View Full Version : Digital camera memory card

04-20-2004, 07:11 AM
I finally got a digital camera (Olympus Camedia C-765) which came with a measly 16 mb card, so I bought a 256 mb card too.

Now, I'm trying to calculate how many pictures I can expect to get on the big card. I've been playing with the 16 mb card and first got 12 pictures before the "card full" message. I erased 6 of them and got 12 more for a total of 18. I was in the high quality mode all the time and used flash half the time if that makes any difference.

Is that unusual? How do you calculate capacity? I guess I have to keep playing and see if the count stays consistent. I want to make sure I pace myself through a 12-day Grand Canyon trip.

04-20-2004, 07:21 AM
Doesn't your camera tell you how many shots you have left? Did I miss something?

04-20-2004, 07:32 AM

I'll have to double check, but I think it tells me how many I've taken. How many are left would have to be a guess, though, wouldn't it, since it depends in part on the quality of the pictures and perhaps other variables?

Sorry if I sound ignorant, I'm a complete newbie.

04-20-2004, 07:34 AM
The number of pictures "left" (space left on card) is the camera's estimate, usually you can get more, but a very complex picture will take more space on the card than one with fewer details. Usually, you will get maye 25-30% more than the number indicated on an empty card.

Flash makes no direct difference, though if it makes for more contrast and detail, it could mean larger picture files. I wouldn't worry about it, though.

Lots of folks say that they notice no real difference between the SHQ setting and the HQ setting (HQ is a higher-compression/smaller picture file jpeg = more pictures than SHQ on card). If you plan on printing big (maybe 8X10 or so) shoot SHQ. If not, you might be just as happy with HQ.

Nice camera, BTW. I'd recommend that you get a lens adapter tube (Olympus CLA-4 (http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_acc_all_products.asp?val1=1&step1=16&val2=2&product=959&image2.x=2&image2.y=6), there are cheaper 3rd-party tubes, too) and put a filter on it and leave it on the camera all the time. It will make it bulkier, but it will also protect it from knocks and dirt. E-mail if you want more details.

04-20-2004, 07:47 AM
My manual also shows a chart of estimated capacity (# of pics) per size of memory card. It's a Canon S400.

Remember, Audrey, if you are worried about getting to Day 10 and not having room left for something special, you can always delete some then.

I carry a 256mb and carry the 32mb that the camera came with for times when I feel like going above and beyond. It's kind of like my amps that go to 11 :p


Jay H
04-20-2004, 08:22 AM
My Canon G3 tells me how many shots I have left and it'll change based on what mode your set to. I got a 512MB CF card awhile ago and that is huge enough to store a ton of pictures in the mode I shot most of my shots (minimum 1024x768, least compression).

When you save JPGs, it's compressed so typically if you take a shot of a black wall, then it'll be a bit less than taking a shot of say a lake in the wilderness. But other factors too determine the size of each shot. SSFDC cards, CF cards, etc. are all pretty tiny so it's not that big a deal to carry them and you might even find them for sale in visitor's centers as the digital age has pretty much gone widespread.


David Metsky
04-20-2004, 09:30 AM

I have the C-720, very similar camera. Mine is 3MP, yours is 4. I usually take images in the next to largest images quality, I have found no difference in results with the images. The top quality image (SHQ) is roughly 1.8 meg, next quality (HQ) is 600K. This is all due to the JPG compression algorithm in the camera.

In practical terms, for printing and online use, there are few differences and you get 3 times as many images on a card. I use a 128Meg card and can get roughly 180-200 shots. If I went with the SHQ images that would be reduced to 60-70 shots. WHen I'm shooting for something very special I do use SHQ, why take the chance with the image, I have several 128 M cards.

For your 4MP camera with a 256 card that means either 90-100 in SHQ mode, or 300 in HQ. Keep in mind the image size is the same, the question is how much software data compression to apply to the image. You do lose some detail when you compress, but in practical terms it is extremely difficult to notice on most shots. Don't know if your version still has RAW mode, but I wouldn't use that either.

I wouldn't bother with the filter for the camera. The lens of these cameras is pretty well protected and the filter, while offering some addition protection, cuts down on available light and adds bulk. In the two years of rough use with my C-720 I haven't found any need.


04-20-2004, 10:19 AM
OK, I'll admit I get pretty nutty about this stuff, but that doesn't change the fact that just about all of the extending-lens digitals have vulnerable lens barrels when extended, that is, whenever you turn the camera on.

Factor in the dust of the Grand Canyon (or a summer walk downtown or a trip to the beach) and you have the recipe for shortened camera life. I take my camera everywhere and inevitably bang it around a lot, so I take a few precautions.

Actually, a UV or skylight filter blocks almost no light. Breathing in front of the camera probably blocks more. The filter does block fingerprints, dirt, scratchy branches, etc. A scratched lens on a fixed-lens camera can render a camera useless or just irritate the heck out of you.

Digital cameras are much more expensive than film cameras, and so much easier to damage, and a damaged digital camera often has no work-around: it might simply not work at all. I love my cameras, film and digital. I get sad when I see them hurt.

If you aren't near an electrical outlet for days at a time, you might want to some extra batteries, too.

Of course, these are just my recommendations, but remember, the road to hell is paved with broken electronic gadgets.

04-20-2004, 10:44 AM
Look here:
DPReview Camedia C5060 (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0309/03092902olympusc5060.asp)
Scroll about 2/3 of the way down the table and it will tell you how many images of different size and quality can be saved on a 32mb card. You'll get about 8 times that number with a 256mb card.

I know this is not your exact camera, but the numbers in the table are probably very close.

Also, as others have indicated, your camera should display the number of shots remaining.

It's always better to store in an uncompressed format (RAW or TIFF) rather than JPG if you plant to make prints (especially enlargements)--but of course that will dramatically reduce the number you can store.

Lastly, you might consider buying a second 256mb card. I believe Amazon has the Sandisk 256mb card for $25 bucks right now ($39 less rebate).


04-20-2004, 10:50 AM
I think we're entering "the-Photographer-and-the-Pea" territory here. Extra cards are always good if you can manage, but if you are taking snapshots -- even really, really nice snapshots -- RAW and TIFF doesn't really make a lot of sense. I would venture to say that very few people can see the difference between uncompressed and lighly-compressed prints at 5X7 or smaller.

Unless you were shooting medium format rollfilm from a tripod with a handheld meter before you went digital, I don't think you will see a difference (even if you were, and think you can, I think I could fool you in a side-by-side comparison test of TIFFs and JPEGs).

And I think we're talking xD-card prices, not CF. If you can find some $25 256MB xDs, I'll be real happy. I'm seeing "new and used" on Amazon starting at $85.

The official Olympus site (http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_product_lobbypage.asp?l=1&p=16&bc=2&product=959&fl=4) estimates 22 TIFF/92 SHQ/261 HQ images for a 256 MB card (actually, they gave estimates for a 512 MB card, I just halved them).

04-20-2004, 12:37 PM
One thing bears repeating ... the complexity of the picture you are taking can *significantly* affect the size of the resulting image files. With my 3 megapixel Canon taking best-quality jpeg's, a complex scene (like trees and a brook in the woods) results in file sizes over a megabyte, while a more simple scene (a lot of sky, trees at a great distance, subtle color variations) may only take around 700KB.

04-20-2004, 12:53 PM
Agree that for 5x7 prints the difference between a jpg and TIFF/RAW will be minimal. But for that one great shot you want to blow up to 8x10 or larger I certainly can see a difference--especially at higher ISO speeds.

The Amazon deal apparently expired on the 18th.

This card
Sandisk 256mb CF card (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00006B9QE/ref=ase_niftynews-20/104-6938182-5675962?v=glance&s=electronics )

Was priced at $39, with a $15 Rebate (http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00006B9QE.01.RB13.LZZZZZZZ.jpg)

These deals come up pretty frequently, one good source is:

Nifty News (http://www.niftyness.com/nndd/)


04-20-2004, 01:35 PM
Okay I know very little about cameras so I can't give a specific answer but I JUST got back from 2 weeks in Arizona and I spent 5 days 4 nights in the Grand Canyon and so I can tell you how my camera held up as far as picture number and battery life.

I have a Canon S400 and I got 218 pictures on a 256 MB card (I had a 32 MB card as a back-up but I did not use it)

I took 119 pictures in the Grand Canyon and 99 pictures during my Paria River Canyon hike. I used the preset camera settings and most of my Grand Canyon pictures don't look that great because I think they might have been overexposed from all the sunshine. The Paria pictures are a 1000 times better because that is a slot canyon and I think the lighting was better. Anyway, my camera is a 4 MP camera and I think the setting is on "fine" . . . also, I found that turning off the LCD screen and using the viewfinder saved a LOT of battery life. I didn't put in my back-up battery until the last day. I always carry 2 batteries.

Hope that helps Audrey and I will have my trip report and pictures up by the end of the week, hopefully before you and Little Bear leave for your respective Grand Canyon trips.


04-20-2004, 03:24 PM
Spencer and Sli74-

How do you like your Canon S400? I am waiting for my local camera shop to get the new version in - the S410. This will be my first digital camera now that I have spent a mild fortune developing my film and then having the negatives put on a CD.

04-20-2004, 03:46 PM
Audrey, I just upgraded to a Canon Elph S500 this week. I previously owned a 2 and later a 3.2 MPix Canon before that one. I have used them on long trips. You will love your Olympus I'm sure. I carry 3 batteries when I leave for a 2+ week trip. I also carry the battery charger. I now own 3 cards : a 512 Mb, a 256 Mb and a 128 Mb. Why ? Cuz I get more and more into videos to capture the moments. Try it ! Wind, rushing water, a friend commenting on the spur of the moment...It is so much more vivid ! I agree that the display must remain off on a long trip. Check here (http://www.civil.usherbrooke.ca/hydro/Clubs/Parina-long.rm) for an example of how you can mix pictures and videos for a meaningful montage (Real Player needed).

04-20-2004, 04:08 PM

I LOVE my Canon S400. I know very little about cameras in general and tend to put off reading the manuals so I needed a camera I could remove from the packaging and begin using without much hassle and this camera has been an amazing addition . . . It takes some gorgeous pictures and that is just using the preset settings and not maximizing its abilities. It is small without being so small that I drop it. My cousin bought the Pentax camera that I was considering as well and after seeing the size of his camera I am glad I got the Canon. Anyway, to answer your question, I love the camera . . .


04-20-2004, 05:44 PM
I just got an S400 as well - here are some sample pictures from a recent Yosemite snow camping trip:

Sierra Club April '04 Yosemite Trip (http://www.effable.com/~stevesgt/SierraClub/2004-AprilSnowCamp/Pics_SLN/)

As for the S500, I read a review that said the extra megapixels weren't matched by a change in optics, so there's not a huge benefit to getting that one over the S400 unless you really like having the "latest greatest."

So far so good on the S400 here - I've had it on three trips now (I posted some other pics, from Carson Pass, in the trip report section here last week). Really compact, amazing battery life (especially with the display off, as noted by Seema), and good picture quality. Locking an exposure setting and then repointing the camera and taking a picture with the "held" setting is not as easy as it was on my old Canon S20, and the telephoto seems to move in larger increments. Those are my only (and minor) complaints about it.

By the way, with iPhoto on the Mac, or the latest Canon software, it even recognizes which way the camera was rotated and imports photos with the top already up, whether it was landscape or portrait and regardless of which was it was turned. Nice touch.

- Steve

04-20-2004, 06:51 PM
I also have a Canon S400. So far I like it very much. It seems to work ok in cold weather, down to minus 30+F on my Baxter trip. I use the highest quality setting most of the time, because I often blow pix up to 8x10 for framing. I bought a 256mb card to supplement the card it came with. The camera is very small and fits in my coat pocket easily. I can use it with gloves on in the winter.


04-20-2004, 10:27 PM

this might be helpful in determining what size card you may wish to purchase ...


ALGonquin Bob
04-20-2004, 11:03 PM
Wow! Lots of advice here. Your camera tells you somewhere on the LCD screen how many more photos you can take at the quality setting that you have it on. Your instruction book also has a chart in it to show how many shots you can get on a particular sized card, at any of several resolution settings.

Yes, the camera only comes with a small 16MB card. If it came with a bigger capacity card, you would pay more for the camera. You get what you pay for. I sell digital cameras at the camera specialty shop where I work. If you need any technical help, I'd be glad to oblige. -ALG

04-21-2004, 06:26 AM
By the way ... my Canon S320 keeps a running count of the estimated number of pictures remaining. This number displays in the lower-right corner of the LCD - use the "Disp" button if you don't see it.

I know there's a way to make it momentarily appear if you have the LCD turned off, but don't remember. I just press "Menu" or "Set" twice and then the information remains on screen briefly before disappearing.

04-21-2004, 07:27 AM
Originally posted by audrey
I finally got a digital camera (Olympus Camedia C-765) which came with a measly 16 mb card, so I bought a 256 mb card too.

Now, I'm trying to calculate how many pictures I can expect to get on the big card. I've been playing with the 16 mb card and first got 12 pictures before the "card full" message. I erased 6 of them and got 12 more for a total of 18. I was in the high quality mode all the time and used flash half the time if that makes any difference.

Is that unusual? How do you calculate capacity? I guess I have to keep playing and see if the count stays consistent. I want to make sure I pace myself through a 12-day Grand Canyon trip.


I just looked for your camera at Steve's Digicams (http://www.steves-digicams.com) . It's not there, but they had a review of the previous model, the C-750. It's got a standard display of the picture capacity which is calculated by the camera itself, based on what your card size is and the camera settings.

BTW, I've also got a Canon S400 -- looks like it's almost the 'official' VFTT camera, like the Subaru Outback is the official car!


04-21-2004, 08:30 AM
I'm no expert on this, but . . .

The newspaper I shoot for supplies Nikon D1H camera kits, with 128 MB memory cards. I think the D1H uses about a 2.7 megapixel sensor. We usually shoot in JPG format at a “normal” (mid range) quality level. I’ve seen numerous glossy 11” x 14” prints from these images that I would rate as very good to excellent in terms of quality, and have seen 16” x 20” prints from these files that also would rate as very good from normal viewing distances. A lot depends on the ISO rating used while shooting -- as with film, the general rule is that image quality declines as ISO increases.

Anyway, the 128 MB memory cards in our system each will hold about 180 - 200 images, in my experience. That is the equivalent of about 5 rolls of 36-exposure 35 mm film.

I always carry a least two of the 128 MB cards on assignments (mainly, I shoot sports), but seldom have to use more than one per event. That may be due to the image preview and delete functions. The bigger issue I’ve run into with digital cameras is battery performance, which also may be due to the image preview function, which is a juice eater.

I would guess that the link posted above by KWC gives a pretty good starting point to estimate your needs based on your camera’s specifications.