Digital camera memory is an essential and
often overlooked piece of digital photography equipment. There are many
types of memory and it's a good idea to consider what type of memory a
camera uses before you buy your first digital camera. It's also
important to make sure you have enough memory before you take pictures
of an important event or leave for vacation. Although memory cards are
reusable, they don't have a limitless capacity and it's always good to
have more than you actually need.
Most digital cameras come with very low capacity memory cards. If
you're shopping for your first digital camera be sure to budget for an
additional card. It's a safe bet that the card that comes with your
camera will be inadequate. And as camera megapixel counts grow, higher
capacity memory cards become necessary.
Most camera manufacturers publish tables on their Web sites and in
their camera manuals to show how many images you can save on their
included memory card. There’s no fixed rule for the number of photos
you can put on one card because different image file types, different
amounts of compression, and image content all affect the size of each
file. But the manufacturer's site is a good place to start when you
decide how much memory you want.
As a general rule, you should purchase at least a 256 megabyte or two
128 megabyte cards if you're buying a 3-5 megapixel compact digital
camera. If you want to shoot lots of high resolution TIFF or RAW files,
then you'll probably want to look at 512 megabyte and 1 gigabyte cards.
It's also a good idea to not save all of your photos on one card.
There's always the possibility that cards can get corrupted, lost, or
stolen. Using more than one and switching during a shoot protects your
valuable photographic data.
Now that you know a little more about memory cards, you can start
thinking about which would be best for you.
One of the most
common types of digital camera memory, CompactFlash is used on most
high-end digital cameras, and all digital SLRs are CompactFlash
compatible. There are two physical sizes of CompactFlash - Type I and
Type II. Type II is thicker and some cameras will only accept Type I
CompactFlash. Type II CompactFlash is usually higher capacity. The most
common Type II CompactFlash cards are mechanical, MicroDrive, memory
The main benefit of CompactFlash, besides availability, is that it
has a controller chip in the card. The controller chip allows higher
transfer rates. Most cameras can't take advantage of this extra speed,
though. Only cameras with larger internal buffers–mostly digital SLRs–can
take advantage of high-speed CompactFlash. CompactFlash is inexpensive,
easy to find, and works in a lot of digital cameras. For those reasons,
it's one of the most desirable types of digital camera memory.
Secure Digital Cards
find Secure Digital cards, the smallest available memory cards, come
with very small cameras. The current maximum capacity for Secure Digital
cards is 512 MB. A variation on the secure digital card is the
Multimedia card, which also has a maximum capacity of 512 MB.
xD Picture Cards
Olympus and Fuji in 2002, the xD Picture card is the newest digital
camera memory format. It's tiny size, just 0.97" x 0.98" x
0.67," means it can be used in very small cameras. The xD Picture
Card can also be used in any CompactFlash compatible camera with the
available CompactFlash adapter. It's currently available in capacities
up to 512 MB, with larger capacity cards to be available soon. Since it
was developed and introduced by Olymous and Fuji, most current compact
digital cameras from those manufacturers use the xD Picture Card media.
Sony Memory Stick
Memory Stick was
developed by Sony for their CyberShot digital cameras and other Sony
electronic devices. With the exception of a very few cameras, Memory
Stick is only compatible with Sony digital cameras. That means if you
have Memory Stick media for a camera and you decide to buy another brand
of camera, the Memory Stick cards you own are not likely to work with
the new camera. On the other hand, if you own other Sony devices, there
might be benefits to owning Memory Stick. Sony MP3 players, PDA's and
selected Sony Vaio computers also accept Memory Stick media. Memory
Stick is available in capacities up to 256 MB, and Sony's new Memory
Stick Pro is available in capacities up to one gigabyte.
Card readers are the
most efficient way to download your digital digital memory cards and a
highly recommended digital camera accessory. Card readers plug into your
computer via one of its USB ports and allow you to transfer your files
without using your camera's batteries or dealing with cables. You
install the card reader as you would any other USB device and plug the
card into the reader when you want to transfer your images. The memory
card will show up on your computer as a separate, removable drive when
it's plugged into the reader. Card readers are available in inexpensive
internal and external models with USB connections.