The overtly complicated world of digital cameras, compact flash and the combination of the pair is pretty simple f you apply one rule! The 10% Rule! As a rough guide, when you buy a camera you should consider spending a around 10% of the cameras cost on a memory card. If a camera cost you $1000 – a pretty sweet camera – look at spending $100 for the memory card. This will give you a card pretty well matched to you cameras abilities. At the moment a $100 will get you a 32G 200x card which is a good match with a mid range DSLR. If you have a $300 camera a $30-$50 card will do. Again this is just a guide, buying a $100 camera you will probably still need to spend $20-$30 on the card, up-to 30%. If you are one of the lucky bastards that doesn’t need to worry about price then just buy the best, be consistent and don’t cheap out on memory.
Keep the 10% rule in mind when buying your camera and you can build the cost of the memory card into your total purchase cost.
When purchasing a memory card for my camera is it worth spending extra on the fastest card ? The answer simple answer is yes. There are loads of advantages to buying the fastest card available. The camera you own is the most important factor when buying a card, make sure the card matches the cameras interface. This is why I like the 10% rule so much, the more expensive cameras need faster cards, cheaper cameras won’t 10% will keep you in the right price bracket.
Only expensive camera’s will be able to use the extra speed when shooting photo’s but there are other advantages to the fastest cards. When using the right card reader hooked up to your PC, transferring a full 32GB card will be done in minutes, where-as using a slow card or the camera’s usb could take over an hour to do the full transfer. Another advantage of the fast cards is they are more future proof, even if your current camera doesn’t use the full potential of the card chances are your next camera will, the technology is moving fast.
Is capacity more important than speed ? Capacity and speed aren’t mutually exclusive, you should use a balanced approach. Ultimately your budget will be the greatest deciding factor. As a general rule first decide on your budget then trade off a little size for the fastest speed in that price range. – don’t get the absolute largest capacity they are always the least value. At the moment the 64GB cards are appearing but they are 3 times the price for only twice the capacity compared to similar 32GB cards. Also remember the larger the capacity card the longer it takes to transfer off the card. If price is no barrier then the decision is simple buy the best.
There are a number of ultra high end cards made for those without budget limitations. Hoodman Professional produce a card capable of 675x – 100m/sec – on Mode 6 interface. Also Delkin Devices produces a compact flash card capable of 625x – 91m/sec – on mode 6 interface. Both of these cards have error correction, use the best quality single level flash chips – expensive – and ask a price premium. Expect to spend over $300 for one of these cards with decent capacity.
Brands and Fake Brands. Steer clear of buying second hand or from unknown suppliers. Fake branded cards have been floating around the web for a while. If they work at all they will generally be the slowest possible card but labelled with the fastest speeds. The usual big name brands are all worth considering SanDisk, Lexar, Kingston. PQI and a number of PC memory makers are also pushing into the market and are generally cheaper than the big name brands.
If you are buying a top end card also consider buying a Firewire or eSata Flash Card reader to allow for fast transfers to the PC. Do check you PC has compatible ports though.
Whenever possible take both your camera and the memory card included with you when shopping for a new memory card. It will save a lot of questions and strange looks
There are three parts to the speed equation that will effect how fast a camera can take photo’s – burst mode especially. The camera’s internal buffer memory, the interface between the card and camera finally the speed of the card.
High speed burst modes on modern cameras – higher than 3 shots per second - are the most demanding action a camera will do. The amount of shots in continuous mode is dependent on the camera’s internal cache. The cache is where the camera actually takes the raw picture – simplified -, the photo is then shunted to the memory card where the speed of the interface and card becomes a factor. The size of this cache will dictate the number of shots you will be able to take in continuous mode before it starts to slow down. This slower speed is completely a result of the speed the camera can transfer to the card. So this slower speed is dependent on the cameras card interface and the card itself.
Compact Flash – CF Type I and II. Compact Flash is the most common interface used with most medium and large body cameras. CF is also used by many other devices such as Picture Frames, Laptops. CF cards come in two sizes, type I are 36.4 x 42.8 x 3.3mm, type II cards being thicker with dimensions of 36.4 x 42.8 x 5.0mm. Not all camera’s take Type II cards so check your manual before purchasing. Type II cards where originally used for micro drives – think mini hard drive - but with the capacity of flash cards increasing they have become less popular.
Write Acceleration – Lexar has introduced a series of cards that have write acceleration. If your camera supports it they claim up-to 23% faster writes, all CF cameras can use the cards but only WA enabled cameras can take advantage of the extra speed. Again consult your manual.
SDHC cards. SD cards are smaller and simpler cards than CF. SD quickly evolved into SDHC. With the introduction of SDHC cards the capacity and speed is close to CF. The secure part of the name comes from the ability to encrypt the data on the card. Most of the time this is not used and is a little irrelevant now.
xD Memory card. Introduced by Olympus and Fuji, an adapter can be used to allow it to be compatible with Compact Flash standard
Memory Stick. Introduced by Sony, used in all Sony devices, except the high end Sony camera’s which use CF cards. Sony has standardized across most of its products with Memory Stick so everything from the Playstation Portable up-to their video camera’s use Memory Stick.
Pictures courtesy of Transcend
Buddha’s Brother out.…