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Choosing the Right Kind of Memory Card for Your Camera

As all camera owners and photography enthusiasts will know, a memory card is an indispensable accessory. One tiny little card stores all your hard work and beautiful memories, i.e. your photos. A memory card is essentially a small, rectangular shaped card that can store various types of data, such as photos, text documents, audio and video files.


Most portable devices such as MP3 players, mobile phones and your DSLR cameras use memory cards to store files. While there are other options for memory storage in mobile phones and MP3 players these days (usually their internal memory is quite large), you will need memory cards for your camera.

So, you are in the market to buy a memory card for your camera, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you make the purchase.

Memory Card Format: There are 2 kinds of formats available in memory cards, namely SD (Secure Digital) and CF (Compact Flash) cards. Most cameras these days support the SD card format so you know you have to get that one. However, top-end cameras and some video cameras need the Compact Flash format card, as these cards are slightly more technologically advanced in terms of speed and can hold higher capacities than SD. Most basic digital cameras require an SD card only.

Now, SD cards are further divided into SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) and SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) . SDHC cards have a capacity ranging between 2 – 32 Gigabytes and were built as an upgrade to the basic SD card. SDXC cards can store even higher capacities, usually up to 2 Terrabytes, but are not usually compatible with all computers, so you need to check that before you go for the SDXC card.

With today’s advanced technologies, many DSLR cameras support the Compact Flash (CF) cards, which is a good thing as the high quality of a DSLR image would require larger storage space. Also, due to the controller chip placed inside CF cards, it also has a faster processing. CF cards are further divided into Type I or Type II, where again, the difference is simply in the capacity. Make sure to check compatibility before you buy the Type II card.

Capacity: When we say capacity of the card, we are referring to the amount of storage space it holds, or the amount of data it can store. Here you need to ask certain questions to yourself first, such as will you be shooting RAW files or JPEG files (for DSLR owners) or is your camera an 8 mega-pixel or 40 mega-pixel. For RAW files or for a camera with larger mega-pixels, you would need more storage space, hence a memory card with a larger capacity. For simple digital cameras, an SD card of upto 8GB or 10GB should suffice, and increase the memory as you go further in terms of technology of the camera.

Memory Card Speed: There are two kinds of speeds of a memory card, namely the write speed and the read speed. The write speed is how quickly the data can be stored on the card by the camera and the read speed is how fast data can be transferred from the card on the computer. The read speed has no effect on shooting speed and you need not concern yourself with it. What does concern you when choosing a memory card is the write speed.

There are different classes that are assigned to cards based on their write speed, and they are 2, 4, 6 and 10, in ascending order. Along with the class, memory cards also have a speed rating ranging from 30MB/sec to 60MB/sec and so on. The faster your card can write the data, the quicker the processing which means you can take more amount of photos together in a row. For example, you would need a faster write speed for shooting in burst mode, so go for a Class 6 or higher memory card. Again, how much speed you need depends on the kind of photography one is going to do, so choose wisely.

Safety: Since your memory card contains precious data, make sure you invest in a good brand memory card. Spend a little bit more to be on the safer side. Since most brands offer warranty on their cards, it is better to opt for a branded card that has a warranty than a memory card that would cost less but is not reliable.

Lastly, always always backup your data in your computer or in an external Hard Disk. Never keep all your eggs in one basket!

There you go! We hope you find these tips useful for choosing the right memory card for yourself.

Browse through Ryda’s selection of memory cards and pick one that matches all your needs and is perfect for you and your camera!

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