The XQD card is a pinless unit that is smaller, faster and hardier than the CompactFlash (CF) cards we’ve used for years. It’s a format supported by Sony and Nikon (the first unit to be able to use XQDs is the Nikon D4, a 16.2-megapixel, full-frame professional digital SLR), while Canon has announced support for CFast 2.0, a rival format in the high-throughput memory card race. Neither format, it should be noted, is compatible with CF. If you’re an early adopter and already have a D4, it’s worth checking out this golden XQD unit. The current track star of memory cards, it’s able to read transfer at a neck-snapping 168 MB/s (megabits per second)—at a minimum. That means less time waiting, more time shooting. Its quick write speed (155 MB/s) allows for more assured hybrid shoots, where you’re capturing 1080p video as well as stills, since Lexar’s Professional 1100x XCD Card allows you to shoot up to 100 12-bit RAW frames in continuous shooting mode. The 1100x comes with Image Rescue 4 software, which helps salvage files that have been lost or deleted. As a bonus, the XQD format is water-, shock-, temperature- and heat-resistant. A word of warning: The XQD format (like CFast 2.0) isn’t compatible with CF readers, so you’ll need to buy a new one (both Sony and Lexar sell them for less than 50 bucks).
Prices: $449.99 for 32-GB card; $749.99 for 64-GB card