Steve:

Thank you. We are going to get a few camera accessories. For now, I just purchased the cheapest memory card possible. It is a 4gb card. Any recommendations on a better mem card? I want to get something large but don't know if one is better than another.

Brad

 

Brad -

The SD card will GREATLY affect the speed with which the images you take are saved to the card, and then the camera returned to your use.  And of course when loading the card into your computer a slow card will take much longer as well.

Cards should be marked with a speed rating.  Something like 15mbps, 30mbps, 45mbps, etc..  The faster the better to the point it saturates the electronics of your camera.  Each camera can only process (move your images to the card) so fast.  However, you have a new model (Panasonic GF3) so my guess is it will take advantage of the fastest cards.

When it comes to brands there are only two professional photographers trust.  Lexar and Sandisk.  You might not know that each card has its firmware based controller?  These controllers not only effect the speed, but they also work hand in hand with recovery software so you can recover your images in the event you write over images, format the card by mistake, or if you just find a card laying around and you want to see what's on it a year or two later.. even if it's been formatted several times you can recover images.  Sometimes I buy old memory cards for a dollar or two at garage sales just because it's fun to run recovery software and look at other peoples images.. :)

Size.  I run 32gb and 64gb in my pro cameras.  Any time you have to remove a card, carry a spare, change out a card while out and about.. any time you do these things you risk losing or damaging the card.  If you start with a card large enough so you won't need to change cards while out shooting then you eliminate risks.  I know pros who go by the "I'd rather not put all my eggs in one basket" mindset, so they buy many small cards vs. one big one.. who have lost parts of weddings or other events that’s can't reshoot.  The bottom line is that the more you handle the card, the more you remove it from the camera, the more risk from losing or damaging the card.  And these risk are 1000x greater than a card going bad.

For your camera the Panasonic GF3.. an 8gb or 16gb is probably enough.  If you go on vacation for a week or two and you don't want to take a computer along to offload the images then consider a larger card.

Unfortunately buying cards is fraught with issues even in bigger name stores.  Counterfeit cards are a huge problem and most consumers don't find out until the card goes bad and they go to warranty it.. and find it's a counterfeit.  You have two choices when buying cards.  Either buy from a top camera store you can trust and where the prices will still be very competitive like B&H Photo  or buy from Amazon or a big box store and immediately call the memory card company and run the numbers to confirm it's authentic.  In my mind, $31 for a super fast super reliable card from the top camera store in America is a bargain.  Link here.

 

 Either buy from a top camera store you can trust and where the prices will still be very competitive like B&H Photo  or buy from Amazon or a big box store and immediately call the memory card company and run the numbers to confirm it's authentic.  In my mind, $31 for a super fast super reliable card from the top camera store in America is a bargain.  Link here.

 

Now.. cards can be tricky. You see the Sandisk Extreme Pro in the link above is rated at 95mbps?  But how about this one sourced and sold by Amazon (should not be counterfeit if Amazon sells it themselves, but their affiliates can be very risky)looks the same and is priced very close to the same.. yet it's only 45mbps. What's up? It could be a sign a card is counterfeit.. so go to Sandisk.com and have a look around.

 

Now.. cards can be tricky. You see the Sandisk Extreme Pro in the link above is rated at 95mbps?  But how about this one sourced and sold by Amazon (should not be counterfeit if Amazon sells it themselves, but their affiliates can be very risky)looks the same and is priced very close to the same.. yet it's only 45mbps. What's up? It could be a sign a card is counterfeit.. so go to Sandisk.com and have a look around.

 

 

You'll notice here Sandisk actually sells two 8gb SD Extreme Pro UHS Class 1.  They look identical.  This one which is 45mbps.  And this one which is 95mbps.  At least Sandisk puts the differences on their website, most don't.  It's very difficult to know what you're buying.  So.. you need to ask yourself is the 45mbps card for $28.99 a better deal than the 95mbps version from the best camera store in America for $31.00?

 

sandisk45         sandisk95

 

Maybe such slight choices will come down to can your camera take advantage of the 95mbps card.  How do you know?  Sometimes it's listed in the cameras specifications, but not often.  And one brand of a card might work better in one camera than another.  All small differences.  Is this case I find Rob Galbraiths site very useful because the guy does reliable tests on individual cameras with specific cards.

It's a lot of work to learn about flash memory cards.  Most people don't think it's worth the bother.  They'll just buy whatever the store who sold them the camera sells and will feel the store wouldn't possibly sell them a counterfeit or old series card.  And most wouldn't, they do it unknowingly.  To me it's more than the money.  It's about making sure I have the most reliable and fastest card possible so I'll always be prepared to get that shot for my clients and without fear I'll lose a batch of images due to an inferior counterfeit.

I hope this helps

Steve