Memory cards aren't really talked about all that much as they're not seen as something that's all that exciting, however photographers wouldn't get very far without them and they're definitely a must-have item. With this in-mind, we're going to take a look at some of the features memory cards offer as well as some of the ways they can help you speed up your work flow.
Something which is often overlooked about memory cards is that they have a class system and this is something that needs considering just as much as the size, type and compatibility of the cards you're buying to use with your camera. Why? Well, the class is a rating which represents the amount of megabytes transferred per second. There are currently 5 classes which are: Class 2, Class 4, Class 6, Class 8 and Class 10.
What this means is a Class 4 memory cards, transfer at 4MB/s while the newer class cards, Class 10, such as Samsung’s SD cards, transfer at 10MB/s or faster. These newer cards are much more suited to newer DLSRs so if you do have a new camera and have wondered why your transfer speeds are slow, have a look at what class of memory card you're using to see if you can upgrade to a faster model.
A common question is whether or not a camera or other device will support a certain speed. The answer to this is that modern cameras have the ability to support far higher speeds than any card you might be able to purchase today. Therefore, if speed is of importance, you can safely buy the fastest card you wish to afford.
The read speed is important for when you want to view the photos or copy them onto a computer or other device. If you find yourself going to make a cup of tea while your photos transfer to your computer it could be because your memory card has a slow read speed. Although, manufacturers, such as Samsung with their SDHC Cards, have improved the read speeds so they're now much faster.
Even if you have a memory card that fits into a device's slot, it doesn't mean it'll work. For example, if you have a new memory card but your PC is a few years old, there is chance that the devices just aren't compatible due to technology changing and more importantly, improving.
Memory card manufacturers Samsung have a feature on their site which lets you put a product name or model number into a search box so you can check if your device is compatible with a specific type of memory card before purchasing one.
An important thing to consider is how durable a memory card is. Samsung's Plus/Extreme cards, for
example, are waterproof, shockproof and magnetic proof (something ePHOTOzine will be testing later this month). However, you can't determine the reliability of new cards, they could take a long time to fail or never fail at all so you should also look at what warranty is offered. That way, if the card does fail then a long warranty will mean that the manufacturer should replace or repair your card. Some manufacturers offer longer warranties than others but you'll find more information out about this on their websites.