What Every New Camera Owner Should Know About Selecting and Handling Flash Storage Cards
With 3.8 million digital cameras sold in the U.S. during the December holidays, representing a 28 percent increase over the previous December, plenty of people are now experimenting with their new cameras and learning about the use and care of flash memory cards. SanDisk® Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK), the world's largest manufacturer of flash memory card products, offers important advice for photo enthusiasts on how to get the best performance from their digital storage media.
- Determine your camera's card format. The camera should have a card slot that is usually accessible through a special compartment. The most popular formats are SD, Memory Stick PRO, CompactFlash®, and xD Picture Card, which are of varying shapes and sizes. SanDisk manufactures all of those cards, as well as others, and sells them worldwide through more than 100,000 major electronics retailers, camera stores, department stores, drug stores and supermarkets where SanDisk products are sold.
- Upgrade to higher capacity cards. Chances are, the flash card that came with your new camera was of low capacity, perhaps 32 or 64 megabytes (MB). With many of the compact, point-and-shoot digital cameras rated at resolutions of 4 or 5 megapixels, the highest quality settings will quickly consume that memory and store only a handful of pictures. Consider standardizing with a 512 megabyte card, which will give you around 200 compressed images at 5 megapixels. (The precise number will vary depending on camera model, resolution and compression. Also, some older models may not be able to use 512MB or higher capacities.)
- Learn how to transfer images from your camera phone. If you have one of the new smartphones or pocket PC phones with slots for removable flash storage, such as the Motorola V710 or the palmOne Treo 650, you can transfer images directly to your PC via a card reader, which is significantly faster than emailing them through a phone service. Check to see if a card, such as an SD, miniSD or SanDisk TransFlash module, comes with the device. (With some products, the cards are sold separately. SanDisk's miniSD and TransFlash, for example, are sold separately in retail stores and usually include an SD adapter to allow them to be read using existing SD card readers.) Consult the handset manufacturer's instructions on how to use these cards as the default to store your photos, as well as how to shift photos from the device's embedded memory to the removable card.
- Use a card reader to transfer images to a PC. Yes, you can connect your digital camera directly to a computer using a USB cable, but a much faster and easier way is to use a card reader. SanDisk manufactures several inexpensive and very fast readers, ranging from card-specific readers to multi-card readers such as the new 12-in-one reader, which allows you to swap images between different cards. Prices for this handy accessory range from $20 to $35.
- All cards are not the same. Various brands of cards may share the same format and some common characteristics such as an internal controller and flash memory chip that store images. But cards can be constructed differently and the quality of component materials can vary widely. To be sure of performance, always buy your cards from authorized dealers. And don't let price alone be the determining factor.
- Get faster cards. One of the frequent complaints about digital cameras is the momentary delay for the image to be recorded when you click the shutter. This becomes noticeable when you take pictures at higher-resolution settings and especially when you are trying to capture moving subjects such as soccer players or skiers. SanDisk offers cards that have faster write speeds, under the label of SanDisk Ultra II. If you have a camera that is rated at 4 megapixels or higher resolution, SanDisk recommends moving up to these faster cards.
- Flash storage cards are more rugged than film. SanDisk regularly receives notes and emails from customers who relate stories about their solid-state cards (no moving parts) surviving floods, fires, explosions, laundry machines and other punishment — and continuing to function. In addition, the Imaging Industry Association of America recently tested all of the major card formats in the security X-ray machines and metal-detection devices used at U.S. airports — including the checked-baggage scanners — and found no sign of damage to the cards. By contrast, film is susceptible to spoilage, said the organization, and travelers should ask for hand-searches of their film.
- Avoid situations that can corrupt your cards. According to Lisa Tisdale, SanDisk's technical help desk manager, the things that can harm flash cards include taking pictures with a low battery in your camera and failing to properly eject the card from a computer that has certain operating systems (such as Windows ME or Mac OS). Also, never remove a card while a camera or computer is writing to it or while formatting the card in a camera or PC.
- View your pictures on a TV set — like a big-screen. The new SanDisk Photo Album (suggested retail price: $49.99) enables you to edit your pictures (deleting ones you don't want) and to create shows for viewing on most TV sets. The device has slots for all of the major card formats, and allows you to copy images in TV resolution to a separate CF storage card that archives your "slide" shows. The SPA also can play your favorite MP3 music files, along with your slide show, on a home audio system and doubles as a card reader/writer when attached to a personal computer.
SanDisk is the original inventor of flash storage cards and is the world's largest supplier of flash data storage card products, using its patented, high-density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA and has operations worldwide, with more than half its sales outside the U.S.