Hey Boy, Don’t Kill The Patient! Buy Better Memory Instead Of A New Camera
by John Downey
Recently, several people asked me about “buying a better camera” when I see that what they’re carrying is perfectly good. “My camera is too slow, what should I get that’s decent?” These poorly constructed, slow cameras are the result of the manufacturer increasing his margin by shipping them with cheap, slow memory, very similar to buying an mp3 player with headphones (the headphones always suck, don’t they?) Your camera is suffering from what is referred to as long shutter lag, the duration between pressing the shutter button and when the shutter opens and closes to complete imaging. “My camera is so slow, that I always end up missing good shots of my kids.”
You can do two things to resolve this (and not buy a new camera).
First, you can Be The Ball, Danny and just get accustomed to that slow shutter, anticipate when the camera will take the picture, and compensate. Fine for people who are sitting around watching ice melt but you’ll still miss that key expression of one of the boys playing tag after engulfing a half bag of M&Ms.
Second (and what I most recommend) is you can buy faster memory. Faster? Yes, for those who are not computer geeks, face it, cameras are no longer simple, manual, mechanical devices, but mini supercomputers. Just like hard drives or computer memory, the faster the better. And the shorter lag between pressing the shutter and when the thing goes click, the better the chances that you’ll get the shot.
So how fast should you get? As fast as you can afford. Usually, camera memory cards come with a write speed written on the label. 10MB/s means that 10 megabytes of data can be written to the memory in one second. Sounds like Flash Gordon, right? Not anymore. Today’s fastest memory writes up to 100MB/s but it’s also costly. So, if you’re camera is “too slow,” buy new memory that writes at least double of what you have. You’ll notice a big difference in how your camera responds. I personally use 30MB/s in a Canon G11 and it’s just fine. You can probably find 8MB cards at that speed for less than 40 bucks now. Won’t catch Payton sneaking through the line for a first down, but it works great for a point and shoot.
A long time ago when my good friend Nino (who has some excellent images posted on Flickr by the way) and I had built our first PCs, I was constantly reformatting the hard drive for every little glitch. Nino said, “Hey boy, don’t kill the patient. Gotta learn how to fix it.” So, go get some good memory and get back into making pictures!
…and now that I’ve saved you a couple hundred bucks, please send beer. It’s dry and dusty in Africa.