Digital Film and Memory Card Care

The starter memory card that may have come with your digital camera just isn’t enough.

Taking pictures at highest quality will fill up your memory card much too quickly.

Downloading photos (copying them to your computer) can be quick, but it's not really as simple as changing a “roll of film”, particularly if you're not close to your computer.

So let’s look at some solutions for selecting and caring for memory cards.

Large Capacity Memory Cards

Bigger is better – to a point. You’re going to take a lot more pictures using digital cameras than you would with film. And why not – you’re only pay for the pictures you keep!

Think about your picture taking habits and consider multiple cards you can change
frequently. Big capacity memory cards in the range of 1 GB (1000MB) and up will certainly help you shoot longer without having to download your pictures to a computer frequently.

Cards up to 512MB allow you to backup the entire card onto 1 CD.

Smaller cards make sense from the “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” point of view.

High Speed Memory Cards

Unlike conventional film, “high speed” memory cards are not more sensitive to light. They just write and transfer data faster. That’s an advantage only if your camera reads and writes data quickly.

Digital SLRs work faster with High Speed cards – compact models often don’t.

Black and White or Color Cards?

No such thing – but many cameras can make a black & white image electronically.

One problem to be aware of – sometimes, but rarely, memory cards do fail and if this should happen to you, think about all the images you will have lost. Not a pleasant experience. Read on to find out how to best protect your memory cards.

Editing and Deleting Images

While you can delete images in the field to free up space on your memory card, I don’t recommend it.

It’s tough to judge the quality of an image on a small screen. It’s also hard to see the monitor in bright light.

You might click on “delete all” when you want to delete just one photo. At least find a shady spot and work through the procedure slowly!

Chris’ Tips for Protecting your Memory Cards from Damage

  • Good news! You can safely take your memory card through security x-ray at the airport without worrying about image damage!

  • Don’t carry extra memory cards loose in your pocket. Static can damage them; loose change can scratch the contacts or short them out. With CF cards, dust that gets in the holes could damage your camera or computer

  • Format your card in the camera! You should reformat the card in your camera each time after downloading and saving the pictures on your computer.

Deleting all the images on your flash card while it is mounted on your computer after downloading is not the same thing as reformatting the card in your camera.

A contributing factor to card failure can be the existence of previously deleted photos. The best thing is to always format the card in your camera after you have finished downloading.

  • Always create a backup by saving your files from the memory card to your computer or a CD.

  • You can hook your camera to the computer with a USB cord, but that’s slow and can drain on your camera's batteries. You can even damage your camera’s cord socket by pushing the USB cord too hard. A better way is to use a small peripheral device called a card reader.

  • Never remove a memory card from your camera or card reader during the image transfer process.

  • Always power down your camera before card removal.

  • Do not remove the card from the camera or card reader too quickly as this can result in the corruption of data on the card and lead to damaged memory areas. Wait for just a few moments to ensure that all the data has been written to the card before you shut off the camera.

  • Don’t start a transfer unless your batteries are in great shape. Battery failure while shooting will result in corruption of data on the card and can even lead to a damaged card.

  • Avoid large static charges, and be extra careful when handling cards in dry, low humidity areas.

  • Keep cards away from strong magnetic sources, and extreme heat and cold.

  • If a memory card problem occurs, stop using the card immediately. Do not reformat the card (even if your camera asks you too) or delete pictures.

  • Be careful with the "delete all" and "Format" functions on cameras using Smartmedia or XD cards. These are irreversible formats that cannot be recovered by anybody.

We can usually recover lost photos from your memory card

It doesn’t take much to make the photos disappear from digital “film”:

Sometimes it seems you just have to look at the card sideways.

At Chris’ Camera Center, we’ve got special software that can often recover lost or scrambled images, even from cards that have been reformatted. Just bring us your memory card, and don’t make matters worse by taking additional photos. We’ll copy recovered photos to a CD.

  • Up to 512MB $29.99.

  • Larger cards, $39.99 and up.

It’s guaranteed - If we can’t recover any pictures there is no charge.

If it happens to a ProMaster card bought from Chris, we’ll do this recovery protocol  free!