Storing images in your digital camera has never been faster or cheaper. We‚’ll take you through the current selection of cards and options.
By Jon Sienkiewicz
Accessories Card readers are a must—no one connects a camera to a computer to download images anymore. FireWire readers are blazingly fast, although Hi-Speed USB 2.0 isn’t pokey, either. Although memory cards are surprisingly durable, the electrical contacts can become soiled or damaged—and cards are easy to lose. Keep your spare cards clean and findable in a case—not in the bottom of a gadget bag.
Kingston, a company that has developed a strong following for its PC memory products, offers leading-edge SDHC memory cards in sizes up to 8 GB and speed ratings up to Class 6. The company also offers standard SD, microSD, miniSD, MMC, CF and a line of multiformat card readers. Its 8 GB Ultimate CompactFlash offers 133X data transfer rate and comes complete with file-recovery software.
Panasonic offers a full range of SDHC cards, from entry level to professional. Available in densities up to 4 GB, Panasonic’s Pro High Speed series are Class 6 compliant, which means that they're certified to deliver a minimum sustained write speed of 6 MB per second. As a matter of fact, like Panasonic’s previous generation of premium cards, they’re capable of burst speeds of up to 20 MB per second. Panasonic has announced plans for a 16 MB card later this year.
The world’s largest manufacturer of flash memory storage products, SanDisk, recently introduced an 8 GB SDHC card—the highest capacity now available in the SD form factor. Often considered the originator of the category, SanDisk is the only company that has the rights to both manufacture and sell every major type of flash card. The new 8 GB SDHC card will hold more than 4,000 high-resolution pictures, as many as 2,000 digital songs or up to 15 hours of MPEG4 video (depending on conditions).
The new UDMA-enabled CF cards from Lexar are said to be capable of sustained write speeds of 45 MB per second when communicating with a UDMA device. UDMA is the abbreviation for Ultra Direct Memory Access. Even with conventional devices, the cards have a 300X speed rating. They’re available in capacities of 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB. Lexar also offers a UDMA-enabled FireWire (IEEE1394) memory card reader.
The flagship memory product from Sony is the 8 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo they introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. A perfect example of storage media that can be shared across multiple platforms, the PRO Duo is compatible with the PlayStation Portable, Sony Ericsson cell phones, PS3 gaming consoles and Sony camcorders.
Delkin eFilm CompactFlash memory cards are available in capacities of up to 8 GB and speeds of up to 150X. They’re popular among professionals (and serious amateurs alike) because of the extra level of quality assurance-testing Delkin performs. All eFilm cards are made in the USA.
PNY Technologies is an ISO 9001-registered international company that has been quietly building some of the most sophisticated consumer and professional-level graphics card adapters, flash memory thumb drives and flash memory cards. It offers a full lineup of MicroSD, MiniSD, SD, SDHC, xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash. Its 8 GB Optima Pro CompactFlash ultra high-speed professional memory card delivers 100X read/write performance at a list price below $200.
From Seagate, manufacturer of high-quality computer hard drives, comes a hard drive for your camera. The Seagate 4 GB and 8 GB CompactFlash photo storage drives work with any digital cameras that accept CF+ Type II cards. Despite the fact that they store data on spinning media (as opposed to solid state), they’re built Seagate-tough and are resistant to impact damage.