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A7RV memory card confusion

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I have been shooting Sony for 5 years (A7r3,  A73, A6400).  Taking delivery of the A7r5 in a few weeks.  I will NEVER (never say never!), shoot 8k and am primarily a still pro shooter.  

I plan to get 2, Lexar Professional 160GB CFexpress Type A Gold Series cards Up to 900MB/s.  The Sony tough cards with the same spec are close to $200 more for a pair.  IS THIS speed spec overkill considering I'm shooting primarily still, and occasional 4K videos? 

Thanks in-advance for any replies. 

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You will see approximately NO difference when shooting stills - if you shoot lossy compressed RAW at full speed you might start to build a buffer backlog, and that will clear a little faster with CFeA cards like the Lexar Gold or Sony Tough. But it is marginal.

You WILL see a difference if your shoot 1000+ images and download them with a fast reader to a local SSD - they will download much faster than even the fastest SDs. But that’s a marginal reason to get them (unless you are in the habit of shooting thousands of images - I do that more on the A1 for obvious reasons)

The CFeA cards are pretty tough - I have some Sony and some Lexar, all 160GB - but I mainly got them for the A1 - I use them in the A7RV because I already have them.

I don’t think you really need CFeA cards (buy them if you want, though). I’d be tempted to get a couple of 128GB or 256GB Sony Tough G SD cards instead. The G cards are worth it because they enable things like high frame rate 4k, and they download faster. Basically, I’d recommend fast UHS-2 SD cards (300 read / 299 write is good) over slower UHS-1 cards. Whatever you do, don’t buy 90MB/s cards!

I like the Tough cards, but like you said the Lexar Gold are much cheaper in CFeA - I bought a couple to try them, and to encourage Sony to drop their price!

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Hi:  your comprehensive reply is MUCH appreciated!

Just a little clarification to justify my thought process.  I shoot a lot of architecture and some corporate work, and only a few (about 16) weddings/year.  

For the architecture, it’ll be full rez, uncompressed 61mp Raws.  An average assignment has me shooting maybe 40 images, and that includes multiple exposures of one scene, so usually I’m shooting a lot les per assignment. 

For my corporate work it’s a variable scenario but by and large 99% of my clients could care less about 61mp anything.  If I get an ad/corporate client that will salivate at that size image file, processed out as a tiff, I’ll have it at my disposal.  So usually I’ll shoot something compressed.

For my wedding work, I still process the majority of my A7R3 files to 6000px on the long end, but still shoot compressed raws.  Adding the R5, I’ll probably shoot medium compressed raws, and quite a bit of the APS -C format for reception shots.  The only 61mp wedding image I’d shoot is maybe a huge grouping of 40+ people, where bigger heads could be beneficial.  

I do have a strong workflow justification for shooting APS-c (super-C) that I want to try. IF interested I’ll expand on that in another reply.

Because I rarely shoot even 5fps, much less on Hi++, I will probably go with the Lexar 128’s discussed in my original post.  I had 2 Sony Tough cards for my A7R3.  One of them fell apart while I was pulling it from the camera body (and I am a gentle guy!).  Scared the s - - t out of me and I almost didn’t get the pieces of card out of the SD slot.  SINCE THEN (3 years ago), I always move my cameras from PC Remote to Mass Storage, connect a USB-C cable to my Mac and transfer that way.  In 3 years I’ve never removed a card from its slot. ( Sony replaced it under warranty) I’m guessing using that method to transfer data from the R5 to Mac will be slower, but we’ll see.  I’m in no rush after an assignment. I just want to securely get the files out of the camera, on my Mac and backed up before I start tweaking in post.

Very glad I joined this group.  Could prove to be beneficial after I get my R5.

Thanks again!


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Using the A7RV you have the option of using lossless compression, which means you get all the data for every pixel, but in a smaller file (file sizes vary, but average around 40% smaller than uncompressed) - there is no reason to use uncompressed ever (unless you have to run the file through a program that cannot take lossless compressed, and I doubt such a program would support the A7RV RAW files, anyway). You can using lossy compression if you want to shoot at 10 fps - that's the only reason to use it, in my opinion.

You can use the "reduced resolution RAW" files if you want - they come in five flavours 🙂 There are three sizes which use the full size of the sensor: L (60Mp), M (26Mp), and S (15MP) - they all give you the full field of view of the image, but you choose how many pixels you want from it. And there are two sizes which use the APS-C crop: M (26Mp) and S (15Mp) - these use the field of view of the APS-C crop. I don't use the reduced resolution RAWs because I'd rather get the full image and scale it in Photoshop, but it helps to understand the options. Note: only the RAW-L (60Mp) and APS-C RAW-M (26Mp) are true RAW files - the others are not supported in some RAW processing programs (DxO PhotoLab, for example). PhotoShop and LightRoom do support them, and I think Capture One does as well.

I've been exploring APS-C crop to let me focus better at an equivalent of 1.5x the lens's focal length - the A7RV supports it well.

I have put the APS-C crop into the Fn menu, and I regularly keep the camera to my eye, press Fn, and use that menu to switch between single shot and burst, between Human and Animal/Bird recognition, and between full frame and APS-C. I run with the screen turned inward, and use the very detailed viewfinder exclusively. Works well for me.

You have another option to consider for architectural work, if you want... The A7RV is the first Sony to support focus bracketing, which might give you extra depth of field options.

I've used Sony Tough cards in many Sony bodies since they were introduced, inserting and removing them every time I shoot, and never had the slightest problem with them, but you have the option of using the A7RV the way you are used to, with the bonus that the A7RV has faster USB-C connection, and support for Wifi connection (with MIMO, too!). You may well get faster transfers than you are used to.

As long as you get the fast Lexar SD cards, there's no reason not to use them. They work fine, too.

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THANKS AGAIN for the information, very helpful.

Pulling your information my weddings’ setting will be either APS-C crop: M (26Mp), or full size sensor M (26Mp).  Both more than adequate for a wedding and many PR assignment scenarios.

Again, reply is appreciated!


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Good morning.  Getting more excited.  Will be ordering my A7RV next Friday, after my vendor returns from their 2-week Passover Holiday.  

I do have another but "not as important question", related to the fast Lexar or Sony cards.   I mentioned previously that I'll most likely transfer data right from my RV to my Mac laptop using one of my many USB-C cables.  They're all TB-3 or 4 cable but I'm guessing the thunderbolt spec of the cable won't matter for this scenario.   

I also plan to purchase a Lexar Professional CFexpress Type A / SD USB 3.2 Gen 2 Reader, CFexpress Type A & SD UHS-II Cards, High-Speed USB 10Gbps Speeds, card reader.

Do you think my card data transfer will be slower, faster or the same using the in-camera data transfer versus the reader?

No rush on a reply... going to be a few weeks before I get to start massaging the new camera!

Edited by Ski542002
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Sorry, I've never timed transfer from the camera, but the card reader I use (the Sony one with the same dual media setup we see in the cameras - the MRW-G2) is quick - hundreds of full size lossless compressed RAW in less time than it takes me to finish making a good espresso. Oh, one thing to be wary about: the CFeA cards get hot when you are transferring many GB flat out. And I mean SERIOUSLY hot - the reader gets almost too hot to touch, and so do the cards. Come to think of that - that's a good reason to download the cards using a card reader - means not heating up the inside of the camera.

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