Select a memory card

pca48_carte_memoireThe memory card is an essential part of digital cameras. There are many types of memory cards and it can be interesting to examine what kind of memory a camera uses before buying.

The memory card is also used in today’s MP3 players, game consoles, …

It is important to check that you have enough memory to cover a certain event or before leaving on vacation. Indeed, although reusable at will, memory cards do not have an infinite capacity and it is always good to have more space than you actually need.



Which type to use?

CompactFlash, SD, xD, Memory Stick, SmartMedia, as it hides you under these memory card formats, what are the differences, advantages, and disadvantages.

  • CompactFlash

choisir_carte_memoire_cfCompactFlash is one of the most memory card formats used in digital cameras professional There are 2 sizes of CompactFlash: Type I and Type II. Some cameras accept only type I (thinner). Type II allows larger capacities (several gigabytes with MicroDrive). The ideal is, of course, your camera supports two kinds.

In addition to its wide availability, the main interest of CompactFlash memory cards is that they incorporate a chip to achieve high transfer rates. Clearly, the reading and writing to the memory card are much faster.

  • Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMediaCard (MMC)

choisir_carte_memoire_sdSD and MMC cards are the smallest memory cards available.They are commonly used in digital cameras, but also PDAs, mobile phones, and digital music players.

The only difference between the two types of memory is that the SD has a small switch to enable / disable data writing (such as on floppies). So we chose SD cards.

SD memory cards are widespread, easy to find and are not expensive. This is certainly the most interesting format.

To exceed the limit of 4GB of SD and up to 32 GB, the specification SDHC (SD High Capacity) was created. Attention equipment (MP3 player, mobile phone or digital camera) that can receive such a card must specifically mention compatibility.

Note that SD cards are also available in two smaller formats, commonly used in mobile phones, MP3 players and game consoles: the Mini SD and Micro SD). An adapter allows using this mini-card in a standard SD slot.

  • xD Picture card

choisir_carte_memoire_xdCreated by Olympus and Fuji in 2002, the xD is the last out of memory card format. It is very small which means it can be used with very compact cameras. XD memory cards can also be used in any CompactFlash compatible digital camera with an adapter.

However, they are not widespread and cost quite expensive. At present, therefore prefer a camera compatible SD or Compact Flash.

  • Memory Stick

choisir_carte_memoire_msThe memory sticks have been developed by Sony for their digital cameras and other digital equipment for their (players, PSP, laptops, digital cameras, …).

A few exceptions, only Sony uses Memory Stick in its cameras. This means that when you decide to buy another brand of digital camera, memory cards you already own will not work with your new camera. On the other hand, if you have multiple Sony devices, you can use your memory cards with them. Also note that in general, the Memory Stick cost more than other memory card formats.

There are several types of Memory Stick.

Memory Stick Sony standard memory card limited to 128 MB
Memory Stick PRO: this is the most prevalent today. They offer higher capacities (256, 512 MB), and operates under a wider temperature range (-25 ° C to 85 ° C instead of 0 ° C to 60 ° C).
Memory Stick DUO: twice smaller than the standard Memory Stick PRO and (require an adapter), they are also faster and offer greater capacity (1, 2 GB).

  • MicroDrive

ibm-1The Microdrive is a mini hard disk in a CompactFlash Type II housing. It consumes more than conventional memory cards because of mechanical parts that compose it. It is also slower than the high-speed memory cards.

With the increased capacity CompactFlash cards and lower prices, MicroDrive is now more justified face the CompactFlash standard. Therefore prefer the latter.

  • SmartMedia

choisir_carte_memoire_smThere are some years, SmartMedia cards were the storage medium for digital cameras the most common. Today it is abandoned as completely overwhelmed by new types of memory (xD, SD).

What capacity chooses?

Most digital cameras come with very low capacity memory card. So, if you buy your first digital camera, plan a budget for an additional card.

There is no fixed rule as to the number of photos you can store on a memory card. The type of the file, its quality, compression ratio, and image content are all factors that affect the size of each file.

Nevertheless, this is what you get an idea of the approximate number of photos you can store on a memory card according to his capacity, the format of the image and following the camera’s sensor (MegaPixel in MP).

  • Compressed images (JPEG format) – Default


  • Uncompressed raw images (TIFF or RAW format)


If you take a lot of photos, it may be wise not to save all on the same card. It is always possible that a card becomes defective or is stolen. This is rare but can happen. To protect your photographs, for example, prefer 2 cards of 512 MB that you will change for inter-your shots, rather than a single 1 GB.

Speed :

The speed of a card account in times (x), 1x means a write speed of 150 kb / s, as a CD-ROM. The cards are typically 45x, 80x, 90x and 150x even if the fastest models (and more expensive) reach 300x. Readings rates are faster by about 16%.

The more a card is faster, saving photos, files and music will be too.

Since 2006, it has been decided not to indicate the speed of writes to SD cards in “(x)” but to use the term class to indicate the speeds supported by those same cards, the class number is indicated in a small circle on the map.

The cards can thus be classified into one of three categories, depending on their write speed:

  • Class Map 2: speed of 2 MB/s or more
  • Class Map 4: 4 speed MB/sec
  • Class 6 card: speed of 6 MB/s or more


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