Oh the JOY! And the GRIEF!
Camcorder users must have memory cards with LARGE capacity memory storage. But the average still digital camera user—does not! And in fact, using a memory card with a storage capacity of over 1GB (gigabyte) is foolhardy.
With Sony’s release of its mega memory 8 and 16 GB memory sticks for videographers, can mega memory cards be far behind for digital cameras that shoot still photographs? Apparently not. Other camera manufacturers are peppering the marketplace with bigger faster memory cards like the SanDisk 16GB CF Extreme III. But my caution is to think before you leap up to these massive capacity memory cards. Here’s why…
Digital camera memory cards come under a number of titles, with the most common being: Compact Flash, xD Card, Memory Stick, SecureDigital, SmartMedia, and MicroDrive. And while these miniature hard drives differ widely in name, most offer increasing memory capacity. And that’s good news for professional photographers, but a nasty temptation for the average point and shooter.
It sounds like a magnificent idea, doesn’t it? Plug in a massive memory card and then fire away. Select a reasonable resolution and compression level in your camera, and the average Joe photographer could load thousands of images to a 2GB card. But it’s not the memory card’s memory size that is a problem; it’s the card’s physical size.
This weekend, my grandkids haphazardly managed to lose my Nintendo DS Brain Age game card—it just disappeared. I could hardly blame them because the darn thing is so tiny. So are digital camera memory cards. Some memory cards are so tiny you could pick your teeth with them. So, what does the average photographer do when, towards the end of his vacation, he loses one of his tiny memory cards? Cry? Hit something? Curse? Probably all three. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Keep your digital images safe—don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
1) Buy several smaller memory cards (512, 1GB). Split up your photographs so that if a card goes missing, you haven’t lost all your photos. Hopefully, you haven’t lost the card with the prize-winning sunset shot.
2) Don’t fill your MEGA (2GB, 8GB, 16GB) memory cards to capacity. If you need the larger cards because you are saving some of your files in “raw,” fine, but share your digital images among several memory cards. Use a memory card storage case, like the iPorter xSD or just a simple plastic storage box; turn over your used cards, inside the case, so you know they are “full.” In an emergency, you could always grab one, and add a few more shots.
3) Clean your camera’s memory cards every night. Travel with your laptop, or a small external drive like a Wolverine. I ensure I never lose my photos by loading all photos to my laptop’s hard drive, and a second set to my Wolverine. I carry my laptop onto the plane; the Wolverine is packed in my checked luggage. One way or the other, my digital images make it home.
4) Re-format your memory cards (in your camera ONLY) once you have cleared them of photos. Digital camera memory cards are tiny drives—their brains (bits and bytes) get addled just like a computer’s hard drive. And like a computer, the cards need defragmenting (re-formatting) to keep them working properly. Or, they will act up. You’ll know you have card error when your digital images overlap each other.
As an average shooter, don’t be seduced by the mega memory cards—buy several cards with smaller memories instead, and a memory card storage case. When one of your memory cards goes missing, you will breathe a sigh of relief because you still have the others.
And be sure to manage your photographs well—use a photo filing and indexing program like PicaJet to make your photographs easily accessible.