to Manual 1/125, M Focus, fresh EN4, with default tone & sharpening

The chart thatís above verifies that the 16x card performs faster than the 12x, the 512 12x being the fastest card on the market up until the release of the 512 16x. These second or millisecond differences between the 16x and 12x might seem truly insignificant, but the 16x does give you a slight advantage when photographing action in big frame bursts. Any type of action photography such as wildlife, sports or the like, would experience increased performance using the 16x card. The side benefit of the 16x card is the sped up performance of the camera. While statistically not a huge difference, my D1H fired at 5.32 vs. 5.2fps (16x / 12x respectively) which when photographing birds in flights, permits me a slight advantage in capturing the wings in the position I desire.

Another small benefit to the 16x card speed is in transferring images from the card to my computer. Using DigitalPro, the difference in moving 40 Jpeg images from the card to my notebook was 7 seconds faster with the 16x card. While normally this is not a big deal, in the past there has been a couple of times when moving images from my CF card to my notebook in a hurry was important. 

While I think there is a definite advantage to shooting with the 16x card, Iím not sure most digital shooters can justify the additional cost. For the vast majority of amateur digital shooters, sticking with the 512 12x card is the best course of action. For any digital shooter who is making money from their camera, I feel the 16x would be the only way to go! Having a card with a slightly faster write time is going at some point to pay off in your capturing the image that otherwise you would have missed.

What am I going to do? I have 3-256 12x cards that I will be replacing the first of the year with the 512 16x cards. Am I going to replace my 512 12x or going with the new, larger 640 16x cards? I have no plans to do so at this time. The 512 CF card gives me 414 captures per card, thatís about all I want to put on one card at a time. The combination of something possibly happening to that card and the loss of a lot of images, the download time in the notebook keeps me from going larger. The fact that I will have 8-512 cards which is about of 4GB of space or over 80-36exp rolls is plenty for my shooting needs.

 Iíve been shooting Lexar CF cards for four years now, they have never let me down. Iíve shot 1GB of images with the 512 16x card already and Iím looking forward to the same performance Iíve grown accustomed too!

--Moose Peterson