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Old May 29, 2003, 7:33 AM   #1
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Default Digital camera memory options?

Hi, i would like to know if there are any digital cameras available that takes standard USB flash memory sticks, instead of propriatary memory chips? These are becomming quite inexpensive and offers impressive capacities. If not, are there any plans in the pipeline to incorporate this option into digital cameras? I take it that the camera should then need a USB controller? Just imagine being able to haul along a bunch of standard USB memory stics and take as many pics as you please!

Thanx
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Old May 29, 2003, 7:58 AM   #2
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I'm not sure what you mean by USB Flash Memory Stick. Could you post a link to one? Most consumer grade cameras have USB ports on them (only the really high end offers FireWire.)

Compact Flash (CF) is made by TONS of companies and works in TONS of cameras, PDA, MP3 Players, lap top computers (with an adapter to make it fit PCMCIA dimentions, no electronics are added), and probably many other things. I wouldn't call that "propritary".

Now that Sandisk and Lexar have stated that they will support xD, that is going to grow in availability (and hopefully drop in price.)

http://news.com.com/2100-1041_3-1010...g=fd_nbs_ptech

I believe the most common memory format for a Digital Camera is CF. Check out this page for more info about "digital film" for cameras:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/flash_memory.html
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Old May 29, 2003, 8:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Digital camera memory options?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert111
Hi, i would like to know if there are any digital cameras available that takes standard USB flash memory sticks, instead of propriatary memory chips? These are becomming quite inexpensive and offers impressive capacities. If not, are there any plans in the pipeline to incorporate this option into digital cameras? I take it that the camera should then need a USB controller? Just imagine being able to haul along a bunch of standard USB memory stics and take as many pics as you please!

Thanx
I take it you mean the USB "Pen Drives" or "Thumb Drive" type devices, then the answer is no because a camera is not capable of writing to such a device only a PC will work. But I must ask you, why would you want to walk around with a bunch of "thumb drives"?? If you want it so that you can take your pictures to a PC and view them, etc... just get a pocket reader for less than $20 at Wal-Mart (or for less than $5 on eBay). As far as it being it proprietary, what kind of camera do you have?? Sony uses a proprietary format called "Memory Stick." My camera uses Secure Digital which is shared by many cameras and other devices such as cell phones, PDAs, etc... so Secure Digital is far from proprietary.
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Old May 29, 2003, 8:22 AM   #4
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Thanx for the reply,

I'm actually refering to the "USB stick" memory - the type you can use on a computer by plugging it into the computers USB port, for an additional storage device.
Can digital cameras use these "memory stics" directly to store photos on?
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Old May 29, 2003, 8:30 AM   #5
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I understand.... thats why it would be great to have digital cameras with USB controllers! The thumb - drive would be an ideal storage device for a digital camera because it is so widely available and relatively cheap. Because it is such a general format we can use it to view pics on different cameras (using different CF formats).
Why not?
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Old May 29, 2003, 8:53 AM   #6
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Why would you want a "thumb drive" attached to your camera? Plus, the USB plug on the thumb drive does not match the USB port on the camera, that's why a camera to PC cable is provided.

I just noticed you are in South Africa. So, I do not know about the cost/availability there, but here in the US I can get a 256MB SD card for less than $60. Last week I saw a 512MB SD card for $199. I didn't buy it because I don't have those kind of funds right now.


What kind of camera do you have?
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Old May 29, 2003, 8:53 AM   #7
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The problem is that both the camera and the USB memory device are peripherals, USB slave devices (they need to be told what to do), that require a master device like a PC or Mac for them to work (even Palms etc. is a slave and can't be used (yet) to download pics from the camera).

I doubt digital cameras will ever use those USB memory devices because they are TOO BIG AND BULKY compared to most of the memory cards out there. Even common memory cards like CF are too big for many cameras that opt for smaller cards like SD/MMC and the new Memory Stick Duo.

Also many camera makers invest in memory card companies and/or also have their own line of memory cards, so they don't want something that is a third party standard.
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Old May 29, 2003, 10:40 AM   #8
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But hang on guys and gals, there is at least one card manufacturer who offers cards with a built in high speed serial interface to connect to their own reader - would you rather have 60 odd pins on your memory cards or 3??.

Yes you are correct that the camera would need to host a USB interface and driver - but wouldn't that solve the incompatibility problems of present memory? - USB seems more stable as an interface standard - than the present uncertainty caused by compact flash pcmcia standards and what the camera interface will do when it meets the card. Moving the driver and interface to the card means data transfer speed for media might actually mean something.

So, a lump of memory, accessed high speed serial, and plugable into any usb port isn't such a bad idea. I wouldn't criticise the long stick format. If you had a CF card physical profile, with 3 or 4 pins for the interface, and a dumb reader to a USB connector - would you complain? It must only be a few chips extra per card to provide the usb function, and similar in the camera. These cards already incorporate embedded processors. After all, cams have the USB driver for up/downloading. Cams can use generic circular AA batteries, or different shaped proprietary batts- so what's the problem with this idea? You wouldn't complain if you could plug in a wireless device and link your shots back to bulk storage nearby either.

The big issue is probably whether these drives can be treated as 'generic' or do they need the resources of Windows 'Plug and Play' in a camera to work out what memory is being pluged in?
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Old May 29, 2003, 12:34 PM   #9
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Personally, if it had the bandwidth, I'd rather go wireless from the camera to a device in my pocket or backpack. But I'm ignoring all the security issues involved (along with power consumption.)

voxmagna

While I in general agree with you, a few extra chips is a lot for a product which is mass produced. Even though it's cheap per camera, when you times that number by many 100,000 units, it becomes expensive. I helped create a product sold in Radio Shack all over the US. You'd be surprised how many good ideas get show down once a price per 500,000 units is stated (and don't forget the price can go up by as much as 150% to the consumer because of the store's markup over the whole sale price.)

I've never had to create a device which was a USB master (if that is the right term) on that data bus, but I assume it would take a fair amount of power and CPU cycles. If that is more or less than writing to a CF, I don't know. But battery life is a serious concern. It can take so much power to write to CF that, that the camera will do nothing else while doing it. If USB was less power, this would make the manufacturers very happy.

But in general I'm not against a memory format in a camera which was a USB slave device. Being able to plug it directly into my computer without a reader sounds nice. And like with CF, it would hide what the actual medium being written to was. Is it a hard disk or wireless adapter or flash memory? Who knows? Who cares?

Oh, I thought that the protocol for writing to a CF card was a standard. So what is the win here? Not having to have a reader because it could be directly connected to the PC? I like it that I can get a new card and get faster write time because much of the electronics is in the CF. Raises the price of the CF, but allows for more "upgradeability" beyond just more space.

And what is the "incompatibility problems of present memory" you refer to? The PCMCIA port has been around for ages (much longer than USB) and is very well understood. The problems I've heard of are mistakes by the manufacturer, not because the protocol isn't well defined.
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Old May 29, 2003, 12:58 PM   #10
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I've recently met arguments from manufacturers implementing designs with multi-way interfaces, that these increase manufacturing costs for high volume products. I'm not in silicon design, but I'm hearing that increased silcon count in high volume, is cheaper, more reliable and easier to control quality than manufacturing multi-pin interfaces and physical components. Also product size and layout ergonomics is affected by the physical interfaces and handling.

Removeable media with only 3 or 4 connections, which is treated like film, appeals to me. Look at the popularity of Dallas chips - everything in one chip with serial I/O a few interconnects and cheap. Wireless is just one step further - no physical interface.
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