Spotting Fake Sandisk Compact Flash Cards

Ok…now I’m pissed. I purchased a 4 gig extreme III awhile back, and I just made sure it was working after it was purchased. I never really ran it through its paces, and frankly I didn’t think I needed to. Plus I have about 50 or so gigs of CF cards, this one just never got around to being used…until recently.
So I put the card into my sandisk card reader…and it didnt’ recognize it. I thought it was odd and the fault of the reader. Then I tested my other cards, and sure enough, they read fine. A sneaking feeling crept up on me. Maybe, this was a fake card that I purchased. However, I remember reading an article on this awhile back on detecting fake cards.
And it was that article that threw me off because it was outdated. Or only applicable to the ultra II lines. The fakes have gotten better since then….Sort of. And here’s how you tell.
If you read the original article (link above) pertaining to Sandisk line of cards, it stated on the side view, the ‘real card’ has a serial number and made in China’. And the fake card did not. It was with this information that lead me to believe…that this card was genuine, because when I bought it, the first thing I checked for was a serial number and a made in china label on the side. Surely, it must be real. Well when a certain card fails to be read through my reader 100% of the time I took note of which card it was…and always it was this Extreme III card. I decided to take a closer closer look and compared it to the rest of my extreme line of cards, as well as my ultra 2 lines. Take a look at the pic above. Gee…can anyone spot the fake? Also note the side view here as marked below.
Ok…so it’s not scientific..I didn’t use a uniform light source, however it doesn’t take a genius to spot that something is clearly wrong. Yes, the color…is not as dark, and you can’t tell here, but the plastic molding is different. (If you click to the original source from my scratch flickr account, and look closely or shoot me an email, I’ll send you the original raws or jpgs).

And lastly, what will really knock your socks off, and I’m pissed I didn’t realize this earlier. Is the front of the cards. Now..I apologize I’m not comparing apples to apples. I’m comparing an extreme IV vs the extreme III…however since I don’t have any other extreme III’s handy…I used the next closest thing, and have verified the findings with the Ultra II lines as well.

Note the image below. I’ve marked the differences with a white line. The real card, uses Rights reserve next to the letter ‘e’ in Extreme. I’m eliminating color of print out of the equation due to potential variances during the printing process, not to mention my lame light source.
Also note, the sticker….the entire square sticker mounted on the card. The fake card, if you look at the right side, compared to the left side. The machine (or person) who placed the sticker on top clearly was drunk because it’s not evenly spaced and slightly misaligned. As opposed to the precision placement of the real card, most likely done by an automated process that’s fairly calibrated. And finally, if you note on the top of the card, there’s an ‘extra’ thin silver piece that protrudes. None of my other Sandisk cards have that.


Shooot…Even the 4.0 font is different! haha… The morale here is, you really can’t tell by itself. But if you compare it to the rest, and look closely. You’ll realize it’s a fake. Now..what’s the big deal you say? We use imitation or cheaper knock offs all the time. Well in this case, I’m dealing with people’s pictures…and potential lawsuits against me. Yes, Murphy’s law applies, What can go wrong, will go wrong. But with a fake card that tries to pass itself off as genuine, I can’t trust it. I can’t go out into the field, and think this will capture the moment and not screw up or give me an error. Chances are it won’t, but I think there’s a higher probability that it will and I’m not taking that risk. Soo…sadly, this card I will leave at home, and chances are it’ll never see the light of day again.


About greenbeanfx

Photography is what I do =) If you wish to contact for a photoshoot, send me an email or comment on a blog with your info and I'll get back

Posted on October 27, 2008, in Aperature and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You’re not alone, and CompactFlash memory cards are, of course, not the only ones being counterfeited.

    Only a few months ago, I bought two Sony memory cards for a PlayStation 2 from eBay. They were being advertised as the real McCoy.

    Well, I got the cards and I noticed straight away that there were some details that weren’t quite right. The texture of the plastic, the use of arial fonts on the raised plastic writing on the bottom of the card when Sony generally uses helvetica, and so on. I opened one up and my suspicions were confirmed: counterfeit, with flash ROM chips larger than 8 megabytes and overall more sloppy construction compared to a genuine Sony memory card.

    I, luckily, was able to get a refund for both cards. I was, indeed, very lucky and this has been a lesson: buy only if you can confirm authenticity, which is the main problem with buying high demand commodities from eBay. Now, if I had to buy memory cards or the like, I tend to buy from a reputable retail source. Unfortunately, I spend more, but that’s what it has gotten to in order to ensure I’m getting what I intended to buy in the first place.

  2. Yup, that was actually my first and last time buying a memory card from a person instead of a reputable dealer. Oh well, live and learn right?

  3. Well that sucks. Thanks for this article though.

  4. Technology truly has become one with our daily lives, and I think it is safe to say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s a fantasy that I daydream about every once in a while.(Posted using Net10 for R4i Nintendo DS.)

  5. bandsxbands: Not sure why you would want to copy memories into a digital medium. I suppose it would help people with dementia to remember, but in theory…if you were able to transfer all your memory into digital medium, and have consciousness, I would think you would feel trapped.

  6. i may not have contemplated this was excellent a number years ago yet its amusing the way in which time varies the means by which you experience all types of ideas, many thanks for the article it happens to be pleasant to browse some thing clever occasionally instead of the regular rubbish mascarading as a blog on the internet, i’m off to take up a few rounds of facebook poker, take care

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