Monday, 13 January 2014

Beware of fake SD cards

Memory cards are important for photography and videography. As cameras can take higher resolution images and higher bitrate movies, you need larger cards to be able to accommodate your images. Also, with cameras being able to record many high resolution pictures per second, you need faster cards. For example, the Nikon 1 series of cameras can take full resolution images at 60fps, very impressive.

When you buy a memory card, you are paying for speed first, then capacity, and somewhere between there, the brand name. Since many who use the cards may not know how to test the actual speed, this leaves the marked vulnerable to counterfeiters.

On a personal note, I happened to buy a reasonably priced Sandisk Ultra 64GB Class 10 Micro SD card. This card is fairly fast. For use with a Lumix GH3, I would get the somewhat more expensive 45MB/s rated card, but the one I ordered should be good for most amateur uses.

I chose to buy one of the least expensive on Amazon. When it arrived, it looked quite ok after breaking open the package:



However, some features of the package did not look right. There was a sticker on the package saying 64GB, but underneath it, it said 2GB. This looks fishy:





The card itself looks normal, but appears to easily lose the finish:



To test it, I downloaded the freeware program H2testw 1.4, which can be used to test the integrity of the card: Read and write speeds, data correctness, and capacity. Here is the test of my card:



What we see here is that the first 7.5GB of the card tests ok. The rest does not. Further, the average read speed is about 2MB/s. That is way too low. This card should have had at least 10MB/s, and on average probably around 20MB/s.

Hence, this is probably an 8GB Class 2 card repackaged as a 64GB Class 10 card. In reality, the card is virtually worthless.

If I had started using the fake card, it would have worked ok for a while. Then, I would have gotten file integrity problems as the files start to populate areas outside of the 8GB area of the card. This is not fun, of course.

For comparison, I have tested a genuine Sandisk Extreme 32GB Class 10 SD card:



In this test, we see that the write speed is 30MB/s and the read speed is 37MB/s. This is quite respectable, as the card is advertised to have a maximum transfer speed of 45MB/s.

I feel quite embarrassed that I bought a fake card. I guess I blame myself for going for the cheapest option when buying online on Amazon.

There is no point in naming and shaming the supplier on Amazon. The seller has since ceased operations, and is not answering mails. He is probably setting up a new store to offload more fake cards.

Getting Amazon to refund my payment was very easy. First, I filed a claim against the seller. Of course, the seller did not reply. After a week, I filed a new claim to Amazon, and they refunded my payment immediately.

The conclusion is that if you buy a memory card online, check the feedback ratings on the seller, especially if the price is low. If the seller is new or has bad ratings, don't buy a memory card from him.

Memory cards are so inexpensive now, that even if you never delete an image file, it is much less expensive than shooting traditional film, even if you didn't process the film. At these low prices, look out for the biggest bargains, as they may be too good to be true.

In case you think you may have bought the same fake card yourself, here are some details of the packaging:


On the front, there is a 64GB sticker. On the rear, the real barcode is also covered with a sticker, carrying the number 2004745.

6 comments:

  1. Been there, done that... I had a similar issue with a Nikon battery charger on eBay: http://drinkcat.blogspot.sg/2013/01/nikon-charger-vs-nikon-charger.html .

    In short, I love eBay for cheap filters, extension tubes and other accessories of that kind, but avoid branded items from sellers in Hong Kong/China, you never know what you'll get...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think that is a good point. Be aware of items with known brand names, as they can be fake. Items that are not branded, or do not have a well known brand name, are safer.

      Delete
  2. Yes, an openly generic item is less likely to be fake than a branded one sold at a too good to be true price. I bought a top brand 256 Gigabyte thumb drive that was a beautifully counterfeited item in the correct packaging out of Hong Kong a few years ago on eBay. Like yours it was just a low capacity drive on little or no value. I too filed a claim and got my money back because I paid with PayPal and was therefore covered against fraud.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have buy the same SD card with the same package. And my Speed is not 10MB/s, my Speed is 2MB/s. My SD card is however 64GB. But the Adapter is not the Original

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the package is written SDHC and on the SD card is written SDXC

      Delete
    2. Test the card without adapter.

      Delete