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Digital cameras adding storage

Two companies that manufacture memory cards announced increases in storage capacity, while Iomega announced a bundling deal.

Digital camera enthusiasts today gained a couple more options for storing their electronic images.

Two companies that manufacture CompactFlash digital camera memory cards announced increases in storage capacity. SanDisk and Lexar Media both said they are introducing memory cards which expand the typical 48MB capacity to as much as 64MB.

Images captured by digital cameras are typically stored on memory cards. The higher resolution the image, the more memory needed on the card. High-resolution digital cameras usually need about 2MB of memory per image, and as digital cameras continue improving in resolution, the file sizes of the images will also continue increasing.

Lexar rolled out its CompactFlash cards in 48MB and 64MB sizes, double the size of its previous offerings. The Lexar cards will be available in August.

Due later this fall, SanDisk's CompactFlash cards offer 60MB of storage for $199 in volume.

"This is a nice evolutionary step," said Bruce Kasrel, imaging analyst at Forrester Research. "It's not unexpected."

So much capacity as offered in the CompactFlash cards probably won't be strictly necessary until camera resolution is significantly increased, Kasrel noted. "It's probably about two more generations [of cameras] before you start to tax memory issues," he said.

"Today, you can store 20 images on high-resolution settings. That's already almost a roll of film. So for the foreseeable future, I don't see memory being an issue."

While CompactFlash memory cards now allow users to store up to 60 images per card (on a low-resolution setting) and are sold at the retail level for about $100, Iomega's Clik technology approaches imaging storage from a different perspective.

Clik drives, designed to work with digital cameras as well as other portable digital devices like handheld computers, hold 40MB of data per $10 disk. Users can hold onto the images on the Clik disk as well as on their PC. Thus, says Kasrel, Clik stores data in a way that is much closer to the way traditional film stores images.

"Clik's like a negative--you can store it and keep it," he said. "You don't have to download, can keep [data] on the disk, and you can access it a lot faster. You can keep putting more memory on a flash card, but at $100 [per card] you can't throw it away."

Also today, Iomega announced new retail bundles for its Clik drives, which will allow users to download data from flash memory cards directly to the Clik mobile drive. The bundled versions will be priced around $200. An internal version of the drive, which will be built into digital cameras, is expected to be available in the second half of 1998.