What Size Memory Card Should I Purchase?

Posted by in Hardware, News, Photography, Tech, Tips

That’s a question that we will always ask, in fact a few years from now we will be asking 1,2 or 4 TB. Scott Bourne tells us not to purchase the largest ones, as they may not be as reliable and will cost more. I tend to agree with Scott about this, the largest memory cards will cost more than the smaller ones when you compare cost per Gb.

Reliability is another concern. I tend to stick with the name brands like Sandisk or Lexar. The unknown build quality is just not worth the money you may save. After all, your memory cards store all your photos as you take them and this is the time when your photos are in only one spot, so stick with the branded names. I have only had one time when I had a corrupt memory card, and that’s when I ejected it from my computer before it was done with the card. Other than that, these little marvels of technology are very stable.

Regarding size 4gb cards have luxury of being the same size as a DVD, this makes them easier to backup to DVD. If you shoot landscapes then size is not as big of a concern, on the other hand a 16gb cards allows me to shoot upwards of 800 RAW files on one card and that’s handy when I shoot dance or sports. If you only shoot JPG you can store a whole bunch more.

Speed of the card also matters; again stick with the name brands here because they have more to loose if they mislabel their cards. I invested in Sandisk Extreme III cards which write at 30 megabytes per second. My 16gb card is capable of 60 megabytes per second. 60 megabytes per second means that I can burst fire more shots before the camera stops to empty it’s buffer and it takes noticeably less amount of time to empty the buffer. A faster card means more shots per burst. If you are shooting dance or sports this is very important, for landscapes not so much.

You should also remember that you will have theses cards longer than their useful life, that is you will retire them before they retire you. I currently have (3) 4gb, (2) 8gb, and a single 16gb card in my bag. I started with the 4’s then purchased the 8’s and finally purchases a 16. I will be purchasing 16 from this point on.

Bottom line recommendations:
Make sure you have 2 or 3 cards with you, don’t rely on one.
Stick with the name brand cards, they will stick by you.
Don’t buy the largest one, from what I have read they may be more likely to fail on first gen cards.
Get fast cards, today landscapes tomorrow sports.
Fill up a card over the weekend for a change, go out and shoot.

Bill Debevc

Photo Credit: Bill Debevc BokehBrother.