Thursday, January 18, 2007
Toolbox: Navigating Memory
Get the most from your storage media and digital camera
For photographers who prefer the speed of handling and editing JPEGs, a pair of 2 GB or 4 GB cards will provide more than enough space for a shooting session. Photographers who prefer the flexibility of the RAW file format will need a larger number of high-capacity cards.
Using multiple cards is beneficial not only for ensuring storage space, but for providing some assurance that you'll be able to continue shooting should an individual card fail.
As capacities are increasing, prices are dropping. Several gigabytes of storage are now available for only a couple hundred dollars. Although that's not cheap, it seems a bargain when you think of how much you'd spend for processing and printing just a fraction of the thousands of images recorded to the card. And with life expectancies for cards rated at hundreds of thousands of read/erase sessions, you'll likely have moved on to another card or camera well before it fails completely.
CompactFlash cards are the dominant format for most digital SLRs. CF cards are available in Type I and Type II. The width and height of both is the same, but Type I is 3.3mm thick, while Type II is 5mm. Type I cards are typically found in compact cameras; Type II is more often found in SLRs. Type II slots will accept both cards; Type I slots don't accommodate the thicker cards.
SecureDigital has increasingly become the most common media card used in compact digital cameras and has even found its way into some digital SLRs. Smaller than CompactFlash, the SD card delivers excellent data transfer performance. Its compact size has allowed camera makers to produce products that are much smaller than those designed around CF cards.
Sony offers the Memory Stick and its various incarnations—Memory Stick Pro and Memory Stick Pro Duo-with its digital cameras as well as some of its other consumer electronics. Because it's a proprietary format, only Sony cameras accept this card, making it impossible to use the same media should you choose to upgrade to a digital SLR. This will likely change, however, when Sony eventually enters the digital SLR market.
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