Thursday, January 18, 2007
Toolbox: Navigating Memory
Get the most from your storage media and digital camera
The reason that we can't completely depend on these specifications is because there are too many variables. Performance is completely dependent on how well the card's controller communicates with the digital camera. Even a high-performance pro card delivers slightly different data transfer rates when used on various digital SLRs. That's not to say that a high-end pro card will perform poorly, but rather that it may not provide optimal performance with a camera.
Lexar has attempted to address this issue by including Write Acceleration (WA) technology in some of its high-end cards. These flash cards are optimized with select cameras, like those from Kodak, Nikon, Sanyo, Sigma, Pentax and Olympus. This peak performance is only available with cameras that incorporate the technology, however.
While other manufacturers don't design their high-performance cards with specific cameras, such cards can be expected to deliver fast data transfer rates as compared to inexpensive memory cards. Many of these companies' Websites offer recommendations for which cards are best suited for specific cameras.
Negotiating all of these decisions has been helped greatly by Websites that have compiled exhaustive evaluations of media cards and specific cameras. The most popular of these sites is www.robgalbraith.com, where varieties of memory cards have been and are continually tested.
Another factor to consider is storage capacity. With digital compacts and SLRs available at resolutions of 8 megapixels and higher, there's an increased need for more and more space to save those images.
CompactFlash cards are available in capacities as high as 12 GB, while SD and xD are available in capacities of up to 1 GB. The Sony Memory Stick Pro offers a maximum of 2 GB.
Determining how much capacity you need depends on the file size your camera produces and whether you prefer shooting in JPEG, RAW or both. For example, if your 8-megapixel SLR is set to shoot high-quality JPEGs, a 2 GB card can be expected to store approximately 263 frames. Set the camera to produce RAW files and that drops to 109. Create both RAW and high-quality JPEGs and you can expect to shoot about 77 frames.
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