It happens every year.


Black Friday!


And every year I see a slew of posts asking “is this a great deal?” or “64GB SD card is only $20!!!OMG!!!”


And every year new photographers are sucked into the memory card fraud!


That’s right fraud.


There are 3 things you need to know about your camera’s memory card this Black Friday to keep you from being one of the victims of this tricky sales ploy.


  1. Memory card size – everyone pretty much has this figured out. It is what is most prominently displayed on your memory card in BIG BOLD numbers. 2GB 4GB 8GB 16GB 32GB 64GB 128GB. We know the bigger it is the more that it can hold. Which is a bonus for those that don’t like to empty their memory cards frequently or have multiple sessions in a single day.


  1. Read Speed – This is usually never listed on your memory card. Mostly because this is limited by your computer hardware such as your usb adaptor which is roughly about 480 mb per second. Read speed is how fast the files can be read. So this is generally not important. So why did I bring it up? Because it can be what slows down your preview of your camera’s playback screen if you have ever fallen victim to that yellow hour glass.


  1. Write speed – This is the MAIN and MOST important factor when choosing a memory card. Write speed is how fast your memory card can “write” all the information of that image it just captured to that card. The grading scheme on write speed has had a long history. Back in the day a Class 10 memory card is all you needed to know for great quality and great speed. This is not the case. Under or above that LARGE GB size number is a smaller number followed by MB. The higher the number the faster the write speed. Why is this important? This also contributes to that camera play back slow down. It also determines how many consecutive shots you can take before your camera freezes its shutter to process all that information. Some camera models have built in processors/buffers that help with this, but super slow cards like 20mb aren’t going to cut it when trying to capture that soccer kick in succession. This also comes into play with video recording. Since camera technology has advanced many memory cards can not keep up. This is especially true for HD & now 4K video recording. In order to record in high-definition an memory card must have a separate 65mb continuous write speed. This is denoted with a video symbol with 65 beside it. Some memory cards will show the video icon and 30mb listed. This means that this memory card is not capable of capturing video in HD.


So is that 128Gb card with a 20mb write speed a good deal? Sure for the still life photographer. But stores generally make them “look” like a good deal in comparison to their much beefier counter parts – so don’t be fooled.


If you are a photographer interested in doing HD video, large panoramas and consecutive shooting then stay away. These cards are not a good deal for you. They will only be a burden.


After reading this post you may realize you didn’t need a camera upgrade, but a memory card upgrade instead. I found out the hard way myself after upgrading cameras. My card was too slow to handle the large file sizes it produced. I can now never go under 150mb write speed for what I do and how I shoot every day. That may not be the same for you.


So shop smart this Black Friday for your memory card needs.