Sunday, February 19, 2006

Choosing Memory for your Digital Camera

By Christina VanGinkel

Buying memory for your camera can be a bit of a problem, if you have not a clue as to what type of card your camera will use, what size should you buy, and not to mention all the different brands, and what their differences are. At alone, I counted over twenty different brands, taking into account their generic listings, just for their Secure Digital cards. Secure Digital is what many digital cameras use, as they are small in footprint, but large on data storage. With brand names such as Lexar, Kingston Technology, SanDisk, PNY, Verbatim, Delkin, Viking, and more, it was enough to leave even me, who has bought their fair share of computer and electronic equipment through the years just a bit baffled.

Other popular types of memory include memory sticks, Compact Flash, MiniSD cards, xD cards, TransFlash cards, SmartMedia Cards, and MultiLedia Cards. Depending on your camera's brand and model, you might need any one of these, so be sure to first narrow your search by reading the material list that came with your digital camera. As new products are being developed continually, it would not surprise me if this list were to change to eventually include even more types. Also, take note that many of these types of memory work in more than just your cameras, but also in you Pocket PC, Palm Pilots, even your phones!

With digital cameras making groundbreaking sales almost every day in the most recent years, you would almost think that any digital camera sold would come with a memory card included. Some do, but even those most likely will need replacing shortly after purchase, as they continue to ship the smallest cards available. I purchased a new digital camera just a few months ago, and it came with features such as a high quality zoom, long battery life, and the options to either use manual settings or many automatic settings for the perfect snapshot almost every time. It also came with a card that was the total of 8 MB. It held all of maybe a dozen pictures. Anyone with a digital camera knows that you can snap a dozen pictures in about two minutes, if it were to take you that long. A card that small is more or less useless, except for a trial picture or two. The cost of it when compared to other sizes on the market would put it at about two dollars!

With prices of memory dropping just as fast as other electronics, I often wonder why they do not ship a large memory card with every digital camera sold. In all fairness, I have noticed a few cameras that now include a larger card than what has been typical in the past, such as my whopping 8 MB one that came with my newest camera, but even those are usually only 256 MB. With a 1 GB card now running about fifty dollars, I would recommend that you buy at least that size. While a 256 MB or 512 MB can hold a good many pictures, with storage, more is better.

A good friend of mine would argue this point though, and say that you would be better off buying two or three small cards instead of one large. I would counter that argument and tell you to buy two larger ones. With the price differences minimal between a 512 MB and a 1 GB, say about twenty dollars, go with the largest card you can afford. I was surprised to see that even a 2 GB card is now less than one hundred dollars, as I paid more than that for my first card, a 256 MB just a few years ago. I would agree with her point of buying at least two cards though, Accidents can and do happen, and if you are someplace taking pictures, and you run into a read/write error situation, it can save you a lot of problems and lost pictures if you have a second card to use.

Shop for your next memory purchase informed as to what type your equipment requires, and shop for as much memory as you can afford. Compare brands, and if your particular camera recommends a certain brand, (this most likely means they have tested and approved of that brand of memory with their cameras) favor that brand when making your decision, but remember that as long as the type is right, any brand will work.

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