I recently upgraded my camera body and when it came in the mail I was so excited to pop on my fav lens and start shooting. Then I realized that the camera only accepts CF memory cards. Whoops. I own a bunch of SD cards and of course no CF memory.
New Rule: Always read the specs before you buy!
I guess those SDs will come in handy when I finally upgrade to my dream camera that accepts both types of cards. #oneday
Since I have been spending some quality time lately researching cards I thought it would be fun to share some tips on what to look for when purchasing a memory card for your digital camera.
- Type: There are a ton of different kinds of memory you can buy for your digital camera. The most common cards are Secure Digital (SD) and Compact Flash (CF). CF cards are larger and heavier than SD and generally faster. CF cards also use pins to connect to the camera and they can be bent and corrupted easier than SD cards.
- Speed: CF and SD cards usually display speed in “MB/sec” (60 MB/s) and/or based on X ratings = 150KB/sec (1000X, etc). Generally the higher the speed, the faster the card. Most CF cards now have UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access) capability which allows the card to read and write to the camera quickly. Finally, many SD cards also have “class ratings.” Usually anything above 4 is good but most people prefer to buy cards rated at class 10.
- Size: This really comes down to two factors: what format are you shooting in and how many photos do you feel comfortable storing on one card? Memory cards come in all sizes usually from 4GB up to 64GB. If you are shooting in RAW format or RAW+JPEG then you may need a bigger card but if you shoot compressed JPEGS then a smaller card will work. I tend to not like to “put all my eggs in one basket” and prefer to use 8GB and 16GB cards. I shoot 100% in RAW and fill those up pretty quickly so I usually have two or three with me at all times. I like the fact that if something goes wrong not all of my photos would potentially be damaged. This method is more costly (especially for long trips or weddings) but I feel like it is the safest.
- Price: Like most things in life, the bigger and better a product, the more money you pay. I also like to think of things like this as an investment in your work and business. If you scrimp on cheap, off-brand cards it is more likely that they will fail faster. Buy what you can afford. If you are a hobbyist who doesn’t shoot for money, buy a mid-range card. If are a pro making a business out of your photography, buy the higher rated, “extreme” or “pro” series cards.
My top picks:
Based on my experience these are the best cards I have used. They are fast and I have never had issues with them failing (not to say that they won’t eventually).
CF: I recently bought the Sandisk Extreme 16GB 400x CF card and really like it. It is very fast and I haven’t had any issues. It isn’t cheap but works well.