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Buying Flash media cards for your Camera: what you Need to know

Where to buy some quality flash memory cards? SD cards on Amazon

Buying a tape was pretty easy, despite a few bottom of the barrel ones to avoid, they were all fairly solid and could be relied upon when used with a well maintained camera. But now we've moved to flash media, which was just not designed for long term storage, it's meant as an offload and reuse type of storage. That, and they are a lot more technically intricate than a tape, meaning a lot more can go wrong with it if it happens to be poorly made.

So how do you ensure you buy a well made CF or SD card, or any other flash media for that matter? Use your internet audience! The two main sites i use when buying a new card are Amazon, and Newegg. I don't necessarily buy it from them(though they do have great prices usually), but rather i use them for their excellent base of user reviews. It's quite simple really: are there 20 or more total reviews, and are they all or mostly all in the 4-5 star range? Now back up a second, because yes i do of course look at how many gigabytes i need, and how fast the card is, but here we're talking about reliability. Because it doesn't matter how fast or big a card is, if it burns out and destroys all of your files!

I've had a great experience with Sandisk brand, which is one of, if not the largest producer of flash based media, so they kind of have a lot of experience. But still, they DO have some lemons out there, so no matter what i need, i be sure to check extensively to see if a large number of people have had any issues with a card i'm interested in.

So now that i've scared you into reading reviews, the other two issues i want to briefly touch upon, are physical storage and digital storage. That is, how will you store the card, and how will you store the footage you offload from the card?

Please, don't just use the dinky little plastic case that the card came with, it's just not fun, nor very protective. There are tons of inexpensive cases for cards, two of which that i find useful are: http://www.meritline.com/waterproof-memory-card-case---p-57839.aspx as well as http://www.meritline.com/memory-card-case-waterproof-multiformat---p-70257.aspx

yes, 5 bucks, and 3 bucks! Buy both! But please do not get tempted by the dollar/2 dollar ones im sure you've noticed on that site as well, i bought all of these from the site to test them out, and the dollar ones while better that dinky case your card came with, simple does not stay closed properly and needs to be taped shut. So stick with the two options i've linked to, or other well reviewed ones. It's a tiny investment and can save your footage. Do it.

Lastly, a tip on the workflow front: never, ever, download your footage from your card to just ONE drive. Always make two full SEPARATE drive copies of your files before formatting and reshooting the card. This is just not an option, despite how reliable many hard drives are these days, there are many unreliable ones, so listen to me and make two backups and enjoy never loosing a file.

Added on 2010-12-13 by
Darren Levine

Darren Levine

Stimulus Video

DP/Videographer, Video/Film Editor
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