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Memory card capacity

Image quality / size determines how many images fit on a memory card.


A memory cards size is shown on its label. These above are 32MB, 256MB and 1GB cards.
A memory cards size is shown on its label. These above are 32MB, 256MB and 1GB cards.

The storage capacity of a digital camera's memory card depends, first, on the actual size of the card itself, which can be 16MB, 32MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and greater. More images can be stored on a 512MB memory card than will fit on a smaller-capacity 256MB card.

A bit, binary digit, the basic unit of data storage, has a value of either 0 or 1.
A byte (pronounced bite) is a collection of bits.

8 bits (e.g. 10110101) = 1 byte
1 KB (kilobyte) = 1,024 bytes
1 MB (megabyte) = 1,048,576 bytes or 1,024 kilobytes
1 GB (gigabyte) = 1,024 megabytes

The number of images that a memory card can store varies with the size of a digital camera's CCD sensor, and with the image size (resolution) and compression of the image. Smaller-sized images produce smaller files.

The following tables show the approximate numbers of images that can be stored on various-sized memory cards at different image quality and size settings available in a 3MP (megapixel), a 5MP and a 12.4MP digital camera.


All numbers in the tables above are approximate. Actual file sizes will vary according to the scene recorded, shooting conditions and shooting mode.