What You MUST Know To Get The Right Digital Camera

The Three Important Factors To Digital Camera Memory

When it comes to digital camera memory, the first thing most people want to know is, “How many pictures can I put on a memory card?”

Although it would seem like there should be a direct answer to how many pictures you can put on a memory card, it’s really a little more involved. The answer to digital camera memory depends upon these three factors:

1. The amount of space your memory card has
2. How many pictures you take… at what resolution… and in what mode
3. The degree of compression you use

Capacity of the Card

The first thing to consider about digital camera memory is the amount of space the memory card holds. Naturally, a larger-capacity card will hold more. A 1-gigabyte memory card has enough space for thousands of pictures. But the 8MB memory card that comes in the box with your camera can only hold about 8 to 10 pictures. What a huge difference!

Those small-capacity memory cards that come packaged with cameras are only meant to get you started. You’ll need to purchase additional digital camera memory if you want to seriously take some pictures.

Compression/Resolution Confusion

The most confusing thing about digital camera memory is the difference between high resolution and high compression. The resolution and compression you use is very important to your results and the amount of digital camera memory you use.

But it’s easy to confuse the terms when you’re new to digital photography. They don’t mean the same thing at all. High compression is the opposite of high resolution.

Think of it this way, high compression results in low resolution because the more you compress a picture, the less pixels you have. Here’s an example: imagine crushing a milk carton wearing a heavy boot. The carton will go from big to small in no time, and so will the picture on the back of that carton!

It would be fair to say the picture won’t be the same quality anymore. You might say the high compression of the boot instantly lowers the picture quality (resolution).

In this case, the boot smashes the “pixels” and reduces the pixel count. In the case of a digital camera, the pixels don’t even get recorded – so there are less pixels in the image. Think of it this way, how much milk can you put into a smashed milk carton? Not much.

So in a digital camera, the lower the pixel count, the lower the resolution (because you’re crunching the storage space). And the less digital camera memory you need.

A low resolution picture has limitations — it can’t be enlarged and doesn’t look good printed. I don’t recommend taking all your pictures at a high compression (i.e. low resolution) unless you’re sure you won’t ever want to print them or are running out of digital camera memory. Low compression and high resolution give you a higher quality picture.

However, higher resolution takes up more digital camera memory space. And that means that the higher the resolution you use, the faster you’ll use up the space on your memory card. And vice versa — the lower the resolution of your pictures, the less space they’ll take on your memory card.

But don’t take pictures based on storage space. Low-resolution pictures may not suit your needs and you might end up regretting it for years. Only use a low resolution if you’re sure all you’re going to do with that picture is email it or put it on a webpage. If you might decide to print it in the future, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Just make sure you have sufficient digital camera memory. If you tend to take pictures at only the highest resolution at all time, you will need more memory on your card. As a general rule, have at least 128MB of storage for a 3 or 3.2 megapixel digital camera, preferably more. If you have 4 or 5-megapixel digital camera, get at least 256MB of storage.

Personally, I prefer to have plenty of digital camera
memory/storage space and take high-resolution pictures most of the time. That way I can print 8x10s if I want or crop a smaller section out of the big photo and still get a good picture. I burn my photos onto CDs for permanent storage so they don’t fill up my hard drive and label them so I can find them when I need them.

It’s always better to have more storage than less. You never know when you might need it. Nor do you want to run out of storage if you’re taking your digital camera on a long trip.

If you use TIFF or RAW capture modes, keep in mind is that they take up more space than JPEG. TIFF and RAW are only available on higher-end cameras, so you won’t have to worry about them if you have a basic point-and-shoot.

When purchasing digital camera memory, do make sure you get the right memory card for your camera. And that it can support the digital camera memory card size you’re considering (not all cameras support 4-GB memory cards).

But that’s not all you need to know about digital camera memory. To find out what really matters when it comes to memory cards — what size you need and what type is best.

Written by Rufina James


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