DON'T LOSE YOUR MIND
The memory card market can sometimes seem overly complicated. So if you find yourself in a memory card jumble and not sure which one to buy ─ don't panic. Lets take a look at memory card speeds and explain the key differences so you can figure out what the best memory card is for you.
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Often when choosing a memory card you wonder what the difference is between a $5.00 card you would find at the supermarket and a $60.00 card at your local photo store. What is the difference and do name brand memory cards matter? Lucky for you I have taken the time to split them into categories and explain what speed reading and processing means so you can decide what card is best for you. If you take only one thing from this article you should note that no matter what memory card you do choose, it will have no affect on image quality.
So what is the difference between the cheap cards and the name brand expensive cards? The main thing to note here is the speed that the memory card will read and write the image files. The cheap $5.00 card will do the exact same thing as the name brand $60.00 card but much more slowly and even less reliable in terms of memory card data recovery.
Types of Memory Cards
SD (Secure Digital) Memory Cards:
SD cards are the most common type of digital memory card. They are the most compatible with the majority of digital cameras.
SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) Memory Cards:
These cards are available with a larger storage space. Before SDHC, memory cards only held up to 2GB of storage. SDHC are available up to 32GB.
SDXC (Secure Digital Xtra Capacity) Memory Cards:
This type of card is the same as SD but with a much higher storage and faster processing speed. They are available up to 2TB (Terabytes). They look the same as SD and SDHC but unless you camera is newer technology it might not recognize it.
CF (CompactFlash) Memory Cards:
CompactFlash cards offer very high storage capacities and use fast processing speeds. They were first introduced in 1994 but are now only found in the most advanced digital cameras.
CFast 2.0 Standard Memory Cards:
ScanDisk offers this card as the grand daddy of them all. It promises read speeds up to 450MB/s and write speeds up to 350MB/s.
Memory Card Readers
You will need a memory card reader to transfer the files onto your computer. You can however opt-in for using the tangled up USB cable that comes with your camera if you choose.
Transcend Memory Card Reader USB 2.0
Price: $13.62 w Free Shipping Amazon
For The New Photographer
If you are just starting out or you photograph as a part-time hobby, then you should be ok with the cheaper memory cards. Depending on the camera and resolution that you set you camera to, you should be fine with anywhere between 1GB and 8GB of storage space.
When things get a bit more serious then you might want to step up to a faster and larger storage memory card. When photographing weddings or long photo sessions you need to have a card that can write fast so you can get on with the next shot. This is extremely important when you need to review an image quickly in case you need to take another photograph right away.
Memory Card Speed
The speed of a memory card means two things ─ read and write. A cards read speed means how fast it data can be retrieved from it. Your memory card read speed will affect how fast or slow it takes to transfer the files from the card to your computer. Read speed is measured in MB/s.
The write speed determines how fast data will be saved onto the memory card. This is important when shooting images quickly like in sports or action photography. Read speed is measured in MB/s.
If you are shooting a large number of images or fairly large file sizes then it would be smart to invest into a memory card with a fast read/write (MB/s) speed.
How To Keep Your Memory Card Fast
You should format your memory card once in a while to clear the card of any minor problems that may have developed into the cards file system. Be sure to save the files to your computer first or transfer them to another memory card before doing so as formatting will clear all files.
Best Bang For You Buck Memory Cards Available Today
ScanDisk SDHC 8GB Class 4
Price: (2 Pack) $10.99 w/ Free Shipping Amazon
For the new photographer. Enough storage space to start but with read speeds of 2.5MB/s you could be waiting between shots and waiting for files to transfer to your computer. For the price you can get a couple and use them as backups.
ScanDisk Ultra 16GB Class 10
Price: $8.49 w/ Free Shipping Amazon
This card has fast speeds and a large storage space. It has a read speed of 30MB/s and write speeds slightly less. This is a great memory card for anyone needing fast read speeds when transferring a large number of files onto a computer.
ScanDisk Extreme 32GB Class 10
Price $16.99 w/ Free Shipping Amazon
For the more serious photographer. Read speeds up to 45MB/s and 32GB of storage space for weddings and longs photo sessions. Also great for videographers looking for a fast card to keep up.
ScanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB CompactFlash
Price: $50.93 w Free Shipping Amazon
This is for the most serious of all photographers. Make sure you camera is compatible with CompactFlash memory cards. With read speeds up to 160MB/s you will be flying through photo sessions in no time.