The Best Card I Have Ever Used! My Review of the Exascend 1 TB CFExpress Type A Card

The Best Card I Have Ever Used! My Review of the Exascend 1 TB CFExpress Type A Card

Just over two months ago, I traveled to the Isle of Mull in Scotland to review Exascend's 360 GB CFExpress Type A card, which I absolutely adored. I have now been sent the 1TB version of the card, which offers even more in performance, so last week I took a trip to a local hide to photograph Kingfishers. Let's see how I got on.

It is safe to say I am now a converted CFExpress card user. After years of using SD cards, starting off with those truly awful cards which you pick up for like $8, and then graduating to fast, expensive V90 cards from Sony etc., I never really thought I would need anything else.

That was all until Exascend reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I wanted to review their CFExpress Type A cards for my Sony a7 IV. From the very first moment I used the cards, I have been sold. The speed for me has been a game changer, and this has saved me so much time, especially in the editing room.

First Look

The Exascend CFExpress Type A Cards are very well presented in a small, branded package which is simple in its form factor but offers all the information you could possibly need about the card itself. 

Inside of the box, we have a plastic molded tray, which houses the card in its own protective plastic see-through case. The plastic case is handy for protecting your card when it is not in use, in the camera, or when you are travelling unless you have your own storage solutions for carrying extra cards. 

Exascend CFExpress card and card reader.

The Stats

The card I received has a 1 TB capacity. The current 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.

I believe the prices are very reasonable for these cards, with prices starting from $159 for the 120 GB version, while the Sony Tough CFExpress Type A 80 GB card would set you back $178. So, not only are you making a financial saving, but you are also getting more memory for your money.

In these tough economic times, that for me is a no-brainer, to save money and get more for that money.

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.

Exascend’s 1 TB CFexpress Type A card can run at 900 MB/s read and 850 MB/s write, which is close to the theoretical speed for a CFexpress Type A card. This makes them the world’s fastest 1 TB CFexpress Type A media to date.


It is clear that when using the Exascend CFExpress Type A card, the performance of the card is more than enough to fulfill my needs, but how will it perform for you, and how does it compare to a Sony Tough V90 SD card?

I used Blackmagic Disk Speed Test on my M1 Mac to give each card a 5 GB stress test and see how they performed. Now, if there is another app that you recommend, please let me know in the comments below as it is my first time doing a test like this.

First, let's look at my 64 GB Sony Tough V90 SD card, which reports 300 MB/s read and 299 MB/s write speeds:

Sony Tough V90 SD card test.

The results for this card do not seem like good reading, to be honest, for a 64 GB SD card which is $98. While I do not expect the full advertised numbers, I at least expected double or triple the speeds that the Blackmagic speed test shows. 49.8 MB/s for the write speed is 16.67% of the advertised write speed.

For the everyday photographer or videographer capturing footage in H.265, you will rarely run into issues, and that was even true for myself, but I did always moan a lot about how long it would take to import my images and footage onto my Mac after a shoot. Also, another key downside of using this card was the buffer on my camera would quickly fill up.

Moving on to the Exascend 1 TB CFExpress Type A card, which reports speeds of 900 MB/s read and 850 MB/s write:

Exascend 1 TB CFExpress Type A card.

The numbers for Exascend are much better reading. While still not reaching the full potential on this stress test, the write speed of 523 MB/s is 61.5% of the advertised 850 MB/s. That for me is a massive improvement and clearly shows that if your camera is capable of taking a CFExpress card, go for it!

I did run both tests several times to ensure fairness, sample size, and was consistently reaching the same ballpark of numbers for both cards.

Of course, there could be multiple variables in a test environment which could over or underestimate these numbers, whether it is the software I'm using, the computer, and so on, but hopefully, this gives everyone a clear idea of the differences.

The important point to remember is, with a CFExpress card, you unlock far more potential from your camera than you would with a standard SD card, such as no buffers when shooting, you can shoot more file types especially for video, and importing your work is much faster.

Out in the Field

Now, using software to determine speeds is one thing, but what about using the card in a real-world environment? For this, I visited Scottish Photography Hides in Dumfries and Galloway to see if I could photograph Kingfishers for the day, as well as capture some video footage.

I left my house at 6 am on Saturday morning in 21.2 °F temperatures or -6 °C, so nice and frosty for this time of year. I arrived at the hide and the scenes were beautiful with lovely frost over the different perches, mist rolling over the river, and many species of wildlife passing by.

It did not take long for my target species to arrive, and I had several visits from the Kingfisher throughout the day, with each visit more impressive than the last. Gradually, as the day moved on, the frost began to melt, but I still had a thoroughly amazing time and captured some decent images for my brief time there.

Kingfisher and Red Berries.

Sometimes, when visiting hides or looking for wildlife, I love to just sit and watch what is happening because it is so easy to overlook what is actually happening when glued to your viewfinder.

In the distance, I heard two foxes fighting, which was great news as at this time of year is when they are "hooking up," so hopefully, there will be some beautiful cubs in the coming months. After hearing the foxes fighting, I kept searching the distance to see if I could catch a glimpse, and I sure enough did.

The foxes were actually regular visitors outside their den in the distance, and even shooting at 600mm, I needed to crop heavily. It is not an award-winning image, but capturing these rural wonders is actually quite hard in the countryside where I live.

A Fox chilling in the cold sun.

Back to the Kingfishers, wow, such beautiful birds, and it is always an incredible pleasure to see and photograph these colorful creatures.

Beautiful Kingfisher in the frost.

I captured some nice footage of the Kingfishers and Foxes, which you can see here:


After recently reviewing two CFExpress Type A cards from Exascend, I am extremely happy with the performance they offer me and their quality overall so far. Just changing the type of card you use can really make a difference with your shooting behaviors and also your workflow.

When using this card, there were no buffer issues, no slowdowns, and no overheating when filming in 4K60 or when photographing in large image bursts.

Even while writing this review, I have found myself shocked. Not shocked at the CFExpress card, but shocked at how badly the Sony Tough V90 card actually performs.

As touched on earlier, you can buy the 64 GB Sony Tough V90 SD card for $98, whereas you could buy the 120 GB Exascend CFExpress Type A card for $159. I think for value and performance alone, the Exascend CFExpress Type A card is a clear winner, and then adding almost double the capacity too, just makes it a smart decision.

You can purchase the Exascend CFexpress Type A card 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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I think there's something wrong with your Sony cards, card reader, or cable. Those look like UHS-I speeds.

Below is a list of my cards' speeds using CrystalDiskMark. The bottom 3 are UHS-I cards and even they are faster than your Sony card.

Thank you, I think you're right! I will try testing the card again with a different card reader. At the time of writing, I was still shocked 😲

As far as i know, most standard M1 macs sd card readers only support UHS-I. You maybe have a bridge model i dont know about, but yeah, that is certainly what a UHS-II card running at UHS-I would look like... how did you not know the specs on likely the most important i/o for a photographer on your own computer? Lmao.

When a SD card performs poorly like that, it is best to try a different reader, as sometimes there can be some firmware bugs. that cause the card to perform slowly in some reader.
Sometimes if you are lucky, a company will release a firmware update to fix performance issues with some cards. Some companies will release cards that are just plain bad under certain workloads.

Other times, you can get a counterfeit card that looks real.

One issue is that it can be very difficult to determine if you have a card reader with buggy firmware, counterfeit card, deeply flawed/ really crappy NAND controller but genuine card, unless you have other cards of the same model or generation to compare, as well as more than one high performing card reader.

PS in the image, it is very bad that transfers between 1KB and 32KB are that low, and a card doing that would offer a horrible experience with anything that isn't bulk media, (e.g., not good for a smartphone's micro SD card slot if you want extra space for app usage such as a renpy visual novel archive or other stuff like that).

Thank you for your comment. I certainly think you are right that it is most likely the card reader for my SD cards that is at fault and is something I will need to test further.

Youre seeing a card having to run in backwards compatible mode to UHS-I. Its not optimized for that protocol, its optimized for UHS-II. I guarantee a UHS-I lexar pro card would transfer faster than that UHS-II card in his computer. Go look at memory card tests on a UHS-I camera like the nikon D7100/7200. You actually get worse speeds in camera and for UHS-I file transfer with newer, more expensive UHS-II cards.

The reason you are not getting the correct speeds is the M1 Mac. For whatever reason the Thunderbolt ports on the M1 Macs are handicapped by apple and will only do 5Gbps instead of the correct 10Gbps when using a USB-C device. 5Gbps is 625MB/s much closer to your number. Run the USB-C device through a thunderbolt 3 hub (or Apple display) and you will see results much closer to the advertised speed. All your USB-c devices are going to underperform with the M1. I have an M1 and experience the same disappointment. I can't believe apple hasn't gotten sued over it.

Interesting! I'll have to look into that more. Thank you