Choosing the right memory card for your camera can be a minefield. With so many different manufacturers to choose from all making cards of different specification and at wildly disparate prices many photographers tend to stick with what they know, just to stay on the safe side.
When considering your next purchase several factors will need to be taken into account, such as:
With pixel counts still increasing, there is more and more need for larger capacity cards. A typical 10 megapixel digital SLR will create RAW files of between 10MB & 15MB in size depending on how much compression is applied in the camera.
In this review, both the marked capacity and the actual capacity are listed.
Cards with a faster write speed will allow your camera's buffer to empty more quickly. This is important if you use continuous shooting when taking pictures of fast moving or erratic subjects as using a faster card will decrease the chance of you hitting your camera's buffer limit.
The average write speed of each card has been measured using a Lexar Firewire card reader connected to a Pentium 4 2.0Ghz PC with 1GB of RAM. Diagnostic software has been set to write 15MB chunks of data to the card sequentially until the card is 90% full.
Although manufacturers tend to quote the maximum write speed, the average write speed gives a better impression of a cards ability to empty a large amount of data from a camera's buffer.
The read speed of each card will affect two separate aspects of performance. A faster card will reduce the amount of time taken to transfer images to your computer and will also help your camera to display images taken on-screen more quickly.
After performing the write speed test, the same data is read off the card and the average speed is calculated.
Those on a budget will appreciate that they cannot always afford the latest and greatest technology. Finding which memory card delivers the best value for you will require evaluation of each of the aspects of performance already mentioned, versus the price. For example if you do not require the highest performance available, a cheaper card with lower read and write speeds may be more suitable.
The results below are sorted in order of average write speed.