No matter what digital camera you shoot with nowadays, you must have some kind of storage where your media is going to be saved to. While some devices like phones and tablets often come with some built-in memory, you will often find yourself looking for ways to expand that storage by using memory cards or other external storage accessories. And if you shoot with a dedicated digital camera, you will find that it does not offer any kind of storage and you will need to buy at least one memory card in order to be able to store captured images. That’s how a quest for selecting the best memory card begins. Unfortunately, choosing and buying memory cards can be a very frustrating experience, because there are so many different types of memory cards out there with so many different classes and price points, that it can become a very frustrating experience, especially for a beginner. In this article, we will explore memory cards in detail and give you everything you need to know about them.
As photographers, we heavily rely on memory cards, because they store images captured by our cameras and we use them to transfer images to our computers / main storage. In some cases, photographers even rely on memory cards to be their secondary or tertiary backups when shooting in the field. The role of memory cards in a photography workflow should not be underestimated – a failed card may not only lead to many problems and frustrations, but can also create bigger problems, especially when dealing with commercial clients who could make the photographer liable for loss of their images. In this article, I will share some tips on how to properly use memory cards and how to take care of them based on my many years of experience, both as a photographer and as an IT professional.
Lexar has been long known for making different type of memory cards for hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals. Whether you need microSD, SD, CF or the newer memory card technologies like CFast and XQD, Lexar makes lines of products with different quality levels and speeds to satisfy pretty much every still camera or video storage needs. One area you might not be very familiar is Lexar’s excellent line of memory card readers. I have been personally using the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader for years and I find it to be the best solution when working in the field and need to access or back up my data, as stated in my earlier review. But what about a professional memory card reader for a desktop? Since I have always built my own computers, I have had a strong preference for internal readers that I can install in one of the 5.25″ bays, with the AFT PRO-77U being my top choice. And although I am pretty happy with this reader, it does have a couple of disadvantages. First, it only comes with the most common media formats like CF, SD and microSD. If I wanted to attach the newer XQD or CFast cards, I would have to get a separate reader for each one of those. Second, there is only one reader per card type – if I wanted to transfer from two cards simultaneously (and yes, you can do that in Lightroom), then I am left out without options. Luckily, Lexar makes a superb product to address such particular needs (and more) in the form of the Lexar Professional Workflow readers. Today, I am reviewing the HR1 version, which has a USB 3.0 interface. If you are a Mac user and prefer Thunderbolt, there is an HR2 version of the same reader, which has support for both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.
We are continuing our coverage of memory card readers this week and this time I want to talk about my personal preference for internal memory card readers, or the ones one would have to install in an empty / available bay in a computer. Since I have always been building my own PCs, picking the best components for the fastest performance, I am comfortable with installing internal devices without resorting to external help. Having a memory card reader always integrated into a PC means that I don’t have to fiddle with external devices and wires dangling off my PC, which helps in keeping my work area nice and clean. In addition, it allows me to choose an all-in-one memory card reader that can read pretty much any format out there and potentially offer additional USB slots that I can use for other devices. The Atech Flash Technology PRO-77U gives me exactly that. For years I have been using the previous-generation PRO-57U model and I have recently moved up to the PRO-77U in my latest PC build and I have been happy with my decision.
One question I get asked a lot by other photographers or workshop participants, is the type of reader I prefer to use when traveling or when using a laptop. Over the years, I have tried many different types of readers and I have had my share of dead readers, bent pins, unreadable cards and other problems. After trying out the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader when it just came out, I have been very pleased with its performance. It turned out to be the best memory card reader I have had to date not just because of its amazing performance, but also because it has a solid build and the cable easily detaches from the back of the reader, making it an amazing travel companion.