Camera memory cards are the little storage devices that record those incredible photos that you are taking. Everyone who owns a digital camera also need to own at least one memory card. The problem is, if you are just getting into digital photography, or if you have just purchased a new camera, you must decide which memory card is right for you. And, since there is a huge number of choices, this could be a daunting task.
This article will break down camera memory cards into three areas which will make your task quite elementary. You will be able to choose the right storage card for your camera without having to rely on a store clerk who may not know what your needs are.
Camera Memory Card Format
Getting a card with the right format is critical. Buy one that is the wrong format, and you will be back at the store (or returning the card online) within minutes. While there are a number of formats, most camera makers are now using two common formats. Many point and shoot cameras, as well as some digital SLR cameras, are using SD, or Secure Digital, format. High-end digital SLR cameras are mostly using CF, or Compact Flash, format. As technology has improved, so have the memory cards. Now, you can purchase SDHC cards which have the added feature of "High Capacity," and SDXC which are "Extended Capacity."
Choosing a card with the right format is as simple as checking the user manual for your digital camera. Or, you can look at the slot where the memory card is inserted into the camera. There will be an indication there as to which type of memory card should be installed in the camera.
Camera Memory Card Class
Once you have determined the proper format, you will need to decide on the Class of memory card you want. There are two parts to figuring out which class you should pick. They are speed and use. Use has to do with the way you will be using your digital camera, and speed is the rate of transfer from the camera to the storage card.
If you will be using your camera for basic still photos without putting too much demand on the camera by taking lots of shots in quick succession, then a lower class memory card will be sufficient for your needs. However, if you plan to put high demands on your camera by using the continuous shooting mode for action shots, or if you will be using your camera for frequent video capture, then a higher class and a higher speed would be advisable.
An example of a mid-range camera (in between a point and shoot camera and a professional DSLR) would be a Canon Rebel T3i. This camera is capable of HD video and continuous capture. If you own a camera like this, a memory card with SDHC capacity and a Class Rating of 6 or above would be recommended. (Once again, please check the manual for the manufacturer's recommendations.)
Camera Memory Card Capacity
Capacity simply refers to how much memory is available. For still shots taken in JPEG format, you can take more than 700 photos and/or 20 minutes of video on a 2GB storage card (this is based on a 10-megapixel digital camera). As your needs increase, you will need to buy extra or higher capacity memory cards. The good news about buying higher capacity cards is that the price has dropped significantly over the past couple of years.
You can now get a camera memory card with 32gb of storage (that is more than 10,000 photos) for less than $100. Many people are now using these cards as their backup storage for photos.
Wireless Camera Memory Cards
Everything is going wireless these days, and your camera memory card is no different. While this is not yet the "norm" in storage cards, you can get storage cards that can communicate wirelessly with your printer, your computer, and even upload to online photo sites such as Flickr. These Eye-Fi cards are not yet as economical as the cards mentioned above, but they are becoming more popular. Not only do they have wireless capabilities, but they also have the ability to geo-stamp your photos, meaning it is sort of a memory card GPS system. At this time, Eye-Fi is only available in SD format.
Choosing the right camera memory cards can make your photography experience seamless. You can take your pictures without worrying about storage problems. But don't ever take it for granted that your storage card (or your computer) will not have problems. Have a spare memory card, and always upload your photos to a computer or another storage device for safe keeping.