How to Choose the Most Appropriate Camera Memory Card

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If you are looking to purchase a camera memory card in today’s market, you may find it difficult to make a decision on which one to purchase. The following characteristics are associated with a card: type, speed, price, and capacity. If you wish to get a high-capacity card at a reasonable price, you should be aware that it may have a slow transfer speed. In order to get a really fast and large capacity card, you need be prepared to pay a significant amount of money. If you want to achieve a balance between the two, you will have to make some sacrifices in terms of quality.

What is a memory card?

A compact detachable memory media that may be used to store data on one medium and then transfer the data to another medium is known as a flash drive.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the factors that will influence your decision on a memory card.

Capacity

For the most part, this one is basic and not a big problem. A 32GB memory card has the capacity to store around 1000 RAW photos. Assuming that a single RAW file is 30MB in size, a Canon 5D MKIII will often create a RAW file that is between 25 and 35MB in size. A 16GB card, on the other hand, can store around 500 photos, and so on. If you shoot in jpeg format, a 32GB card can contain around 3200 images, providing that your jpeg settings are set to be fine in detail and big in file size, as recommended by Canon. On a Canon 5D MK III camera, a jpeg file with such a setting will have an average size of 10MB, according to Canon.

Types

There are several different types of memory cards available on the market, including Micro SD cards, SD cards, Compact Flash cards, and M2 cards (from sony). In the photographic field, however, there are only three types of cards that are commonly used: the Secure Digital (SD) card, the Eye-fi card, and the Compact Flash (CF) card.

Micro SD card

This little form of the SD card is designed to be used in mobile phones and is known as a micro SD card. This card has the capacity and transfer speed limitations, as well as a limited number of connections. That is why it is mostly utilized in smartphones, where it may be used to store music and applications, as well as any other data that is comparatively less active.

Secure Digital card (SD card)

This type of card is commonly used in digital cameras, particularly in point-and-shoot cameras, although it is also utilized in professional cameras on a secondary basis. The capacity of the card is a restriction in terms of utilizing this particular card. When it was first released in 1999, the initial high capacity was merely 2GB. After a few years, a newer version known as SDHC was launched, which had a bigger capacity of 64GB. This was in 2006. (HC means Higher capacity). SDXC cards were introduced in 2009, which are the third generation of SD cards to be released (XC stands for extended capacity). This type of card has a storage capacity of up to 2TB and a faster transmission rate.

Eye-fi card

These are one-of-a-kind SD cards that include built-in WiFi functionality. This allows you to send the data to your computer or a cloud-based service, or even straight to your smartphone, allowing you to clear out the memory as you shoot, without the need to change the memory card in between shots. It is also feasible to geotag your images using the wifi connectivity that is now available, however the precision is less accurate.

This card appears to have a bright future ahead of it!

Compact Flash card (CF card)

CD cards, which were first released in 1994, are known for their quick speed and large storage capacity. This is the reason why Compact Flash cards (CF) are used as the primary card slot in professional digital camera systems. SD cards are currently capable of matching the speed and capacity of Compact Flash cards, but camera manufacturers are not abandoning CF cards just yet. They frequently include slots for both an SD and a CF card, however, some photographers would prefer if they included two SD card slots instead of one. This frees up a little additional space within the camera and saves the photographer money in the process (CF cards cost roughly twice that of SD cards). I’m hoping that in the near future, SD cards will take over as the primary storage medium.

As the name implies, this is a flash memory that allows for faster reading and writing speeds, as well as a larger storage capacity overall.

Speed

Speed in SD cards

All memory cards, whether they are advertised as such or not, have a speed rating. The term “speed” refers to both writing and reading speed. The maximum read speed mentioned on the card is the card’s maximum read speed, but the write speed is the most critical factor to consider. The read speed is the amount of time it takes to read data from the card, while the write speed is the amount of time it takes to write data to the card. Simply said, read speed is activated when data is transferred from the card, whereas write speed is activated when a shot is fired from the camera. In general, the write speed of SDHC cards is around half the speed of their read speeds. Only a few other cards have read and write speeds that are almost the same.

The SD Association has categorized the speed of cards into different groups, which are described in further detail below. The speeds are intended primarily for video recording when long-term recording (write) is necessary, and they are intended to represent the bare minimum worst-case speed.

When purchasing a memory card, it is critical that you pay careful consideration to this one single-most significant element. All SD cards are labeled with a class designation. Take a look at the diagram attached below:

ClassMinimum Speed
22MB/s
44MB/s
66MB/s
88MB/s
1010MB/s

Later, in 2009, the SD association launched a new class of memory cards called UHS, which is specifically built for SDHC and SDXC memory cards. UHS makes use of a new data bus that will not function on host devices that are not UHS compatible. If you use a UHS memory card in a non-UHS host, the card will default to the regular data bus and will utilize the “Speed Class” rating instead of the “UHS Speed Class” rating since the conventional data bus is slower. UHS memory cards feature a significantly greater capacity for recording real-time broadcasts, shooting large-scale HD films, and taking exceptionally high-quality professional HD footage than previous generations.

UHS ClassMinimum Speed
110MB/s
330MB/s

Speed in CF cards

When it comes to CF cards, the speed is frequently expressed in terms of X times and in many cases, it is expressed in terms of megabytes per second, which is very straightforward. However, when the speed is specified as 600X or 1066X, what does this actually mean? 150Kb per second is represented by the letter X. It is a standard that was originally used for optical media recording. Once you’ve determined the approximate speed of 600X, you may calculate it by multiplying 600 by 150 and dividing the result by 1000. The final value is expressed in megabytes per second. Consider the following example: a 600X speed card is capable of 90MB per second read speed (601 150 1000).

The newest CF cards are equipped with the UDMA 7 interface, which enhances the speed with which the camera’s buffer memory is cleared, allowing the camera to prepare for the next burst. To take full use of UDMA 7, a firmware upgrade is necessary for the Canon 5D MKIII (your camera may also require one; check with the manufacturer).

Price

Pricing is determined mostly by how fast the card is, which is the major criterion for determining price. The card’s storage capacity is the next important aspect to consider. When compared to a CF card with the same capacity, an SD card is half the price. As a result, if you want to get a high-speed card with the same capacity as a standard card, you will have to spend extra. Alternatively, if you wish to get a large capacity card at a lesser price, it is feasible to do so, but you will receive a card with a reduced transfer rate.

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