I’ve been testing a lot of different SD cards with the Sony FX6. I have been a long time user of Integral, Lexar and SanDisk cards and generally found them to perform well and to be reliable. But in my search for affordable v90 SD cards I came across a good deal on the ProGrade v90 64Gb SD cards.
I hadn’t ever used the ProGrade brand before and their pricing almost seems too low. But I decided to purchase one to test. Well I have not been disappointed. The card performs very well and has no problems at all with all of the XAVC-I frame rates up to and including 60fps.
If you try to use it to record UHD at 100 or 120fps you will get an “unsupported media” warning but the camera will try to record to the card. Most of the time the recording will be OK provided you keep the duration short and don’t try to stop and then restart recording too quickly. Of all the SD cards I have tried this seems to be one of the best.
However you will still see recording failures with this card at 100 and 120fps. Often resulting in the card suddenly becoming completely full. So I still would not recommend relying on any SD card for 100/120fps UHD. But, as I have said this is one of the better cards that I have come across and given the low price it seems like a winner.
Other cards I have been using successfully with the FX6 are:
Integral Ultima ProX v90 for all codecs including XAVC-I up to 60fps.
Lexar 1667x Professional v60 for all codecs including XAVC-I upto to 30fps.
Sony Tough CFExpress Type A 80GB for all recording modes and formats including UHD 100/120fps.
The FX6 takes both SDXC cards and CF Express Type A cards.
Sony recommend using a CF Express Type A for the UHD 120fps. For 4K. The CF Express card support all frame rates, but they are expensive, as is the card reader.
For UHD XAVC-I up to 60fps Sony say you can use v90 SD cards, for some of the XAVC-L UHD frame rates Sony support v60 SD cards and for HD you can use a v60 or v30.
The camera won’t stop you from trying to use a v90 (or even a v30) SD card at all frame rates and with all codecs. But if using a card outside of the Sony recommendations you get a “not guaranteed media” warning.
For example when trying to use a v60 to record XAVC-I at 60p or a v90 to record 100/120fps the camera will try to record but if the card can’t keep up you will get flashing tally lights followed by the camera dropping out of record and a “Recording Halted” message. In my testing most of the time the camera just displays the recording halted message and you have to press the menu button or OK button to remove the message, then you can try to record again. But around 30 to 40% of times, especially if it is a second attempt to record on a card that is not fast enough, after the recording halted message the card capacity will go to zero and the record tally lights will continue to flash until you remove the card. You will not then be able to use that card until it has been restored and in most cases you will lose the last clip shot as well as other clips where the recording was halted. In some cases you can lose everything on the card.
As a card fills up it becomes significantly slower. So a card that is fine when only partially used may cause problems as it fills up. In addition as cards get older they slow down as the memory cell wear leveling has to skip extra blocks or cells. So a card that works today may not work tomorrow.
My advice: Use the cards Sony recommends. You are playing with fire trying to get away with other cards. The big risks are a: losing footage and b: ending up with no media as the capacity has gone to zero.
Get a CF Express Type A if you want to shoot UHD 120fps. For everything else SD v90 will work fine.
Following a series of recent discussions about whether or not it was possible to recover files from XQD cards that have been formatted by mistake I have obtained some clarification from Sony of what can or can’t be done.
This information is specifically for XQD cards and the PXW-FS7 but probably applies to most Sony cameras and also SxS media. I’m not sure about SD cards.
The bottom line is that if you format the card in the camera you will not be able to recover any previously shot material. An in-camera format completely erases everything on the card. This is done to ensure that material shot on the cards cannot be recovered by another production company in the case of card or camera rentals. So there is no point in attempting any form of data recovery on a card formatted in the camera as there is nothing recoverable left on the card.
Formatted by a computer:
When you format a card with a computer it is possible that the material will still be on the card. However different operating systems handle the formatting of the cards differently, so there is no guarantee that the data will be recoverable and often it won’t be recoverable. For very important material it may be worth attempting to recover the card. Sony may be able to assist with this in some cases.
Clips deleted from a card can typically be recovered provided they have not be recorded over by a later recording. Again Sony may be able to assist with this.
Delete or Format?
Based on this new information from Sony I may be adjusting my workflow. My own workflow has always been to off-load material from a card. Then to do a parity check to compare the original files on the card and what is now on the hard drives. This checks not just the file size but also the general structure of the files so should pick up most problems with any copies. My last check is then to skim through the files with Catalyst Browse or my edit application to make sure the clips are there and playable. Only then do I format a card. In light of this new information I may use my computer to delete the clips from a card rather than format it. Of course this will only ever offer some benefit if the card is not recorded on again causing the previous files to be over written, but it might add an extra chance of data recovery should the backups get lost or some other disaster occur. From time to time I would format the cards in camera as this helps keep the cards in the best possible condition.
Camera setup, reviews, tutorials and information for pro camcorder users from Alister Chapman.