What SDHC card for DSLR

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Now that I have purchased my first DSLR,
    the Canon D90, I am now wondering what

    SDHC card I should purchase.


    I want a very fast card that I can take
    multiple photos -- click, click, click --

    without any stalling.


    At the least I realize I should purchase

    a class 6 card. However, card speeds

    can go as high as class 20.


    Sandisk makes an 8GB Extreme Card

    for about $50.


    Any recommendations on a SDHC

    card and place to purchase?
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Card speeds generally don't mean jack in camera. What they are good for is high speed readers to the computer.


    I recommend the Sandisks either way. And you can just get the Ultras you won't see any benefit to the Extremes.


    Tho the Lexar media tend to run a bit more color accurate, you might want to look into those.


    JUST KIDDING.
     
  3. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Buy as fast a card as you can afford.


    At a certain point the card write rating will exceed your camera's writing capability. If you can, find out what that write speed is for your D90 and then you don't need to spend more money than you need by buying a card that outclasses that. If your camera can't write that fast, it's lost speed anyway.


    Regarding card size: most photographers say to buy multiple cards rather than one huge one. That way, if a card ever gets lost or corrupt, you didn't just lose all of your photos from your vacation.
     
  5. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Considering the RG database indicates performance upto ~20MB/sec w/ the fastest cards they tried a couple years ago (and some of the other more advanced, later cameras could go marginally faster w/ the same cards), I'm guessing that's roughly where the top is.


    You don't actually need that fast though. I'm generally fine w/ the cards that do ~5MB/sec on my 10MP D200 (and I shoot RAW+JPEG), so a little faster for the 12MP D90 should be fine. I don't generally use my D200 as a machine gun though. Still, faster would be nice for transfering files to the computer -- takes 4-5min to transfer ~2GB for me. Maybe going for something in the 9-10MB/sec range (in the RG DB) would be good -- Sam's suggestion of Sandisk Ultra 2 would fit the bill.


    If you want to split it into mulitple cards, maybe 2x 4GB would be fine. 4GB each should store plenty of (12MP) shots even in RAW+JPEG. I've been using 3x 2GB cards (plus a 1GB spare from my D70 days) for the longest time, and usually, I only need 2 cards. Problem w/ having too many cards would be you're more likely to lose them (or lose track of them) -- and you might end up swapping more often than you'd like. Just get into a habit of transfering the files to your computer, laptop, backup device, etc.


    _Man_
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I cannot help with the SDHC (my Canon takes compact flash), but I do agree that Sandisc and Kingston are good brands. I have also had good luck with Lexar.


    I subscribe to the "more lower capacity" cards versus a single large capacity card theory, but I have trended to "more higher capacity" cards as flash memory has become cheaper. I think I have three 8GB cards and two 4GB cards in my bag now, which can cover me for a long trip and have a spare in case a card fails.


    I would also suggest having a file recovery tool in your kit in case a card does become corrupt (some cards come with such an application). I had this happen while we were in Hawaii last winter, and I thought I was going to lose some irreplaceable photos of the sunset from the top of Mauna Kea. When the card failed, though, I set it aside immediately. Once we returned home, I was able to recover all the photos with one of these applications.
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Given the file sizes listed by dpreview.com, 4GB would probably hold ~340 shots of RAW+JPEG for the D90 -- maybe more depending.


    If it's affordable enough, might be good to get at least enough for a typical trip so you don't need to offload pics until you get home.


    RE: the data corruption thing, I've never actually had that happen -- knock on wood -- but I did once accidentally reformat my filled card before swapping (to the card that needed reformatting) -- I was brain dead, on auto-pilot and just hit "yes" to confirm the reformat anyway. I managed to recover ~95% of the shots afterward using some slow running recovery freeware tool.


    _Man_
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Will this card do?


    (Remember I want a fast card that I can press down

    the shutter and shoot like a machine gun)
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Ron, if you look at Rob Galbraith's benchmarks for the D90 you will see that with the 30MB/s cards the D90 is writing at ~20MB/s for the 30MB/s card that Sandisk has put out. If we go by the old adage that manufacturer's claims are always a little higher than what they are in practice, that would mean your D90 is capable of writing at the max speed, if not slightly higher, than the card you're looking at. Some of the other Sandisk Extremes are coming in at 15MB/s but it's hard to tell if they are exactly the same card as the one you've linked to. Regardless, 20MB/s seems to be the top write speed of the D90.


    Keep in mind when you say you want to shoot like a machine gun, your camera will be the limiter. You can shoot at 4.5FPS but according to DP Review's site the D90 maxes out at 23 frames JPEG and 6 RAW. So you're not going to be able to go past either number without taking a break and allowing the buffer to complete writing those to the card. Think of it this way, your JPEGs are about 5-6MB. At 4.5fps that's already over the camera's ability to write at 20MB/s. Your RAW files will be 2-3X larger.
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Hi Ron,


    Sorry to muddy the waters again. I just meant that manufacturer claims are often a bit higher than practice, so yes you're right 20MB/s should be enough, but I wouldn't be surprised if the actual write speed were more like 15MB/s.


    Regardless, I think the in-camera buffer will be your limiting factor so that card should be fast enough. Personally I like to have a little headroom so if it isn't going to break the bank, I'd buy the Class 10 card. Also, in the future if you buy a faster body, your Class 10 card will likely perform better with future bodies than a current Class 6 card.
     
  12. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Ron,


    How long do you actually think you'd hold down the shutter button?


    In difficult situations, I do often fire off 2 or 3 shots in a row to pick the best one -- that's really my main use of that capability. If you're just firing off a few shots at a time, which probably lasts about a second, you won't need a particularly fast card for that.


    You should also note that there are other issues involved w/ trying to machine-gun the shots, eg. AF (both speed and accuracy), shutter speed, etc.


    Near as I can tell, the quoted rate of 23 JPEGs / 6 RAW is just the internal buffer. After that, how fast it can go depends on how fast the files can be flushed from the buffer to the card. DPReview lists the "fine" JPEG quality as only ~2.7MB, which kinda surprised me since that would be "normal" JPEG quality on the 10MP D200. The RAW files are listed at ~8.6MB each (or ~3.5x as large).


    Anyway, according to DPReview, if you're just shooting JPEGs, you won't ever hit the wall w/ a fast card, ie. it'll sustain the 4.5fps as long as the rest of the (mechanical) camera can keep up. Even w/ a 9-10MB/sec card like the Sandisk Ultra 2, you'd figure to sustain full rate for a long time w/ JPEGs, ie. 4.5fps x ~2.7MB/frame = ~12MB/sec and that's assuming optimum shooting conditions, etc. to yield that kind of throughput.


    For RAW (w/out JPEGs), if you have the fastest card, you'd start slowing down after 11 shots and run at ~2.4fps until the buffer can be completely flushed (after you stop shooting for several seconds). With the more common 133x fast cards (that RG's page lists at ~15MB/sec), it slow down to ~1.9fps after 11 shots.


    For RAW+JPEG (best quality), the fastest card will give you ~1.3fps after the first 11-shot burst. The 133x cards will give you ~1.2fps after the first 7-shot burst.


    Again, YMMV depending on exact circumstance.


    You should note though that for actual best quality end result you'd need images converted from RAW. But dealing w/ a ton of RAW files shot like that would be quite cumbersome, so I'm not sure you'd ever want to do that in RAW mode...


    _Man_
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Man,


    Can you translate everything you just said?


    I think I am going to shoot mostly raw files because

    I want the best picture quality to start with so I can

    immediately throw it in Lightroon, Photoshop or Nikon

    Capture NX and do additional work if needed without

    any degredation.


    So, I need card that will be fast for raw.


    I won't be shooting like a bullet for most of the time.

    However, Sometimes I like to take four quick shots

    in a row of an individual or a moving object to be able

    to select the best of the 3-4 shots. On a point-and-shoot

    this is impossible. It takes about 10 seconds between

    each picture for the camera to get ready. But with a

    DSLR now I can actually do some quick shots to

    get that special one.


    Does that make sense?


    I just need someone to sugges a card based on that.
     
  14. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Ron,


    In that case, even the Sandisk Ultra 2 should be fine. You should be able to get a burst of several shots (at least 6 RAW) w/out the card being an issue. Also, for that kind of use, you probably won't usually run into problems w/ AF lag between shots (and would also be ok w/ reasonable shutter speeds).


    _Man_
     
  15. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I'm not sure what the Nikon software is like, but processing multiple files like that in Canon's DPP software is a breeze. Because many times in those situations, the pictures are very similar, you can fix the first picture, then copy and paste that "recipe" to multiple files all in one click.
     
  16. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Sandisk Ultra 2 2pack of 8gb cards for $30 at costco will be fine, you don't need Extremes. The Ultras will be plenty fast for your bursts of four to six.


    If you want a machine gun, may I recommend:

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Digital-Capability-Body-Only/dp/B002SQKVD0
     
  17. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Yes, the Nikon software can do likewise although it's not so good at handling lots of simultaneously open files as Photoshop (and probably Lightroom) -- well, I'm still using the old Nikon Capture 4; don't know too much about their NX software.


    I was thinking more in terms of the likely tremendous number of extra shots involved in the process. Even though you can easily batch a series of similar shots -- and each additional such shot doesn't add much manual effort to the RAW processing -- if you end up w/ say 30% of your shots being multiplied by 20 or more for each (because you machine gun it for 4-5 secs at a time), that still adds quite a lot to your overall workflow, including the need to select the shot(s) you actually want and/or to store, etc. etc.


    Anyway, Ron's clarified on his intention for short bursts in some instances, so it's probably not that bad. For that, the JPEGs from shooting RAW+JPEG would usually be good enough for selecting the best shot in each burst.


    _Man_
     
  18. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I use a couple of Sandisk Extreme III cards and have never had a problem with them. Able to shoot quickly and data transfer into Aperture with them is quick as well.
     
  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    About to order this due to reviews that it really

    outshines the slower cards...


    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GEQDK4/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=A117YML5U5Z1A


    If anyone has any last-minute arguments

    about spending the extra money let me know.


    Thanks so much everyone.
     
  20. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    If you want to triple over pay for memory, go nuts =)


    I use nothing but extreme 3s on my D300 and they make a major difference there.


    I use a mix of Ultra2s and Extremes on my D5000 and they don't make a damn bit of difference there.
     

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