Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

Camera Memory Cards, Part 3


Memory cards for cameras


Regarding memory cards, it’s good to know before you buy your DSLR, what format of card or cards the camera takes.  Many models can have slots for multiple cards and card types so be alert to this and buy the fastest most reliable cards you can afford in the capacity you need.  Here is a list of Canon bodies and which cards they take.

40D CF
50D CF

Memory card capacity refers to whether the cards hold 8 gigabytes (GB), 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, etc.  The size you need depends on your DSLR and how many MP it has per image.  It also depends on which image format you choose to shoot in–RAW or JPG, because there is a vast difference in the size of the image files between these two formats.  I always shoot in RAW format, which is the format that produces the largest files.  My 18MP Canon 7D produces RAW image files that are 25 to 30 MB each.  My 16GB card holds about 600 of these files.  This gives you a reference point for deciding on what size of card you may want.  The 16GB works well for me but at some point in time I may move up to a 32GB if I see one on sale.  UPDATE 28Oct2014:  As I have indicated in other updates to my articles, I have since upgraded to the 22MP Canon 5D Mark III, and I have also upgraded to the SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro compact flash card (160 MB/s).  RAW files average around 27MB and the card holds well over 1000 files.  I leave the 2nd card slot empty as I have read that placing an SD card into the 2nd slot of the 5D Mark III can actually reduce the speed performance of the camera’s writing capabilities to the Compact Flash card, no matter how fast that card is.  Google it to find out more.

Again don’t go crazy buying huge cards if you still don’t have the cash for that awesome lens!  (Image formats will be covered at length in a future article!).

Memory card speed, especially write speed, can be important because if you use a card that has a slow write speed, it can actually hamper the performance of your camera body when shooting in data-intensive burst mode.  When you shoot 3.5, or 6, or 8 frames per second, for instance, you don’t want the memory card becoming a “bottle-neck” for the data when the camera writes to the card.  With a quick look at Amazon.com you can see that some of the fastest write speeds are easily 160 MB/s (megabites per second).  The slowest cards are in the 15 to 30 MB/s range.  60MB/s is in the middle and should be plenty fast for the beginning to intermediate photographer.  My fastest card may be a 160 MB/s SanDisk card but I still have some 60 MB/s cards (and slower) I use as backup which work just fine.  Remember when I stated earlier that there will always be faster and better equipment that you wish you had?  🙂

As with lenses, as memory card speed increases, so does the price–exponentially.  So get the fastest card you can afford without jeopardizing your ability to buy the nice lens you’ll want.


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Bird Photography Equipment (1)

DSLR Features for Bird Photography (2)

Bird Photography Lenses (4)

Bird Photography Accessories (5)

Tripod, Monopod, Bean Bags (6)

More Accessories for Bird Photography (7)

Processing Software – Introduction (8)

Capturing Bird Images – Introduction (9)

JPG format or RAW Format? (10)

Shooting Bird Photos (11)

Two Different Exposure Methods (12)

Other Camera Settings and Features (13

Exif Data (14)

Depth of Field and Aperture (15)

Best Time to Photograph Birds (16)

Composition in Bird Photography (17)

Getting Close in Bird Photography (18)

Backgrounds in Bird Photography (19)

Using External Flash when Photographing Birds (20)

Photographing Birds in Flight (21)

Lightroom 3: Hub of my Workflow (22)

Processing Images in Lightroom 3 (23)

Processing Images in Lightroom 3 (24)

From Lightroom to Plugins (25)

Using Lightroom to Upload Images (26)




This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 at 2:50 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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