My First Digital Camera Had a Practical Feature Missing Everywhere Today

My First Digital Camera Had a Practical Feature Missing Everywhere Today

We have all made the classic gaffe of remembering everything except the crucial memory card. With flash storage cheaper than ever and features being pushed to the max, why have we not seen internal memory added to cameras?

I got my first digital camera in 2001. It was a Kodak DX3500 that took great pictures and had a simple and practical feature that seems to be missing everywhere today. There was both a compact flash card slot and internal memory. Now yes, the size of this internal memory may have been only 8 megabytes, but times were different then and a little memory could go a long way.

Photography enthusiasts seem to hold their breath every time a new high-end camera model comes out, hoping for dual memory card slots. As a Canon EOS 6D shooter, I've been envious of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and other cameras that allow more than one storage option. While it is easy to wish for more features, and we are quick to accuse companies of cheaping out, I'd imagine the size required to implement an additional card slot in a camera is probably fairly significant.

It may be plastic, but it had internal memory.

I can vividly remember a time I headed down to the waterfront with my new tripod ready to shoot some photos of a beautiful sunset that was quickly disappearing. I was frantic to get there, get the camera situated, and start shooting. It went from excitement to facepalm when the LCD proudly announced "no card in camera." At that moment, internal memory would have saved the day.

I would rather see a push for manufacturers to start including built-in flash storage like we are used to seeing with cellphones. Suddenly, there would be a new metric to consider in your camera choice. Wouldn't you consider a camera with an added bonus of 32 gigabytes of safety net storage over another without if all the other features were the same? I was reminded of this recently when the DJI Mavic Air was released with 8 gigabytes of internal storage. "What a great idea," I thought. I hope the camera manufacturers take notice of this bold and helpful addition.

There was a time not too long ago when it was really cool and sought after to have two compact disc trays with burners so you could copy CD to CD. Nowadays, optical drives are barely used. If we are finding ways to fit wireless cards into modern cameras, why can't some flash storage be thrown in for good measure? I know it would be a lot cooler than missing a photo opportunity to the old "no card in camera" error for the millionth time. What do you think? Is internal memory in a camera something we need?

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52 Comments

Michael Comeau's picture

I've thought about this before. I think the manufacturers do not want their cameras associated with memory failures and loss of images.

Even if there was a statistically tiny chance of memory failure, the second one failed, the stories would spread like wildfire online, and perfectly fine cameras would be painted with "Camera XYZ is prone to memory failures,"

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

dude! Excellent point. I mean, look how amazing cameras today are but photographer's still manage to constantly find something to complain about! lol

Michael B. Stuart's picture

That is a good point. The fear of the uncontrollable memory failure would make anyone hesitant to make it their main source, but what about just as a fallback or duplicate spot. Additional buffer abilities could also be ushered in.
Interesting to think about. Thanks for commenting!

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Interesting and valid point. But internal memory is a good idea, iPhones and Tablets have it and are quite reliable. Plus, add in a feature where it would NOT be used often (thus increasing usable life and reducing risk of failures), for instance, when there is no card it would not automatically use the built in before answering the prompt: "No card found, use internal memory? Yes/No"

Tim Ericsson's picture

Thank you for bringing this up. Adding internal memory doesn’t mean you still can’t have expandable external! I for one would love the crutch of a few gigs built in, and it can’t cost the camera companies much to implement.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

This is not the reason, because otherwise the majority of phones (which outnumber the cameras) won't have internal memory either.

Gordon Cahill's picture

The Leica TL2 has 32gb of internal storage plus a card slot. That's the only current one I can think of.

Gordon

Michael B. Stuart's picture

I noticed that. I think it was a bold move, but by a company most of us can never really consider as an option.

William Howell's picture

I haven’t used an optical drive since 2007, those use to be the bomb diggity bomb bomb!

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

Clearly, capacity wise they make little sense these days. But in all honesty I'm not sure why author was refering to them. I see no correlation between optical drives on a desktop computer and internal memory in cameras.

William Howell's picture

Yeah I was just taking a little trip down memory lane. That used to be something though, you know making your DVD.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Krzysztof Kurzaj just referenceing how at one time we used them, thought we needed them, and poof! One day they were gone. That was my angle. Dual memory card slots could go the same way someday.

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

Who knows what future brings although I see many advantages of removable memory versus an internal flash memory. First of all it's a component which can be easily replaced if failed. Secondly, it makes sense to record data on module which cane be removed and physically shared/moved while keeping the camera. Lastly, using multiple memory cards allows for better data management and security.
now imagine for a moment you are shooting wedding with this great camera that has 4 TB of internal memory built in. Certainly more that you will need for a wedding. All is great, you don;t need to juggle cards, you don't need to worry about misplacing them and all your pictures are in the same place. And all of a sudden your internal memory fails. Ups. Not only all your pictures are gone but your camera is also useless.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Agreed, all eggs in one basket is never a good idea. By the same token, if you only had the card and it failed you would still lose all the pictures. But, if you had a hybrid memory card + internal storage the Wedding photos would be saved!

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Sony Mavica! Optical right on the camera.

Michael Roseberry's picture

Then the companies wouldn't make money on memory cards

Michael B. Stuart's picture

This cards don't say Canon or Nikon. I guess Sony could use that excuse. I wonder if that would motivate a decision like this.

William Howell's picture

Now hold on just a minute, you think optically read media is better than a solid state drive?
Ain’t no way!

Mick Ryan's picture

You use one does not contradict the claim that they are barely used. I beleive the statement is ture.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Obviously whatever Jack uses is what everyone uses.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Good for you, Jack! Personally, I miss it. We have some of this cool lightscribe dvds we used to laser etch images right on the discs. I did not realize they are still the preferred long term solution. Good to know.

You also had a camera that took 2 AA batteries, which is very practical and unheard of newer models.

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

I liked the hybrid system that Pentax was using until recently where one could use either a lithium battery or 4AA if needed.

Yeah. The early Kodaks were a head of their time and mine even took sd cards. Good pictures everytime, had a dock that transfer and charge the batteries. If you every run out of juice on a trip, don’t even need to go back to the hotel to charge, just go to a near by store, pick up some AAs and keep shooting.

Matthias Kirk's picture

The Yashica Y35 takes two AA.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

I thought about mentioning that but wasn't sure how realistic running any modern sensor tech on them was. Great call though!

I think that I had this camera too. You could hack the firmware to play Doom on it.

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