Are you using the right memory card?

October 18, 2016

Memory Cards - there is a difference!

So you wanna take sports photos. You’ve got your DSLR, your long lens, your tripod; you’re ready to go. You grab a memory card you had in a drawer, throw it in your camera, and head out. Once you get there and start shooting, however, something goes wrong. Your camera is giving an error message.

Most people understand the difference between a 2GB SD card and a 64GB. But what in the heck do all those other numbers even mean??? Well, all SD cards are not created equally. Although the capacity, say, 16GB, may be the same, one of the biggest things to be aware of is the write speed.

If you look closely at the packaging your memory card came in, it will have its write speed listed. This will be something along the lines of 80MB/S, or 80 megabytes per second. Some cards may have a number inside of a circle. The higher this number, the faster the card will write. There are four different speed classes: 10, 6, 4, and 2. There are also 2 UHS, ultra high speed classes.

What does this mean to you? The card’s write speed controls how quickly it can write the photos once they are taken. So if you want to shoot a lot of frames per second, or shoot video, it is a must to have a card that can keep up with your camera. In the above scenario for instance, the sports photographer probably just grabbed an older card that was lying around the house, and the write speed was just too slow. When that happens, the camera will either give an error, or sometimes the word “Busy” will appear on the screen. You then won’t be able to take any more photos until the card has caught up with the camera.

“Well I guess I just need to throw away all of my old cards them, right?” Not necessarily. Slower cards are fine if you aren’t overly concerned with how quickly you are taking pictures, or don’t want to shoot video. They also work fine in most point and shoot cameras that aren’t capable of a fast burst mode.

The other number shown is the card’s read speed. This means pretty much what it sounds like: the speed the card can be read by a computer, camera, hard drive, etc. If you have a faster writing card, the read speed is generally going to be fine. It’s usually not something to worry about unless you find it taking you a really, really long time to download your images. And even if that’s the case there can be other factors at work besides the read speed of your card.

There are SD cards made for pretty much any kind of photography you are interested in. You can get some that are waterproof, crush proof, made of raw steel, or whatever you can think of. Another major difference that you may not be able to determine just by looking at the card is its warranty.

Most of the SD cards we sell at Creve Coeur Camera have a lifetime warranty. This means if the card fails for any reason, we can replace it for you. Just bring your card in to any of our locations.

Creve Coeur Camera can also do something we call card recovery. If your card does fail, or you inadvertently erase all those vacation shots before you’ve backed them up, we can help! Just stop using the card immediately and bring it in to any of our stores. Our lab techs can work their magic and get everything they can rescue for you burned to a CD or DVD, usually within a week.

Hopefully now you’ll be able to choose the correct card you need to cover any of your photographic needs! If you aren’t sure exactly what speed you have, or need other advice, just bring the card or cards into any Creve Coeur Camera. We are happy to get you back out there shooting!

By Ashli Marler,  St. Charles Store Manager