Product Type: Olympus in Flash Memory
Newest Review: ... Apart from the obvious difference of brand name, the only changes are that the Olympus one has some slight changes of colouring and a dif... more
Memories *were* made of this
Olympus 64 MB xD-Picture Card
Member Name: davidbuttery
Olympus 64 MB xD-Picture Card
Advantages: Reliable, does a job
Disadvantages: Fiddly, small capacity, obsolete format
Since summer is (in theory) now just around the corner, and since the weather is (also in theory) likely to improve as the days go on, I am giving my various old cameras a bit of a once-over at the moment, and the process includes checking the many and varied memory cards I use for them. Readers with longer memories (or possibly just those with extremely dull lives!) may remember that I tested the Fujifilm equivalent of this card a few months ago, so it will be interesting to see whether Olympus can match it.
The xD format is starting to disappear now as its supporters admit defeat and adopt some variety of SD card for their cameras, but time was when it was a vision of the future. Astonishingly small at 2.5 cm by 1.9 cm, it had the advantage of being able to fit into slimline and pocket cameras in the way that Compact Flash cards (which were then the most popular even for small cameras) simply could not. Olympus were one of the format's champions, though I suppose having developed it jointly with Fujifilm it would have looked rather bad had they then turned around and said it was a load of rubbish!
Setting my two cards side by side, they look very nearly identical. Apart from the obvious difference of brand name, the only changes are that the Olympus one has some slight changes of colouring and a differently shaped "this way up" arrow. Yippee. To be honest I've always suspected that all xD cards were churned out of one big production line and only branded later on. This is backed up by the fact that both cards have the message "Japan - By Toshiba" marked on the back, below the gold contact strip.
This is an original "unlettered" card. That means that it should work in just about any xD-accepting camera, whereas more recent designs (of higher capacities) bearing "M" or "H" on the front may well not. It's certainly been recognised with no problems by all my own cameras that take these cards, which bodes well for others. The camera (a Fujifilm A203) I tested the Fujifilm card with is currently not working, and so though it looks like a simple fix I can't do the same again; this time around I'm using the slightly newer and more advanced four-megapixel Fujifilm E500.
The E500's battery/card compartment is a bit cramped, which does point up one of the problems with xD cards (and something which also applies to the much newer micro-SD format), which is that it really is just *too* small to handle comfortably if you have remotely large hands. Not only is it a pain to keep your fingertips off the contacts, but if you're out and about taking photos, and you slip slightly when installing this card, then it may well fly off into the undergrowth never to be seen again. Yes, an SD or CF card could do that too, but you'd at least have a better chance of finding it!
I got absolutely identical capacity figures with the Olympus card as I did with the Fujfilm one. Using the E500, I could take 64 photos in normal 4mp quality mode, which I suppose is quite easy to remember! Obviously photo *quality* is a matter for the camera and not the card, but speed is of more importance. Unfortunately this is not going to be the point at which I reveal something stunning to gasps of amazement from a waiting world, because it's simply average. It's maybe a bit slow for burst mode shooting (not that the E500 is the camera for that anyway) but for single pics it's perfectly adequate.
The one thing that the Olympus card can do which the Fujifilm one can't is "Panorama" mode - though only on certain Olympus cameras, so it's not much use on a Fujifilm one! This feature allows you to take two photos and "stitch" them together to produce one panoramic shot. However, this is something I've always found quite fiddly at the best of times, so I don't miss having it available on non-Olympus cameras. Since there are no other differences between the two brands of cards, it doesn't seem important which you buy.
In short, then, this 64 MB card does a job and does it without too much fuss. It's not that cheap for the size you get (£5 or so on eBay) but mine at least has been very reliable. If you're wondering why you'd want one, then you almost certainly don't; you certainly don't need to worry about these if you're using a newish camera. If you do want one, then this and its Fujifilm sibling are pretty much interchangeable for most purposes. It's hard to get particularly enthusiastic, but this card has no real faults.
Summary: Doesn't excite strong emotions, positive or negative
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