Over the last few months I have noticed that a number of friends, family and colleagues are getting serious with their digital photography. By no means am I a professional photographer but I have come to appreciate the difference between a DSLR and a regular “point and shoot” camera. The missus is pretty fantastic though with some of her shots using our Canon EOS 350D which we picked up on our honeymoon.
Throughout the first decade of this new millennium, we have witnessed the equivalent of a megapixel arms race between the major digital camera manufacturers. Only recently has this paled into insignificance with most cameras capable of five, ten or twelve megapixel resolutions which is more than enough for standard photo printing. Digital imaging aficionados would appreciate the higher resolutions on larger screens at 1920 x 1200 or 2560 x 1600 resolution and zooming right in on the details.
Picture quality is one aspect of digital photography but it is no good without the right storage with which to store the precious images.
Ideally, for high resolution photos (and optionally the RAW image files) you will want a large and fast flash memory card. It’s important to note that all flash memory is not created equally.
My flash memory of choice is the SanDisk Extreme III series. I’ve recently picked up a 16GB card (to replace the previous 2GB version that I have had for a few years) capable of 30MB/s. The speed is important particularly if you are wanting to do burst photography or you want to minimise the delay between taking a photo, having it written to memory and the camera being ready to take the next shot. We all know that perfect photo opportunities wait for no one!
The size of the flash memory is another important consideration for a number of reasons. Considering that image sizes could be several megabytes each (some of mine are nearly 5MB) and the corresponding RAW files are at least 10MB, you’ll end up with 66 shots per gigabyte or 200 shots per gigabyte if you forgo RAW files. Personally, I’d go for the capacity that has the best cost per gigabyte but otherwise you can’t go wrong buying the highest capacity you can afford. One thing to bear in mind is that your camera may be limited in the amount of memory it can access on a card so make sure you check before you buy a card that cannot be fully utilised.
Compatibility is another important thing to consider, particularly with SD and SDHC cards. Standards-compliant SD cards top out at 2GB whilst SDHC cards push through that barrier but in order to read SDHC cards you need a corresponding SDHC card reader (standard SD card readers won’t cut the mustard). So whilst you can use SD cards in SDHC compatible cameras and readers, you can’t use SDHC cards in devices only capable of using standard SD cards.
So if you are looking to splurge on a brand spanking new camera (and once you use a DSLR you won’t go back) make sure you don’t skimp on the flash memory. You will be thankful later on!
Here are a couple of photos my wife has taken: