Feature Story

Film or data cards

Good reputation compact flash
data cards for cameras

Remember the days of visiting the camera store to pickup more film and the vast array of brands and types to choose from. Agfa, Efke, Fujifilm, Ilford, Kodak, Lucky, Mitsubishi, Polaroid, Ektachrome, Kodachrome, Technical Pan, Tri-X, or just plain old color film. Each brand and type had it's own special look and feel each as unique as the photographers who used them.

Now there is no film, everything is digital, instantaneous, a never ceasing stream of zero's and one's compiled by an electronic eye and silicon brain to accord us a techno-wizard resemblance of what photography used to be. ISO, white balance, grain, texture, the look, and feel of an image now determined in the cold soulless void of digital manipulation and I LOVE IT.

Nevertheless, the soulless void of technological wizardry that I love so dearly is not perfect. Just as we lost pictures to light leaks, bad chemicals, bad processing, extremes of hot and cold or any number of unknown and undetermined factors; our current technology has its own quirks to be dealt with.

While we have cast off the capricious magic of a plastic membrane covered in silver halide for the exactitudes of digital manipulation and reproduction. We still must contemplate what we are putting into our cameras, because as I have learned not all digital recording devices for DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) are equal.

When I first purchased my DSLR, I had two choices for storage. A one gigabyte compact flash card for several hundred dollars or a six gigabyte micro drive for less than a third of the price of the compact flash card. As always, I chose the cheaper one. The micro drive worked fine for a time. Months went by without a problem. Hundreds of photos became thousands formatting the disk in camera again and again. Then one fateful day a shrill scream followed by a grinding, gnawing mashing sound was my first and only clue that the micro drive was no longer working. The hundreds of photos, from that brisk fall morning filled with cerulean blue skies, were gone into the digital ether never to be seen again. Aghast was I, the horror of the moment was undeniable.

Another cheap skate decision had come back to haunt me. I returned to the camera store and conveyed my ghastly story of loss to the proprietor. He listened patiently with the cognizant smile of a wise man who has heard the saga of loss and woe all to often. He looked at me and said. "You chose the cheaper option and a poor choice it was." I smiled recognizing but not comprehending the wisdom of his words and requested a four gigabyte compact flash card to replace my deceased six gigabyte micro drive.

As my luck would have it, at that very moment, this particular camera store was out of SanDisk and Lexar compact flash cards but they did have some very cheap cards from a company called DANE-ELEC. I did not want to wait! I did not believe there was a great distinction in one companies card when compared to another. Again, I chose the cheaper option and again after a few years the cheaper card betrayed me in a most heinous fashion.

On the second occasion of technology failing me I received no audible warning of failure, nor did I have any other indicator until I returned home to find the compact flash card unreadable. An entire day of roaming civil war battlefields in the Virginia country side lost FOREVER. Slowly, I ground my teeth and rubbed my throbbing temples. The choice of the cheap had come back to haunt me yet again. At that moment, I swore never again to take the path of the cheap. From now on I will spend the extra money and only purchase reliable tested know brands. I logged onto Amazon and ordered two SanDisk Extreme III 4.0GB compact flash cards. Now only time will tell whether these cards will last longer than the poor choices they are replacing.

The new cards from SanDisk arrived in two days, as soon as I placed them into the camera I noticed a distinct improvement in the cameras performance. Because of the exceedingly fast read write times of the SanDisk Extreme cards my Nikon D70s will shoot non stop in the RAW format until either the card is full of the battery runs out. Impressive to say the least. Now we just have to see how long this card will last?

As always experience, contemplation and reflection are our greatest teachers.

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—The JPG team

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