Absolutely Fantastic! We Review the Exascend Essential CFexpress Type A Card

Absolutely Fantastic! We Review the Exascend Essential CFexpress Type A Card

Just before I travelled to the Isle of Mull, Scotland for a week, Exascend offered me the opportunity to review their CFexpress Type A card, and I was very excited to give this a shot! Having only ever used SD cards before on my Sony cameras, would I notice a difference?

As a lover of wildlife photography, and also recording videos of wildlife, a fast card is a no-brainer! Up until this point, I have only ever used normal v90 SD cards such as Sony Tough and Lexar, which for everyday use, I had no issues with those options. My workload rarely ever commanded something more powerful, but this could be about to change.

The First Look

The Exascend CFexpress Type A card arrives packaged in a small, tidy cardboard box which is nicely designed to show you all the key qualities of the card, as well as the storage capacity. Inside of the box, we have a plastic molded tray which houses the card in its own protective plastic see-through case.

The packaging is minimalistic, but works well and provides the user with all of the information they could need on the outside.

The CFexpress card itself is well built in form factor and feels solid. The card features the logo, capacity, as well as the read and write speeds. It is quite small to read, at least for my eyes, however this would by no means be a deal breaker as the outer packaging, was very clear.

Exascend CFexpress Type A card

There is no lock switch on this CFexpress card, and I am not entirely sure if any CFexpress cards have that functionality. However, it has never been a feature I have used on SD cards either to be honest.

The Stats

The card I received has a 360 GB capacity. However, you can purchase cards up to a 1 TB capacity currently. The options available are: 120 GB, 180 GB, 240 GB, 360 GB, 480 GB, and 1 TB, so there are plenty of options available depending on what size you are looking for.

The cards are VPG200 certified, which means you are guaranteed a minimum write speed of 200 MB/s. This also offers smooth recording with no frame drops. When recording in 4K60 on my Sony A7 iv, I received no issues at all.

Exascend CFexpress Type A card in Sony A7 iv

The card is designed to be rugged, with protection against shocks, vibrations, and magnetism. There is no mention on the website or the packaging about whether the card is waterproof. I contacted Exascend for further clarification on this, and they did confirm that the card is awaiting to be tested for an IP68 rating. However, they would not recommend getting the card wet until this testing is completed.

During a couple of days of shooting on the Isle of Mull, we did have extremely heavy rain and the camera and I were absolutely soaked, but thankfully, the weather-sealing on my camera worked very well and the card was still very dry.

The operational temperature of the card is -10–70 °C, which for most is more than acceptable. However, I would love to see it work in even colder temperatures, perhaps down to -20°C or so. The reason for this is my favorite place to travel is Iceland, and I have frequently been in conditions around -15°C or so at night, photographing the Northern l=Lights.

I do imagine that the card would still work, as the camera itself should provide warmth when shooting. So, I would hope that it should not be an issue. Fingers crossed!

I will, of course, love to put this card through its paces in those conditions next time I am able to travel to much colder climates.

Out in the Field

I spent seven days out on the Isle of Mull looking for otters, and this was a great chance for me to put the card to use. Every day, I would drive down to the lochs in search of these iconic creatures. I had some amazing experiences.

Exascend CFexpress Type A card in Sony A7 iv

While the Sony a7 IV, is not the quickest camera in terms of frames per second, the beauty of having a CFexpress card was the unlimited buffer. I was able to fire off many shots in quick succession at between 6 to 10 frames per second in either uncompressed or compressed raw, and not once did I encounter a slowdown of the card.

I had an incredible moment, where an otter cub caught a large crab and brought it to the shoreline, so I just kept my finger on the shutter, firing off a very large series of images, around 2-300 shots in a row. On my Sony Tough v90 cards, this would not be possible, with the buffer filling up after around 30 to 60 or so shots, and then, I would have to wait a few seconds for it to clear before I could continue.

Isle of Mull Otter with Crab

For video, the card also shines, as all video modes and qualities are unlocked with a CFexpress card. For wildlife, I typically film in 4K60 mode in the highest quality available, and I had zero issues and no overheating. The longest clips I would record at were around 10 or so minutes at a time, which is well within the camera's and the card's capabilities.

4K60 on the Sony a7 IV is great for wildlife, as it comes with a slight crop, which is one reason why I purchased this camera. It is a great improvement for wildlife photographers/videographers when compared to the previous a7 III/\.

I put together a short film of the otters here:

For more avid filmmakers, documentarians, etc, who prefer to film for longer times, this card I feel is a no-brainer. 

At the end of the trip, I came home eager to see all of my images and footage, so I used the Exascend CFexpress Type A card reader and loaded up Adobe Lightroom. Usually, when I import images from the SD card, it can take a while. 1,000 images could take about 5 or so minutes to fully come through, but with the CFexpress card, it was 20 or 30 seconds. That sealed the deal for me!


If you asked me two months ago, would I buy a CFexpress card, I would have said: "No, I do not think I need one", but fast-forward to now, I have changed my mind to absolutely! The speed and performance alone, in capturing images, video, and then editing workflow afterwards have been a breath of fresh air. 

I now wish that my camera had two CFexpress Type A card slots, I was that impressed! I often like to have slot one dedicated to images and slot two dedicated to videos when out in the field, and two CFexpress slots would make the experience flawless.

The only time that changes for me is when I shoot weddings or portrait sessions. Then, I use the second slot as a backup in case of slot one failure, but fortunately, I have never had an issue.

Exascend has created a great product here, which is well worth buying, and hopefully, they continue to develop their line going forward. As touched on earlier on in the review, if the card is confirmed to be waterproof, that would be a big plus just to ease any concerns in case you drop the card in water.

I would also love confirmation that the card could work in even colder climates, especially for Arctic/Antarctic shooting conditions.

Despite those two points on where I think the card could improve, I am more than happy to say this card would be a great buy and it also comes with a five-year global warranty! The build quality is great, the speed is fantastic, and the value is great when compared to its main rivals.You can purchase the Exascend CFexpress Type A card here.

Now, who wants to see some more otters?

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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For many minimum temperature ratings, it is often based on a company having a standard range that they test everything at, though many cards can work at well below -10 C. Think of how many people will take photos in Antarctica.

The main issue with NAND, is that they experience more wear at very low temperatures, thus if a device is rated at 1000 P/E cycles, then that rating will be lower if constantly used at below freezing temperatures.

Sadly testing for accelerated NAND wear is difficult since it has to be done by filling the drive, and immediately verifying the data and having a checksum generated, then leaving the drive unoowered for a few months or even a few years, and then test the data again and see if the checksum matches, if not then the retention capabilities has degraded and the drive is no longer up to spec.

Beyond that, there are many people who run ADSB receivers in remote locations from a mini PC using a cheap m.2 SSD, and those will often be exposed to temperatures in the -30 to -40 C range in some countries, and they never really run into storage issues.

With that in mind, I bet that card will operate at well below -10C without issue, considering that far cheaper and lower quality NAND based storage devices will work in much colder conditions

Great comment, thank you. I did suspect that was the case and I am sure like most cards, it will work absolutely fine in even colder climates.

I have been using a 120gb exascend for about 3 months now with no complaints. Fast and reliable. Also loving my Lexar CFe A cards.

Fantastic! I've not tried the Lexar ones yet but very impressed with Exascend

Curious that other cards listed as not quite so fast are VPG 400 rated, yet these Exascend only promise VPG200 - half of that in sustained writing to the card. To me that implies corners cut in file handling. More competition is welcome, but we’ll need a systematic comparison to know how these measure up against the class leaders.

What about HEAT issues? How does it work in Nikon Z8 and Canon cameras for Overheating? For me, that's more important than Shooting in Antarctica!