Using dual memory cards

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by alphaod, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    San Jose (CA)
    I moved from a D700 to a D800e.

    I'm having this dilemma and wondering what other people choose or would choose if they had this choice:

    1) Overflow (take pictures on one card, and then it will "overflow" to the second card, and vice versa if you empty the first card).
    2) Backup (record the same photos to each card simultaneously).
    3) RAW to one card, JPEG to other card.

    My thoughts on each one:
    1) This is fine way of using smaller cards and never having to worry waiting to empty a card and then miss a shot.
    2) The problem is the speed of writing to a Compact Flash and to an SD card is different; therefore the penalty is I am limited by the speed of the slower card.
    3) This sounds great, but in practice I will never touch the JPEGs.

    Right now I have mine set to #3.
  2. macrumors demi-god


    Apr 27, 2011
    A colleague's wife runs a photo business and does 2 so no shots get lost. During lulls in the wedding, he takes used cards and writes them to the laptop. Both cards are then marked and saved, giving them 3 separate copies. If you have pictures that can't be retaken then it's a good route.
  3. macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I'd personally choose 1 if it had dual CF, but since it doesn't, I'd go with 3.
    Choice 2 bottlenecks the CF's write speed since the maximum write speed achievable by both cards is limited to that of the SD card. Why pay for an expensive CF card if you're going to write at the rate of SD cards?

    Sometimes people want to see or upload a photo right away, and with RAW files that's just not possible. Put RAW to CF, JPEG to SD and you're good to go.
  4. macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2010
    Big Sky country
    Option 1 is my choice with RAW on both. I have the 5D Mark III which has a CF and SD card. I shoot primarily on the CF and use the SD for overflow if the CF card fills. It saved my bacon big time at a wedding I was shooting this past summer. I guess it comes down to what you need it for. I don't shot RAW + LJPEG, but photojournalists and sports shooters on assignment find that a necessity. The beauty is you can pick and choose and change for the situation you find yourself in.
  5. macrumors 65816

    Jun 18, 2010
    While I rarely use JPGs I still use option 3.

    As has been mentioned the JPGs can be useful for quick posts, however where I have found the most use for it is in time lapse sequences. I can quickly run the 100s of JPG files through a program like Starstax to see if I like the output. With just RAW files I would have to process them all out before I could look at the results.
  6. macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Not a Nikon person but

    with my Canons that have two cards, one is CF and the other is SDXC. All else being equal, the camera writes to the CF card greatly faster and to use both the cards at once tremendously slows down the frame rate. I like my 10 FPS to stop action. I use 32 and 64 GB cards and change them during lulls.
  7. Captpegleg, Jan 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013

    macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2009
    2 cards

    I have the 800 also and shoot almost exclusively raw. I use the CF card as primary storage and the SD card is my overflow. I haven't seen a bottleneck with either card and have used the overflow feature several times. For me, being able to change the CF card at my leisure rather that suddenly have a full card and having to change at what could be an inopportune time is the best reason to have the second card.
    I'm used to having two cards on my D3 and have had no breakdowns in that method. I don't do weddings or things that tend to have no option for a "do-over" but if I did, I likely would consider using the SD card as a backup either in raw or jpeg. The only time I ever had a card failure came from using the computer instead of the camera to reformat after a download. I'm sure that when I do have a card fail me I would become more paranoid about overflow vs. backup.
    Also, I use 32 gig cards in both slots. The 800 in raw uses real-estate pretty fast.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    Backup backup and backup, 'till the photos are loaded on to my laptop and a backup drive one would only have ONE copy and although i have thankfully never had a card fail on me there will be a first time.
    For never to be repeated photos or opportunities its a no brainer, why take the risk.
    I have made a small part of my living through photography and doing a paid job it would more than embarrassing if having done a photo shoot your card failed and although i shoot mostly tethered accidents will/do happen.
    I keep one large capacity card on my person as my third backup when traveling.
  9. macrumors regular


    Jan 4, 2007
    Mpls Mn
    I can't recall if my Canon 1DsMkII has this option - if it does - it would simplify pulling out the jPegs from RAW stack.

    If jPegs are set to small - this can come in handy to send out as proofs.
    While RAW files stay on the other that need time for processing.
  10. macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Echo the backup x3 advice. I pull the card, load it into my MBA, back that up with two external HDDs, check the results, then reformat the cards in the camera.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    1Ds MkII is overflow or backup i'am sure one can not RAW Jpeg separate unless some later firmware update enabled this feature. Personally i have only ever used mine in backup mode but there was a time when i did think this would be useful but found its so easy to sort by Kind in finder i thought backup was way more useful.
  12. macrumors 6502


    Jan 22, 2007
    I use the D600, so have dual SD card slots. I use the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards, read/write speed is great. 32Gb in slot 1 for raw files, 16Gb in slot 2 for high res jpgs.

    Like others have said, I will rarely use the jpgs. However, I once had a card fail in my D200 (it had to be sent to a data recovery firm in the end, cost me €200 - the files were important). I would have worked from the jpg card in that instance if it had be available. Having lost data in the past when I had no in camera backup system, now that I have it I'm going to use it :)

    I also have the little wireless adaptor to send files to my iPhone (very cool little gadget imo), so send the jpgs over to the phone instead of the raw files (which is also why I choose to save jpgs on the second card and not a copy of the raw files).

    Hope that helps in any way in your decision making process.
  13. macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2012
    My 5DIII can do dual cards. For max image quality, I shoot only 14 bit raw files, not 8 bit jpegs. And if I write raw files to the slower SD cards (compared to 1000x CF cards), then I will slow down the camera writing a burst of frames in high speed shooting of wildlife.

    So using both slots can be very dependent on things like needing two file formats or not (or two copies of the same file format) versus needing max speed clearing the buffer (which means fast CF card).

    Personally I stick to writing single raw files to UDMA 7 compliant CF cards from Lexar. I can fully understand a wedding photographer saving files to both cards and having at least one backup camera body with dual cards. If I lose a wildlife shot I am mad. If a wedding photographer loses a shot, he has to deal with a lot of folks that could be very angry.

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