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FAQ About Memory Cards and Card Readers

It's easy to be daunted by the alphabet soup you're plunged into when shopping for a memory card. Check out the answers to some commonly asked questions to decrypt these letters and understand what memory cards and card readers can do for you.

What are memory cards and card readers?

A memory card is the crucial device needed to save photos, video, and other files, on your camera, camcorder, smartphone, or other device. Your card will store and protect your data until you have a chance to plug the card into a card reader. A card reader is typically connected via USB to your computer and allows you to download data from the memory card, so that you can view and edit your work.

What types of memory cards are available?

Most cameras and camcorders are compatible with Secure Digital (SD), CompactFlash (CF) or Memory Stick type cards. SD cards typically hold up to 2GB of storage. An SD high capacity card (SDHC) can hold between 4GB and 32GB, while an SD extended capacity card (SDXC) has a capacity of up to 2TB. SDXC cards are handy, since they're backwards compatible with SDHC and SD devices. There are also microSD cards available for more compact devices like smartphones but these can be adapted to fit SD-compatible devices.

How do I choose the right memory card?

When searching for a memory card, it's important to consider more than just capacity. It's nice to have a big warehouse to store data, but speed, data protection, and durability are just as important for high performance in demanding conditions. Speed refers to the rate at which data can be stored. The faster your card, the more images you'll be able to shoot in a single burst, and the less lag and fewer interruptions you will experience.

How do I choose the right card reader?

The type of card reader you select will depend on 2 main factors -- versatility and speed. Multi-card readers are useful because they can adapt to all kinds of cards mentioned. Remember, the better the card reader, the faster the data transfer capability, and the quicker you can view your work on your laptop or PC.

Want more info on memory cards and card readers? Check out this resource:

Why photographers need fast memory cards