One of the most dreaded things that can happen to any photographer is losing photos. Another big problem is when you’re about to take a shot and you discover that your memory card slot is empty.
This is why it is important to have one or two (or more!) memory cards. Choosing the right one for your camera is likewise essential.
What is a Memory Card?
Before going out to purchase a memory card for your camera, let’s first make sure that you understand what you’re looking for.
A memory card is a flash memory or storage card that is used to keep various data like photos, text documents, videos and audio files. Small and portable devices like mobile phones, mp3 players, and your dSLR or mirrorless cameras utilize this card. However, you can choose not to use a memory card for storing your photos and videos. You can keep them in your camera’s memory. But then, you won’t be able to save hundreds, and even thousands of photos if you do so.
If you’re looking for convenience and practicality, the memory card is your best storage option. It is light and easy to carry around. There are no complicated procedures to perform before you can use them. Best of all, as previously mentioned, you can store as many photos and videos as you want – depending on their resolution and how much storage space you have, of course.
Types of Memory Card
Memory cards come in different sizes, shapes, and sometimes, design. Although they have the same function, not all of them can be used with all camera types. The majority of the digital cameras in the market today are compatible with only one memory card type. So, yes, the first thing that you should consider is your camera brand or model and what type of memory card can be used with it – it’s not just about buying the first Class 10 memory card you find at the store, it also needs to suit your needs and your camera.
In some cases, you can use adaptors for memory cards that are smaller in size; but there is no guarantee that this will work in all cameras. As such, it is important to first get to know the different types of memory cards before you go out and buy one.
- The SD or Secure Digital Memory Card is the most popular, most widely used type. It is compatible with almost all types of digital cameras. You won’t have a hard time looking for this memory card – they are available from most electronics stores, online, and of course, in all camera shops.
- The Secure Digital High Capacity or SDHC Memory Card was created as an improved version of the SD card. It has higher maximum capacity (4GB – 32GB) – more photos and videos for you to store. Even if the SDHC looks like an SD card and may fit inside your camera’s memory card slot, it may not be compatible with it because your camera may have been developed before the Secure Digital High Capacity Memory Card was created.
- If you always store photos and videos in the thousands, you will need the Secure Digital eXtended Capacity or SDXC Memory Card. This one has a newer technology compared to the SD and SDHC, so even if it fits the normal memory card slot, your camera may not recognize it. Moreover, not all computers are compatible with SDXC, so you’ll have to keep this in mind, too. However, its maximum capacity of 2 Terabytes should be enough to make you want/need it.
- Another commonly used memory card is the CompactFlash, which is used in many DSLR cameras. The biggest advantage of the CF memory card, aside from its high storage capacity, is the controller chip inside it that allows you to enjoy fast processing. It’s the speed of this memory card that photographers like a lot. If you will use this, you’ll have to determine which of the two types you’ll go for: Type I or Type II. Type II CF cards have a higher capacity. However, you need to be sure that your camera is compatible with a Type II CF card before getting one.
- A Micro SD Memory Card is normally used in mobile phones, as it is the smallest card in the market. Its storage capacity can go up to 2GB, although you can choose to go with a Micro SDHC card, which can store as much as 32GB of information. MP3 players and some compact digital cameras also use Micro SD.
- The Extreme Digital or XD Picture Card was made in 2002 by Fuji and Olympus. This memory card needs an adaptor when used because of its small size (length is less than one inch). As it is a teeny weeny card, its maximum storage capacity is only up to 512MB.
- Also small in size, the MultiMedia or MMC Card can be used with SD-compatible cameras, as well as mobile phones and MP3 players. However, its storage capacity is only 512MB. Additionally, the MMC does not have a write-protect switch, which means your photos and videos can be wiped off without your knowledge.
- Sony originally created the Memory Stick for the CyberShot camera and is still used today. Its storage capacity is only 256MB. If you have a CyberShot and want a higher capacity card, go for the Memory Stick Pro Duo, which can store up to 1GB of information. However, the Pro Duo cannot be used with the same camera as the Memory Stick. Many of the Sony cameras currently in the market are now compatible with SD cards.
Remember, the first thing you need to do is determine which memory card or cards your camera is compatible with. You cannot just choose a card because you like its features or its storage capacity. Compatibility is an important issue here.
Tips for Buying the Right Memory Card for Your Camera & Your Needs
Here are some tips you should keep in mind when looking for a memory card for your camera.
- Look for an authorized memory card dealer or seller. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll buy a legitimate memory card. Make sure your chosen card comes with a warranty.
- Memory cards have life spans, too. So, aside from taking good care of them, it is also important to have more than one in your camera bag. Purchase at least two memory cards, especially if you go out on photo assignments a lot.
- There is no specific format made especially for professional photographers. If you want an SD, go for it even if others will laugh at your choice. Not all photographers use a CF card. The most important thing to consider is storage capacity.
- If your DSLR has dual card slots, make use of them. However, you have to be extra careful to avoid confusion and other problems. Make sure you understand how the dual card slots work and how you can put them to good use.
- If you shoot a lot of weddings and similar events, go for a memory card with a fast reading/writing speed. This is important if you need to download tons of RAW files into your computer. If you need to do a lot of continuous burst shooting, as is common when doing sports photography, go for a memory card with a fast writing speed. Writing speed refers to how fast the images you take are saved into your card. A card’s read speed is relatively faster than its write speed. Both the writing and reading speed are marked on the memory card.
These are just the basic facts and information about memory cards, but they’ll definitely help you find the right one for your camera. Of course, feel free to chime in in via Twitter or Facebook and share your own experiences with memory cards!