Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Memory Cards

Here are a few thoughts on memory cards.

Get some extra, especially if you are going on a long trip. There is nothing worse than trying to decide which files you can delete when you run out of space and don't have any cards with you. They're cheap. I'm a big fan of dealnews.com. Go there and look at the photo and storage sections to find great buys. I've bought cards I didn't think I needed when they were super cheap. Last Black Friday I picked up a couple of 2 gig Sandisk Cards for $15 bucks each!

Some folks swear they have to have the fastest speed cards out. Maybe they make a difference, but I doubt it. The write speed of a card affects how fast you can take photos, especially in a sports or burst mode where you are firing off a whole string of shots. So, having a higher speed card is good, but there are limits. The limits are based on the fact that cameras have little computers in them that can write at a maximum write speed to the cards installed in them. You want a memory card that writes at least as fast as the camera can write to it. If you camera writes at 5 megs a second, then a card that reads at 50 megs a second is a waste of money. Faster reading and writing cards are most useful when installed in a card reader on your home computer where the higher read and write speeds might matter. You can check the specs for your camera in the owners manual.

Formatting memory cards should only be done in the camera, not on your home computer. The camera writes some stuff in there that the computer doesn't. If the camera doesn't find the right information, then stuff might not work as planned. Generally, you should format the card each time you use it. Pros download used memory cards to their computers, sort through them and create backups of everything they don't delete out of hand. Then and only then, they format the cards in the camera they will be used on, then put them in the ready to use stack.

Dealing with Memory Card issues in the next post!



haf said...

I don't agree at all with the part about formatting cards in the camera.
If the camera has problems with cards because it expects certain files or folders on the card, then the camera has a very bad software and you should contact the manufacturer for a firmware update.
A normal camera should work with every empty card that uses the correct file system. A good camera should also work with a card that has a lot of files on it that has nothing to with the camera. In general, a camera should only care about the free space and the file system.
So with a normal camera it really doesn't matter where you format your memory card, and with a normal card, you don't have to format the card every time you want to put pictures on it.
There are only a few reasons to format a card (in the camera):
- You want do delete all the pictures at once.
- You want to delete other files that are stored on the card and you don't have a computer with you.
- The card has a wrong file system (extremely unlikely).
- the card has an actual error in the file system.

Dave said...

Thanks for the comment. We may be closer than it looks. I like to take the photos, download the card, then put the card back in the camera and format it to be ready for the next shoot instead of doing some kind of file deletion in camera. I've heard too many folks complain about file problems that formated or deleted on the computer.