Memory Cards
Name Of The Game: Faster And Bigger

Big, fast cards are becoming the norm, and not just in the CompactFlash format. Delkin Devices offers eFilm high-speed Secure Digital PRO memory cards and CompactFlash PRO 1GB and 2GB memory cards with speeds fast enough for digital video capture. Initial capacities will be 256MB and 512MB with a 1GB card expected later this year. The coolest and, at the same time, most practical size is 640MB, which is designed to approximate the capacity of a single recordable CD disc.

Lexar Double Speed
Lexar doubled the speed of its Professional Series of CompactFlash cards to 80x, or 12MB per second. And while some people (those who subscribe to the "eggs in a basket" theory) prefer to use many smaller CompactFlash cards during a shoot, give me a big card like Lexar's new 8GB 40x and let me shoot raw files until I or the model I'm photographing get tired. And yes, techies, you need a camera that uses a FAT 32 file system to get access to all 8GB.

SanDisk's Fast 4GB
Leave it to SanDisk to come up with a fast 4GB CompactFlash card in Type I format that fits every camera that uses a CompactFlash card, even ones that only have a FAT 16 filing system. A three-position switch on the card lets you choose between a single 4GB (FAT 32) or two individual (FAT 16)--let's call them what they really are--partitions.

SanDisk has also come up with a method of marketing memory cards that makes sense. They are selling them by the exposure, not capacity: 50 picture cards (32MB, if ya gotta know) are on sale for $14.99 each in CompactFlash and SmartMedia. They expect that price to drop so amateur photographers can begin treating memory cards like film and leave the images on the card and just pick up additional cards as they want to make more images. They also offer Memory Stick PRO memory cards.

SimpleTech Power Cards
Need more power? SimpleTech, Inc. announced an 8GB Type II CompactFlash card using the company's patented stacking technology. SimpleTech offers 2, 4, and 5GB Type I cards while increasing the write speed of its entire ProX line of CompactFlash cards. The card also uses a high-speed controller with a 10MB/sec write speed that may just be the fastest on the market.

Transcend is a shy little company who makes all kinds of digital storage media, including a 2GB CompactFlash card and inexpensive 2GB IBM-like Microdrives that they claim are pretty tough. I asked for a sample so I could give them a real world test; let's see if they deliver.

Watch my "Digital Innovations" column for follow-ups on this and other new products from PMA 2004.