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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gadget Bag: Memory Cards

Capacities and speeds continue to improve, giving you more options for still and HD-video shooting

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Once thought of as a format for point-and-shoot cameras only, the SD card has become common in DSLRs—even pro models—because of its speed and extremely high theoretical capacity. Although current cards top out around 64 GB, the format itself is projected to have the ability to go as high as 2 TB! The latest iteration of SD cards is the SDXC, which are available with up to 64 GB and offer transfer rates of 15 MB/s. That speed is particularly important for HD-video shooters who need the card to keep up with the camera to avoid dropping frames and having sound dropouts.

Exclusive to Sony, the Memory Stick continues to evolve with higher capacities and speeds. In 2010, Sony was seen largely as the most innovative of the major camera companies as they released mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, new DSLRs, HD-video capability in their still cameras and a new hybrid video camera with an APS-C-sized image sensor and the ability to capture a still frame while shooting video. To keep up with the increasing demands being created by their cameras, the Sony Memory Stick has kept pace.

CompactFlash Cards
Hoodman’s top CompactFlash card is the 32 GB UDMA RAW unit (list price $499), with a super-speedy 675x (up to 100 MB/s) rating. Hoodman produces a single line of CompactFlash cards, the high-end UDMA RAW series. Cards also are available in 4 GB to 16 GB starting at $89. All Hoodman RAW memory cards are made in the United States and come with a lifetime warranty.

The Ultimate 600x is Kingston’s top CompactFlash card, available in capacities of 16 GB and 32 GB, and rated at up to 90 MB/s. For less demanding DSLRs, Kingston’s Elite Pro 133x is rated at 20 MB/s and comes in capacities from 4 GB to 32 GB. All Kingston memory cards come with a lifetime warranty.

Lexar’s top CompactFlash model is the super-quick UDMA Professional 600x, available in 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB capacities for $199, $299 and $499, respectively. When transfer rates of 30 MB/s will do, the Platinum II 200x media come in 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB capacities for $39, $49 and $89, respectively. All come with limited lifetime warranties.

The world’s biggest memory-card manufacturer, SanDisk offers the Extreme Pro (UDMA 6, up to 90 MB/s) card in capacities of 16-64 GB (starting at $335) for extreme users, and the Extreme (UDMA 5, up to a still very respectable 60 MB/s) in capacities of 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB (starting at $145) for more budget-minded DSLR shooters. All come with limited lifetime warranties.

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