Below are three separate comparison charts. These include:
If you're interested in a particular card, I highly suggest you continue to the section that covers that particular card!
I have also included card readers that are compatible with CFexpress Type A, UHS-II, and UHS-I (Sony MRW-S1 is only compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II).
That's correct - unlike the A7iii, which only supported UHS-II in card slot 1 - UHS-II is supported in both card slots. This is a significant benefit to the A7 IV over the A7iii.
This is due largely to the fact that the overall speed across both slots was determined by your slowest card. With slot 2 only supporting UHS-I you were limited to UHS-I speeds if shooting redundant.
This led to increased read/transfer speeds becoming the only real benefit of using a UHS-II card in the A7iii.
Let's move on and talk about what's supported by each card slot in the Sony A7 IV.
Dual card slots are present on the A7IV.
Much like the A7iii - card slot 2 doesn't support everything that card slot 1 supports.
With that being said, the A7IV supports UHS-I and UHS-II in both slots. This is a significant improvement over the A7iii - seeing as it only supported UHS-II in slot 1 and not 2.
If you have followed the release of the A7SIII - you'll know that Sony's CF Express Type A cards are not only supported by it - but it's supported in both blot 1 and 2.
Well, on the A7IV CF Express Type A is only supported in slot 1. You will not reap the benefits of the write speeds of a Type A card in slot 2.
Let's continue this discussion with the limitations of some of the types of cards on the A7IV.
As you may imagine, if you shoot redundant, the overall write speed of your camera will be determined by your slowest card.
Meaning, if you have a CF Express Type A in slot 1 (700/800MB/s R/W) and a UHS-II card in slot 2 (300/300MB/s R/W) - the A7IV won't write any faster than 300MB/s.
This is due to the idea that the camera is writing to each card at the exact same time at the fastest speed possible - seeing as 300MB/s is the fastest speed that both cards can write at the same time... this would leave you limited to 300MB/s.
That makes sense, right? Again, this is only when shooting redundant (or mirroring cards one and two).
Now, if you're using slot 2 for added storage and shooting on each card individually - you'll gain the benefits from each slot independently. Just know that when you switch and start recording on slot 2, you may be limited on what you're able to do (and performance will decrease significantly from a CF Express Type A).
We will touch a bit more on this later on in the article.
Don't get me wrong, I love Sony and have for years. I've been shooting on an A7III for 3 years now and love everything about it (other than the menu from time to time haha).
But, the fact that slots 1 and 2 don't both support CF Express Type A is such a disappointment. Seeing as the A7SIII supports them in both slots - it only seemed fitting that the IV would do the same... But we all know now, that it isn't the case.
For those that shoot redundant 100% of the time (myself included) - there is very little reason to invest in a Type A card at all.
With all of that being said - I can only assume Sony's reason behind this was cost. While I respect it, it's still unfortunate...
here are two instances when a CF Express Type A card is required in slot 1 to either harness the benefits from it or for the camera to work at all.
Instance one is if you're recording in S&Q Mode with the file format XAVC S-I 4k in either 25/30p or 50/60p. In this instance, you're required to have a CF Express Type A card. The A7IV won't even allow you to start recording in this mode/frame-rates if you don't.
According to AlphaShooters.com in their article Sony A7IV Memory Card Guide And Buffer Tests
this setting/frame-rate combo doesn't exceed the performance of a V90 card - so it may be changed in a firmware update. But personally, I highly doubt it.
The other instance when you'd be required to have a Type A card is a bufferless photo shooting in uncompressed RAW. If you're shooting in uncompressed RAW using a Type A card, you'll never reach a buffer limit. The camera can write to the card fast enough that you'll never hit it.
On the other hand, if you're shooting with a UHS-II or UHS-I, you'll hit a buffer very similar to the limits of the A7iii.
For those of you who don't have any knowledge about a Type A card - I thought I would do a short overview of its specs. They're actually pretty impressive, in my opinion.
First, do not mistake this card for CF Express Type B. A Type B card is much larger and will not fit inside of the A7IV. With that being said, Type B cards are significantly faster than type A cards - but that's for a different article.
CF Express Type A cards read and write at speeds of 800/700MB/s (respectively). This is significantly faster than even the top tier UHS-II cards which cap around 300/300MB/s.
This performance increase allows for faster data rates for things we've talked about in the previous section. This includes specific recording modes/frame rates, and burst photos with no buffering.
Another significant benefit of these cards is offloading your work. The read speed directly relates to transfer speeds. Meaning, with a compatible card reader, you're able to offload at essentially 800MB/s. This can save you a lot of time after a shoot.
If you're wondering, "how much video can I capture on a single card depending on card capacity and internal camera settings?". Well, this section will really help you out.
I have created this chart to only include large differences between settings. For instance - if you have 4k set at 200M - you can assume (and be correct) that 150M would have a longer record limit and lower in file size (for the same amount of time between the two).
As you'd imagine - you'll need a card reader that's compatible with the card in your camera!
Now - if you aren't interested in CF Express Type A - and have a card reader that's compatible with UHS-II or UHS-I - you're good!
Just note - if you want to harness the speeds of UHS-II, you will need a UHS-II card reader. Although, a UHS-II card will work inside of a UHS-I camera/card reader... you'll just lose the increased speed (which is what you're paying for).
CF Express Type A is a different story. The form factor, pins, and overall structure is completely different - requiring a compatible device and card reader.
No need to worry - we have you covered in all aspects. Below are the best card readers for CF Express Type A, UHS-II and even UHS-I cards.
We have to recommend the Sony card reader, right? I mean, how are you going to have a Sony camera (and the works) - without a Sony reader haha.
Seriously though, this card reader is incredibly solid. It has a slightly smaller form factor than other brands (such as Prograde) - making it perfect for a laptop or camera bag.
Some highlighted tech specs:
I'm currently writing this article on a ~5-year-old laptop (August 2017) - with a GTX 1070 - and an old Gen 3 thunderbolt port. When I'm transferring in the field - even this 5-year-old port utilizes the 800 MB/s read/transfer speeds of this reader/card combo.
You get what you pay for. This reader comes in at the top in terms of cost. But again - you're getting 3 card readers in one, with thunderbolt speeds, by a reputable brand and a great form factor.
I love and live Prograde. From their UHS-II cards to their Type B cards and readers... I've been a Prograde customer for years.
It's one of the few brands that live behind their name.
There are a couple of pros to this reader versus the Sony version. Those are:
Much like the Sony version - the tech specs include:
The form factor is slightly thicker than the Sony - without a doubt. This is mainly due to the fact that Type A and standard card slots are separate.
This shouldn't be an issue at all (about 5mm added thickness). The plus to this is that you can transfer from multiple cards at the same time (at rated speeds of each card - no need to worry about throttling speeds over USB Gen 3.2 or thunderbolt).
The cost is also a huge plus. Coming in at roughly $40 less than the Sony version... you can't go wrong. The reviews online for this product and Prograde as a whole, speak for themselves.
This is the card reader that I recommended for those looking for Sony A7III memory cards. It's very small (can fit in your pocket if you need it to) - and reaches top-end UHS-II speeds.
I am only recommending it here if you aren't interested in getting CFExpress Type A cards - ever.
f you think you may get Type A cards in the future - you should look into the readers above (seeing as they read/transfer from UHS-II and UHS-I cards too).
Again, this will get the job done great, but only on cards up to UHS-II.
As of writing this article, there are only two manufacturers of CF Express Type A cards - Those being SONY and Prograde.
With that being said, let's discuss the best CFexpress type A cards for the A7 IV.
This is the pinnacle of both capacity and performance for the A7 IV. It's both the fastest in both read and write speeds as well as the largest of 160gb.
It's IPX7 rated in both water and drop resistance. It's water-resistant and drop-resistant from 7 meters.
Performace, (based on customer reviews) is top tier as well. It's literally the best you can get at the moment.
The only downside is obviously cost. Coming in around $400 - it's very pricy in terms of cost per GB. At roughly $2.50 per gb - this sits alongside top tier m.2 drives. But again, you're getting the best of the best.
Like stated previously, prograde is Sony's only competition in the Type A space.
With that being said - the performance is very similar with:
What you get with prograde are vigorous testing and individual identifiable serial numbers.
With counterfeit cards becoming a major issue on the market (SanDisk being the leading counterfeit card) - Prograde gives you peace of mind with a unique serial number for every card they produce.
Their testing, as stated previously, is vigorous to ensure the card will work and continue to work for years to come.
As of writing this article, the price difference between both cards is roughly $20 (if you can find the Sony version on sale). Prograde will be (and will likely remain) the more affordable option.
This card is currently on the market for roughly $365.
Prograde does not make an 80GB version of this card - meaning, if you plan to go with Prograde for this card - there are no other options than this.
I won't go into much detail on this card seeing as it is identical to the 160GB version other than capacity.
It's exactly half the capacity and about half the cost.
You'll get all of the non-capacity-related benefits of the 160GB version including speed and toughness ratings.
The perfect choice if you'd like to harness those speeds while not needing the space and saving a bit of cash.
It's only fitting to include the best UHS-II cards, seeing as both card slots support UHS-II now. Don't forget, you'll want to run UHS-II in slot 2 if you're using a Type A card in slot one as well.
Let's get started with Prograde!
In my opinion, there isn't a brand much better than Prograde when it comes to standard SD cards.
With their reputation, vigorous testing, recovery software, and serial numbers on all of their cards (to ensure you are getting an authentic product) - Prograde is a top-tier company for sure.
If 256 GB is too large, there are 64GB and 128GB versions of this as well.
If you're only interested in V60 speeds (for increased read speeds and average write speeds) - Prograde offers them as well.
Tech specs of Prograde V60 cards:
V90 cards are top-tier UHS-II performance - while V60 cards are great for photographers that don't need the increased write speed but want the increased read speeds (offloading/transfer).
The only downside, as you can imagine, is the price. You'll pay between 10 and 20% more for this quality (versus their competitors) - but in the end, it's all more than worth it.
Out of all the UHS-II that we're recommending - the Sony Tough-G cards are the fastest. You'll see other cards with 300MB/s read speeds... but there aren't any cards that can write this fast.
You'll receive the highest level of waterproof and dustproof ratings (IPX8 and IP6X, respectively).
It also has a completely ribless design. Meaning, the entire card is sealed - preventing all dust and water to enter the card.
To compare - most memory card manufacturers have a lock switch on the side that, when activated (or locked), prevents the card from being written/deleted. Sony has taken it upon themselves to remove this feature and has made it completely seamless. There are now fewer moving parts and fewer entry points for dust and water.
You can also opt to purchase the V60 version of the card (still a UHS-II). This will save you money at the expense of performance.
As you can see - it's about half the write speed - but more than half the cost. You'll save a significant amount of money if you don't need the fast write speed but want to retain the fast transfer speeds.
SanDisk has had a great reputation for decades now. SanDisk also has the most reviews of any SD card online at the moment. The obvious reason for their success is how affordable they are.
I've owned nearly every SanDisk SD card on the market. Luckily, I've never had any issues at all from any of them (corruption, heat/cold damage, etc.).
The only reason I don't use them as often (or buy them anymore) is the number of counterfeit versions that are on the market today.
But don't worry - any of the cards that I've recommended here are completely authentic and from SanDisk themselves.
If you've been following so far, you'll notice we haven't included a UHS-II with a capacity of 256GB. Well, Lexar is here to save the day.
Not only that - Lexar has a great reputation for not only reliability but cost as well.
If you compare the Sony 128GB UHS-II card to this one - you notice, for $50 more, you can double your capacity.
That's where Lexar shines, in my opinion. You get great performance at a great cost. The thing that's lacking is recovery software and not being as sealed off as a Prograde or Sony card.
There are 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions as well.
If you'd like to save even more cash - their V60 versions are great as well. Just be aware (as shown in the info below) - the performance takes a bit of a hit.
Tech specs of Lexar V60:
If you're ok with not having a big 'name brand' and recovery software included - you can't go wrong with Lexar Professional.
I debated whether I should include this section in this article. I mean, UHS-I is like a decade old and UHS-II is dropping significantly in price.
But I get it. Not everyone is cool dropping $150+ per card. At least not until they know what they're going to be doing with it full time.
With that being said - we're only recommending 2 solid UHS-I cards that will be affordable for anyone who has an A7 IV.
SanDisk Extreme Pro's are the highest reviewed SD card - by a longshot. With over 120,000 reviews on Amazon alone... they're the kings of SD cards.
It's easy to understand why - they're reliable and affordable.
I've accumulated about 15 of these over the years. They have never let me down. I take care of my gear (which I'm assuming you do as well) - and I don't have a single negative thing to say about these cards.
There are 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 512GB, and 1TB versions of this card available.
I've had a handful of Sandisk memory cards - but tons of Samsung hard drives. Solid-State drives to be exact. Samsung does a lot - hard drives/memory is something they do well.
The Pro Plus line of SD cards is pushing the limits of UHS-I. This is about the best performance you can get out of this class of card.
If you grab them at the time of writing this article - you'll get 256GB for next to nothing. We're talking less than $35.
At the time of writing this article - I picked up 5 of them just because of the savings. There's always something I can throw a UHS-I card into (not just this camera).
Overall - we recommend what works best for you.
If you aren't shooting a lot of video, and you are ok with still dealing with an image buffer - go with UHS-II.
If you do shoot a lot of video - and want zero restrictions - you'll want to go with the Type A card for sure.
What I do not recommend is putting a UHS-I card in this camera if you can afford to invest in at least UHS-II.
Seeing as you've already invested $2k+ into the camera already - there shouldn't be a reason you can't fork over a couple hundred more for good UHS-II cards.
I can totally understand if you don't have the $400+ investment for Type A cards - but at least get solid UHS-II cards and reap the benefits of the A7 IV supporting dual UHS-II.
Well, there you have it!
Now you should have a much better understanding of the A7 IV and which memory card is best for it.
If there is anything that you don't understand or need me to clarify, feel free to get ahold of me through my contact page.
Be on the lookout for more A7IV related articles - which I will be releasing soon. At least, as soon as I can get my hands on one of my own (have mine on preorder at the moment).
Until next time, be safe, and continue creating!