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Old Dec 17, 2002, 11:13 PM   #1
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Default CF ignorance...

Ok, I'm new to the digital scene. So all this talk about SmartMedia and Compact Flash is all over my head. Instead of asking all my questions at once, I'll stick with a batch of simple related questions:

What are the differences (other than size) in the different CF cards? How can I tell the difference when I see them on the rack? Should I believe the speed ratings on the cards (or should I only trust a combination of speed/manufacturer.)

Thanks for the info in advance. I've learned a lot by lurking here, you all are a very knowledgeable (and friendly) bunch.

Eric
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 12:24 AM   #2
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They are like beta and VHS. They do the same thing. Compact Flash uses a controller built into the card and therefore if you buy cheaper cards they tend to be slower. Smartmedia, Multmedia card (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), Xd, and Memory stick are the others. They all use controllers built into the camera. There should be no speed difference betwwen any of these from one brand to another.

The basic thing is that different brand cameras use different cards. I wouldn't worry too much about what card a camera uses if you are just starting out. Choose your camera for the features you need and then you will have to use what that camera uses.

The one advantage of comapct flash is that since the controller is built into the camera you can use any size card that is available (usually). My camera uses Smartmedia so I am "limited" to 128MB cards, but that is enough to hold 256 pictures at 2Megapixels and I have several 128 and 64 MB cards so I don't consider that a limit.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 11:02 AM   #3
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Compact Flash seems to be the most commonly used media type. It has a few advantages over Smart Media, IMHO. For one, SM is maxed out at 128 MB. Fine for 2 Megapixel cameras, (I can get about 128 images at top quality mode on my Canon A40) but if you get cameras with higher mega pixel ratings, you may very well want more capcity in a single memory card.

Price wise, SM and CF are pretty much the same at 128 MB. But with CF, you might be able to get a lower cost per megabyte since you can get CF cards larger than 128 MB. For adapters, I think CF has an edge here. If you use a notebook, a PCMCIA (PC Card) adapter for CF is very inexpensive. CF is based off if PCMCIA, so adapters are super simple and therefore inexpensive.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 1:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: CF ignorance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric s
Ok, I'm new to the digital scene. So all this talk about SmartMedia and Compact Flash is all over my head. Instead of asking all my questions at once, I'll stick with a batch of simple related questions:

What are the differences (other than size) in the different CF cards? How can I tell the difference when I see them on the rack? Should I believe the speed ratings on the cards (or should I only trust a combination of speed/manufacturer.)

Thanks for the info in advance. I've learned a lot by lurking here, you all are a very knowledgeable (and friendly) bunch.

Eric


Go check out my flash memory info page:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/flash_memory.html

and my high-capacity storage page:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/high-...y_storage.html


-Steve
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Old Dec 19, 2002, 9:39 PM   #5
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Default Good links

Steve, thanks for the links! That was exactly what I was looking for. The link to the CompactFlash Performance Database was particularly valuable (once I learned more about the basics from your links):
http://www.robgalbraith.com/media/compactflash/

What I gather from them is that the camera matters as much (or more) in the speed of reading and writing:
1) A really good CF card could be wasted in a camera which doesn't implement its CF interface well (The D100 and D1X are examples of cameras which do it well.)
2) CF card which isn't optimized for the pattern of interaction that the camera follows. (I strugled with how to say this without going into details that I wasn't confident about. In the world of computers I'd use the analogy of software that uses a call in a graphics driver which isn't optimized well in the hardware. The picture would still get drawn, but not as fast as it could be.)

This makes me think that it will be much harder to pick a "good" flash card from an exelent one (except where SLC vs. MLC comes into play.)

I wish Rob had done his testing with some lower end cameras. All of those used are very expensive. I'd be interested in seeing what a CP4500 would do, for example (and that isn't exactly cheap either.)

I just really dislike it when I can look at a wall of CF cards and I wonder if I'll really spent the money well. Two brands with similar size but one clames to be faster... but will it be for me?

With these variables it almost sounds like you end up trying it and if it's "fast enough" you're happy, and if not you return it and try a different brand.
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Old Dec 21, 2002, 2:36 PM   #6
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Well, Rob only deals in high-end dSLR cameras - his business is professional photojournalism.

You don't have to spend much to get the fastest CF cards, see my other message in this forum:

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5671

-Steve
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