High capacity SD cards and older cameras, upgrading a receiver

Week 45, 2006

Q: We own a Pentax *ist DS camera purchased 2 years ago. With the prices of SD cards going through the floor, I’d like to get some 2 GB SD cards. However, I don’t know if our camera can address that much memory. Nowhere in the camera manual is there a discussion on memory size limits. Perhaps I am asking a stupid question. Is there a limit to the amount memory digital cameras can use?

-Earl Ryba, State College, PA

A: First of all, neither you nor any other reader should for a moment think they are asking a “stupid question”. Electronics and home entertainment are ever changing, especially now as things transition from analog to digital. What’s more, the industry compounds the problem by introducing competing formats (HD-DVD and Blu-ray amd DTS and Dolby Digital, for example), changing its mind about what it is doing (first there was DVI, then HDMI as the industry-standard digital video connection), and confusing consumers with strong sales pitches for things you don’t really need such as expensive cables, extended warranties and “performance protection plans”, and other accessories and services of dubious or no benefit. It’s practically a full-time job just to keep up with all of this stuff, so no one should ever feel bad for being confused.

You will be pleased to know you were right on the money with your question about the Pentax *ist DS and its maximum memory capabilities. As it was shipped it could not handle memory cards above 1GB. You can download a firmware update at http://www.pentaximaging.com/customer_care/show_firmware?firmId=3 which will allow the camera to use cards larger than 1GB.

Be sure to buy the high speed memory cards for use with your camera. Digital SLRs are designed to take advantage of high speed memory. It will allow you to take pictures in more rapid succession, view them on your display faster, and cut down on the time it takes to download them from card to computer. My favorites are the Sandisk Ultra II models. They have a lifetime warranty, are extremely reliable and available at great prices right now. Even those without a digital SLR can benefit from high-speed memory, especially if their camera is above 6 megapixels. Shooting speed and image review times are likely to be the same, but with a USB 2.0 card reader the high-speed memory will download pictures to the computer in a fraction of the time required with normal memory cards.

Q:   I have an older Kenwood VR 405 Receiver that has Dolby 5.1. This accompanies 4 PSBbookshelf speakers, with a Fluance center and Jensen Sub. I listen to classical music and enjoy an occasional movie. Would replacing the receiver with a new one that has DTS and more wattage provide a discernable difference in my listening ? Would the Onkyo Receiver you recommend be a good one ?
-John Fail

A: You may hear a difference with DTS vs. Dolby Digital but unless you are overdriving your current receiver, adding more watts is unlikely to make a worthwhile difference. I do prefer the Onkyos, particularly in the lower price ranges where they are standouts, but I do not think going from Kenwood to Onkyo much of a jump.

Receivers are not the place you will find big improvements in sound quality- speakers are, and it is important to match the center channel to the front speakers. The first step you should make if making changes to your system is to get a PSB center channel to match the rest of your PSB speakers.

Comments are closed.