Beware: The New Cheapest ‘VPG400’ CFexpress Type A Card Is a Fraud

A 256gb "airusan" compact flash memory card with specs labeled 800 mb/s read and 700 mb/s write speed, centered over a colorful, swirling digital art background.

Relatively unknown general electronics manufacturer Airusan has launched the world’s cheapest VPG400 CFexpress Type A memory card. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The card offers more red flags than gigabytes.

Airusan’s new 256GB CFexpress Type A Card is available on Amazon for $151.99 after a 20% discount. The card, regularly priced at $189.99, undercuts other VPG400 cards by a considerable margin on a price-per-gigabyte basis.

Consider the Lexar 160GB Professional CFexpress Type A Gold card, which is $239.99 after a $120 instant savings, or Sony’s 160GB CFexpress Type A Tough Memory Card, which is an eye-watering $398.

Airusan is promising the same performance, the same certifications, and more storage for significantly less money.

Genuine VPG400 Certification Requires Real, Rigorous Testing of Memory Card Quality, Consistency, and Performance

The primary difference between Airusan’s new card and the others — and it’s a big difference — is that those cards, and others from Biwin, Chipfancier, Delkin, Exascend, Nextorage, ProGrade Digital, and Wise, are actually VPG400 certified by the CompactFlash Association (CFA).

A card manufacturer simply saying they are VPG400 isn’t sufficient and is, in fact, a copyright violation. Before going much further, it is worth explaining what VPG is and why people should care.

VPG stands for “Video Performance Guarantee,” and is a strictly defined and rigorously tested standard developed by the CFA that ensures customers that a specific card can consistently and reliably achieve specific data rates required by high-quality video modes.

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Cameras like the Sony a9 III check CFexpress Type A cards for VPG certification flags. Passing this check without actual VPG certification requires deception on the part of the card maker.

While VPG400 is the highest current Video Performance Guarantee the CFA uses, there is also VPG200, which is sufficient for essentially all video applications and perfectly usable for all photography applications. For photographers and videographers looking to save money, opting for a VPG200 card makes a lot of sense.

Airusan’s New Card Is ‘Not Legit’ Says the CompactFlash Association

Back to Airusan’s new card: The company is not a member of the CompactFlash Association and, therefore, cannot have a VPG-certified card, nor does it have the legal right to use the VPG logo on its card at all.

“Airusan is not a CFA member,” CompactFlash Association President Hiro Ino tells PetaPixel over email.

However, a CFA member can sub-license its membership with permission from CFA. Ino says there is a “remote chance” that Airusan is a sub-licensee of a member, the CFA has not been made aware of it, which would violate CFA regulations.

The more significant issue is that Airusan’s new card is not VPG certified.

“They are certainly not VPG400 certified,” Ino explains. “Certification is required for any brand that wants to show VPG logos, meaning that even if the original card manufacturer got VPG certified, the brand that will show the VPG logo must also go through CFA’s certification process.”

“We do not even know who Airusan is,” Ino adds.

“In short, Airusan’s card that states VPG400 is not legit. They are violating CFA’s trademark rights.”

Credit: CompactFlash Association

Why Does VPG Certification Matter?

For photographers, it may not matter that Airusan uses the VPG logo without proper testing. If the card performs as advertised — a pretty big “if” — then so what?

However, there is something nefarious beneath the surface. Sony cameras perform a firmware-level check on CFexpress Type A memory cards to see if they are VPG certified before providing access to specific video recording modes. The card must have the proper VPG flag for all options to be available to the user. A card must be programmed to lie to the camera to pass this check without passing CFA’s tests.

If a company is willing to cheat and cut corners in this way, are they willing to do so elsewhere with the card’s performance? That’s up for the consumer to decide, or, rather, roll the dice on. But they must be aware of these misdeeds to have a clear picture.

Cutting Corners Comes With Risks

Given that so many aspects of a high-end photography kit are expensive, including CFexpress Type A cards, it should be no surprise that people are looking for ways to save money. Unscrupulous companies can take advantage of this, and, unfortunately, they do.

VPG400 CFexpress Type A cards are expensive, but so long as companies are willing to bypass CFA’s industry standards, there will be cheap options — they just may not be safe or reliable ones.

Although Airusan’s new card promises the same performance as legitimate offerings at a lower price, photographers should proceed cautiously. The card is cheating the system, and it could very well cheat you, too.

Image credits: Header photo background licensed via Depositphotos.