How to Choose Memory Cards for Extreme Conditions

November 16, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment |

Superb performance shooting in the Shetland Isles with John Maguire and Simon King

Samsung are not the first name I would think of when looking for Compact Flash or SD cards but we were lucky enough to come across them just before we went on a recent trip to the Shetland Isles. Armed with the knowledge that we would be traipsing across fields, shimmying down cliffs and buffeted along in a small boat, the sales tag 'shockproof & waterproof' caught my eye. The cards look pretty much the same as most on the market, albeit far less garish, but the main difference for me is they seem heavier than others I've used which makes them feel sturdier. A little further investigation on the web revealed that the Samsung Plus cards are made of SUS (stainless steel) and promised 'sturdiness' and 'high performance, assuring premium quality' ...well, who am I to argue with that? With a read speed of 45MB/S and write speed of 35MB/S for the Compact Flash they far surpass the minimum requirement of 8MB/S read/write speed recommended by Canon for the 5D Mk2 DSLR when shooting video.

How to Choose Memory Cards for Extreme Conditions

Light, transportable but highly effective equipment is the prerequisite when filming wildlife and the right choice of memory card is crucial considering the conditions we may face. The analogy I will use is that of the car tyre, not the most expensive part of the overall equipment but certainly one of the most important in getting you safely from a-b. Memory cards are the same, you can have thousands of pounds worth of kit but to safely record and store the images securely, without glitches, is the cold face of the operation.

How to Choose Memory Cards for Extreme Conditions

We opted for the Samsung cards and used the 8 GB 233x PLUS CF cards for our cameras (Canon 5D MK2 and 7D) and the smaller 8GB SD PLUS Class 6 cards for master audio (recording onto an Olympus LS 11 stereo recorder via a Rode NTG3). They certainly stood up to their shockproof and weatherproof tags. At times Simon reminds me of an 'east end' artful dodger, he has trousers, jackets, boots and Rambo style hip bags with pockets galore so he can carry the equipment needed for a day (and often night) of wildlife photography. During our Shetland Isles trip Simon wore trousers that actually had inbuilt pockets (I kid you not) for CF cards. So having been sat upon, rolled over and scrunched up in the inner layers of a Kings garments ...and to then consistently function to the highest standards without a glitch, I believe supports the shockproof, magnet-proof tag of the Samsung CF cards.

How to Choose Memory Cards for Extreme Conditions

The Samsung SDHC Plus cards have a read speed of 17MB/s and a write speed of 12-13MB/s and are of similar robust design - effective in protecting the card against all the elements. As they are water and dustproof as well as shock and magnet proof the odd rainstorm or tumble down a cliff is no longer a worry when you have just taken that long sought after recording. The Samsung SDHC Plus card is sturdy enough to not only endure momentary impact; they can also bear the average weight of an adult. Will I think of Samsung next time I need memory cards I can rely on? In a word, yes!

For further information on the range of Samsung Memory Cards visit

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