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Maxing your camera memory power

Digital cameras: a great move forward for the amateur photographer, but now instead of just one item to care for you, you have three: your camera, its battery and the memory card. Here's how to get the maximum value from your camera memory.

Whilst digital camera memory is getting cheaper and faster all the time, it still pays to take care of your memory cards. Ideally we would all transfer data from our sd cards or cameras to computer and back them up, but in the real world, many of use leave half-filled cards stuck in our cameras until we next need to take a picture.

Bear this in mind if you have something powerful like a 16gb sdhc memory card - i.e., an sd card that packs a lot of memory. The higher the memory capacity of your card, the more likely you are to leave images on your camera until space runs out. A 2gb sd card may not sound like an impressive capacity, but that's enough storage for 15 rolls of old 35mm film images!

You probably don't need to go to the expense of buying a high capacity card unless you take a lot of high resolution photos or video - a 2gb memory card is fine.

Leaving something like an 8gb memory card in your camera can be risky. Having a high capacity memory card in your camera discourages you from making regular downloads to safe storage, which means your images are at risk should your camera get lost, damaged or stolen. You can replace a camera, but lost images are gone forever. Whilst your insurance might cover the camera, it won't cover the 8gb sdhc card you paid as much as 18 for.

Regardless of the capacity of your memory card, applying some basic care rules will ensure not only that your sd cards will have a long and healthy life span but also that your precious pictures don't suffer.

Be sure not to pull the memory card out of your camera the second you switch it off - the camera could still be transferring data from the buffer to memory. SD cards not built to withstand rough treatment, so be gentle when exposing the metal elements, such as during removal or transit. Equally, don't attempt to remove the memory card when the camera is switched on; the memory could get corrupted.

Few of us have any idea how to do it, but it's actually a good idea to reformat your memory card after each data download. Few of us actually remove the card, preferring to download images direct to our PC from the camera. If you want to swap a card between cameras, however, or you want to clean the memory files, your camera most likely has a 'reformat' mode in its setup menu where you can wipe the memory card clean. You are less likely to encounter memory problems by doing this.

Worried that you've lost the images from your memory card? Don't fret. Images buried on damaged or corrupted secure digital memory cards can sometimes be teased out by specialist software packages - as long as you haven't written over the data already. Ask at a photo development lab or do a quick internet search if this is a problem for you.

Overall, caring for your camera's memory is easy, but don't get complacent. SD cards may look small and unimportant, but they can carry a huge amount of data - stuff we want to keep. Extremes of temperatureFind Article, moisture and general exposure are all enemies of digital memory cards.

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