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?

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Michael B. Stuart is a photographer at Stu Stu Studio in Lewiston, New York. Besides shooting weddings with his wife Nicole his specialties include long exposure, abstract monochrome creations, architecture, and bokeh. Work has been featured online by Adobe, Flickr, Google, and 500px with the most popular photo receiving over 950 million views.

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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,"

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

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!

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"

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

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


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

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.

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.

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.

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!

Sony Mavica! Optical right on the camera.

Then the companies wouldn't make money on memory cards

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.

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

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.

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.

The Yashica Y35 takes two AA.

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.

I will be looking into that! It has a D pad lol

That is hilarious!

I have been saying this for a long time. SSD drives are small and if they are an integrated part of the camera built they will be fast with huge buffering. Not to mention a great backup.

Share this article and let's make it happen! :) I completely agree.

well new zeiss camera will have big internal storage

I'm honored that you took this right in stride with a bonified feature request! You make some good points. Thanks!

Oh man, the dx3500.. it was my first digital camera also (before buying the D70).. what a time to be alive back then

*initiates old timer handshake*
Heck yeah, Rifki! Great to see you here.

The feature isn't dead. The Zaiss ZX1 will have 500GB internal SSD storage!

I hope it starts showing up on all new models!

With the insane amount of storage that we can have now in a small space like a micro sd, it's hard to think that physical space inside the camera is the reason why not to have internal storage.

I agree. Space is no longer an excuse.

I complete agree. A 6D esque camera with 16gb of internal would have been a great buffer for up and coming wedding photographers. Canon could have killed the market with something like that. The higher end pros will always want and need to have a more customizable options for storage but, a simple thing as this would or could corner a major chunk of the SLR market.

Thanks for the support, Ian! We got some views here so maybe someone will listen?

My memory may be faulty but I think the first version of the Fuji X100 had internal memory for 24 shots to imitate a roll of film, the later models did away with it.

Love that. Useful with a touch of nostalgia.

Next time I bring a camera to a Space Station, I'll make sure it has this feature!

Exactly! "Um, it says insert SD CARD... Can anyone call IT and figure out what that means?"

Plz Brother, suggest me which is best camera for video recording under $800 ? I hear that canon is best for video but not best for photo than Nikon ? I need for both video & photo ?

Mike, your premise is absolutely sound; put some internal memory in the camera as a backup at least. I was a working pro for 30-odd years, 16 with my own business, and backup was everything. For me, it still is. Your first sentence reads, "We have all made the classic gaffe of remembering everything except the crucial memory card." I hope not to jinx myself but, ummm, I have not. They take so little space so they can be stashed anywhere. I do a lot of volunteer service for nonprofits so I have my go-bag always preloaded with extra cards, not to mention spare charged batteries. I'm shooting Sony A6XXXs these days so I can tuck the backup body into a corner of the bag. I even carry a battery charger since it is so small. It does add up to a load but it also represents a lower level of paranoia. I totally get the sinking feeling you had missing that sunset, I'd have wanted to throw myself into the water, but I'd naturally wonder how you could not have extra cards since they can be stashed anywhere?

There were times I had some extra cards in the pockets of the camera bag previous to this day, but in this particular case, I was just flat out unprepared. I was floored to think I had nothing.
Packing the bag with the extras you mentioned is a great tip for always being prepared.

This is a good point and something I have never thought of... They should include this in smaller cameras that can't have dual slots

Thanks, Lee! Too bad Kodak didn't survive the digital camera race or it may have remained an available feature. Never too late for upcoming models!