How do SanDisk memory cards compare to the cards that come with your digital camera? This comparison is based on a SanDisk 512 MB xD card compared to the original Olympus 16 MB xD card supplied with my camera and an Olympus 512 MB xD card I purchased at about the same time as I purchased the camera.
The following image shows the SanDisk card in the packet.
The memory card is labelled Fujifilm. xD memory cards are a joint venture between Fujifilm and Olympus. Neither Olympus or Fujifilm manufacture memory. Perhaps SanDisk manufacture the cards for Fujifilm and sell the same cards direct. SanDisk cards must be at least as reliable as Fujifilm cards.
The SanDisk card in the picture was used extensively as a replacement for a broken Olympus 512 MB xD memory card. The SanDisk card has now been used more times than the Olympus card and is not broken. That could mean the SanDisk card is more reliable than the Olympus card or it could mean that the Olympus card was from the first batch of 512 MB cards and that later batches are more reliable.
The small volume of xD cards sold suggests they all come from the same manufacturer. The printed label on the Olympus and Fujifilm cards suggests they come off the same assembly line. The reliability should be the same. The price is not.
One local shop is selling Olympus 512 MB cards for AU$470 and claiming that is a $79 discount. I can get the SanDisk 512 MB card for AU$260. Why would I ever buy a Fujifilm or Olympus card when I can get the same card from SanDisk for far less?
Compact Flash memory cards are produced in greater volumes and have several speed ranges across brands. That suggests the cards come from different assembly lines. There is a choice of manufacturer and they probably produce different quality produces. xD cards may not have reached the volume of sales to warrant using more than one manufacturer.
I am impressed by the SanDisk card's quality and price. The SanDisk xD cards are not much dearer than the same size cards in other formats. I used to recommend Compact Flash based cameras over xD card based cameras because xD cards were too expensive. The SanDisk cards remove that barrier.
My Olympus digital camera arrived with a 16 MB xD card. The camera's full resolution images are 11 MB which means just one picture per card. The 512 MB card stores a more useful 44 images. When I use film based cameras, I usually buy rolls of 36 shots. That makes the 512 MB's 44 shots comparable. A 256 MB card would be comparable to a 24 shot roll of film.
Compact Flash cards are still the better choice for maximum capacity. I will have to carry up to five 512 MB xD cards to get me through the day. When I switch to a higher resolution camera, I will look for a Compact Flash based camera so I can carry one Compact Flash card instead of ten xD cards.
Compact Flash cards are still the better choice for speed. Olympus have reverted to Compact Flash cards for their professional camera range. There does not appear to be a faster xD card planned for the future and, if there was, you would most likely need a faster camera to use the faster card.
The SanDisk xD cards appear to be as good as the Olympus and Fujifilm cards. They may all be made in the same factory from the same components. The SanDisk price makes xD cards comparable on price to other memory card formats. If you already use xD cards, switch to SanDisk. If you are choosing a high resolution digital camera, look for a Compact Flash based camera.