Recent years have seen the digital camera 'megapixel race' reach new heights. Even 'basic' point and click cameras have 8 megapixels, whilst Digital SLR's seem to start at 10 megapixels, and 15 megapixel models are common.
Whilst this massive increase in resolution is, on the face of it, welcome, it brings with it the need for larger and larger capacity flash memory cards to store a decent number of pictures.
When I bought my first digital camera five years ago, I bought a 128Mb card which was enough to store over a hundred photos on. A modern DSLR would struggle to fit more than twenty of its high resolution files on such a disk.
When I purchased my latest digital SLR at Christmas, a Canon 450D, I knew that I needed a large capacity SDHC card to cope with the camera's 12 megapixel sensor and 4.5Mb images.
A trawl through the Dabs.com website showed that flash memory cards were available in up to 8Gb capacity and class 4 or class 6 speeds. I finally settled on the Panasonic class 4 4Gb card, which was very reasonably priced. The class 4 card is capable of a maximum of 10Mb/second data transfer which I knew would be enough for my 450D.
Initial impressions, when the card arrived, were not positive. The first obstacle was the packaging; one of those moulded clear plastic containers that cannot be opened, but must be cut, leaving loads of sharp edges for the unwary (I suspect many hospital visits are caused by this type of packaging)!
Once out of the packaging, the SDHC case caused me problems, too! Others I've used hinge open. Try as I might, I could not get it to hinge. I finally realised that this container slides to open!
By this time, I was a bit fed up with the Panasonic card. Thankfully, things got better from here. I put the card into the camera and switched it on. The card was recognised immediately. I fired off a couple of test shots; no error messages appeared indicating the card was writing and reading correctly.
The 450D's display showed that my 12 megapixel camera could store 898 images on the 4Gb card at ISO 100 or 747 at ISO 400 (the number of images is reduced as the ISO setting is increased, due I believe, to the increased noise levels of higher ISO settings).
This number of images was more than enough for me as I download my pictures after each outing.
Having bought a class 4 card rather than the more expensive, faster (20Mb/second) class 6 card, I was curious to see if the class 4 was, as I thought, fast enough for me. I set the camera to continuous shooting and pressed the shutter. The 450D is capable of 3.5 shots per second. If the card were to be too slow, the shot rate would reduce due to the memory card not being able to write the images fast enough.
The camera started taking its 3.5 images per second and I kept my finger on the shutter until the camera had taken 51 photos with no signs of slowing down. Clearly, the class 4 Panasonic SDHC card was more than fast enough to keep up with my 450D.
Initial experience and testing of the card were then, extremely positive. I've now owned the card for quite a few months, have my initial positive impressions of the Panasonic been maintained?
Well, yes they have. I've taken several thousand images, in all types of conditions and the card has performed faultlessly. I've never had an error message on the card, indicating a problem, and I've not suffered any loss or corruption of data. The Panasonic 4Gb SDHC card has worked perfectly since the day it was installed in my camera.
A recent check on the Dabs.com website shows that this card is now available for less than ten pounds. For this level of performance and reliability, this is clearly a bargain and can be highly recommended to anyone needed an SDHC card. The Panasonic class 4 SDHC cards are also available in other capacities up to 16Gb.