As explained in the series of PhotographyTalk.com articles, starting with Digital Photography—How to Select a Memory Card for Your DSLR Camera, Part 1, the memory card in your camera is where the digital photos you take are recorded. Think of a memory card as the replacement of film; however, unlike film, memory cards are more versatile. To receive all the advantages of memory cards, you should know how to delete pictures from them as well as how to format the cards. This article presents the tips and techniques to do both of these tasks.
Before erasing pictures and formatting a memory card, be sure to transfer or copy pictures you want to save to your computer or a CD or DVD.
Start with your camera’s manual because the process to erase and format memory cards is different for many cameras. Typically, you perform this task in the main menu and have access to the steps in playback mode, although this may also vary from camera to camera.
Delete data and format memory cards in your digital camera, instead of your computer. Existing memory cards as well as new memory cards should always be formatted in the camera prior to first use. This is particularly true if the existing card comes from a different camera and manufacturer than the cards you are using in a new or second camera.
Now you’re ready to delete pictures from a filled memory card to make room to take more digital photos. You can delete all the pictures or just select individual images. Those that you’ve protected will remain.
Formatting a memory card is more absolute, as that function will erase everything, even your protected pictures. Formatting also reconstructs the file system, but with new directories and folders. If your memory cards are slow or you’re shooting digital photos most of the time, then be sure to format the cards occasionally during the year.
An optional feature on many cameras is low-level formatting. It performs the same functions as standard formatting, however, giving a high-speed memory card a low-level formatting will make your picture-taking operations more continuous and constant. If your digital camera is also capable of shooting video, then you should also proceed with a low-level formatting first.
Deleting old pictures from your memory cards and formatting them are important responsibilities, similar to cleaning your camera regularly, that will result in a more enjoyable and rewarding digital photography experience.