Camera Memory Cards: Every Little Thing to Know

It’s a massive undertaking to really jump into photography and understand how each part of your equipment works.

Whether you’re a professional, long time photographer, or casual lover of photography, knowing what tools you really need to invest time in is key.

If you want to get the most out of your camera, you’ll want to make sure that your camera memory cards are being used to their greatest extent!camera memory cards

Over 40 million people in the US have practiced some form of photography in the past few months, meaning there are a lot of people who share a common love and hobby.

StartPhotography is here to help you get the most out of your camera equipment so that you can take your photography to the next level.

Taking great photos means you need to have a great eye and great knowledge of what you’re using.

We love helping people discover their knack for photography and find the best ways to use what they have. That’s why we keep up a blog full of great information for you to check out.

You’ll want to make sure that you know exactly what you can do with your camera memory cards, so we at StartPhotography have put together this great guide to help you learn a bit more.

Different types of camera memory cards

If you’re using a digital camera, you will need to really understand the differences between the different type of memory cards you can use. By knowing which type suits your needs best and which memory cards work well with your camera brand, you may notice your capabilities increase.

There are tons of different types of memory cards, but we’ve outlined the top three that you may end up hearing about as you continue to do your research!

Compact Flash (CS)

Compact flash memory cards were a successful early type of camera memory card.

It was widely distributed and created in 1994 and they are easily used across camera brands and types. This type of memory card is still widely used today and even mega-brands like Canon and Nikon use Compact Flash memory cards as their typical resource.

These cards are slightly larger than the others, but this means that they can usually store more photos on one card than most.

Secure Digital (SD)

Secure digital memory cards are, at this point, the main standard that most cameras use. It was developed in 1999 by the SD Card Association and was spearheaded by brands like Sandisk, Panasonic, and Toshiba.

They feature a locking feature, which is a huge benefit. It’s a safe bet to say that many people have felt the burn of accidentally deleting an entire card full of photos and video photos without meaning to!

These cards can come in high capacities, allowing you to hold a huge number of photos on one card without having to upload or delete any of your images.

Smart Media (SM)

If you use an older Toshiba camera, chances are you’ll be using a smart media memory card as a part of your system.

These camera memory cards are no longer manufactured and it was actually more closely related to a floppy disc than anything else!

Since they’ve been outdated and aren’t made anymore, the largest size capacity they come in is 128 MB. Compare that to the massive 32GBs that many memory cards offer us these days!

Tips and tricks you’ll need to know about camera memory cards

Using a memory card may seem pretty straight forward: you find one that works for your camera and plug it in. You can take your photos and upload them to your computer. Then delete them when you’re done.

But that’s really not all you need to know and do with these little pieces of tech!

Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind:

Don’t just delete all of the images

When you’re using a memory card, it’s tempting to hit “delete all” once you’re done with the group of images you have saved.

Most cameras give you this option and it does seem like the most logical option.

But what you’ll actually want to do is format your card when you want to delete everything.

Think about the way we use our computers: we can delete files but traces of them still stick around. To really get rid of everything and clear the space on our computers, we’ll have to empty our trash can.

This is kind of how reformatting your card differs from simply deleting everything. But don’t be mistaken… Deleting all of your images doesn’t often give you a chance to retrieve them (though some cameras do offer this!) like you can from your computer’s trash can.

Reformatting your memory card will actually let you completely erase the leftover data linked to your old photos. This can help you prevent camera errors and corruption from popping up when data gets crossed and overloads the system.

Make sure you have enough memory needed

If you’re going to spend the day shooting, or if you’re going to be on a great vacation for two weeks, it’s wise to estimate how much memory space you’ll need to save all of your photos.

There’s no need to drag a computer with you or bring multiple memory cards that can get lost.

Instead, estimate how many photos you may take– overestimating is even recommended!

You can then check out what level of memory can support the amount of photos you think you’ll take.

Finding this out isn’t a difficult process but you will have to take two things into account: the megapixels of your camera and the storage available on the memory card.

Here are a few examples that could help you out: if you have a 16MP camera, a 128GB camera could hold up to 22,000 photos! But a 1gb memory card may only hold slightly over 100 photos with that same camera.

Some brands can help you recover corrupted photos

Imagine you were the photographer for your best friend’s wedding. The next day you hunker down to upload and review all of the photos of that beautiful event.

But your memory card has become corrupted.

In some cases, this situation would end in a disaster. But if you have certain brands, like Lexar, you can actually have them help you get those photos back.

There are programs available that can help you recover the lost images and save the day! For Lexar, you’ll have to download Image Rescue.

Don’t worry too much, though. Taking simple steps like deleting all of your images then reformatting the card can help you avoid this frustrating problem.

Link your memory cards to you

Here’s a quick pro-tip: if you have multiple memory cards, make sure they are somehow linked to you.

This means labeling them in a way that doesn’t disrupt their function or make them too bulky to fit into the camera slot.

The benefit? If you ever somehow lose that tiny memory card, a good samaritan could send it back to you and your images and money won’t be lost!

On that note, you’ll also want to make sure that your memory cards are stored properly when they’re not in the camera. There are plenty of cases that you can label with your information while keeping the cards together and safe.

Make sure you are purchasing the correct speed memory card

There’s tons of terminology associated with memory cards, but next to the storage size, you’ll want to know the speed of what you need.

Getting the right speed can help you save photos faster and save time uploading them to your computer.

You can find this information by looking at your camera’s manual to see what the top supported write speed is for that model.

Getting a slower card doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, but you may notice that you have to spend a bit of time waiting between shots for your first image to save.

Avoid buying third-party

It’s pretty much a known fact that purchasing anything off of the internet can have some risks involved.

But you will want to be careful when purchasing your memory card online for one simple reason: it could be fake.

If your camera only supports one brand, this may be even more important to keep in mind.

It turns out that a Sandisk Engineer allegedly admitted that over a third of all Sandisk memory cards out there were actually fake. This means that you could be paying a hefty price for the benefits and name of a brand while getting nothing close to it.

Avoid this problem by checking out the prices for the particular memory card you’re interested in. If you notice a main trend in the prices, such as most of them being listed for $50, stick to that range.

Finding a memory card that’s incredibly cheap but a “name brand” should be a red flag. Avoid the temptation of low costs and make sure you’re really getting what you pay for in the end!

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