Articles: Memory

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Comparing the so recent, but so forever gone era of film-based photography with the current digital photography, one may come to a varying opinion: from “nothing changed really” to “everything is now different”. Beyond doubt, digital technologies brought the long-sought-for speed of processing the image and getting the result, but still they made it no easier to become a good photographer or a professional in this field! The photographer used to know a bit of chemistry, but now he/she has to have certain designing skills and know something about computers and digital image processing.

Digital media replacing film freed us from many problems, but, as usual, raised new ones, peculiar to digital technologies. This review is not about those problems, though. I am going to talk about the media: the choice of film/paper used to be widely discussed in the photographer community. Nowadays, however, the choice of the memory card has come to the fore. Although this choice doesn’t affect the quality of snapshots directly, many aspects of photographing do depend on it.

But what and how and to what extent depends on the choice of the memory card? What to choose – a fast and more expensive card or a slow and cheaper one? Can you be sure that you’ll get exactly the same performance as measured by various benchmarks? Do memory cards of the so-called “professional series” have a higher performance? These are the questions I’ll be trying to answer in this review.

Why Might You Want to Pay More?

Communicating with photographers, I found that many of them purchased a “fast” memory card without knowing exactly why it was better at everyday work. Their reasoning was usually trivial, “It is just faster!” Running a little ahead, I should say that in most cases – and I will try to prove my point – the performance of the flash card is not the main factor, contributing to the speed of a particular digital camera. Moreover, even a professional camera may not feel any difference between a slow and fast card – and that’s not necessarily bad!

So why, then, does it make sense to purchase the highest-performance flash media? It may be reasonable in those rare cases when the fast card does give you certain advantages or – something else. For example, a high-capacity memory card is usually a considerable money investment, which you may want to secure somehow. Being limited-life devices (and due to some other reasons), flash cards fail sometimes. It is in this case that you realize that “professional” media series, although cost more, come usually with a long-term – sometimes lifetime – warranty. Of course, such a flash card is going to be the most secure investment of your money.

Anyway, many reviews and tests of flash cards limit themselves with the performance issues only. That’s understandable – one and the same memory card model may vary greatly in price and warranty terms in different world regions, so this information cannot be taken as a comparison basis. But we find ourselves on an insecure ground here: benchmarking the performance of a flash card is no trivial task, with numerous pitfalls.

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