The official list of VPG certified CFexpress cards has been released
Memory cards have various speed classes and specifications. With SD card specs, for example, we’ve got things like V30 to guarantee 30MB/sec sustained write speeds. For UHS-II SD, that goes up to V60 and V90, denoting 60MB/sec and 90MB/sec, respectively.
With CFexpress, “V” has become “VPG”, the Video Performance Guarantee. Until now, few cards have met the requirements to bear the symbols but now the CompactFlash Association has published a list of certified cards.
What is Video Performance Guarantee (VPG)?
Much like the V30, V60 and V90 specifications for SD cards, CFexpress has a similar annotation for minimum guaranteed right speeds. It’s called the Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) and current specifications exist for VPG200 and VPG400. These specifications offer 200MB/sec and 400Mb/sec minimum guaranteed write speeds, respectively.
The Video Performance Guarantee (VPG) is a standard established by the CompactFlash Association to ensure that memory cards can handle the high data rates required for video recording.
The VPG classes marked by the logos on the card (e.g., VPG200, VPG400) indicate the minimum number of megabytes per second (MB/s) that the card can write continuously. Higher VPG ratings are indicative of better performance enabling more demanding video formats like 4K as well as allowing high-frame-rate recordings to be captured reliably.CompactFlash Association
The CompactFlash association tells DIYP that for VPG certification, each manufacturer is required to use a CFA-approved tester which runs various scripts on their card to determine whether or not it meets the required specifications.
These results are then sent to a CFA-approved lab to confirm they’re authentic. Assuming they are, it’s passed along to the CompactFlash Association for certification. The CFA themselves don’t actually test the cards themselves.
Why is VPG important?
VPG specifications are required to ensure that a camera is able to save data at the speed your camera requires. If you use a card that’s too slow, your footage may appear garbled and choppy, your camera might randomly stop recording, or it may not start recording at all.
The CompactFlash Association told DIYP in an email that cameras from some manufacturers, look to see what type of CFexpress card is inserted into the camera. VPG cards have a particular digital flag set that the camera can recognise to know that it’s a VPG card with guaranteed minimum write speeds.
When such a camera sees a VPG flag, it unlocks certain shooting modes that it knows the memory card can handle. Without the VPG flag set, some shooting modes are disabled. For example on the Sony A7S III (buy here), 120/240fps modes are disabled without a VPG200 or VPG400 memory card.
About this list…
The list contains many names you’ll be familiar with. Delkin, Exascend, Lexar, Nextorage, ProGrade, SanDisk, and Sony are all there, along with lesser-known Phison. Surprisingly, however, SanDisk only has a single card in the list.
The CompactFlash Association is releasing this list now, as they say some manufacturers have been enabling the VPG flags without going through the full certification process – cards that may not actually meet the specifications. They want to help ensure that customers know what they’re buying.
CFA requires a certified and approved tester by CFA to be purchased by each company that intends to release a VPG card to the market. That tester comes with an approved test script that needs to be run on the card. The tester then outputs a report at the end of the test that is tamper proof. The test report then needs to be sent to a lab approved by CFA to check the authenticity of the report. If the report is found to be authentic, then that specific card gets approval by CFA to have a VPG logo on their card. If the VPG flag is set in the card’s firmware, then that card is required to have the VPG logo on it.
Just because a manufacturer or specific card does not appear on the list, however, does not necessarily mean that it is a bad card. It just hasn’t been through VPG testing and certification. And it may never go through them.
The fact of the matter is that very few cameras have required the VPG200 and VP400 specifications until now – which is primarily why many companies haven’t been releasing VPG-compliant cards. As cameras become more demanding, that situation is changing.
For the moment, most of you won’t require a memory card with a VPG specification. So, it shouldn’t really matter which card you use (in theory). But for those that do, you now have a list of certified VPG-compliant cards to choose from.
A Sony-heavy list
Out of the 48 cards currently on the list, only 8 of them were manufactured by Sony. However, 34 cards are CFexpress Type A – a card type that is exclusively used by Sony cameras. The remaining 14 cards are CFexpress Type B, with two of them being made by Sony.
Amongst the manufacturers, Delkin (buy here) & ProGrade’s CFexpress Type A cards (buy here) are on the list, as well as both Type A and Type B cards from Exascend (buy here), Lexar (buy here) and Nextorage (buy here). SanDisk’s only entry into the list is the 256GB Pro-Cinema CFexpress Type B (buy here).
There are some noticeable omissions from this list. OWC and AngelBird are two that immediately spring to mind. And while SanDisk is having its issues at the moment, I’m surprised they only have a single card on the list.
I expect we’ll start to see this list growing quite rapidly over the coming months as more companies release VPG-compliant memory cards. The CompactFlash Association says that the list is being updated in realtime as soon as new products are introduced.
You can view the complete list of approved cards on the CompactFlash Association Website.
Update: 14th February, 2024. This article previously suggested that CompactFlash Association performs card testing themselves. They do not. The article has been updated to clarify this and provide more information on the certification process.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.