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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

It’s a challenge to stay ahead of memory card storage devices – A65

August 08 2012 - Photo Technical

Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts.  An avid reader of the column, Alan Ray of RYBRAILS, came by the gallery-studio a few week back expressing his interest in storage devices.  He was mentioning the latest versions were series 10 or 12, and frankly I did not know what he was talking about. 

I had not been keeping up with this technology, except to know capacities have been increasing steadily, and I can confidently say 64 gigabytes of storage is now available for a price.  Beyond that I know read/write speed is another consideration for this kind of product.  Capacity and speed drives memory card technology.

A lot of what I write in my columns is already occupying my brain from years of practice and experience, but more information on memory card storage devices is not at my fingertips and therefore I’m having to do research and this is what I’ve found:

The cards having the greatest ability to expand in overall capacity is the CompactFlash Card.  Some of the more advanced SLRS, like my Canon 5D’s use this type of storage device.  My photography with this camera is predominantly in Studio and I still use 2 gigabyte cards.  I was surprised to learn that the new CompactFlash 5.0 advances the storage possibilities to 144 petabytes, that is equal to 1024 terabytes, and each terabyte is equal to 1024 gigabytes, and hello I am still using 2 gigabyte cards!  Oh my.

Should I upgrade? I suppose.  There is no hard reason for me to do so.  I’ve never been unable to perform my services.  A larger capacity card is definitely handy when doing videos, which our digital cameras can now perform, better than actual video equipment.  It would also be very useful when travelling, by allowing a nearly unlimited quantity of photographs to be taken without needing to download regularly to your computer.

One major drawback to this type of thinking is that having so much work on one card is disconcerting.  No doubt failure for any card may be minimal, but that possibility always exists, so I would still want to backup my work at least daily.

The second problem I have with such large capacity cards is this quantity vs. quality question it raises for me.  I would love to hear from more advanced amateurs regarding my views.  Costly film and processing set a standard-you had to make every shoot count, and it forced the shooter to maximize his/her performance both technically and creatively.  Today’s digital storage technology has a single upfront cost, and from beyond that there is no pressure really for technical and creative perfection.  If you take enough shots you are bound to get something that will look professional in concept and execution.

The major problem is you then need to be a professional to be able to recognize those results, and  I do see lower standards in many, except the finest publications.  But another drawback of the quality vs. quantity is having a zillion photographs to sort through….just too many photos.  It takes a lot of time, and again too much of something can be distracting to getting or ending with the optimum results.

Oh-oh, I’ve gotten into a little bit of photo theory, but we can’t simply learn about the technology, we also need to consider the possible creative consequences that may result and more does not automatically translate into better.  Having that said and clear, let me list some more technological advances from my research.

SD type memory cards are most common in the compact camera category.  My friend Patrick Guertin, who own PST Computers, 2808 Federal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale, added the following technical knowledge

“ The SDSC (Standard-Capacity) card family, commonly known as SD, has an official maximum capacity of 2 GB, though some are available up to 4 GB.[2] The SDHC (High-Capacity) card family have a capacity of 4 GB to 32 GB. SDXC (eXtended-Capacity) card family have a capacity starting above 32 GB with a maximum capacity of 2 TB.

exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table, also sometimes referred to as FAT64) is a proprietary file system introduced by Microsoft for their desktop operating systems: Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard added exFAT support in version 10.6.5 on November 10, 2010. OS X 10.6.5 and later can read, write, and create exFAT partitions.

Some advantages over previous File Allocation Table (FAT) file system versions include:

1. Scalability to large disk sizes, 2. Cluster size up to 32 MiB, 3. File size limit of 16 EiB, raised from close to 4 GiB in FAT32

In January 2009, the SD Association announced the SDXC family that will support cards up to 2 TB memory size and speeds up to 300 MBytes/sec.

Class 0 cards do not specify performance.

Class 2, 2 MB/s, Class 4, 4 MB/s, Class 6, 6 MB/s, Class 10, 10 MB/s, Class 300, 300 MB/s

SD cards are typically formatted as FAT16, SDHC cards as FAT32, SDXC cards as exFAT (FAT64).”

How about that for those who want to know I take permission to go ashore.