Amateur Photographer verdict

The PGYTech CFexpress CreateMate cleverly combines rugged, secure card storage with a high-speed card reader. It’s more expensive than buying a separate card case and reader, but it works very well.
  • Rugged design
  • Fast card readers
  • Secure card storage
  • Pricey compared to a separate card reader and case
  • SD and CFexpress readers can’t be used at the same time

If you shoot a lot of high-resolution stills or video, you’ll probably get through memory card space very quickly. And if you’re in the middle of a shoot when a card fills up, you don’t want to be scrabbling around in your bag trying to find a clean one. Equally, when it comes to editing your files, you won’t want to wait for ages while they copy across to your computer. If these sound like familiar problems, the PGYTech CFexpress CreateMate Card Reader Case (Type B/SD) might just be the solution.

PGYTech CFexpress CreateMate at a glance:

  • $99.95 / £99.95
  • CFexpress Type B / UHS-II SD card reader
  • USB 3.2 interface (up to 10Gbps)
  • Storage slots for memory cards
  • Rugged IP54 construction
  • Works with PCs, smartphones, and tablets

This unique device combines a storage case for multiple memory cards with a high-speed card reader, in a single ruggedised package. The idea is that you can clip it somewhere accessible when you’re shooting, allowing you to switch cards quickly.  Then when it’s editing time, your cards and reader are already in the same place, ready to go.

Thanks to the IP54-rated dust and splashproof design, the CreateMate should keep your valuable cards (and therefore files) safe and protected, no matter what the weather.

PGYTech CFexpress CreateMate key features:

  • USB-C connector: An integrated, 10cm-long cable is used to connect the reader to your computer, with a USB-C plug
  • CFexpress / SD card reader: The device can read CFexpress type B and UHS-II SD cards, although not at the same time
  • Memory card storage: There are moulded slots for 2 CFexpress Type B cards on one side, and 3 SD, 4 Micro-SD and 2 SIM cards on the other
  • Kit contents: A microSD adapter, SIM removal tool, and carabiner are all included in the box   
PGYTech’s CFexpress CreateMate has a rugged outer case. Credit: Andy Westlake

When you first open the box, you’re presented with a chunky rubber casing measuring about 12.7 x 6.3 x 2.5 cm, with a thick loop on one corner for attaching the included carabiner. Push on one end, and the card holder/reader slides out. Pressing a small red catch then releases the USB-C plug, allowing you to unloop the connector cable. It’s a deceptively simple and clever design.

In use, everything works really well. Memory cards push readily into their storage slots, but then stay in place firmly thanks to small, rubberised grips, with no risk of accidentally falling out. However, they also slide out easily enough when you need them.

The Type B CreateMate will hold two CFexpress Type B cards. Credit: Andy Westlake

Both the card readers are super-quick. I tested them by copying a 31GB folder full of 60MP DNG raw and JPEG files from the Leica SL3 across to my laptop’s internal SSD. This took about 45 seconds for CFexpress, and 2 minutes 30 seconds for SD, equating to real-world transfer speeds of about 650 Mb/sec and 200Mb/sec respectively.

I further verified these speeds using the CrystalDiskMark benchmarking program. This confirmed that the CreateMate was as fast as any other reader I had to hand for comparison, from the likes of Integral, SanDisk and Lexar.

The CFexpress and SD card reader slots and stowed USB-C connector. Credit: Andy Westlake

The only slight catch with the device is that you can’t use the SD reader when you have a CFexpress card installed. Instead, it will only mount one card at a time, and prioritises the CFexpress slot. So to see the SD card on your computer, you have to remove any CFexpress card from the reader.

The device can be removed from its chunky rubberised casing. Credit: Andy Westlake

If you’d prefer to carry something less bulky, the card reader and holder unit can be removed from the rubber shell to reveal a rather smart-looking metal casing. Just take care to reassemble it the right way around, with the SD card storage slots on the opposite side to the carabiner.

PGYTech CreateMate card reader case versions

As well as the CFexpress Type B/SD version I tested, a CFexpress Type A/SD variant is available. This will be of most interest to users of the latest Sony cameras that use CFexpress Type A card, such as the Alpha A9 III and Alpha A7R V. There’s also a considerably cheaper SD-only model, at $35.95 / £49.99. All three come in a choice of either black or moss green. 

PGYTech CFexpress CreateMate Card Reader Case: Our Verdict

Whether or not you take to this device will probably depend mainly on what you shoot, and how rapidly you get through CFexpress cards. Arguably, it’ll be most valuable to videographers or sports and action photographers. However, if you can see a use case for it, then it’ll do the job very well.

Amateur Photographer Recommended 4.5 stars

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