Formatting your memory card for peak performance – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last week I discussed how to hold your digital camera in order to achieve better photos. This week I will give you a small tip to ensure your camera can record your photos.

There are certain steps that need to be repeated again and again in the process of digital photography. Shooting is only one of those processes. Transferring images, organizing and cataloging images, backup all represent different parts of your digital workflow. One piece that is often left out is keeping your memory cards in working. I know of two different people who in the past week have experienced errors in their memory cards, errors that could have been avoided. One began with two unusable cards, and the other was only able to shoot 1/2 the normal shots on his card.

Memory cards are like disk drives, there is an amount of space and an index. When a file is written, the index is read to determine where the file may be placed on the card, then it is written to that location and the index updated with the new information. If something interrupts this procedure, the card may be left with unreadable files using up space. After transferring your images to your computer, a little bit of prep on the card may help keep you in top shape. Formatting the memory card in the camera you will use it in will help to ensure that it is free of any unwanted files or fragments of files that may not allow you to get the full use out of that memory card. Deleting all the pictures on the card will not provide you with the same maintenance though, so be sure to format your memory cards after transferring your images. If you are unsure about how to access the format command for your particular camera, consult your manual. As for the two cases I mentioned earlier, both were solved after formatting the card in camera.

Next week I will discuss how photo critiques can help your photography and where you can get them.

Note: If you are in the Western New York area the weekend of March 24, 25 and 26, the Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Clubs will be holding their 45th Annual Photography Convention at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island. There are a number of guest speakers including Monte Zucker, Gil Lopez Espina. Ethan Meleg and others. For more information and rates, visit

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

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