My Review of the Super-Fast Exascend 1 TB CFExpress 4.0 Type A Card

My Review of the Super-Fast Exascend 1 TB CFExpress 4.0 Type A Card

As cameras continue to get more powerful year by year, there comes a time when you can be limited by the type of card you use, but no more as the dawn of the CFExpress 4.0 card is here. I was sent the brand-new Exascend 1 TB Essential Pro CFExpress 4.0 Type A card, and I could not wait to take this out on a shoot.

Before I start giving my full thoughts on this card, it is only fair to address the big elephant in the room, which is that no camera currently supports CFExpress 4.0. However, it is surely only a matter of time before camera manufacturers begin to release models capable of unlocking the full potential of these superfast cards.

CFExpress 4.0 cards are still backward-compatible, which means they can be used in current camera models that support CFExpress 2.0, but you will be capped at the max write speeds by the camera model. Is this an issue? To be honest, no, it is not. Purchasing the new 4.0 cards is a worthwhile investment while also preparing yourself for the next steps in the camera world. The 4.0 will be the new standard moving into the next generation, so it is a future-proof technology.

In the meantime, you will experience faster speeds offloading the new cards using the new 4.0 card reader, which is always great for your workflow.

Sony is the only manufacturer that uses Type A cards, whereas the other manufacturers use Type B, which are capable of even faster speeds.

First Look

The Essential Pro CFExpress Type A 4.0 card has a nice, simplistic design but is still informative with the information it provides.

The Card

Until the Type A 4.0 card reader becomes available, you will need to use the Type B 4.0 card reader, but there is a handy adapter that works perfectly well, as you'll see from my performance tests later in the article.

Type A to B Adapter

The Stats

The new Essential Pro range of cards is VPG400 rated with the CompactFlash Association. The VPG400 rating means the card is guaranteed to perform at a minimum speed of 400 MB/s write speed, which is a great standard to have, especially for videographers.

Alongside the VPG400 rating, this standard ensures that you can record up to 8K video in frame rates up to 120 fps without frame dropping.

As is stands, the Essential Pro CFExpress 4.0 Type A cards are compatible with Sony models such as the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, FX3, and FX6. The cards are available in three different capacities: 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB.

The Maximum Read Speed for all cards is 1,800 MB/s, and the Maximum Write Speed is 1,650 MB/s. The Sustained Read Speed for all cards is 1,800 MB/s; however, the Sustained Write Speed differs between the cards as follows:

The 256 GB and 512 GB have a Sustained Write Speed of 850 MB/s, and the 1 TB has a Sustained Write Speed of 1,650 MB/s.

These are very respectable numbers, and I absolutely cannot wait for cameras to be fully compatible with the 4.0 cards in due course.

The card also features adaptive thermal control to prevent overheating, and from my tests when photographing or recording 4K footage, I have experienced no overheating on the card itself.


For performance, I wanted to run a couple of tests to see how the card stacks up while using the 2.0 card reader and the 4.0 card reader, and the difference was significant.

For these tests, I am using my new MacBook Air M3 and used the Blackmagic Speed Test application with a 5 GB stress test on each.

The first test was to use the CFExpress 4.0 card in the Exascend 2.0 card reader:

CFExpress 4.0 on the 2.0 card reader

Next up, here are the results for the CFExpress 4.0 card in the Exascend 4.0 card reader.

One other thing to note here: the card reader I have is a Type B 4.0 reader with a Type A to B card adapter, which works perfectly fine.

CFExpress 4.0 card in the 4.0 card reader

Comparing the speeds across both card readers is significant, and you can clearly see the winner from the examples above.

For completeness, I also ran a speed test with the original Exascend Essential CFExpress Type A 2.0 card, and the results are below:

CFExpress 2.0 card in 2.0 card reader

For my next test, I recorded a 10-minute long video in 4K 30 fps, 10-bit, 4:2:2. My goal here was to see how long it would take to offload the video file from the card onto my MacBook, and again the results were pretty significant.

Each video file was 10.84 GB, and the first card I used was the Exascend Essential CFExpress Type A 2.0. To copy the file from the card to my MacBook took 19.40 seconds. Will this improve with the Exascend Essential Pro CFExpress Type A 4.0?

Using the 2.0 card reader, the 4.0 card took 14.70 seconds to transfer the video file from the card to my MacBook, almost 5 seconds faster than the older 2.0 card but using the same card reader. That is fantastic!

Lastly, using the 4.0 card reader, the 4.0 card took 7.38 seconds to transfer the video file to the MacBook. Wow! That is super quick and will be very beneficial to videographers who need to handle even larger file sizes.

Out in the Field

I had the opportunity to travel to an organized couture ballet shoot in a beautiful country manor called Bannockburn House in Scotland. The venue was absolutely stunning, and I was super excited as soon as I walked into this historic building.

A grand venue with ballet dancer Lucy
The card performed flawlessly as I continued shooting the various scenes with the incredible ballet dancers who were modeling for us. At no time did I run into any issues, and even with my finger pressed solidly on the shutter button, there were no slowdowns or lag of any kind.

Erica giving Vogue vibes

The derelict vibes inside the building really complemented the vibrant eccentricity of the colorful couture dresses worn by the models, and the experience overall was incredibly fun.

The grounds outside were also stunning and well-kept. I took one dancer out to the small woodland area, and we worked on some beautiful shots there.

Emma in the woods

I am very impressed with how the Essential Pro CFExpress Type A performed, and I had no doubt that would be the case, as I have now used several of Exascend's cards, and all of them have been flawless for me on shoots.


Exascend has become a firm favorite of mine due to their quality and performance that I have experienced in the last year of using their cards. The price points are also very reasonable for what you get, and currently the 1 TB version retails at $699

The 256 GB version retails at $279 and the 512 GB version retails at $379. I feel these are great value for the next step in card evolution, and as I touched on earlier in the review, it is future-proof for the next generation of cameras, which I am sure will be coming sooner rather than later.

Until the next generation of cameras comes out, the key benefits currently of the 4.0 CFExpress cards are the workflow speed when offloading the images and footage after the fact. When dealing with large file sizes from 4K or higher video, or large RAW files, having that extra speed can make a huge difference in your time efficiency.

Are these cards worth a buy? My answer to this is yes! Especially if you are a filmmaker/videographer who handles large video files and wants an even faster workflow, then to me it is a no-brainer!

I captured some behind-the-scenes footage of my ballet shoot, which you can see here:

Greg Sheard's picture

Greg Sheard is a Scottish based photographer, focusing on wildlife, landscape and portrait work. Greg's mission in life is too help those who suffer with mental health issues and be a voice for the millions of people around the world who need that care, attention and awareness.

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Do you have a sketch outline for this ?