When it comes to memory cards and batteries these are two accessories that you must have for your camera. But what do you need and why do you need it? These questions maybe are not all that important when you are at home, but become more important when you are planning to travel with your camera.
The memory card is like the film and is what your camera will save every photo you take. Memory cards can come in a number of different types but the vast majority of consumer cameras use the SD Card Format. Some of the higher level Digital SLR cameras do use another format called compact flash.
In the past, you would often receive a small memory card with your camera. To my knowledge, this rarely happens anymore and it is the first accessory you will find yourself purchasing. But it is a purchase that you need to be somewhat smart about and not rush into buying the biggest you can afford.
Buy Multiple Memory Cards
The approach I have always taken is to avoid buying a single big memory card in favour of multiple smaller memory cards. Instead of purchasing a single 128GB SD Card I would prefer to buy 4 x 32GB SD Cards. There are a couple of reasons why this can be a good idea.
The first is that if your memory card fails, dies or gets full you will have a spare one available. When travelling this can be a big benefit depending on where you are or what you are doing. If you are on a cruise tour and your card dies that could mean no more photos that day. If you have a spare card you are straight away back up and running.
The second thing is that it allows you to cycle your cards. So if you lose your camera or a card dies you will only lose the photos on that card. If that is your only card it will likely be all your images. With multiple cards, you will possibly have some images on other cards.
Finally, I have rarely found that it costs you any more to buy multiple smaller cards over one big card. If anything the smaller cards are more often on special and end up costing you less.
I personally own 5 x 32 GB memory cards that I use between two cameras. I have one in each camera and there is always a spare one for each camera plus one backup. To date even when filming video, I have never filled all five memory cards in one session or day.
The reality with digital cameras is that they do need to be powered by a battery. Unfortunately, sometimes these batteries do not last as long as we would like. In some cases, this is a very similar situation to memory cards when you are travelling. If your battery goes flat half way through the day and you only have one that is it. Or if you forget to charge the battery the night before you could have no camera all day.
An Extra Battery
The biggest problem with batteries is that they are not necessarily cheap, especially considering the time they last. But buying at least one spare battery can be a lifesaver in the situations mentioned above.
Of course, the mileage of your battery will very much depend on your camera and what you are doing. Filming video will often drain the battery faster than just taking photos. Likewise, if you are inside and using the flash it will likely not last as long either.
I still believe the biggest benefit comes from those times when you don’t have time to charge or forget to charge the battery. Having that spare battery in these circumstances can save a lot of miss opportunities.
I personally own a total of five batteries for my two cameras. I am lucky that the two camera’s even though different models use the same battery. That is one battery for each camera, plus a spare for each plus one extra. Unlike memory cards, the batteries have come close to being a problem. In one filming session of roughly four hours, all five batteries were used. Each may have had some charge left but once they were on the last bar I changed the battery. That was to avoid the camera going flat in the middle of capturing a clip.
You will find that at the end of the day if you are serious about your camera the additional investment will be worth it. There are so many other scenarios that I could have included here to justify the investment. But at the end of the day, a spare battery and spare memory card are well worth the extra money. Leave a comment below if you are a photographer with what your backup options are.