You recently discussed the Scandisk 30MB/s card in your column and the specifications looked good. It shows on line as having a Class 10 rating. Does that mean it records at 30MB/s?


Rick -  I’m going to answer your questions paragraph by paragraph.  Class ratings have always been somewhat ambiguous and in some cases misleading. If you look at Wiki they define Class 6 as 6mbps, Class 10 at 10mbps, and so on.  Obviously this can’t be very accurate when you have a class 10 card rated at 30mbps. So let’s go to and see what they say.  Oh my, they’re even more ambiguous!  They’re saying that Class 2 is good for SD video recording, Class 6 for full HD video recording, and so on.  I can give you scores of examples why both aren’t accurate.   

And guess what?  The manufacturers, especially the smaller less ethical manufacturers, really take advantage of this ambiguity to profit from their customers. That would be you and me. 

This is why for professional uses when speed matters I’ll only use two brands of memory cards.  Lexar and Sandisk.  Both have shown a strong record for quality products and total transparency over the years.  You can count on the specs they provide.  For less than professional uses I might take the time to read reviews from a trusted source on other brands to learn their true speeds, but usually even then I’ll go with someone I can trust.

Another area of ambiguity is if the speed ratings apply to both read and write (record) capabilities.  Ideally the speed should apply to both as in the case of Sandisk and Lexar, but often they’ll only apply to ‘reads’ which doesn’t do much for you when your device is trying to record.    

Now to answer your questions:  The ‘class’ of a SD card is simply a classification which helps consumers easily match a memory card to a device (camera, video recorder, etc) and the speed ratings should be looked at separately.  30mbps from Sandisk, means a read AND write speed of 30mbps.


I use the SD Memory Cards (Secure Digital) in all of my cameras and I am not sure what “class/speed” each of them has.


The key here is to match the capabilities of the device (the ability of the camera to record at its maximum speed) with the capabilities of the SD memory card. 


Are they class two, four, six, or eight, at what speed do they record? How would you check the spec’s on these SD’s?


You can’t depend on these classes to determine speed.  Go directly to your manufacturers website to look up the individual speed of each card.  If your manufacturer makes this information easy to find you’re probably dealing with a good company.  Many companies either bury their small numbers under pages and pages, or don’t provide them at all.  You can find your Sandisk card speeds at 


You mentioned the Olympus E-P2 in last week’s column and I reviewed the available information. It looks very similar to the Sony NEX-5 and I would welcome your opinion on which looks to be the superior camera.


This is a topic on debate between professionals in forums all across the internet.  I’ll give you my take on this.  In general, the bigger the sensor the more image quality the sensor can provide.  In general, the later the generation of sensor, the better its image quality.  So, a Sony NEX-5 with its large APS-C sensor ‘should’ provide better image quality than the smaller micro 4/3’s sensors in the Olympus E-P2.  The difference is significant. 

However, there is more to a camera than sensor size.  Availability of lenses, placement of controls, build quality, design, firmware for writing jpegs and raw files, and more.  Here, the micro-4/3’s genre shows its maturity with many more choices and offerings.  I wouldn’t say it shows its “superior”, only that it affords more choices. 

However.. you know I’ve recently made the Sony NEX-5 my personal small camera.  So you know my choice. 

However, however, a recent announcement from Fuji has my mouth watering and fingers itching.  They’ve announced (read down in the news section for more) their new Finepix X100, a small camera with an APC-S sensor, a 35mm F2 equiv lens, AND an optical viewfinder in addition to the LCD live view, HD movie mode, and more.  It appears to be of a very high quality.  The 35mm F2 lens is a very good ‘normal’ lens for such a camera and it promises to be of a very high quality.  It’s months away from the store shelves, but it’s enough of a difference to warrant holding off on any purchases to see how it reviews.


I continue the hunt for the best camera that will give me the “pocket fit”. I am beginning to feel I just need bigger pockets for anything other than a camera with 16 or 17 mm lens.


There is a definite size issue with lenses.  Lenses that cover a larger sensor need to be larger in size.  Small prime lenses (non-zooms) offer smaller sizes, small enough to make them ‘pocketable’ to a degree, fast speeds, and better quality.  Zooms tend to be large.  There will always be trade-off’s, but if your goal is size then a trade-off that gives you a smaller size and higher quality at the expense of convenience (zoom) seems like a good one to me.


When I send you pictures for the column, I was concerned about only sending those that had not been adjusted using one of the photo editing programs. I felt that perhaps I was cheating by sending pictures that had not come straight from the camera. Then it dawned on me that by using the camera’s various functions to change what I saw in the viewfinder was doing the same thing.  If all we wanted, was a picture as the eye saw it why not use an $8 disposal camera.

Your comments on this deep philosophical question please……


This isn’t as deep as you might think.  First, most cameras cannot and will not capture the scene as your eyes see it.  There is always the difference between the amount of dynamic range your eye can see, and the camera.  Huge profound differences.  So, as a photographer we’re usually trying to change the settings on the camera to ‘get as close as possible’ to what the eye sees.  And then we process the image to make it even more close.  

Wait, hold the phone, there’s another possibility.   Photography is an art.  So we also use the settings on the camera and process the image to match what’s in our mind. 

These are the two most common possibilities.  And there is more.  I wouldn’t limit yourself.  If you feel like sending in unprocessed images then please do.  They’ll represent what you wanted us to see.  If you want to work on them and then send them in, great.  They’ll also represent what you wanted us to see.   You’re the artist, you’re in the drivers seat.  Take us for the best ride possible.


Thanks again for making my Friday evenings exciting as I await the new column.  (Not the same as when I was single on Fridays in BKK.)



Thank you Rick.  My privilege.  I very much enjoy making the column each week and trying to find what I think will be of interest.  And it’s a real boost to me when I get such thought out questions as yours.  I also greatly enjoy when a reader sends in images to share.  Take care and let me know if you have more questions.


Please submit your questions to   All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.