What SD card has the best reliability?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by steven_arellano, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. I am a total n00b when it comes to photography. My experience is limited to a digital point and shoot. I am finally ready to step up to a real camera and have ordered the Sony a65. My question is for someone who will be doing a lot of outdoor shooting what is the most reliable SD Card? I plan on only shooting stills and won't be doing any video recording. I am not worried about cost, I just want something that will have plenty of capacity. Also, is the class of the SD card important? Sorry for sounding like a total n00b, but I am one.
  2. Hi Steven, the class of the SD card designates speed. If you're only shooting stills then write speed won't be particularly important unless you shoot in bursts often.
    As for reliability, make sure you buy name brand from a reputable seller to avoid counterfeit cards (very important).
    For the cost difference, I'd get at least two Class 10 cards.
  3. "My question is for someone who will be doing a lot of outdoor shooting what is the most reliable SD Card?"
    Are you planning on getting them wet or something? I think there are some SD cards that are moisture resistant, but there's no particular brand that is going to be more "outdoor shooting"-friendly than another brand.
  4. My concerns about shooting outdoors have more to do with temperature than moisture. Especially cold, temperatures in my region have been known to drop to -50F in winter. I doubt you'll find me out in those frigid temperatures, but rather quick temperature drops are not unusual.
  5. At those temperatures I'd be a lot more worried about the camera than the SD card. The card has no moving parts; the camera has moving parts that could potentially get sluggish or completely freeze up. Check the specs of the A65 to see if it can operate in those kinds of temps.
  6. According to SanDisk's web site, their SD cards have an operating temperature range of -13ºF to 185ºF (-25ºC to 85 ºC). That includes their Ultra and Extreme cards, which are used by many professionals.
    According to Sony's web site, the operating temperature range for the A65 is 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C).
    So, a SanDisk card will be good down to -13, but don't expect your A65 to be able to make use of it. ;-)
  7. That is one of the main reasons I went with the a65, the guys over at Sony tell me that even though the recommended operating temperature is 32F it can successfully be used in below zero temperatures for limited periods of time. But like I said, most of the time I have better sense than be out in those temperatures.
  8. Honestly, I don't think the SD card is going to be the limiting factor in your cold-weather photography. As long as you buy a reputable brand from a reputable retailer, the card will be the least of your worries. I own SD cards from the following brands and have not had trouble with any of them:
    Patriot Memory
    I'm currently using one of these:
    You might save a dollar or two with lesser-known brands, but considering how inexpensive SD cards are to begin with, you might as well go with a good brand that has a good warranty. Most of the better ones have lifetime warranties.
  9. p.s. I never noticed it before, but the PNY card I linked to in my last message has an operating temperature range of -25 ºC to 85 ºC -- identical to the higher-priced SanDisk Extreme cards.
  10. Wow, you have definitely given me something to chew on. Moving up to a real camera is certainly a big step for me and I am feeling more than a little lost. I appreciate all the advice.
  11. It can definitely be intimidating! The A65 is, by most accounts, a great camera. I think you'll be fine as long as you don't expect miracles. I would fully expect it to be able to withstand a few minutes below freezing, but that's true of most cameras. If you're going to be outside for, let's say, half an hour to an hour, you might have some issues. That doesn't mean it's a bad camera; you'd encounter issues with most cameras, in fact.
    There are a few cameras that are particularly well-suited to shooting in cold weather. The top-level DSLRs from Pentax (K-5 being the current top model) are known for being superb performers in the cold -- even outperforming pricier high-end DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. I've read multiple reports of people using Pentax K-5 cameras in the -30ºC range for extended periods of time with little or no no problem.
    Now, I'm NOT saying you should cancel your A65 order! Not at all. BUT... if cold-weather photography is something you're really into and you plan on doing a lot of it, you might want to think about upgrading again at some point down the road. When it comes to harsh weather, Pentax really knows what they're doing.
    I hope I've been helpful and that I haven't made you feel more lost! :)
  12. Another thought:
    In below-freezing weather, the LCD display will sometimes become dark, or stop working completely, even though the rest of the camera remains functional. This isn't a huge problem on a regular DSLR because you can still look through the optical viewfinder and take pictures; you just can't review the pictures after you've taken them (until the LCD warms back up). Unfortunately this is a bigger problem with point-and-shoot cameras, and cameras that use an electronic viewfinder (EVF) -- such as the Sony A65. If the EVF gets dark or stops working, you have no way to take pictures -- unless you just aim at the subject and hope for the best.
    Again, not trying to make you second-guess your purchase; just giving you food for thought.
  13. The viewfinder in the a65 was actually a big part of choosing it over a couple other SLRs I considered. The a65 uses an OLED viewfinder. OLED panels can operate in temperatures down to about -60F. Even so my little Sony Point and shoot LCD display does quite well in colder temps. Which I discovered by accidentally leaving it in the car one especially chilly night.
  14. Nice! I'm glad to hear that, as there's a distinct possibility that there will be a mirrorless camera with EVF in my future. I don't do a ton of cold-weather shooting, but living in Maine, it's always a possibility.
  15. As for reliability, make sure you buy name brand from a reputable seller to avoid counterfeit cards (very important).​
    I just want to re-emphasize this point. It IS important given the huge numbers of copies out there.
  16. Lexar or Sandisk from a Dealer like B&H or Adorama.
  17. Keep your camera under your coat until you're ready to use it. Then stick it back under there again until you get to the next shot sequence. Take extra batteries and keep one set warm in your pants or shirt pocket. Then when and if you have a problem with the cold battery in the camera, you can switch to the warm and warm up the cold one in the meanwhile. You can then keep switching the pair because the cold one will "re-charge" when it gets warm.
    Dress warm. It gets cold quickly while you're standing around shooting since you're not moving much. Consider photography gloves and open to allow only your fingertips to ne exposed while you operate the camera. The close up them up again when not shooting so your fingers and hands stay warmer.
    Take a shot of whiskey before you go. It might not warm you up much but you won't care as much either. (Just kidding on this last one. Not good to drink like that in cold outdoors. Save it for when you get back.) One thing some people do when they return is to place the camera in a plastic bag with desiccant if your have it. Then tie it shut with a twist tie. That will prevent the hot moist air in the cabin from condensing on the camera until the camera has a chance to warm up to room temperature.
  18. Alternatively, buy a few hand warmers from Walmart, activate it, put it in the camera case and keep the camera in its case when not in use. The short duration which the camera is out of the case to take a few shots will not be sufficiently long to reduce critical component temperature substantially due to its thermal mass.
    Have a look at this thread:
  19. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Lexar or Sandisk​
    Do you have some data that shows those are better than other major vendors like Kingston?
  20. Jeff Spirer [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Jan 14, 2012; 11:28 p.m.
    Lexar or Sandisk Do you have some data that shows those are better than other major vendors like Kingston?​
    I have no data myself, but I suspect that considering the relatively few ways to make a memory card of a given capacity (unlike say, they near-limitless variations of paint types), and more importantly the fact that cards are designed, produced, and superceded relatively quickly and often with 'shared' technology, one can probably expect a name-brand memory card of a given price and capacity to perform very similarly to any other name-brand card of that price and capactity. On other words, some brands (such as Lexar and SanDisk) might seem better "on average" because they produce an Extreme card, or something else that others don't. But the cheap Class 2 SanDisk is just as bad as any other ten-dollar SD card, and the Class 10 Lexar should be just as good as the Kingstons, PNYs, and other brands that cost the same. That said, if you're shooting Raw+jpg or video, by the fastest, most expensive card that you can justify. Aside from the Extremes though ... your camera doesn't work that cold, so there's no sense paying for a card that does. If you plan on shooting a frame or two at a time, and don't shoot raw+jpg, just buy any quality card. The 24MP files are large enough that card speed will matter, but if you're not working quickly than a second or two in between photos doesn't make a difference. I find my Class 6 Transcend to be more than fast enough with the NEX-7, as long as I don't want to use burst mode or take any videos langer than 6 or 7 minutes.
  21. Since incidents were documented, that 3rd party memory card vendors were just getting production rejected cards from major manufacturers and were re-branding them and selling at lower cost, chances are that major manufacturers, who produce mass quantity of cards, should possibly have better chance with cards reliability.
  22. I'm very confident buying SanDisk Extreme IV as log as it has serial numbers on card. It is fast and just buy 2-4 gig of memory and you will be surprised with the outcome. It is also advisable to have a better SLR camera to do a better job.
  23. Curious about speed. How would you check if yours is fast enough. As an aside, I'm using a SanDisk Extreme Pro 8gb with 45mb/s in a S95 shooting raw + JPEG (20 mb total per shot). Is this OK?
  24. Alan brings up a good point. What is a good speed? I decided to go with SD because it is the more popular not to mention cheaper format, but if speed is that important should I go with a MemoryStick which is faster?
  25. Personally I wouldn't bother with MemoryStick. It seems like a dying format, likely to go the way of BetaMax video tapes at some point.
    Get a Class 10 SD card. They're only pennies more expensive than the lower speed classes. I've shot HD video with a Class 6 card and it worked fine, so a Class 10 card should be able to handle anything you throw at it.
  26. kts


  27. Quick note about high capacity cards, Steven.
    Your computer might have trouble reading cards with capacities 4GB or higher if it's is older than 2007. Should this happen, the symptoms is that the card reader just hangs until you remove the card.
    If you should have an old card reader, you can try finding a firmware update from the computer manufacturer or simply buy a new one.
  28. Thanks for the heads up Michael. Luckily I have a newer iMac with a built in SD card reader which supports SD cards up to 2TB. But I will remember you advice if I encounter a situation where I need to use an older computer.
  29. You said no video, but if you decide to shoot RAW, high data rate is helpful. The Sandisk Extreme 8GB rated 30 MB/second is only $15 now, and you can step up to 45 MB/sec for $30. At more than twice the price, 16GB SDHC cards are not yet cost effective. Other brands are fine. I have an Adata class 10 that has had no problems in adverse conditions. Class 10 supposedly means 10 MB/sec or higher.
  30. Most of the time everything works seamlessly these days, but going with a Class 10 card automatically isn't necessarily the best choice. Some devices, including cameras can exhibit timing issues with anything above a class 4 card. Try to determine what the device manufacturer recommends before buying if possible.
    Cameras that do video usually will work well with the faster or fastest cards but testing will reveal any weaknesses though determining the cause of problems can be difficult.
  31. Don, can you elaborate on the timing issue?
    I would have thought that, in general, typical bottlenecks occur in the camera's buffer (size) and faster writing cards will clear the buffer quicker.
  32. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    cameras can exhibit timing issues with anything above a class 4 card.​

    This makes no sense at all. The problem comes when a card is receiving more data than it can handle, not less. The speed of a card is the maximum rate at which it can receive data.

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