Memory cards speed in smaller cameras, iPod docks

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week  30, 2007  

Q: I am currently using a Kodak EasyShare DX 6490 camera and except for the very slow response time, I have found it to be easy to use and the pictures are sort of satisfactory, though a little grainy.   Most of my pictures are of grandchildren who have moved on to other things before grandmother is ready to take a second shot.   I have been told a new, faster memory card will speed up the process.   I am currently using a SanDisk 128MB card.     Is a new memory card the answer to my problem?
If a new memory card is not the answer, I m considering a new camera and would like to know what would be the best for me–not too confusing, takes great snapshots and close-ups, indoor/outdoor, has a zoom and quick reaction time.     Am I ready for a SLR?   I’m thinking of the Pentax K100D and 18-55mm which you recommend.      

-Donna Swanstrom, Stillwater, MN

A:   The high-speed memory card won’t solve your problem. It can help with some cameras, but your Kodak isn’t one of them.  

When you take a picture, it is stored in temporary memory called a buffer.   This temporary memory is built into the camera itself.   The camera then transfers the picture from the buffer to the memory card, then clears the buffer for more pictures.   Most cameras can contain at least three pictures in the buffer before it is full, so it will not help when taking two shots in a row, as you have been trying to do.   Your problem lies with the camera itself.

Even with a different camera, high-speed memory does not help with shooting speed unless you are taking many pictures in sequence and your camera is designed to take advantage of high-speed memory.

The Pentax K100D is designed to take advantage of high-speed memory and will respond noticeably quicker with it .   This will be especially noticeable when reviewing your   pictures on the camera’s display screen or taking many photographs in rapid succession.   I consider high-speed memory cards mandatory for digital SLRs.   Otherwise when reviewing pictures on the camera you will be sitting there all day waiting for pictures to appear on the screen, and if you take more than a few pictures in succession the camera will lock up while it clears the buffer.

One area where high-speed memory will always make an improvement regardless of the camera you use is when you download pictures from a memory card to your computer, as long as you have a USB 2.0 memory card reader or a camera that supports USB 2.0.   USB 2.0 is also referred to as “High Speed USB”.   If you see a camera marketed as “Full Speed USB” rather than High Speed, it is probably a bit of marketing doublespeak used to get around the fact that the camera doesn’t support USB 2.0.

I do think the K100D would be a good camera for you.   Just set it to automatic mode, then point and click for great pictures.   It has more advanced modes, but it will work like a point and shoot if that is what you want.

Q:   I have an iPod that I use with earbuds and also hook up via inputcables to my Sony receiver and small ceiling speaker system.   I
wanted to have a dock that I would allow me to listen while recharging the battery.   What docking system would you recommend?

-Eric Hanson, Minneapolis, MN

A:   I recommend buying the docking unit made by Apple themselves, the company that made your iPod.   The Apple dock will provide a line-level output and charge your battery at the same time, and is compatible with the Apple remote. The one you have sounds like it is meant only for their system.

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