GUIDES & SUPPLEMENTS
Digital Media Storage:
It's in the cardsTEXT BY ALICE B. MILLER
As digital cameras ratchet up the resolution, media storage cards deliver escalating storage capacity and speed—and a slight dip in price.
Have you decided to give digital a go? If you have, one big
reason, no doubt, is the appeal of instant gratification. No more
waiting hours or days for your images to be processed. No more
wondering how the special effect turned out on that critical client
Thanks to the magic of digital film cards, you can discover precisely how well composed, well lit, and well received your images are—on the spot!
Which media storage card will best suit your needs becomes a fundamental question, since virtually all digital cameras are built to accommodate one card format, although some do offer two options today.
Speed, capacity, and durability are the basic factors that distinguish storage cards one from another. And all of these elements are intricately intertwined. High-resolution digital cameras generate mega-files, which limit storage capacity and slow down processing time. That could become a serious crash-and-burn situation if it causes you to miss a shot because a file takes an eternity to write and register. Or forces you to delete winner shots because you've run out of storage space in your camera's image attic.
Since breaking free of their computer support systems, digital cameras have been outfitted with memory devices to save and store photographic images. These devices, variously called digital film cards, digital media cards, and digital media storage, are produced and marketed by a number of different manufacturers.
The most frequently available formats are the CompactFlash (Types I and II, with Type II running slightly bigger than its predecessor) and SmartMedia. About 1 1/2" square, CompactFlash is used for such high-end digital cameras as the Nikon D1x and D1H and the Canon D30. CompactFlash Type I typically has memory as high as 256MB; Type II cards can handle 448MB of pixel storage. One manufacturer just unveiled its latest CompactFlash card, featuring 512MB of storage space along with an enhanced transfer speed.
Another manufacturer has developed CompactFlash media storage cards that bear fast write speeds—enabling photographers to capture more images in a shorter period of time—along with data transfer rates of about 1.5MB per second.
SmartMedia cards can be found inside the Olympus E-10. IBM was the first in this arena to reach the 1GB mark with its Microdrive, a lesser used but reliable format. While not the typical digital film card, it is designed to operate like a CompactFlash card and is compatible with most cameras that accept CompactFlash. Prime example: The Nikon D1x and D1H can house the IBM Microdrive as well as the CompactFlash.
NEW CARDS ON THE BLOCK
Two relative newcomers in the digital card arena are the MultiMedia card and the Secure Digital media card. Secure Digital cards are sophisticated memory devices roughly the size of postage stamps that don't require power to retain the information stored on them and have no moving parts to skip or break. This gives them a decided advantage over the CompactFlash, since it doesn't put a strain on batteries. Currently limited to 32- and 64MB, there are plans to release 128- and 256MB cards in the not too distant future.
Sony, looking to develop its own brand of film cards, came up with the Memory Stick. Shaped like a stick of gum, it's only compatible with Sony digital cameras and other Sony digital products. Look for an article on the Sony CyberShot P1 in the May issue of Studio Photography & Design.
As digital cameras continue to morph, so will their media storage capabilities. It's all in the cards. Hope your move to digital is a smooth one.
WHO MAKES DIGITAL MEDIA STORAGE CARDS?
Here are some manufacturers who produce
digital media storage cards:
Delkin Devices, Inc.
Kingston Technology Company, Inc.
Lexar Media, Inc.
Sony Electronics, Inc.
Viking Components, Inc.