Sony a7r V and Sony a9iii – storage & xqd/cfe cards

This post is a bit of a rant, haha. Quite often my friends will link me to YouTube videos and I’ll watch a couple of minutes of them and be somewhat frustrated to say the least. In recent times, it’s become very popular to wrongfully attack Sony for having SD cards in the Sony a7r IV and Sony a9ii cameras. Interestingly the menu system which is incredibly bad, still doesn’t receive nearly as much logical complaint. For example, it’s logical to argue that adjusting stabilisation in camera requires needless button presses even if you set it to a quick menu and you’ve memorised the menu (it requires you bring up another menu asking you to turn it on or off, rather than simply toggling it on or off; it’s a binary option; there’s no logical reason for a sub-menu — this isn’t subjective guys, please stop defending crappy menus). It’s not logical to say you’re coming from Nikon and find the menus bad — what is bad about it? If you cannot explain, the anti argument will be to say that “you’re not used to the menu system” (I hate this phrase because I have a photographic memory but that’s a separate rant). I digress… The point is, I like logical and objective complaints.

From what I’ve observed on YouTube, people are either saying the Sony a7r IV & Sony a9ii should have included XQD / CFE cards or the Sony a7r V and Sony a9iii should have them. This is a terrible, terrible idea. If my grandmother had four wheels, she’d be a tractor:

  • Write rates, in current generation cameras, absolutely do not support faster cards.  You would have to change the hardware beyond simply putting a different card slot in the camera.

Take a look at the Nikon z6 for example; the Sandisk Extreme Pro XQD 64GB writes at 170.5MB/s in camera. Out of camera, it’s admittedly much faster. However, if you’ve got dual card slots, you can plug them both into the computer and double your write rates to the computer.

With the above in mind, you might then infer you simply need to improve the architecture for cameras to then write at incredibly fast speeds, and then make the body bigger (i.e. irritate many existing users) and cram in your crappy single/double XQD/CFE card slot.

At that point, why not just use SD Express? The release date of SD express and SD express manufacturer will align perfectly with the Sony a7r V and Sony a9iii. It has numerous advantages:

  • It’s much smaller and the same size as a regular SD card.
  • More people have heard of SD cards.
  • There’s some (although limited) backward compatibility.
  • It will be far more popular outside of photography; therefore, reducing costs more than XQD/CFE cards.
  • It’s still incredibly fast as it uses PCI-E.
  • Many, many laptops have SD card slots.

We can say that Sony invented XQD cards, just as they invented minidiscs. Leave a comment below if you’d like to see a minidisc in your camera.

Storage is cheap

I think everyone can agree that if you’re hiking for a month or so, living in a tent (and don’t have a laptop), and need a lot of XQD/CFE cards, it’s going to be expensive. But what about storage for a computer? How much is it costing you?

This is the point where I make a basic math error and look like a complete idiot, but here goes… The Sony a7r IV RAW files are about 120MB. A 6tb (it should be uppercase but it looks less pretentious this way) drive will give you about 5.44tb usable data. 5.44tb * 3 in a RAID 5 array = 10.88tb. A Seagate IronWolf Pro 6TB Drive = £185.99. You’ll want several drives:

  • Three 6tb drives in your computer in a RAID 5 array, giving you 12TB.
  • An on-site backup, with another three drives in a RAID 5 array.
  • An off-site backup, with another three drives in a RAID 5 array.
  • You should also want 2TB x 2 SSD
  • You should also want an additional 256GB SSD.
  • You should also have an optical backup.

All of this adds up:

Total costs:

  • £4247.44 for 10.88tb usable data.
  • 10.88tb / .0012 = 9066.66666667 photographs.
  • £4247.44 / 9066.66666667 = £0.46846764705 per photograph.
  • Without archival disks (£4247.44 – £2026.56 = £2220.88; £2220.88 / 9066.66666667) = £0.24495 per photograph.

Imagine you could half that cost by pressing a button which said “lossless compressed RAW”.

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