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SD Card for your Camera
by Derrick Story , Macworld.com
If a new digital camera is on your shopping list this season, you’ll also need a memory card to store photos on. While some cameras come with a small starter card, most don’t. In either case, you’ll want to invest in a good card with lots of room for your pictures.
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Prices for SDHC memory cards—the most popular type of camera media—can range from $5 to $95. But how can you tell which is the best memory card for you? Here are the important things to keep in mind when buying a new card (if you’re in a hurry, just scroll down to the end for a summary).
Which flavor of SD?
For the most part, SDHC cards have replaced older SD memory cards. Both cards use the same form factor (24 by 32mm); however SDHC cards feature larger capacities and higher data-transfer speed (SDHC cards range from 4GB to 32GB, where older SD cards top out at 2GB). Nearly all SD-compatible cameras sold today accept both SD and SDHC cards, so either will work. Where this could become an issue is if you have an old camera that was manufactured before the SDHC standard was adopted. The easiest way to check this is to refer to your camera’s specifications, either online or in your owner’s manual.
Just make sure you don’t accidently order a microSD card, which is smaller and isn’t interchangeable with SD memory cards. While we’re on the subject, note that the SDXC spec was released in April 2009. This latest version extends SD storage potential up to 2TB. Although SDXC cards aren’t really on the market yet, once they arrive, they’ll face the same backwards-compatibility issues that SDHC cards do.
How much storage do you need?
A “full memory card warning” at an inopportune moment is one the great bummers in photography. You can help prevent pitfall by choosing the right capacity for your shooting style.
These days, memory card capacity is typically measured in gigabytes. For hobbyist photographers, I recommend a minimum card size of 2GB. If you shoot a lot of photos or shoot in Raw mode (which produces significantly larger image files) you’ll probably be happier with 8GB.
So how does that shake out in terms of number of pictures stored? If you’re shooting with a 10-megapixel camera, such as the Canon PowerShot S90 , you can squeeze about 750 high resolution Jpegs on to a 2GB SD card. However, if you switch to Raw mode, that number drops to 135 pictures on the same card. By comparison, an 8GB SDHC card can store around 540 raw files.
Video capture requires even more room. On a 2GB card, the S90 can record 24 minutes of standard definition video (640x480 pixels at 30 fps). But on an 8GB card, it can fit 1 hour and 35 minutes of video.
So while most still photographers can get by nicely with cards in the 4GB range,...
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