FPS, memory card and memory buffer – The relationship
Basic Photography
Amit K Srivastava
November 18, 2016

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Have you ever used the continuous photo or the burst mode in your camera? Does it slow down? If so why?

These were the few questions hovering over my mind while shooting in the burst mode. What is FPS? FPS or frames per second is a standard term used to define the frequency with which the camera captures images or frames. For example, shooting a video on 30fps means the camera is capturing 30 images or frames in a second. While clicking photographs the same rate comes down to 3-5 on an average. This is because while clicking photographs the resolution is much higher. Each photograph will be processed at the resolution of the camera sensor whereas in video one frame is normally captured at a much lower resolution. Not only this, while shooting a video the camera gets a lot more time to process each image to the memory card. Let’s take a look at the steps:

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  1. The camera captures a frame.
  2. The frame is stored in the internal buffer memory of the camera.
  3. Finally the frames are downloaded from the buffer memory to the memory card.

 

From the above mentioned steps, we can establish a relationship between fps, memory card and the buffer memory. How? If you are shooting at a high rate, for example 10fps, but the buffer memory of your camera is less and so is the speed of your memory card, the camera is bound to slow down once it uses up the entire buffer memory. After that it will get locked till the time the buffer memory gets cleared up enough to get the next shot. Till then it will download the images to your memory card. Suppose the photographs you are clicking are having a size of 10mb each. If your buffer memory is 50mb, it can only take up 5 images before the buffer is cleared. For the buffer to get cleared quickly, your memory card too must be speedy. Each and every memory card will have a read and write speed. Only if the writing speed of your memory card is high, it will clear the buffer fast. Thus to get a good performance while shooting on the burst mode, you need to have a camera with a large buffer memory and a fast memory card.

Let’s take a look at a few memory cards:

A class 10 memory card means it will have a minimum speed of 10mbps (whether read or write). We can assume it is the write speed, since reading speeds are faster.

 

The SanDisk Extreme Pro memory 32GB SD UHS-1 card has got a reading speed of 95mbps and a writing speed of 90mbps.

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There are cards faster than that too like the UDMA-7 cards.

Coming to the inference, for a high performance in continuous shooting mode, choose a DSLR with a high buffer memory and a fast memory card like the one mentioned above. 

Basic Photography
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About Author
Amit K Srivastava
A Photography Enthusiast motivated to empower individuals in photography
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