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Friday, July 1, 2005

Beauty & The Beast

Tame the large files produced by a high-resolution digital SLR

Where Pixels Make A Home
Your memory card size will have to increase. That 1 GB card may have been adequate with your lower-resolution camera, but you'll find that same card holds only 52 RAW images (19 MB each) from your high-resolution SLR. That's less than two rolls of film. And if you're shooting RAW+JPEG, you've finished even before you started.

CompactFlash cards are available in capacities of 4 GB, 8 GB and even 12 GB. Although such cards become pricier as you increase capacity, they may be well worth the investment if you expect to shoot hundreds rather than dozens of photographs. Size alone shouldn't be the only consideration, however. You're going to have to think about speed.

A memory card's read and write speeds are a major factor when it comes to performance. Cards designed specifically for digital SLRs may be identified by a speed factor of 20x to 80x (Lexar) or by a name such as Extreme III (SanDisk). For example, the Lexar Media 8 GB Pro Series 40x provides write and read speeds of up to 80x, with a sustainable data transfer rate of up to 12 MB/sec. The SanDisk 4 GB promises to deliver a minimum of 20 MB/sec. These high-performance cards will execute much better than just a standard CompactFlash card.

In order to obtain these fast speeds, your camera will have to support the technology, and you can expect that various camera models will perform slightly differently even with the same card. If your camera doesn't support such fast cards, it will make use of the capacity, but not the increased speed.

Reining in these large files is possible, whether you upgrade your existing system or buy a new computer. And even though the beast may never turn into a prince, you'll at least make him a little easier to look at.



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