[Debate] Has The New XQD Memory Card Already Failed The Media War?

With just over a week since it's announcement, Nikon's flagship D4 DSLR is already causing a stir in the most unlikely of places. The camera will feature a slot for the new XQD memory card which moves data much faster than current SD or CF cards. But can the card become the next media standard? Both Lexar and Sandisk, the later of which helped design the format, have said that they will not produce the XQD cards anytime soon.

"SanDisk participates in many standards bodies and has contributed to a variety of new standards that allow for options in the marketplace," the memory card maker reveled at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. SanDisk spokeswoman Wendy Vlieks told CNET News, "at this time, SanDisk has chosen not to productize the XQD format."

This leaves only Sony as the single mass media producer to embrace the new card. Of course when only one company produces a specific technology you can count on the price being inflated. So what do you think, will the new XQD card take the place of Compact Flash or SD cards in the near future?

via [Cnet]

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26 Comments

Lee Morris's picture

As someone who purchased the D4 this makes me really mad. If they wanted to ad an XQD port then they should have had 2 CF slots and 1 XQD port. 

This is pretty much the only downside I see to the D4.  It seems strange to have two different types of slots on a professional level camera who a lot of the users, are after redundancy.  I know you can still do that, but having different media types just makes it that much more annoying.

"It seems strange to have two different types of slots on a professional
level camera who a lot of the users, are after redundancy. "

1dmk4, D300s.  

Both successful, regardless of the different card slots.  I'm sure pro photographers will find the D4 is superior to it's predecessor in nearly every way, even the card slots, when in use.

We'll see what happens later as this is still a very new standard to the market. As to your idea I have to say that from an engineering and design standpoint it's just not feasible. Very few people would use all three slots ever and it would cost the developers a TON in research, hardware and software. Personally I'm not sure that we're really past using sdhc cards. They have enough storage for modern cameras and work almost as fast.

Martin Beebee's picture

The replacement of one CF slot with the XQD slot was one of the most baffling decisions for the D4, for me. It forces you to buy a whole new set of cards, or only get half the functionality of the D3. And to do this with an untested product (XQD)? A really lame move on the part of Nikon, and this announcement just underscores it.

Lee, you know the 1Dx has 2 CF slots, right?  Only $800 more than your D4 :P.

John Maxwell's picture

To me this reminds me a lot of the Minidisc, it was tipped to be the next big thing but never came to anything, I have a feeling this will go the same way.

I think it's much too late to call the death of a medium that's 1 month old. The only competition it has is CFast. CFast uses SATA while XQD uses PCI-express. From what I understand, CFast's SATA top out at 375MB/s while PCI-express is around 2000MB/s. There's no question those kinds of speeds will become relevant fairly soon, red's SSDs are along the lines of 180MB/s.

The question is how much time before we need those speeds on devices that need small drives? By the time we get there, they're will maybe another standard even faster than PCI-express that will be much more worthwhile than XQC. Meanwhile, I think CFast is plenty good for most handheld devices and things like post-HD video cameras need the bigger SSDs for the transfer rate.

Chrispy's picture

I think everyone needs to take a BEX and have a lie down.  It's way to early to start hypothesising that the XQD is going nowhere.  SanDisk aren't the only alternative flash card manufacturer so lets just wait and see. 

Seshan's picture

How many devices support the card right now? Well none. Only one has been announced to support it and it's not even out yet. By the end of the year more devices will support it, it's faster the CF and it's smaller. Just wait more then 2 weeks to make judgement on new tech.

James Robertson's picture

I think it's too early for the format and that's why it's not being received how they hoped it would, SD and CF are still fighting the format war and both are commonly used in devices around the world, they're also still developing the technology of both to make the cards hold more data and write faster every year, people aren't ready to give up their shiny new $200+ cards for a format that performs faster than they need for their cameras.

Lee Morris's picture

I think the debate may not be about whether or not this card will survive (as it is very early) but rather if Nikon should have been the first to test the waters with their flagship sports camera. Isn't it interesting that Sony makes Nikon chips and Sony just HAPPENS to be the only one making XQD cards? Sony LOVES making proprietary memory and they seem to have struck a deal with Nikon here.

Seshan's picture

All though I agree that Sony loves making proprietary crap, this isn't a standard made by Sony. Of course Nikon and Sony where working together on it, Nikon would not of release a camera with a memory card slot that no one makes cards for.

Lee, I think honestly that the problem with this is that Nikon went with XQD cards a little bit too fast here. They shouldn't have put it in the D4... it's just too soon. the speed difference is not that big from latest cards we've seen so honestly, did it had to be in this body? XQD might be the way to go but  maybe not now...

Pro cameras always had dual card slots for redundancy.

Nikon's being a little lame over here. I suspect XQD + CF card would operate at CF card speed if running on redundant setting. So you pay more to get an XQD card to run at CF speed. Or you pay more to get XQD card without redundancy. That's epic.

XQD + XQD would've been better for those who needed it. Or the good old standard of CF + CF wouldn't hurt right now either

lets hope for a SD > XQD adapter!

Frank Algermissen's picture

D4 has XQD + CF slots. XQD will be faster than CF (usually/in future and as long as we actually don't talk about the new Lexar or whatever SanDisk is planning). So who is the bottleneck then when using slot 1 for shooting & slot 2 for backup?

I think that the current technologies are working fine and there is not a huge necessity for a new/better type of memory so the price will be an important point to make (or not) XQD the new standard for DSLRs. 

Michael Burke's picture

Memory stick.

Martin Beebee's picture

It seems like the only people who "need" a faster card are sports shooters (or similar) who are shooting large bursts of photos rapidly. For everyone else, the CF/SD cards seem to be working fine. So why the new format? Seems like SanDisk etc. are asking the same question.

I think what will get the card to be accepted more if Sony is the only supplier is for sony to partially subsidize the cost of the products that use the new format to drive demand as more products use it. I have a feeling that is part of the reason the Nikon D4 has it. Just as sony kept prices low for it's PS3 to drive the blue-ray market, it will have to do take a loss and get more companies to adopt the new tech. In addition, there needs to be more of a media push to get more awareness of the new product. I hardly hear much about this new card without having to search for it; that's not good in my opinion for a major company trying to change the standard. 

To get more out of the card, maybe it's time to start increasing the HD standard for video to a 3K format at least. 

On a personal note. It would be a cool feature to have a drop in drop out bay for memory card s in cameras, or the ability to customize what type of cards information is recorded to, whether CF, SD or XQD, so each user get's what they want or doesn't have to change/upgrade memory cards. I'm hopeful for the XQD format as cameras, their processors are getting faster, file sizes are getting bigger, so there is a definite future need for this product. Being the first to market is always risky but if successful pays off huge. 

If the XQD can be kept at a price level that is near or lower than the CF card it will be an instant hit as companies adopt the format more. CF cards are very bulky and I rather have smaller card cases take up less space in my bag. 

I've never been in the position where i've thought to myself dam i wish that card was faster.  Granted i don't shoot sports but don't those guys shoot predominately JPG anyway?  I'd rather see some development in tethering and wi-fi to be honest.  I think the latest SD and Compact Flash are ample fast enough for everyone but a tiny niche of photographers, not that i hear them complaining.

I think what will get the card to be accepted more if Sony is the only supplier is for sony to partially subsidize the cost of the products that use the new format to drive demand as more products use it. I have a feeling that is part of the reason the Nikon D4 has it. Just as sony kept prices low for it's PS3 to drive the blue-ray market, it will have to do take a loss and get more companies to adopt the new tech. In addition, there needs to be more of a media push to get more awareness of the new product. I hardly hear much about this new card without having to search for it; that's not good in my opinion for a major company trying to change the standard. 

To get more out of the card, maybe it's time to start increasing the HD standard for video to a 3K format at least. 

On a personal note. It would be a cool feature to have a drop in drop out bay for memory card s in cameras, or the ability to customize what type of cards information is recorded to, whether CF, SD or XQD, so each user get's what they want or doesn't have to change/upgrade memory cards. I'm hopeful for the XQD format as cameras, their processors are getting faster, file sizes are getting bigger, so there is a definite future need for this product. Being the first to market is always risky but if successful pays off huge. 

If the XQD can be kept at a price level that is near or lower than the CF card it will be an instant hit as companies adopt the format more. CF cards are very bulky and I rather have smaller card cases take up less space in my bag. 

Pretty sure as uncompressed video gains traction people will be seeing more xqd as the speed will be a lot more necessary.

mark tierney's picture

The comment above re video is who that slot is really aimed at. XQD will be able to handle BBC broadcast and above internally on the D4 at some point soon. They may have jumped too early, but I'm sure a chinese card maker (a lot of us use Transcend for video - with no redundancy) will eventually make them as its NOT a purely proprietary Sony licence. Obviously Sony will also start using them soon, again, probably in video first. A rejigged F3 with dual XQD slots running at 100mbs would sell like hot cakes. 

j.j.'s picture

I actually got to test the D4 at ImagingUSA. And it's a keeper regardless of the that card issue.