Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - DIY SPECIAL -

Af­ter the cam­era and lens, the memory card is now the most im­por­tant piece of equip­ment in your pho­tog­ra­phy tool­kit. When se­lect­ing a memory card, you should know the dif­fer­ence be­tween pop­u­lar card for­mats, de­ter­mine

how much stor­age you need, and un­der­stand the role card speed plays when cap­tur­ing pho­tos and

videos. Su­san Park, Direc­tor, Re­tail Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing, San­Disk,


FOR­MAT: The vast ma­jor­ity of dig­i­tal cam­eras use ei­ther Se­cure Dig­i­tal (SD) cards or Com­pactFlash cards. Com­pactFlash cards of­ten de­liver the fastest per­for­mance and largest stor­age ca­pac­i­ties. The SD for­mat of­fers per­for­mance and ca­pac­ity lev­els for ev­ery­one from be­gin­ners to elite pros. SD-com­pat­i­ble cam­eras can sup­port one or all of ca­pac­ity types which de­ter­mine the type of card you must use. SD sup­ports up to 2 GB, SDHC 2GB to 32GB and SDXC 32GB to 2TB.

CA­PAC­ITY: Ca­pac­ity refers to the amount of dig­i­tal con­tent a card can store, and is mea­sured in gi­ga­bytes. So while de­cid­ing how much ca­pac­ity to pur­chase, con­sider how of­ten you will shoot, how long each shoot­ing ses­sion will last, what file sizes your cam­era will pro­duce and whether you will be shoot­ing video. An 8 MP JPG might con­sume only two megabytes (MB) of stor­age, but a high-res­o­lu­tion RAW im­age can reach 24MB or more; and just 10 min­utes of Full HD 1080p MPEG-4 video can con­sume up to 4 GB of space. Ca­sual com­pact cam­era users can get by with an 8GB card, but DSLR users should opt for at least a 16GB ver­sion.

SPEED: Speed de­ter­mines how many im­ages you can cap­ture dur­ing a shoot­ing se­quence, what qual­ity of video you can record and how quickly you can trans­fer your im­ages to a com­puter. A card’s speed mea­sures the max­i­mum se­quen­tial speed at which you can per­form cer­tain func­tions. “Write” speed in­di­cates how quickly you can write data to the memory card. “Read” speed in­di­cates how quickly you can trans­fer data from the memory card to a host de­vice. Cards that write faster min­imise lag time be­tween shots. The faster a card’s write speed, the less time you will spend wait­ing for it to process each im­age, which means cap­tur­ing more pic­tures in a given time­frame. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant when us­ing burst mode to shoot im­ages that re­quire pre­cise tim­ing such as a bat­ter hit­ting a base­ball, a bird in flight or a race­car cross­ing the fin­ish line. Read speed mea­sures how quickly a card can trans­fer data to an­other de­vice. A card that reads at 45 MB/sec can take five min­utes to trans­fer 12 GB of files, while a card that reads at 95MB/sec can trans­fer those same files in roughly half the time.

X SPEED: Some man­u­fac­tur­ers mea­sure card per­for­mance us­ing the “X” speed, sim­i­lar to the com­mon CD-ROM per­for­mance mea­sure­ment of X = 150KB/sec. The speed ref­er­ence may vary de­pend­ing on the man­u­fac­turer. Write speed is the most im­por­tant cri­te­rion when cap­tur­ing pho­tos.

SUS­TAINED SPEED FOR VIDEOS: Un­like pho­tos, which flood the memory card with lots of data in a sin­gle in­stant, videos cre­ate a sus­tained stream of data. Large im­age files need fast write speeds, while videos re­quire a min­i­mum sus­tained write speed for record­ing. A memory card’s abil­ity to record video is mea­sured by its video-cap­ture rat­ing, which ap­pears in var­i­ous ways de­pend­ing on the card for­mat. Com­pactFlash cards some­times dis­play a video per­for­mance guar­an­tee (VPG), which in­di­cates that the card can per­form a min­i­mum sus­tained write speed of 20MB/sec for video record­ing. SD cards of­ten dis­play a “class” rat­ing, which mea­sures the min­i­mum sus­tained write speed re­quired for un­in­ter­rupted video record­ing. A card’s class rat­ing in­di­cates its min­i­mum guar­an­teed data-trans­fer rate, mea­sured in MB/sec. Class 4 cards de­liver a min­i­mum sus­tained write speed of 4MB/sec, for Class 10 cards this is 10MB/sec. Newer SD cards, par­tic­u­larly high-per­for­mance cards based on the Ul­tra High Speed (UHS) bus in­ter­face, dis­play a new video-record­ing mea­sure­ment called U1 (UHS Speed Class 1). This speed class in­di­cates that the card is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing a min­i­mum sus­tained write speed of 10MB/sec.

MATCH­ING: When se­lect­ing a memory card, fol­low this rule: match the card to your cam­era’s fea­tures. If your cam­era can record Full HD videos, make sure your card can too. If your cam­era can shoot in burst mode, make sure your card’s write speed is fast enough to han­dle the flood of im­ages.

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