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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread Lesson 5
Remember, click on the Wiki if you want to see only the lessons and not the other posts.
All about memory cards
While buying a memory card appears at first glance to be an ultra-simple affair, there are actually many factors to consider. Your choice of card can make a tremendous difference in your day to day shooting. Let's have a look at the numbers, standards, and features you should be aware of when buying a card for your camera.
Types of card
There are a few different types of memory cards on the market today. Generally the type you need will be dictated by your camera; if it takes an SD card only there's no way you could use a CF card in it. There are however a number of cameras that accept more than one type. Since the most common card by far is SD, I'll focus mostly on that.
Compact Flash (CF): These are the bigger, square memory cards. These days they're mostly used in pro cameras such as the Canon 5DMkII or the Nikon D800. The advantage of CF over SD is mainly in physical strength. While SD cards are prone to braking, a CF card is virtually indestructible. On top of that, they tend to be a bit faster than SD cards, meaning that any new jump in performance will appear in the CF market before the SD market. The one disadvantage with CF cards is that the socket relies on a series of pins, which are easily bendable.
Secure Digital (SD): This is the most common card type in use by far. If you have a camera, chances are it takes SD cards. These are smaller than CD cards (about stamp-sized), and are not as strong physically. I have an entire collection of cracked and broken SD cards flying around the house. The 'secure' part of the name refers to the read/write protection switch on the side. To be honest this feature is mostly useless, and only adds to the complexity, and therefore breakability, of the card.
SD cards come in a couple different flavors:
- SD: This mostly obsolete standard was for cards under 2GB. They could still be bought today, but why someone would is anyone's guess.
- SDHC (High Capacity): This is the most commonly used standard today, and covers cards from 2 - 32GB. Virtually every camera in existence supports the SDHC protocol.
- SDXC (Extreme Capacity): This is the newest SD standard and supports cards from 64GB all the way up to a theoretical 2TB. This uses the exFAT file system, and so will not work on some older computers. Most newer cameras will support SDXC.
- MicroSD: This is a tiny version of a regular SD card, and also comes in all three SD flavors. Due to its size it'll be more expensive than a comparable full-size SD card, as well as being very prone to getting lost. It is used in most smartphones, as well as some point & shoot cameras and video cameras (the GoPro for instance).
- SD cards also come in a veriety of wireless models. These cards will automatically upload pictures to your computer via Wi-Fi.
Memory Stick (MS): This is a proprietary Sony card, and is used only in their cameras. At one point this was a horrible mess with as many as 10 types of Memory Stick on the market, none of which was compatible with the other. These days Sony has cleaned this up, with only the Memory Stick Duo surviving. More importantly, Sony finally buckled and now all their cameras accept SD cards as well, so you could easily forget about this overpriced card and move on with your life :).
There is also the new XQD card, which so far is used only by the Nikon D4 camera.
Card Speed:
This is the most important thing to know when choosing a memory card. Today's cameras move a massive amount of information to the card every time you take a picture or video. If your card is not fast enough, you will have to wait for a couple of seconds after every picture, as well as when looking through your pictures on your camera. Video-wise, if the card isn't fast enough the camera will drop frames, which will cause your video to be choppy and jittery.
Unfortunately, card manufacturers try their best to confuse the bejiggers out of you with an overwhelming amount of different speed specifications. Let's have a look at all these specs, and what they actually mean.
The first thing to remember is that pictures and video require a completely different type of speed in order to work properly. With pictures, you're throwing a huge amount of data at the card in short, intense bursts. On the other hand, the video data stream is much smaller, but continuous. With that in mind, let's have a look at the specs.
Rated Speed - written as MB/s: This is the maximum speed of writing chunks of data to the card, and applies to photos only. Common speeds you'll find are 45MB/s or 60MB/s. This means that the theoretical transfer speed will be 60 megabytes per second. Why is this important? Take a Nikon D600. Each RAW file is about 28MB. That means that if I use a card rated at 30MB/s, I will have to wait a second between each picture. Now imaging I'm shooting continuous - if I take 8 pictures in about 2 seconds, I then have to wait 6 more seconds until the camera is ready to shoot again, since it has to finish writing all this data to the card. This means that I will keep on waiting, and keep on missing shots.
Now imagine I had bought a faster card - say 90MB/s. This means that I would never have to wait between pictures (since each picture will take about a third of a second to write). Shooting 8 pictures in 2 seconds, I would have to wait less than a second until I'm ready to shoot again.
If you have any newer high-megapixel camera, this should be the number one spec you look for. It will be the difference between taking pictures and forgetting that a memory card exists, and between getting stuck waiting all the time and cursing the card out for making you miss the shot yet again.
X Rating: This will be written as 400x, 533x, etc. This means the exact came thing as Rated Speed, and is a direct conversion. It is simply another way for the card companies to drive you nuts. Each 'x' is equivalent to 15KB/s. Doing the math, 400x will be 400*15=6000, which would be 60MB/s.
Class Rating: This will be written as Class 6, Class 8, Class 10, etc. This applies to video only. What this is the minimum sustained write speed. A class 10 for instance, will maintain a write speed of at least 10 megabytes per second. Currently, no standard camera exists which can take advantage of anything over Class 10. This means that if you have a Class 10 card, your card will always be fast enough to keep up with the video data stream being thrown at it.
UHS Class: Again, this is a direct conversion from Class Ratings. UHS-1 simply means 10MB/s minimum sustained speed, which we already know is Class 10.
So basically you have to look at only two specs: Rated Speed and Class Speed. The Rated Speed will tell you how large a chunk of data (photos) you could transfer at one time, while the Class Rating will tell you the minimum continuous (video) data speed.
Read speed vs. write speed: Another very important thing to remember is that the Rated Speed applies both to read and write speed. That means you have to be very careful reading the specs, as some brands (ahem Lexar ahem) have wildly different read and write speeds, and write only the higher number in big obvious text. For example, their 60MB/s Class 10 SD card is actually only 20MB/swrite, while the 60MB/s is only on read. This means that it's still quite slow in your camera; only transfers to your computer will be fairly fast. This is of course extremely misleading, so keep your eyes peeled.
Memory Brands
Does it matter which brand memory card you got? Heck yes. Memory is cheap enough these days that you could afford to buy the best; saving $10 to go with a lesser brand in absolutely not worth it. Behold:
Chip Quality: At the very basic level of a memory card sits the humble silicon chip. These chips start their life as a large, circular wafer around 18" in diameter. This wafer is subsequently cut into a couple dozen square or rectangular memory modules. Due to the manufacturing processes, the closer to the center of the wafer the module comes from, the more perfect and free of defects it will be. Since flash memory is a commodity market, there are two or three companies which control most of it. These companies will take the highest quality center modules for themselves (or their partners), and let the little fish scramble for the inferior, cheaper ones.
What all this means for you is simple: The higher priced memory cards are priced like that for a reason: they use the highest quality chips. End of story. Sandisk and Lexar are on the top, followed very closely by Sony and Panasonic. Kingston is somewhere in the middle, and companies like Transcend are just about on the bottom of the food chain. The only thing lower are all the no-name brands - Dane-Elec, Wintec, Silicone Power, et. al.
Why do you need a high quality chip? Because a cheap one will eat your pictures one day. They are prone to getting corrupted and can't be erased and reused too often before they start to deteriorate. Would you trust your pictures to the lowest common denominator to save a few bucks? Personally, I don't think it's worth it. Now mind you - I've had Sandisk cards conk out on me; nothing's foolproof. But after years of hearing first-hand horror stories from countless people, the simple fact is obvious: It's not worth it to cheap out on memory.
Claimed Specs: Very often, you'll find with the cheaper brands that their claimed specs are often inaccurate and are actually slower then claimed.
Physical Quality: Look at any Sandisk box above the Ultra level (which is just about all of them): waterproof, temperature proof, and shock proof. I've put Sandisk cards through the wash and they work as good as ever. You won't find that with cheaper brands. Drop a card and chances are it'll break; leave it in the sun too long and it may not work again. The higher quality brand, the more the card will survive. Imaging coming home from vacation and finding that your full memory card cannot be read. With cheap cards, this is a far more common occurrence than with good ones.
Note that SD card are an inherently weak design and every one of them will eventually break. The difference here is how long it take until that actually happens, and if the data could still be read off it at that point. From my entire collection of broken Sandisk cards, all but one still technically work - that is, I could still read and write to them properly. Not that I'd want too; but the point is that I didn't actually lose any data when it broke.
Lesson Summary:
Card types:
- CF cards are mainly used in pro cameras these days
- SD cards are the most common:
--- SD is up to 2GB
--- SDHC is 2 - 32GB
--- SDXC is 32GB - 2TB
- MS is a Sony proprietary and could safely be ignored these days.
- Rated Speed gives you the maximum read/write speed in MB/s. Used for pictures only.
- X Rating gives you the exact same thing as 300x, 400x, etc. Multiply by 15 to get the MB/s.
- Class Rating gives you the minimum sustained data stream as 1 per class. Class 8 is 8MB/s, Class 10 is 10MB/s, etc. Used for video only.
- UHS Rating gives you the exact same thing as Class. UHS-1 is the same as Class 10.
- Be vigilant and check both the read and write speeds. They may be very different from each other.
- Cheaper brands use cheaper, lower quality chips.
- Lower quality chips are very prone to failure.
- Cheap brands often fudge their numbers so their cards appear faster.
- Cheaper cards are often physically weaker and may break earlier.

December 15, 2013, 06:08:04 PM
National Free Day Coupons Master Thread Comes as a coupon code From the 1-2-Free promo.

Up to full size, and works for one ways.

Expires 6/16.

$25 each, $45 for both, OBO.

June 08, 2014, 10:07:23 AM
Writing a trip report? Here's how to add pictures. Updated 7/10/17:
- Sizes now work differently
- Photobucket no longer works as a host
- Flickr screenshots are updated to the current interface
- The process of embedding a private photo is now (somewhat) simplified

I can't even count the amount of times I've answered this question in one form or another, both on the forums and by PM. I figured I'll write up some detailed instructions and hope people will find this useful.

This tutorial has five sections:
  • Understanding the basics
  • Adding pictures
  • Sharing private pictures
  • Additional methods
  • Summary

Note that nothing in this post will show up properly in Tapatalk; use a regular browser to follow along.

Understanding the basics:

Hosting: The pictures have to live somewhere. They are not stored on DDF; the forum system follows a couple of codes which tells it where the picture is stored, and it "pulls" the picture from there and displays it in your post. What this means is that for any picture to be displayed on DDF it first has to be uploaded to an image hosting service.

There are many hosting services out there, including ImageShack, tinypic, and imgur. All work on the same principle: you upload your pictures, the site provides the necessary code and links, and will display your picture when called upon to do so by DDF.

My personal host of preference is Flickr, for a multitude of reasons:
  • They're part of Yahoo, so I know that it's not going anywhere soon. Many hosts have come and gone, and with it, your pictures and links. That's not something I'm worried about with Flickr.
  • They give you an entire terabyte of space for free, with no limits on the amount of uploads or views per day (like some others do).
  • You could organize your pictures in many different ways, such as by type, trip, etc.
  • You could name and describe your pictures (and have that show up on DDF too, should you choose to), and people could leave comments, etc.
  • You could keep your pictures private, making them only accessible if it's clicked through from DDF, should you choose to.
  • If someone wants to know more about the picture they could click on it and see the exposure info, tags, even a map of where the picture was taken from (considering the file has location information included).

The examples we'll examine below will all be from Flickr, but the steps generally apply to all other hosting sites.

BBCode: The forum runs on something called BBCode (BBC for short). Without this code all that could be displayed is plain text; adding BBC tags however will let you format your post in many different ways. You do not have to know any coding to use this; generally you could click on one of the icons while posting and the code will automatically be entered for you. However, understanding how the codes in question work, what each part means, and so on are all very useful to know and will be explained here.

Once your pictures are online on a hosting site, you will use the [img] tag to tell the forum where your picture is stored, what size to display it at, and what happens if the picture is clicked on.

Adding pictures:

Let's have a look at the different options and controls, and how they would show up on the forum.

Step 1: Uploaded your pictures. Sign in or create an account on your hosting site of choice, and follow the prompts to upload your pictures. 

Step 2: From your host, navigate to the picture in question and choose to "share", "get link", or whatever that particular website calls it. On Flickr this is designated by an arrow on the lower right-hand corner of the image:

Step 3: There may be many different sharing options. Here the choices are Share, Embed, Email, and BBCode. Click on BBCode (top box), and the correct code will be generated (bottom box):

Note that BBC can also be referred to as "Forum" or "Forum Code" on different sites.

This will generate the required [img] code needed, but don't copy and paste just yet.

Step 4: Choose a size; I find that Large 1024 seems to work best - it displays at a nice size in the thread, while not slowing everything down:

If the size you picked is too large, DDF will automatically resize it to fit the width of the page. That means that you're getting basically the same view as Large 1024, but it will run slowly due to all the resizing happening. And if you choose a smaller size, your picture will not be resized - it'll just show up smaller.

For comparison, here's what the picture would look appear like in Large 1024, Small 240, and Original, in that order:

Haleakala Sunrise by Morris Hersko, on Flickr

Haleakala Sunrise by Morris Hersko, on Flickr

Haleakala Sunrise by Morris Hersko, on Flickr

Note that the size options you get will vary slightly depending on the particular picture in question; however it'll be close enough to the options here.

Step 5: Copy and paste. Once you've chosen a size, copy and paste the resulting code into your post. While editing it'll look like so...

[url=][img][/img][/url][url=]Haleakala Sunrise[/url] by [url=]Morris Hersko[/url], on Flickr

...and display like so once previewed or posted:

Haleakala Sunrise by Morris Hersko, on Flickr

Let's take a detailed look at what we have, and how it happened:
  • We have the picture displayed at the size we chose.
  • If you click on the picture it takes you to Flickr where you could see more details, different sizes, and move around my pages to see other pictures.
  • We have the image name as a caption, which itself is also a clickable link to the above-mentioned page.
  • We have a photo credit, which links to my Flickr profile page.

How did all this happen, and how could we manipulate the code to change which of these actually happen?

Let's break the code down piece by piece:

[url=][img][/img][/url][url=]Haleakala Sunrise[/url] by [url=]Morris Hersko[/url], on Flickr

Red is the most important part - the [img] and [/img] tags notify the system that a picture should be inserted here, while the URL in between tells the system where to find said picture. This is static: all it does is show the picture - no links, credits, etc. If this is what you want, keep only this part of the code and erase the rest (see example 1 below).

Green is a [url] tag. This is what makes the picture clickable. Since this tag surrounds the [img] tag, it means that the entire picture is clickable, not text, as is typical. This is how I personally post my pictures, since I'm not a fan of the caption and credit parts. By only using the red and green parts of the code, it shows the picture only, but clickable. See example 2 below.

Blue Is the caption; the [url] tag makes the "Haleakala Sunrise" clickable.

Purple is the link and text to my profile page. You could eliminate either the profile link or the caption by deleting the applicable parts of the code (personally I delete both, like I said above). See example 3 below where I kept the caption but got rid of my profile link.

Brown is pure text and is there to turn the caption into a coherent sentence.

Example 1 - Static, non-clickable picture. The code used shown first, then the result:


Example 2 - my personal preference. Clickable picture, no caption:


Example 3 - As above, but with the caption and no profile link:

[url=][img][/img][/url][url=]Haleakala Sunrise[/url]

Haleakala Sunrise

Sharing private pictures:

The above steps only works if the picture is public. What if you want them private, but viewable (and clickable) only through DDF? For this we use something Flickr calls a Guest Pass. It generates a special link for your private photos, and only someone with that link (and in this case, DDF) could view the picture.

This adds two more steps to the process:

Step 6: After step 5 above, jump back to Flickr's sharing menu, and choose Share. A special link will be generated:

Step 7:Replace the red part of the original code below with the new link, and everything will work as if it was a public photo:

[url=][img][/img][url=]Haleakala Sunrise[/url] by [url=]Morris Hersko[/url], on Flickr

Flickr has a couple of options for the Guest Passes, such as setting expiration dates. See this page for more info.

Additional methods:

DDF hosted: The forum actually does have a built-in image hosting feature, but that is only for extremely small file sizes (meaning the pictures will be very low quality). Additionally, the pictures only show up at the bottom of the post, and as thumbnails only. All this means that it's is generally not a good option for trip reports. To use this feature, click the "Attachments and other options" link below the text field.

Tapatalk hosted: If you have your pictures on your phone you could click on the camera icon to upload a picture. This works in a similar way to Flickr - the picture will be uploaded to Tapatalk's servers, and it will automatically generate the code and insert into your post. The disadvantage of this method is that you have no control on the size of the picture - it will be displayed like the Original sample above.

Other websites: If the picture is hosted on any other website, you could copy the image link (generally this will not be the page link) and paste the address between [img] and [/img] tags. As with Tapatalk, you will have no control on the size of the image.

  • Upload your pictures to an image hosting site.
  • From their "share" or "link" dialog choose BBCode or Forum, and select a size.
  • Paste the resulting code into your DDF thread.
  • Tweak the code if desired to change some settings
  • If your picture is private, use a Flickr Guest Pass

October 25, 2014, 11:11:43 PM
Something Fishy's Maui and Lanai Trip Report, Courtesy of Delta Trip Report
Planning and booking


In November of 2012 I went to Kauai and the Big Island for the first time, and was promptly bitten by the Hawaii bug. I have been to many beautiful and interesting places, but none have smitten me like Hawaii. No other place made me want to return so bad that it hurt.
So when I got a DDMS text one cold and dreary December morning that Delta was having a major pricing glitch, I know exactly where I'm going. After half a nail-biting hour of browsers hanging and Priceline misbehaving, I had my prize in hand: three ticketed reservations, flying JFK-LAX-LIH on 8/10, and returning OGG-HNL-SEA-JFK on the 18th. Total cost? $582.90. Within a few minutes of booking the deal was dead; prices were back up to normal.
Of course I know that this being a glitch, it's very likely that the tickets won't be honored. However, after just a few minutes, another text arrived: Delta announced that they're honoring any and all tickets! Thinking this can't get any better, I settled back down to work. But what do you know - another text: the glitch had worked for first class as well! I hadn't even thought of searching for F and J, and now I was kicking myself for it. On a whim, I figured I'd check my tickets again - if Delta was so broken, who knows, maybe they put me in first class too. Sure enough, there it was - all but one leg in either First or Business Elite! The only leg that was not - LAX-LIH - had booked into B class, which would entitle me to free Economy Comfort.
The original plan was to spend half the time on Kauai and the other half on Maui, but we later decided to skip Kauai this time and just focus on Maui. Delta was more than happy to let us change our flights so long as we paid the difference in the fare. No, thank you :P...
Since this was more than six months out, I knew that its almost inevitable that there wont be a schedule change, so I decided to wait for that and change the tickets then. Sure enough, in early March, I got an email that the LAX-LIH flight had been pushed off by two hours. A quick phone call later and I was confirmed on a new itinerary: JFK-LAX-HNL-LIH. This was perfect since I would now be flying to LA lie-flat on the B767 instead of recliners on the B757, but more importantly, I could now drop the HNL-LIH leg and jump on a HNL-OGG plane instead.

A week before leaving I suddenly get an email notifying me of a completely new itinerary: JFK-ATL in F on an MD-88 (>:( >:( >:(), and ATL-HNL on the A330 in Economy Comfort. The really annoying part was that my original flights were still scheduled as normal - but for some reason they had bumped me off those flights! I called Delta right away and expressed my disappointment on flying 2 hours in "first" and then 9+ hours in economy, vs. 5.5 hours in a lie-flat bed. The rep was extremely helpful (and annoyed at the change as well, since she could not see any reason for it), and asked me how she could make things right.

Make things right? Hmmmm... difficult question... "Well, ma'am, I think if you could put me in J on the ATL-HNL leg that would make the itinerary change easier to handle..." She put me on hold and came back a minute later: "Well Mr. Fishy, I'm happy to let you know that you're confirmed into the last three remaining Business Elite seats for your flight to Honolulu". Woo Hoo  ;D ;D ;D! Not only was I in F/J all the way through, but this was on the internationally configured, brand-new, A330! Not a bad way to get to Hawaii...

On our return flights we also had a couple of minor schedule changes, which ended up in switching the original OGG-HNL-SEA-JFK to OGG-LAX-JFK. The advantages were a later flight out, so more time in Hawaii, plus lie-flat on the 767 on the LAX-JFK leg.

All in all I found Delta absolutely amazing the deal with. From the very beginning when they announced that they're honoring the glitch tickets, through the multitude of schedule changes (there were 11 of them in total, each of which worked to my advantage), to the flights themselves. Pity their FFP is so lousy.

Final tally per passenger:

Out of pocket: $196.33.
F/J throughout.
Mileage earned:
- 630 UR (booked using CSP)
- 14,716 AS (@1.5x actual mileage)
- 14,716 DL (yes, they credited both my AS and DL accounts ;D)

Assuming 1.5cpm, total cost p/p: $-254.60.

Not a bad deal... Not bad at all.

November 16, 2014, 10:37:17 PM
Re: Paradise Found: A "Holiday" to New Zealand in the Chariots of Kings

 ;D ;D ;D

February 07, 2015, 09:26:19 PM
Re: Funny Tweets
June 12, 2015, 05:54:12 PM
Aurora, Storms, and Snowpants: An Icelandic Saga by Something Fishy, whYME, and ChAiM'l
August 01, 2015, 11:57:21 PM
Re: Best of DDF Oldie but goodie... Still my all-time favorite DDF anecdote.

Suave, in his Cambodia TR:

I bribed the Guard $1 at the Anti-Corruption Unit to let me into the building - Just for the novelty.

December 16, 2015, 11:32:04 PM
Re: A Glimpse of Patagonia: Joe's El Calafate Trip Report Awesome so far, looking forward to the rest. Patagonia has been on my bucket list for a long time.

My favorite part so far - around 1.5 seconds in, I see that you were planning this trip report already ;D ;D ;D:

December 22, 2015, 11:58:23 PM
Re: Good Shabbos! Good Shabbos from the Lofoten DO.
March 11, 2016, 10:56:09 AM