IMPORTANT UPDATE: There are two different speeds of S series cards. You should only use the faster E stream cards. You can tell which is which by the part number. QDS64E and QDS32E are second generation fast S series. Any other S series is a slower first generation S card and should be treated as H Class cards.
DO NOT USE THE NEWER 2933x CARDS THESE DO NOT WORK WITH THE FS7.
It was brought to my attention at the BVE show last week that Sony XQD cards were in short supply. This is probably due to the run away success of the PXW-FS7. More cameras sold means more media required.
So I decided to test out a Lexar XQD card in my PXW-FS7 and in my PMW-F5 (via a QDA-EX1 SxS to XQD adapter).
The good news is that it appears to work just fine, which shouldn’t really be a surprise as the Lexar cards are bonafide XQD cards. It’s also worth noting at this point that you don’t have to use the latest and greatest, extremely fast “G” series XQD cards from Sony. You can also use the slower H, N and S series cards. Although I personally would stick to just the faster G and S series cards as these can be used for all modes and frame sizes.
G Series – 400MB/S OK All Frame Rates/Modes.
S Series (QDS64E and QDS32E only) – 180MB/S OK All Frame Rates/Modes.
N Series – 125MB/S OK for XAVC-L all frame sizes/rate. XAVC-I HD up to 30fps plus 24fps 3840×2160. OK for Mpeg2, No S&Q, No ProRes or DNxHD.
H Series – 125MB/S OK for XAVC-L HD up to 60fps. No XAVC-I, No 4k/UHD, No S&Q. No ProRes/DNxHD
Lexar 1100x -168MB/S – Not tested, but should be OK, as Sony H series, maybe N series.
Lexar 1333x – 200MB/S – Tested all modes and frame rates.
Lexar have two classes of card a slower 1100x – 168MB/s card and a faster 1333x – 200MB/s card. For my tests I chose the faster 1333x card as this wasn’t much more expensive than the slower card and on paper at least matches or betters the Sony S series cards which can be used for all modes and frame rates. The 1100x card should also work just at least as well as an H series card, maybe N series, but I have not tested one and would recommend testing before use.
I tested the card across a large range of frame rates and resolutions going all the way up to UHD 60fps on the FS7 and SStP on the F5 as well as S&Q all the way to 180fps. I had no errors or other major problems. I did notice in the F5 that the it takes a little longer for the red light above the record slot to return to green at the end of a recording. While the slot light is red you cannot start a new recording so you do need to be aware that you may have a momentary delay before you can record the next clip.
I purchased the Lexar 1333x card via Amazon in the UK and it cost me £127 inc VAT for a 64GB card, which is quite a bit cheaper than a Sony G series card (currently around £220 in VAT). So the Lexar cards offer a perfectly good alternative to the Sony cards at a lower cost with only a slight decrease in off-load speed. As well as the PMW-F5/F55 and PXW-FS7 I see no reason why these cards should not also work in the PMW-Z100, FDR-AX1 or via the QDA-EX1 adapter in the PMW-200, PXW-X160, X180 and X200, but I have not tested this.
I can’t comment on long term reliability as I’ve only had the card a couple of days. I see no reason why the Lexar cards should last as long as the Sony cards. Heck looking at a Sony G series card and the Lexar card side by side the materials appear to be identical, it looks to be exactly the same plastic (even the texturing is the same) and the same brushed metal. The Sony card is marked as made in Japan and the Lexar card as a product of Taiwan.
The new Sony G series cards have a different interface to the older Sony XQD cards and the Lexar cards. Currently when you buy a G series card it comes with a USB3 card reader. This reader will ONLY read G series XQD cards.
You can buy USB3 card readers for the other XQD cards for around £25.00. These readers will normally work with any XQD card, including the G series. But when you use a G series card in the non G series readers you get a reduced read speed of up to 168MB/s, which is fast, but not as fast as the dedicated G Series reader.