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ProGrade card reader and cards

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Review: ProGrade card reader and SDXC cards

A USB 3.1 gen.2 reader and fast cards

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ProGrade Digital was established to provide top end camera memory and workflow solutions for photographers needing speed and reliability.

As an architectural photographer working at a slower pace, Keith sort of assumed that his ‘old kit’ would carry on fine.

A few tests of the new kit shows that this attitude (actually quite common amongst working photographers) was due an update…

BTW, I’ve a short guide to all those symbols you see on SD cards at the foot of the article

ProGrade 128 card and reader

Buying direct from ProGrade.

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Photographers and memory cards

Like many photographers, I keep an eye on the technologies that are an essential part of my workflow. My Canon 50MP 5Ds represented a biggish step up from my previous 21MP Canon 1Ds Mk3 when I got it in 2015.

What I never updated at the time were the 32GB memory cards I’d been using with the 1Ds3 – their capacity was fine, I didn’t shoot long bursts of images and would not often fill a card, with the sort of work I did.

Sure, I noted the continuing evolution of cards, but that was for sports photographers, high end video and wedding people who shot thousands of images a time.

After recently talking to some of the people from ProGrade in the US I decided to see whether even my relatively sedate workflow should be updated.

Card speed

Just remember that the performance limit may well be coming from your camera, and that a faster card may make very little obvious difference to your shooting. In the case of my 5Ds, the SD slot limits means I won’t be able to see the full speed benefits of the SDXC UHS-II, V60 128MB card I’m trying.

prograde 128 card

Don’t just throw the box away BTW. There was a 10% off coupon for my next purchase inside.

Camera memory cards are widely forged, with reduced capacity and performance.  I only once ever bought one from a ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ supplier, and it failed after a month or so.

No, I like to buy cards direct from known sources [ProGrade sell their high end cards directly] Any extra costs should be set against the cost and inconvenience of a card failure on a paying job…

The ProGrade cards are individually tested, unlike the batch testing applied to many other brands. Warranty info.


128GB is a good size for my SD card slot making for a good backup against the 32G CF cards I use in the other slot.

That’s what I though until I noticed how fast it could be downloaded – the roles are now swapped.

Note the extra second row of pins – faster, but my 5Ds doesn’t make use of them (maybe the 5Ds mk2)

sdxc contacts


For the card type I’m using

  • Capacity: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
  • Read Speed: Up to 200MB/sec
  • Write Speed: Up to 80MB/sec
  • Form Factor: SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions: 0.94″ x 1.25″ x 0.08″ (24 mm x 32 mm x 2.1 mm)
  • Operating Temperature: -13℉ to 185℉ (-25℃ to +85℃)
  • Storage Temperature: -40℉ to +185℉ (-40℃ to +85℃)
  • Compatibility: Compatible with SDXC and SDXC UHS-I enabled host devices
  • Security: Built-in write-protect switch prevents accidental data loss

ProGrade also do SDXC UHS-II, V90 cards and CFast 2.0 cards

The USB 3.1 card reader

In some ways the new card reader is a much more immediately useful update – it’s fast.


The reader has the latest fast Generation 2.0 USB 3 interface. This gives up to 10 gigabit/s connection speeds

usb 3.1 Gen.2 socket

It comes with leads for USB3.1 (normal rectangular USB) and the new smaller (faster) symmetrical style.



From ProGrade

  • Model: PG02
  • Cards Supported: SD UHS-II/ CFast 2.0
  • Interface Support: USB 3.1, Gen. 2
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 1.25GB/sec
  • Operating Temperature: -13℉ to 194℉ (-25℃ to +90℃)
  • Storage Temperature: -40℉ to +194℉ (-40℃ to +90℃)
  • Operating Voltage: 5.0V
  • Warranty: 2 Years
  • Extra Feature: Dual-slot/ Magnetic Base/ Type A and C cables

More details

My desktop Mac Pro is limited to USB3.1 (via a PCI card)

prograde reader front

The reader feels solidly built and functional.

In use

Just to see the difference I tried downloading the contents of a 4GB, 32GB and the 128GB card to my Mac’s main (1GB Flash) drive from the ProGrade drive and my day to day CF/SD drive (USB 2)

The cards were not full, but I was only looking at relative speeds.

Size USB 2 ProGrade USB 3
4GB 27 seconds 27 seconds
32GB 44 seconds 11 seconds
128GB Wouldn’t read on Mac 9 seconds

So, even my old cards are a lot faster on the new reader.

I’d note that to use the 128GB card, my old reader just isn’t up to it, but there was twice as much data on the 128MB card and it was still quicker than the 32GB. The reader is making use of the faster card speed.

The base of the reader is magnetic, so don’t put it in your pocket with your credit cards…

Some thoughts

I’ve quite deliberately not gone for detailed read/write time analysis – you’ll have to look elsewhere for that.

My 5Ds is not really meant for speed and I rarely shoot video (it’s ‘only’ HD anyway).

The 128GB card will likely be even better for my next camera, but for the fact that reliability and capacity are important right now.

I also now have CFast card support, for the next time I borrow a 1D X mk2, but the real boost is when I want to get lots of data off a card with the USB3.1 reader.

Memory cards are a vital link in your photography. If your business depends on it, then isn’t it time to move those old cards to the ’emergency backup’ section of the camera bag?

All those symbols on SD Cards

All the different names and symbols can be a bit confusing, so here’s a very short overview

Card types

  • SD – The original standard
  • SDHC – Capacity up to 32GB
  • SDXC – Capacity up to 2TB. Higher speed UHS connections (bus) introduced

The logo shows what sort of card it is:

SD-Logo  SDHC-Logo  SDXC logo

Update: SDUC is added to the list (128TB max) – see the announcement news article.

The Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus

Introduced with SDXC (indicated with Roman numerals)

  • UHS-I   UHS I – Higher speed data transfer mode
  • UHS-II  UHS II – Higher speed (than UHS I) data transfer mode using extra pins on card
  • UHS-III UHS III – Higher speed(than UHS II) data transfer mode using extra pins on card

Speed class ratings

This is where it can get confusing… Rather than go into all the fine detail I’ll include this table from [WP] where I’d suggest you go next if you want all the background.

Minimum sequential writing speed Speed Class UHS Speed Class Video Speed Class Application
2 MB/s SDHC_Speed_Class_2.svg
Class 2 (C2)
SD video recording
4 MB/s SDHC_Speed_Class_4.svg
Class 4 (C4)
High-definition video (HD) recording including Full HD (from 720p to 1080p/1080i)
6 MB/s SDHC_Speed_Class_6.svg
Class 6 (C6)
Class 6 (V6)
10 MB/s SDHC_Speed_Class_10.svg
Class 10 (C10)
Class 1 (U1)
Class 10 (V10)
Full HD (1080p) video recording and consecutive recording of HD stills (High Speed bus, Class C10), real-time broadcasts and large HD video files (UHS bus, Classes U1 and V10)
30 MB/s UHS_Class_3
Class 3 (U3)
Class 30 (V30)
1080p and 4K video files at 60/120 fps (UHS bus)
60 MB/s Video_Speed_Class_60
Class 60 (V60)
8K video files at 60/120 fps (UHS bus)
90 MB/s Video_Speed_Class_90
Class 90 (V90)
ProGrade 128GB

From ProGrade Digital


card front and back

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