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FAQ About Compact Flash Cards

Compact Flash cards are just one of many options in the sea of available memory cards. If your digital camera calls for one and you're not sure what it is, read on to find out more about CF cards and how they differ from other common memory cards.

What is a Compact Flash Card?

A Compact Flash card, otherwise known as a CF card, is a small memory card designed for cameras and camcorders. Because they use flash technology, Compact Flash cards have no moving parts and are more durable than their SD card counterparts. CF memory cards are generally used in advanced DSLR cameras and camcorders, making them a solid choice for pros.

How Do Compact Flash Cards Work?

CF cards are equipped with 50 tiny pin holes that connect to your camera or CF reader. Because they have a 50-pin interface, Compact Flash cards are generally able to transfer data at quicker speeds than SD cards with 9-pin interfaces. CF memory cards aren't compatible with all digital imaging devices though, so check your camera's memory card compatibility first.

What's the Difference Between a CF Card and an SD Card?

CF cards were once the traditional card format for DSLR cameras, but SD cards have taken over in popularity. However, some high-end cameras have slots for both an SD card and a Compact Flash card, giving you more storage options.

In terms of size and durability, CF cards are generally thicker and more robust than SD memory cards -- making them less prone to accidental breakage or misplacement. Some Compact Flash cards are also put through stress tests to ensure optimal performance in harsh shooting conditions. Unlike SD cards, CF memory cards are equipped with an on-board memory controller and may feature maximum data transfer rates that are higher than SD cards.

How Much Storage Can I Get on a Compact Flash Card?

Like SD cards, Compact Flash memory cards offer a range of capacity options. If you're a pro photographer or videographer who wants to shoot without constantly swapping cards, consider a CF card with a higher storage capacity like 256GB or 512GB. While the higher capacity will come with a higher price tag, the investment can be worth it in the long run.