Buying the Right Memory Card


So you got a brand new camera over the holidays, and you want to pickup a few extra memory cards to get you thru those long photowalks your planning to take. But which one to buy? There's so many choices, and so many prices.

First thing you need to do is break open your camera's owners manual that came with the camera. You know the paper manual none of us ever read and tossed back in the box. Trust me, this is the one time you actually need to read manual. Look up in the index for "memory" or "memory card". This is where you'll identify what type of memory card your camera supports.

Most Common Types of Digital Camera Memory

Secure Digital (SD) — the most popular format for the widest variety of cameras. Standard SD card capacity maxes at 2GB.

Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) — an extension of the SD standard and often used in many of today's newer cameras and DSLR's, as well as many of todays camcorders, it increases storage capacity up to 32GB. SDHC cards are the same physical size as SD cards, but are not backward compatible with older SD devices.

Compact Flash (CF) — the CF card is the standard for high-end DSLR cameras. Because of DSLR's faster shooting capability (burst mode), you should look for high-speed CF cards to ensure top performance.

Well now we know what type of card we need and storage capacity we want, you think we would be ready to go shopping. Unfortunately there's one more thing to consider. Speed. How fast of a card do you need. Memory cards come in different speed ratings.


Ever wonder why one SD memory cards sells for $15 dollars and other one sells for $30? chances are the price difference has to do with the speed rating of the card. Faster card, more money.. It's time to break out that camera manual again. This time lookup which speed class your camera requires.

Naturally, the higher the class, the higher the data transfer. Devices that use a lot more memory will require a higher class than devices that use minimal memory. Let's break it down class by class, class.

Class 2 - Class 2 SD cards operate at Normal Bus speed and are really only ideal for standard definition video recording and digital images.

Class 4 and 6 - Class 4 and 6 support Full HD (1920x 1080) video recording.

Class 10 - Not only does Class 10 tackle Full HD video recording, but it also offers HD still consecutive recording.

UHS-1 - This is a totally new Ultra High Speed class is designed for full higher recording and capturing large-size HD videos. This is such a new standard speed class, I know of no consumer product currently supporting it. But it's coming...

Time to sum things up. Identify the type, and speed class, your camera requires. As to capacity, more is always better! As to what brand to buy? Today, most memory card manufacturers are pretty good on quality and reliability. I personally use Sandisk and Lexar, you can't go wrong with either brand. Now get out there shoot!