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Data Storage Hardware

Is It Worth Paying Extra For Fast SD Cards? 164

Barence writes "Are faster grades of SD memory card worth the extra cash? PC Pro has conducted in-depth speed tests on different grades of SD card to find out if they're worth the premium. In camera tests, two top-end SD cards outshone the rest by far, while class 4 cards dawdled for more than a second between shots. However, with the buffer on modern DSLRs able to handle 20 full-res shots or more, it's unlikely an expensive card will make any difference to anyone other than professionals shooting bursts of fast-action shots. What about for expanding tablet or laptop memory? A regular class 4 or 6 card that's capable of recording HD video will also be fast enough to play it back on a tablet. The only advantage of a faster card for media is that syncing with your PC will be quicker. However, a faster card is recommended if you're using it to supplement the memory of an Ultrabook or MacBook Air."
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Is It Worth Paying Extra For Fast SD Cards?

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  • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:04PM (#42992079)

    I use a D5100, and even with its 16mp RAW files, I always use a Class 10 card to make its responsiveness decent when shooting more than one shot. Cards are cheap, time and missed shots are more important.

  • Uhm, yes and WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:14PM (#42992115) Homepage

    "However, with the buffer on modern DSLRs able to handle 20 full-res shots or more, it's unlikely an expensive card will make any difference to anyone other than professionals shooting bursts of fast-action shots"

    UHm, no. Top of the line SLR can't handle 20 shots in buffer, and any consumer grade is 1-2 max. You won't get you 3-5 FPS (mid tier) or 5-9FPS (high end) without a fast card. And don't even think about recording 1080p or 720p@60 without a class10 UHS1 type card. The whole PC PRo exercise is a useless article apparently trying to convince consumers to buy slower things because 640k is enough for anyo....oh wait we've heard this before, haven't we :). I'd love to see them record HD video on Class4 card. Not happening.

    Buying a class 4 or 6 card is just stupid these days. That is the PC equivalent of actively seeking out a USB1.1 portable HDD instead of USB3. Because USb 1.1 is all the speed you'll ever need really.

    You will never regret buying class 10, but you will almost certainly regret a class 6 so why bother? Heck, in a year or two there won't be any class 6 available anyway - it is too slow...

    Cameras: Canon EOS550d, S90.

  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:24PM (#42992177)

    There's no point buying a Class 10 card if your camera's write speed is no faster than Class 6. Unfortunately, though, some camera makers don't provide this information, or they make make it hard to find the write speed. Thus you may have to do some web research for your specific camera.

    That being said, you'll never complain (after you have bought the card) if your card is faster than your camera.

    As a side comment, I think it's better to have 2 16gb cards than a single 32gb card, purely from the perspective of "no single point of failure." My goal on vacation/shoots is to have at least one card unused at the end of the trip. (I learned the hard way what can go wrong when I ran out of cards, erased a card I thought was copied to my computer, and then discovered the backup program saw the erased card and said, "Oh, you didn't want that data after all!" No one to blame but myself for that operator headspace error.)

  • by AxemRed ( 755470 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:43PM (#42992291)
    While modern DSLR cameras might have large buffers, normal consumer-grade or even enthusiast-grade point-and-shoot cameras don't necessarily have them. IMO it makes sense for an average person to buy a higher speed card. They're probably only buying one card anyway, and the price difference between a slow card and a fast card is small enough to make it worth it.
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:44PM (#42992301)

    Well, it's the same amateur cameras that use SD cards that don't necessarily include enough buffer space either.

    My Canon EOS 7D uses CF cards and includes a fairly hefty buffer as well. The people doing the article are idiots if they think that it's acceptable to have images sticking around in the buffer longer than necessary. The buffer is susceptible to going away instantly if the camera loses power for any reason, whereas the card itself is much more durable.

    I personally, wish that camera manufacturers would wise up and ditch SC for CF like in olden times. My old Canon PowerShot s10 was still using new CF cards until they grew too large for FAT16 to handle. SD cards are a different matter as they don't include the controller.

  • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:53PM (#42992365) Homepage Journal

    So I guess the question then is do I want to spend the premium on several memory cards, move the images off of them when I set up my 3-2-1 backups of the images and re-use them, or do I want to spend 10 or more times that to replace the camera I'm using with a camera with a bigger buffer?

    If I'm already going to get the new camera for other reasons, that's one thing. Getting a camera because I want to save on SD cards seems counter-intuitive to me.

    Likewise I'm more likely to take an older camera with me on vacation to shoot with, and carry a few extra high speed storage cards rather than run the risk of my new high end camera going swimming or taking a walk on me. Sure insurance may help me, but I'm a bit more comfortable with having something I am less concerned about being damaged if something goes wrong. But that's me. To each their own.

  • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:17PM (#42992491)

    The class ratings from reputable vendors tend to be reliable, but you don't always get this from lesser known manufacturers. Most Class 10 cards get at least Class 6 performance.

    A Class 10 32 GB SDHC card costs $33 or less. The same card at Class 6 costs $25 or less, a whopping $8 in savings. Most people buy one card and leave it in their camera except to transfer photos to the PC to upload to Facbook, etc. Is it really advisable to recommend that people save $8 for a one-time purchase of a memory card? I think not!!

  • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:43PM (#42992611)

    Never mind cameras, try hauling a few gig of files on or off your ebook reader on anything less than a class 10. Yes indeed, my time is worth a lot more than the few bucks extra, if it finishes at all.

  • by wakeboarder ( 2695839 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @12:03AM (#42993479)

    That's what happens when you talk to sales, if you do a little research online you will know more than they do.

"It ain't over until it's over." -- Casey Stengel