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Digital camera memory

Types of card

compact flash card

Memory card

There are a range of types of memory card that are used in digital cameras, instead of film, to record the image. There are different types with names such as 'compact flash' and 'SD'. You can't choose which type of memory you buy, but you can choose the speed (how fast they move pictures from the camera to the card) and the size (how many pictures you can fit on the card). The type you need will depend on the camera. When you get the camera, you will see from the instructions which one you need, but if you are buying for someone else, or if you are buying without access to the camera or the instruction book, good shops will be able to tell you which type you need.

The supplier MyMemory has a useful memory card selector on their web site. Click to indicate what make and model of camera or other appliance you need a card for and it will tell you what type of card you need. It will also list the sizes, brands and prices so that you can choose, and order if you wish. Camera suppliers also supply memory cards.

Speed of Memory cards

Cards are available in different 'speeds'. The standard speed will transfer a minimum of 150 Kb of information onto a memory card in 1 second. A card described as '8x' will move the picture eight times faster, so it will handle at least 1.2Mb per second. As most pictures on a 4 megapixel camera, at high resolution, will be about 2Mb it will take just under 2 seconds to move the image to or from the card at 1.2Mb per second. If you are taking just the occasional photo, that may seem fine, but waiting for the busy light to finish may mean that you lose a picture.

Cards described as '40x' are now common, and will handle an average 4 megapixel camera picture in less than half a second. Even faster cards are readily available and not much more expensive. If you have a camera that takes 5 megapixel pictures, or more and especially if you take high definition pictures (set the camera to 'fine' or 'superfine' or 'large'), then it is worth going for a 133x card for faster transfer of the picture to the card.

Some cameras, especially SLR cameras, have internal memory which hold pictures in a buffer while the card is busy, so you will not suffer the delays as long as you do not fill the buffer before it finishes moving the images on to the card.


How many photos on a card?

You can use the card, move the images to a CD or a computer and then use the card again. There are several places in Luxor where you can get the images transferred to a CD or printed, so that you can clear and reuse the card. On the other hand, as memory card prices are so low, and in case you do not want to clear the images until you get home, it may be worth taking spare cards with you.

The chart indicates approximately how many pictures will fit on different sizes of memory card. The exact number will depend on your camera settings and how much detail there is in the picture.

Camera Card   > 512MB 1GB 4Gb
4 Meg 256 512 2000
5 Meg 204 409 1600
6 Meg 160 320 1250
8 Meg 128 256 1000
10 Meg 100 200 800

Printing your pictures

Computers are fine and being able to send pictures over the internet or by email is a benefit of digital images. Nevertheless, there is nothing quite like seeing the photo in print.

You can take the memory card or a CD to photo processors in most towns. Many of the larger supermarkets offer printing from digital cards. Many branches of some shops, including Boots and Jessops, have machines that allow you to insert the card and make adjustment to the image before printing it. An assistant will normally be available to help.

Alternatively, online photo processors such as Photobox will print your photos and send them by first class mail. images uploaded to them by 4pm are usually delivered the next day. PhotoBox are offering free 30 prints to new customers. You just pay £1.50 post and packing. Click here to register on their web site and get your free prints.

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