When you think of must-have gear as a photographer, SD cards aren’t exactly the most thrilling to talk about. If you put up a SanDisk SD card, a Sony TOUGH SD card and a variety of other brands, most photographers will probably be alright with any of them, given they meet a certain speed and storage requirement.

I recently had the chance to test out OWC’s Atlas S Pro SDXC cards, and I have to say I was pretty impressed. I’ve long been against many of the builds that card manufacturers have — especially for UHS-II cards — because they rely on flimsy plastic parts that can easily break off. That’s the number one reason why I usually rely on Sony TOUGH cards — there’s none of those parts to break off.

While, from the outside, OWC’s Atlas S Pro looked like just another SD card, it was clear they had built this to be tough, and to last regular usage and extreme conditions.

Pros

  • Fast, and holds more photos than other 128GB cards
  • V90 card is perfect for most video situations
  • Side lock switch is firm and shows no potential of snapping off or breaking

Cons

  • Back of card has some common failure points with UHS-II cards, including plastic notches

Technical specifications — OWC Atlas S Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

All of the technical specifications for the OWC Atlas S Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card are from the product listing on the B&H website:

  • Card type: SDXC
  • Bus type: UHS-II
  • Speed class: 10
  • UHS speed class: U3
  • Video speed class: V90
  • Read speed: Maximum 290 MB/s
  • Write speed: 90 MB/s to 277 MB/s
  • Durability: Shockproof, temperature extremes, UV light resistant, X-ray proof
  • Write-Protect switch: Yes

First impressions — OWC Atlas S Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

As I mentioned above, the exterior of the SD card looks like every other UHS-II card you’ve used. But after putting it through a few tests, I realized it was a bit more than that.

First, some physical tests. I tried to pry off the vertical plastic slots on the back of the card. These have failed again and again for me in the past with SanDisk Extreme Pro cards, and it’s usually the first physical failure point of a card.

To my surprise, these plastic slots seemed to be a bit more strong. I tried picking at them and even forcing them with a pen cap. They weren’t going anywhere.

I also slid the Write-Protect switch up and down multiple times. I could tell this was built a bit better than other cards out there, too, as it required a bit more force to push up and down.

And finally, compared to some of my old SanDisk UHS-II cards, the OWC felt just slightly heavier. This further confirmed that quality parts were being used.

OWC advertises the Atlas S Pro as being a pretty tough card. Namely, the Atlas S Pro uses pSLC technology, meaning it can last up to 10 times more than traditional SD cards. They’re bend, shock, UV light, X-ray and extreme temperature resistant. And as someone who lives in the midwest where are temperatures are constantly going up and down, that definitely had me intrigued.

Putting it to the test — OWC Atlas S Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory Card

When it came to performance in the field, the Atlas S Pro didn’t skip a beat. I never ran into buffering issues or anything like that, and the card kept up wonderfully with my Sony TOUGH card in the other card slot.

When it came to running a speed test on my MacBook Pro laptop, the card matched expectations impressed with its read and write speeds. It beat out my Sony TOUGH cards by 13 MB/s in Write speeds to reach 204.9 MB/s, and came in a bit under with Read speeds, at 238.3 MB/s, a difference of 6 MB/s.

One thing that did catch me by surprise, though, was the fact that the card — despite being listed as a 128GB card — held about 100-150 more shots than my Sony TOUGH 128GB cards did.

Needless to say, OWC impressed in the performance and storage game with the Atlas S Pro.

Bryan Esler

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