We Simplify The Technical!

Joe Fitzpatrick teaches us the best memory cards and SD cards to buy and why!

Do you know what all those symbols mean? Joe will teach us!

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Memory Cards Explained with Joe Fitzpatrick


Types of Memory Cards

  • CF: used in professional and advanced amateur cameras
  • XQD: in some Nikon and Sony cameras
  • CFast
  • CF Express: replacing XQD, backwards compatible
  • SD: most common, several types, all backwards compatible, smaller than CF without pins
  • Micro SD: GoPro, Drones, Smartphones – several types, all backwards compatible


SD (Secure Digital) and Micro SD Cards – Deciphering the Symbols

  • 95 MB/s -usually designates top write speed measured by the manufacturer
  • SC, HC, XC, or UC – classes of speed ratings. SC is only used on older cameras now. 
    HC is most common
    XC and UC are newer and have 2 rows of pins – check manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Roman numerals next to SD logo (I) – most common, 1 row of contact pins
    (II) – 2 rows of contacts, used in new high-end cameras
  • Speed class – designated by a “C” with a number (2-10) inside
    This is the sustained write speed – the most important! Best is a C-10
  • UHS Classes – designated by a “U” with a number (1-3) inside Best is U-3
    3 = 30 MB/s minimum sustained write speed (may be as fast as 95MB/s in short bursts)
  • Newer cards have a video rating
    Video will need faster cards – 30 frames/s has much more data
    – V30 (about $20, most common)
     – V60, V90 ($100, 2 rows of contact pins, used only in newer advanced cameras)
  • 32 GB or 64 GB – 32 will hold about 1,000 images – perfect for most photographers
    64 GB is much better for storing VIDEO


CF (Compact Flash) Cards

  • Typically found in pro-level cameras and very old cameras.
  • UDMA 7 – best read speed
  • Clapboard number is write speed. (95 MB/s)


Always check your manufacturer’s recommendations.  A newer, faster card may not be faster in your camera if the camera is not designed to utilize the newer technology.

How long does a memory card last?

  • Transistors within the cards last between 500 – 3,000 erase/write cycles.
  • Typically not a total failure, may start to give error messages or corrupt images.
     – could try to reformat, best option is download all images and replace card
  • Trouble getting images off card? Recovery software is available online.
    – RECUVA – recommended by Joe, Freeware



Cleans the directory without having to erase all the individual images.


Storage and Backups

  • Memory cards will not hold the data forever – they are not a reliable form of storage.
    – The number of use cycles affects the length of storage. A brand new card may hold data for 20 years, while a card that has been used 1,000 times or more may lose data in less than a year.
  • Separate Hard Drives are more reliable for long-term storage.
    Drives will not last forever either! Connections and file systems change over time.  Make sure you keep your backups updated to your current system.
  • 2 backups are recomended– one on site and one off-site
  • Cloud storage – iCloud, Dropbox, Amazon Drive, Google
  • Backup software – Time Machine, Acronis
  • Cloud backup – Carbonite, Acronis, iDrive, Backblaze

Finding Joe

Here on Understand Photography

Instagram @JoeFitzpatrickPhoto








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Ladies Only Trips:
Cuba – February 2 – 9, 2019  SOLD OUT!

Upcoming Trips:
Everglades 4 day Photo Adventure – February 7-10, 2019
St. Augustine – April 11-14, 2019
Florida’s Forgotten Coast – May 13-17,  2019

New Book!  Peggy Farren and Joe Fitzpatrick have published a book highlighting Florida’s Best Photo Spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

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