How Fast is Your Memory Card?

All memory cards are the same, right? All you need to do is buy whatever is cheap to capture your precious images, wrong! Just as choosing the correct film for the assignment was important in traditional photography, choosing the right memory card is critical for digital capture. Here’s why:

They’re not all the same speed. Lexar was the first company to rate the speed of its flash memory cards and provides ratings for many of its products Most other memory card manufacturers also rate their products’ speed, but what does it really mean? The rating refers to the speed (who woulda thunk it?) that can be written to or read from a memory card.

“X” represents a transfer rate of 150kb/second and increases are in multiples signifying the card’s overall speed. (Historical Note: When people started storing data on CD-ROM discs, the same system was used.) An embedded high-speed controller allows a flash memory card to perform at its best, but the bottom line is that the higher the number, the faster the card. A “sustained speed-rating” is important because it allows the photographer to capitalize on the camera’s built-in functions, such as burst mode and video capture. When used with a card with inconsistent, high-speed performance, either function can be interrupted.

Photographers often think their memory card’s speed and performance only make an impact on digital capture when the card is in their camera but cards impact workflow when reading data with a card reader.

Sony has released SDHC and SDXC memory cards with data transfer rates of up to 90 MB/s write speeds for better performance capturing still photos in high-speed burst mode and 4K and HD video content along with up to 95 MB/s read speed to make transferring large files fast and easy.These cards are water, dust and X-ray proof and a resistant to UV light rays, magnets (?) and static, and capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. Barry Staver and I are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s out-of-print with new copies available from Amazon for $19.95 (non-Prime) or used copies for giveaway prices, only $7 as I write this.

Author: Joe Farace

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