The death of 35mm - are we there yet?

Several memory formats are used at the moment for digital still cameras, Compact Flash and SmartMedia being two of more popular choices. However, of the cameras reviewed, only a handful share the same type of removable memory. The following rundown may help you decide which camera is right for you, as well give a general price for a 16MB card.

MEMORY TYPE: CompactFlash (CF)

Used in Kodak DC4800, Kodak DC5000, Canon Ixus, Canon S20, Canon D30, Canon G1The CompactFlash cards are about one-third the size of a PCMCIA card and less than half the thickness, yet they offer similar ATA functionality and compatibility. It's this small size that has made CompactFlash arguably the most popular type of Flash memory for digital cameras.

A 16MB CompactFlash card costs around $105.

MEMORY TYPE: IBM Microdrive

Can be used in Canon S20, Canon D30 and any camera supporting CompactFlash Type IIOne of the most impressive digital camera storage solutions at the moment is the IBM Microdrive. Currently available at 340MB, these extremely small hard disks can fit in a CompactFlash Type II memory slot. They allow digital cameras with CompactFlash Type II support to break through the frustrating memory barrier many users face when dealing with high-res uncompressed images.

IBM has also announced a 1GB drive, which will be a godsend for users of pro cameras such as the Canon D30, Canon D2000 and Nikon D1.

340MB Microdrive costs around $550

1GB Microdrive costs around $950

MEMORY TYPE: Memory Stick

Used in Sony DSC-S70

Designed for use with both PCs and a wide variety of digital AV (audio/video) products, the Memory Stick can be used to store, transfer and play back AV content such as images, sounds and music as well as information including data, text and graphics.

Sony's Memory Stick digital storage medium is no larger than a stick of gum - about one-eighth the size of a regular floppy disk - and is currently available in 4MB, 8MB, 16MB, 32MB and 64MB, with a 128MB due out soon.

The Sticks can also employ an authentication technology. Protected content is recorded and transferred in an encrypted format to prevent unauthorised copying of playback. At the moment, only Sony has provided any products that support Memory Stick, although several companies have expressed interest in the technology.

A 16MB stick costs around $80

MEMORY TYPE: Smart Media Cards

Used in Olympus C3030 Zoom, JVC GC-X1EA

Smart Media Cards are around the same thickness as a credit card and about one-third the size. Smart Media contains a single Flash chip embedded in a thin plastic card. A floppy adapter can be used to input images from the card straight into the PC's floppy drive.

A 16MB card costs around $190

MEMORY TYPE: Multimedia Cards (MMC, SMMC, SD)Used in Panasonic ipalm PV-DC3000Multimedia Card (MMC) memory cards are the smallest removable storage options at the moment, using technology similar to that used in Smart Media cards and coming in about half the size. MMC is at present available in a few flavours, the differences being mainly the level of content security and write protection.

Secure Digital memory cards provide a more secure way for you to distribute your files than Smart Media, CompactFlash or normal MMC, and are available in 16MB, 32MB and 64MB capacities. Secure MMC is a format similar to SD.

MMCs are increasing being used in DV camcorders to provide a digital still storage solution.

A 16MB card costs around $200

Other Storage Solutions

Other storage solutions include Iomega's Clik! or HipZip ($40 per disc) providing 40MB on a small disc about the same size as a 50cent coin.

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Denis Gallagher

PC World
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