Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Memory Card that Failed

Usually when people ask me about what kind of memory they should get for their music player, thumb drive or camera, I tell them that they should get something from Sony, Lexar, Sandisk or Kingston. These are available in most stores (I've even seen them in Shoppers Drug Mart and Safeway) and typically are "quality" cards. This is not to say cards from Transend or PNY are not decent, they likely are and the may be the same thing as the high end pro card from one of the four that I mentioned earlier, but for what ever reason, they were not selected by that manufacturer for it's particular branding. After all most of these cards come out of only a handful of plants anyway. Usually the question after that is what speed - and the answer to that is easy enough as well - the one that you can afford, and if you are buying for someone else, buy the mid priced one so if they have pro-am sensibilities they are not offended and if they are "am" they feel a bit bigger (in a good way) - myself I'm looking for a good price on 2GB Sandisk Ultra II or Lexar 80X - the faster cards only make a difference on the downloading end anyway as low end cameras that write directly to the card are likely slower than the low end cards and the high end cameras write into a buffer before writing to the card, so they can make do with the slower card if need be. One other difference with higher end cards is that there is a difference in operating conditions for the higher end cards - so if you are buying for someone who is going to be shooting in the dead of winter out on a trap line, you might want to consider something like the SanDisk Extreme III. but back to my rant... This time however when I was asked, the question was with regards to the quality of pictures that the card (being the digital film) produces. I almost gave the canned answer that it doesn't matter, they are all writing data in 0s and 1s and it should not matter what those are being written into but I waited and told the individual that it generally doesn't matter as the quality of the image is determined by the photographer and the sensor (which is the film in reality). But then I thought about the first part of my post... this person isn't asking about sharpness, keepers and the like... this person is asking about the reliability of the medium - will this card bite the bullet sooner rather than later? So then I gave them a version of the first paragraph and asked why the question. The individual said that they had a memory card "just not work anymore" on them after only a few months... it was the cheapest one they could find when they got the camera and only 32MB (on a 3MP camera) and now they are looking for another one. We actually had something very similar happen at work here with a lesser known brand of memory, the company blamed the failure on not properly formatting the card... yeah right. The memory card failed this individual, and it's not worth the hassle to get it replaced under whatever warranty the card offered and it points to something that we may start seeing more of... memory cards dying - I can't imagine that these things are actually made to last forever and relying on new devices and loss to feed it's growth. So it may be worth sticking to known brands to ensure that the card doesn't die on you when you need it. It's also worth noting that the pro lines often are guaranteed for life (granted this often means for the life of that model - having just checked out the terms on my new Energizer rechargeables for my flash) and the companies are good about supporting that - as to them pro suggests that there may be someone with deep legal pockets acting as a patron for the shots that are to be taken. Anyway, just thought some of you might find that interesting. Tomorrow I'll have pics from my 30D - and the lucky ones will have already seen my first gallery from the camera. Technorati Tags: