|The microdrives can beat the cost of flash memory|
I have been using a 4GB Hitachi Microdrive to replace a 2GB Pretec Flashcard in my digital camera for two weeks, so I thought that I might as well share my experience.
The reason that I bought a microdrive is that it has a better GigaBytes/dollar ratio (bang for the buck) than flash cards. Note that microdrives are about 1mm thicker than regular flash cards, so make sure that your device is compatible with a microdrive before buying one.
Considering that microdrives are usually slower than high-end flash cards, is there any sensitive difference when shooting photos? I tried shooting at 5 frames par second with a Canon 20D (highest resolution, fine JPEG quality) and I did not notice any performance drop. Most cameras have an internal buffer where they store the photos before writing them to the card. This would explain why it’s not slower.
Copying the files from the camera to the PC runs at about the same speed as the 2GB Pretec card. I suspect the Canon 20D was the bottleneck here. I did not try with a Firewire compact flash reader, but this would be a better way of testing it. I just wanted to see if downloading from the camera would be slower, as this is the way I intend to retrieve my pictures.
Normally, the microdrive should drain more power than a flash card. I have never shot more than 250 photos in a single session (for now), and even with the flash on, the (excellent) battery of the 20D was far from the minimum level, so even if the 4GB drive consumes more it not a power-hog either.
Keep in mind that as the size of the card grows, so is the risk of losing more photos if the microdrive breaks. This is also true for flashcards, but as the microdrive has mechanical parts, it would be logical to be more worried about a failure. I believe that reliability is fairly good on the microdrive, so I don’t really worry. I think that it’s certainly not worth paying more for this reason.
In conclusion, I would say that the microdrive does the job for me. It doubled my storage from 2GB to 4GB for about the same price. In practice, it works like a charm with the Canon 20D, so I would assume that it works well too with lower-end cameras. If you want to buy a high capacity flashcard, I would recommend considering the microdrives.