Travel mindfully.
Pursue creatively.
Live life with intention.

SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro – Everything You Need to Know

by Tom Shu

Last Updated on October 15, 2020 by Tom Shu

Ever since going full-time with photography and videography a few years ago I have relied on SanDisk memory cards to store my footage.

Today, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about these two memory cards and help you find the best one that fits with how you use your camera.

SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro features:

  • Both share V30 video speed.
  • Extreme maximum capacity of 256 GB for the Extreme, and the Pro, 1TB.
  • Both are waterproof and shockproof.
  • SanDisk Extreme has a maximum write speed of 70 MB/s, the Extreme Pro of 90 MB/s.
  • Both SD cards are U3 and Class 10.

 

Things to Consider Before Buying a High-Speed Memory Card for your Camera

You’re about to take the perfect shot.

It’s the ‘magic hour,’ everything is perfectly framed, and you click the shutter button. Allowing yourself a small smile, you think—this is gonna be an award-winner!

And then you get the dreaded notification—Memory Card Full.

Sounds familiar, right?

At some time, we’ve all been there. That stomach-sinking emotion that makes us wish we’d made more preparation.

Since digital memory virtually took over from film stock, having access to a high-performance SD—secure digital—card has been essential. Not just to ensure that you have sufficient capacity to record your images and video, but also that you can take the shots at the speed your subject demands.

Although this SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro comparison will demonstrate the differences between these two memory-masters, they share one fundamental similarity.

They’re both SD cards.

This means that they’re suitable for the majority of cameras, including DSLR, camcorders, and drones. With many modern optic devices lacking any internal memory, they’re essential tools for photographers and videographers—whether professional or hobbyist.

These SD cards allow for reliable and protected storage, which you can then easily transfer to laptops and tablets.

Just a quick word of warning, though. Before purchase, ensure that your equipment needs a standard SD card size. Some smaller devices use the micro-SD format—including smartphones, Go-Pros, and some drone cameras.

When you’re confident your equipment needs a standard SD card, here are some important points to consider:

  • UHS (Ultra High Speed) Classes
  • Different Video Speed Classes
  • Card Capacity

picture of sandisk sd card in camera

UHS (Ultra High Speed) Classes

image of ultra high speed class symbol on sd card

Developed back in 2010, a UHS rating on an SD card is essential for those photographers looking for fast data transfer speeds.

Every year, it seems the resolution for both still and video is increasing—placing increased demands on your storage card. Too slow, and you can lose quality, function, and drop frames.

While there are three UHS classes, the two you’ll most commonly see are U1 and U3 The former can transfer at the rate of 10 MB/s, and the latter up to 30 MB/s. Bear in mind that 4k camcorders usually need a U3 SD card.

Different Video Speed Classes

image of different sd card symbols on the case of a memory card

As new and improved video formats began to hit the market, the SD association understood there was a requirement to develop a speed rating purely for video.

In short, consumers were confused about whether their current cards would be sufficient for the new high-resolutions formats that cameras were able to capture.

Currently, there are five classes, although this will probably increase in-line with future recording equipment capabilities. The V-number indicates the minimum write speed for video on the card:

  • V6: 6 MB/s
  • V10: 10 MB/s
  • V30: 30 MB/s
  • V60: 60 MB/s
  • V90: 90 MB/s

 

Card Capacity

image of memory cards in a case

This is perhaps a feature that’s familiar for most users of memory cards. After all, storage is a vital characteristic of many gadgets in our lives, including laptops, smartphones, and MP3 players.

Having sufficient capacity means being able to record the volume of images and videos you want—but also at the resolution level, you demand.

Here are the number of images you can expect in uncompressed RAW format in a variety of storage sizes.

If you shoot in compressed RAW or JPEG, you can still get a rough idea of how many photos you will be able to take by comparing the file size of each one of your photos. (source: Sandisk)

table showing the storage capacity of SD card depending on megapixels and file size

And, for videographers, here are the number of minutes recording time you can store (source: panasonic).

Just like the estimated number of photos, the total recording time is also an estimate.

Not every camera can record at 400 MB/s or 150 MB/s. If your camera records at a slower recording speed, this will still give you a rough estimate of how many minutes of record time you can expect with a 64 GB and 128 GB memory card.

table illustrating the recording time capacity memory cards

The SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro

Down to the main event! Allow me to introduce you to both of these powerful SD cards.

SanDisk Extreme

image of a gold sd card up close

With a history dating back over 32 years, and being the third-largest company in the world for memory (after Samsung and Toshiba), you know this is going to be a robust SD card.

For over ten years, the SanDisk Extreme has been a favorite with photographers and filmmakers for its speed and reliability—and this latest incarnation appears that it will remain as successful.

It delivers up to 70 MB/s shot speed and provides UHS Class 3 (U3) recording, which should give you a stutter-free high-resolution video and the ability to take photos in burst mode.

It has accelerated transfer speeds, so you can save time when moving your photos and videos to other devices.

And, if you’re purchasing in the USA, this SD card comes with a lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • Longevity—trusted by photographers and filmmakers worldwide.
  • Made by a market leader.
  • Offers U3 recording.
  • Waterproof.
  • Lifetime warranty.

CONS:

  • 256 GB maximum capacity.
  • Slower maximum write speed of 70 MB/s versus 90 MB/s with the SanDisk Extreme Pro version.
  • Maximum read speed of 150 MB/s is slower than the 170 MB/s maximum read speed of the SanDisk Extreme Pro.


illustration of box which links to amazon


SanDisk Extreme Pro

image of black sd card from up close

Not content with their already impressive Extreme card, the guys at SanDisk decided to ramp up the performance and created the Extreme Pro.

In short, this powerful storage unit is akin to fitting a nitrous oxide unit to your car, increasing both the velocity and acceleration power.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro features an enhanced read speed. So, if you have a large volume of images, or you’ve been recording in 4k format, you’ll be able to maximize your post-production time by dramatically cutting the overall file transfer duration.

Additionally, SanDisk has elevated the write speed for this card to 90 MB/s, meaning uninterrupted recording, which ensures you’re not going to miss that prize-worthy moment.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the Extreme Pro comes with a choice of expanded capacity so you have the flexibility to increase your storage size if the 256 GB capacity is not enough for you.

PROS:

  • Capacity up to 1TB.
  • Faster maximum write speed of 90 MB/s versus the 70 MB/s of the SanDisk Extreme.
  • Faster maximum read speed of 170 MB/s versus the 150 MB/s of the SanDisk Extreme.
  • Swift read speed delivers time-saving benefits.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • X-ray proof.

CONS:

  • More expensive than the SanDisk Extreme.
  • To get the most benefit you will need a device that has the same speed as the card.
  • Not compatible with some older cameras.


illustration of box which links to amazon


 



SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro – How They Compare

Let’s see how these two SD cards measure up by comparing their key features.



Maximum Shot/Write Speed

Something for you to bear in mind, the write speed that manufacturers declare relates to quick bursts of photographic action—not sustained use.  One thing to point out is that the speed you see on the front of the Sandisk Extreme and Sandisk Extreme Pro is the read speed and not the write speed.

For your reference, the SanDisk Extreme has a maximum rated write speed of 70 MB/s, while the Pro version has the capacity for 90 MB/s. So, if you use burst mode in photography a lot and you have a camera that can write at this speed, it may be worthwhile to consider the SanDisk Extreme Pro.

So, if you often take rapid sequential shots, you’ll need a higher write speed. However, if your primarily record video for a longer duration of time than just a, a higher specification will not make that much difference.

It’s also not all about the speed of the SD card. The device that you’ll be using the card with is equally as important.

Different processing units and interfaces in your camera or camcorder may prevent the storage card from functioning at capacity. Admittedly, higher-rated removable memory will perform faster than a lower classified one—you just won’t receive its full benefits.

If that’s not the case, and you’re more likely to be shooting extended duration videos, the standard SanDisk Extreme may be a better fit for you.

Maximum Transfer/Read Speed

Read speed isn’t a factor when you’re out taking photos, but it is when you get back to your computer.

From a pure convenience and efficiency perspective, you might appreciate an SD card with a higher read speed. With a higher read speed, you’ll be able to transfer your images and videos faster saving you time if you have a lot of files to transfer.

For me, I love the higher read speed especially since I shoot most of my videos in 4K and take photos with my Sony a7RIII which has a raw image file size of 41 MB.

If you’re a pro or semi-pro videographer or photographer, faster read speeds is definitely worth it as it will save you time in the long run.

If this sounds like you, then I’d recommend you consider the Extreme Pro, as it provides a maximum read speed of 170 MB/s, compared to the 150 MB/s delivered by the SanDisk Extreme.

That said, if you have patience and self-control—and don’t mind heading off for a coffee while your files are transferring—the SanDisk Extreme may be perfectly sufficient.

The Specification Numbers

When you look at the SanDisk cards and, you will see a bunch of numbers and symbols on it. This is what they mean.



Class 10

Glance over both the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro and you’ll notice the number 10 inside the letter ‘C.’

This shows they’re Class 10 SDs—the highest rating of a memory card—and indicates that they possess a minimum data transfer speed of 10 MB/s. On slower SD cards, you may notice the numbers 4 or 6 within the ‘C,’ indicating a lower transfer rate of 4 and 6 MB/s, respectively.

Hence, both cards are guaranteed to move data at a speed of no less than 10 MB/s.

V30 Video Write Speed

illustration of where to find video write speed on sandisk sd card

The ‘V’ number (indicated on the top right-hand corner of SanDisk cards) indicates the minimum video writing rate. This is one of the newest standards of rating SD memory cards, introduced in 2016.

In this respect, both the Extreme and Extreme Pro are equal—each having a V30 rating—meaning a minimum speed of 30 MB/s.

And that’s important.

In practical terms, it denotes that these cards are suitable for use in HD, 4k and 8k video formats—whereas lower V-numbers would lead to data loss if they recorded at all. That said, a V30 card is backward compatible and will function on most standard definition recording devices.

U3 Data Transfer Speed

As mentioned earlier in this SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro comparison, the UHS class (denoted by a number inside the letter ‘U’) indicates the minimum data transfer speed — with U1 the slowest and U3 being the fastest.

I know what you’re thinking— doesn’t the ‘Class’ rating (discussed earlier) provide that information?

The answer is yes —and you will see both indicators on SanDisk cards.

However, the UHS interface is the more modern system. Hence, when you see an SD with C10 and U3, this means that it’ll function at Class 10 speed on older equipment with a standard bus but at UHS Class 3 speed on newer machines with a UHS bus.

That is, the fastest of both worlds.

Both the Extreme and Extreme Pro are U3. So, they’re capable of handling the large size of 4k videos — and can cope with the fast writing rate that high-res recording equipment demands.

Durability

Your SD card is more than just a tool – it’s a vital record of your memories.

These powerful storage units pack in an immense amount of tech into a surprisingly small area. So, you need a storage device that’s going to be durable, otherwise, you could lose those crucial recordings of your adventures.

You also have to consider that, often, you won’t be using your memory card in the safety of your home. You could be at a sporting event, at the beach, or halfway up a mountain. And, you may also find yourself swapping cards outdoors, exposing your SD card to the elements.

Reassuringly, both the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro are X-ray, water and shock-proof. They have a vast operating temperature range of -13 degrees to +185 degrees Fahrenheit meaning you’re much more likely to expire before your memory card!

Just take a look at the photos of my SD cards. I’ve been using both of these for more than a couple of years and other than a few minor cosmetic scratches, they’re still going strong.

What Do Other Photographers Have to Say?

camera in yellow flowers

Don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what other photographers and filmmakers are saying about the these two SD cards:

SanDisk Extreme

image of sandisk extreme sd card on gray background



SanDisk Extreme Pro





Alternatives to the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro

Despite the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro being excellent, there are some superb memory cards from other manufacturers on the market.

Here are three that are highly worthy of a mention:

1.) Lexar Professional 2000X

 

If you demand even more speed than the SanDisk can deliver, this may be of interest. While its Class 10 and U3 rated, the same as the Extreme cards, the Lexar has a USB-II bus, as opposed to the USB-I of the SanDisk. This provides even faster read/write capabilities, which may appeal to videographers.

Lexar Professional 2000X vs SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro

  • More expensive than both SanDisks.
  • Maximum capacity of 128 GB. The Extreme and Pro have larger options.
  • V90 rating higher than V30 of SanDisks.


illustration of box which links to amazon


2.) ProGrade Digital UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

 

If you’re looking for even faster transfer speeds, this could be a good alternative to the Sandisk cards. With a maximum read speed of 300MB/s, compared to the 170 MB/s of the Extreme Pro this might be a better fit for you if you’re moving large numbers of images and video files.

ProGrade Digital vs SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro

  • Read speed of 300 MB/s against the 170 MB/s of Extreme Pro.
  • As an SDXC, it’s not backward compatible with SDHC (SanDisk format) devices.
  • Greater video write speed of V90 compared to V30 of both SanDisks.
  • Also more expensive than the SanDisk cards.


illustration of box which links to amazon


3.) Sony SF-G Tough Series UHS-II

 

If your photography and filmmaking adventures take you to some challenging environments, this solid card may appeal to you. According to the manufacturer, it’s the world’s first one-piece construction—meaning that it’s remarkably robust, delivering 18 times more bend-strength than standard SD cards.

Sony SF-G vs SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro

  • Faster UHS-II spec than the UHS-I of the Sandisks.
  • 300 MB/s write speed compared to 90 MB/s of the Extreme Pro.
  • A higher specced card, demanding a more premium price than the SanDisks.


illustration of box which links to amazon


The Conclusion

illustration of a podium with 3 different sd cards on the podium

The SD card might be boring to think about, but it’s the lifeblood of your camera.

You need high capacity to retain your images and videos, fast write speeds to ensure that valuable data isn’t lost, and rapid transfer rates so you’re not spending valuable time waiting for all the files to move over.

And, these two SanDisk cards are excellent in all these areas.

Both examples deliver impressive storage, durability, fast U3 and Class 10 speeds, and the 4k movie capability of the V30 formats.

So, between the SanDisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro—which one should you choose?

If you use burst shooting often for photography and haven’t the time for slow data transfer, personally, I’d go for the Extreme Pro. If you primarily shoot videos and don’t consider super-fast transfers to be essential, go for the more cost-friendly SanDisk Extreme.

 

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.