Memory card dilemna: More cards or higher capacity?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by alphaod, May 3, 2010.

  1. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    NYC
    #1
    Currently I sport 4 8GB Compact Flash cards; lasts most of a day if I'm on vacation. I shoot RAW only, so the file sizes aren't going to get any smaller.

    So my initial reasoning was because I did not want a card to die on me, I opted for a more smaller capacity cards oppose to one large card—so in my initial case, I went for 4 8GB cards instead of 2 16GB cards.

    However the last time I went on a trip, I also lost a card because I had too many to worry about. Good thing I found it later, but not without an initial worry.

    Problem is I also shoot burst, so I don't actually keep track of the number of frames I have left on the card. I have encountered on numerous occasions that I ran out of memory in between shots and have missed opportune moments for a shot.

    I have also never had a card actually die on me, at least no the cards I've purchased; so far I've only bought the top-end Sandisk Extreme cards.

    So what are people's thoughts on this? Have you ever had a card die on you? Is the hassle of using more cards worth it the lower capacity?

    I am visiting B&H next week to buy a lens or two, so I was thinking I could pick up a few memory cards as well if I needed it.
     
  2. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

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    Jun 2, 2008
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    #2
    I found that 8GB is the best size for me. I always shoot RAW and one card will usually hold me through the day, only on special occasions I might go through two or three in one day. I can see the number of remaining shots in my viewfinder and on the top LCD screen so I can anticipate when to change the card. I don't wait till the card is completely full, I have enough cards, might as well change one if there are less than 30 shots left and there is a good opportunity for a change. My grip holds a spare SD card so I can go for a really long time without having to get in my bag for more cards. I have a nifty LowePro SD card case that can hold 8 cards, rubber on the inside and aluminum on the outside. My system for storing SD cards in the case is empty cards with the face up, full cards with the face down, which makes it really easy to see how many cards are empty or full.
    I've never had a card fail on me, but I am careful when handling them.
    I always use a card reader to transfer the photos.
     
  3. SayCheese macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Location:
    Thame, Oxfordshire, England
    #3
    I would say go for more smaller capacity cards. I have been in the unfortunate situation of having a card corrupt on me. I was really glad that I had spread that days shooting across several different cards. It meant that I didn't lose everything, only some bits.
     
  4. jammiefreerider macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #4
    ^ I agree. One has died on me before and its a hard lesson to learn. I tend to replace my cards once every 6 months to help ensure cards dont fail on me.
     
  5. SOLLERBOY macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    I use anything from 4gb to 16gb depending on what I am doing. I will always have around 20gb with me. I never re use my cards. Just keep them with the back up images on them. I transfer the images to my macbook about once avery 4-6 hours. Then I transfer them to the imac when I get home and put the cards in a safe.
     
  6. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #6
    For all that is made of card corruption, I have never had it happen to me. I went on a 5 month "road trip" with my camera and brought a flash drive to back up my photos periodically (just in case), but it ended up being unnecessary (and a hassle to find a computer with two USB ports in remote regions of Asia).

    I have been trying to shoot fewer more quality shots these days rather than going crazy while I am out with my camera, so 8GB is fine for me, though I ironically just ordered a 16GB card yesterday so I can put the 8GB into my compact.

    Scientifically speaking, flash memory is static without any moving parts, so while different from a hard drive failure, what exactly causes SD/CF cards to become corrupt or unusable? Knowing the answer to that question probably would put you to ease. Sadly, I don't have that type of technical knowledge.
     
  7. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502

    AxisOfBeagles

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    Apr 22, 2008
    Location:
    East of Shangrila
    #7
    Cards can corrupt from heat, static, or improper handling. All good reasons to get those images on to a computer and then backed up on a separate media asap.

    I carry 4 8 GB cards, and rarely use more than two on a trip (40D; RAW and large JPEG). I would not want to change to a single large card simply because of the risk of corruption / failure and the resultant loss.
     
  8. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #8
    I think an 8GB card should fit in a dual layer DVD.

    With 16GB, you need to use at least single-layer BD, and there will be a lot of space wasted.

    While it may be possible to find a store burning dual layer DVDs, I think BD would be very hard.
     
  9. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    Oct 15, 2003
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    #9
    I'd think it depends how you shoot. If you're a machine-gun-shutter type, then larger is better. Otherwise smaller is better IMHO. Sure you can lose one, and that would mean losing a chunk of your photos; but what if you lose your single larger-capacity card?

    I tend to use 4GB cards in my D700.

    Actually I guess I should amend that. My camera doesn't shoot video, and even if it did I probably wouldn't use it. But if you shoot video, owning several larger cards is probably beneficial.
     
  10. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

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    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #10
    Unless you're going to buy a big enough card so that you never have to switch (and I wouldn't be brave enough to do that, as I have had a Sandisk Extreme card get corrupted, though it was fine after being erased), you'll be using more than one card no matter what. So, given that you've lost a card before, ask yourself whether you'd rather lose an 8 GB card or a 16 GB card. ;)
     
  11. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #11
    Thanks for the replies.

    I've never had a card corrupt on me yet. In fact the CF cards I bought 10 years ago all still work to the this day; that's the main reason I brought this thread up. I also only buy the premium cards as per my OP.

    Do you guys buy the regular cards or do you have issues with the "professional" cards as well?

    Well here's the thing… right now I'm looking the 64GB Sandisk Extreme Pro; sure it's expensive as hell, but if that's what I had, it would probably be the only CF card I need; it would stay in my camera the whole time (only to be taken out to backed up); it would definitely never be lost (unless I lost my camera too).

    I also just bought an external CF card back up apparatus, would that help?
     
  12. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    Oct 6, 2008
    #12
    If you're a burst shooter, as Westside Guy said, you'll want a larger card. However you'll need a faster card (maybe this is what you mean by professional) to be able to clear your buffer fast enough to keep up. Check out the definition of class ratings and do the math - you should be able to get the specs on how big your buffer is, then using the size of your RAW images (if you shoot raw), see how many shots you could fire off before slowing down.
     
  13. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
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    Rome
    #13
    I'd guess this would help. One thing that, apparently, is often associated with corrupt files on cards (and may very well have been what caused my corruption problem) is shooting until the card is completely filled. So, with a card of that size, and a backup option, you would probably have less to worry about, given that you'd be less likely to completely fill the card before transferring your files.
     
  14. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #14
    I have a single 4GB card that I use with my 40D. I don't go wild shooting when i go out (i drove 1100 miles last weekend and took 70 photos, give or take a few). Still have that film mentality.

    When I upgrade to the 5D2 later this year, i will probably have 2x8GB cards, but i don't like to have one high capacity card; just incase something happens to the card.
     
  15. Perrumpo macrumors 68000

    Perrumpo

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    #15
    I carry 3 8GB cards and one 16GB. That way, I'm following the "more smaller cards" philosophy, but I still have a meaty 16GB for those times when I really don't want to worry about having to switch. It's still scary having all of a day's photos on one card (iPhoto can crap on your import, after all), so I mainly stick with the 8-giggers.

    The risk is bigger than the hassle for me.
     
  16. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #16
    Alright. I settled on a getting 2 32GB CF cards. I didn't want to deal with too many cards, but I wouldn't want one big 64GB card; basically I'll probably shoot half a card one morning, back it up, and then shoot the other card the rest of the day, so even if one card fails, I have a backup; I would also have probably maintain better life since it would use less than full capacity.

    After buying the CF cards, those new SSDs don't look so expensive anymore. :eek:

    Also bought a new lens, but that's irrelevant.
     
  17. Abyssgh0st macrumors 68000

    Abyssgh0st

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    #17
    Hehe I know it was a typo, but you said "relevant" instead of irrelevant. What lens? :D
     
  18. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    Feb 9, 2008
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    #18
    Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8

    Also purchased a SB-400 flash; very compact and good to use when I don't need the zillion functions of the bigger SB-800.
     
  19. dlegend macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #19
    How many pictures are you taking in a day? You must have quite a collection of hard drives.

    For me I have all 4gb cards. I really only use more than one if I'm on a week long vacation or haven't had time to download the pics then I'll pop in a new one. Makes it easier to back up to DVD...
     
  20. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #20
    A thousand or so?

    I take as many as I can; I mean worst case I delete it later.

    Usually I don't delete anything (just archive them and removing from Lightroom).

    I used to be really careful with film, but once I went digital it was like unlimited film! Now that's the habit.

    I use Bluray disks to archive. I buy the 50-disc spindles, so it works out to be quite cheaper than retail.
     
  21. dlegend macrumors 6502

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    Jan 11, 2009
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    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #21
    I guess that makes sense. The 6 megapixels means over 1k photos on a 4gb card.
     
  22. MSM Hobbes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    NE Hoosierana
    #22
    Interesting thread... thanks OP.

    Me, using a Canon 50D, I've a 8GB, two 4GB's, and a 2GB, shooting all RAW - will be getting one more 8GB, and maybe a 16GB, all faster cards possible. Shoot mainly landscape/nature, sunset/rises, concerts, and sports. I like the philosophy of more smaller the better - the 4GB's and 2GB cards were ones that either came w/ the camera or were given as gifts - but I do like the 8GB size.
     
  23. seedster2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    NYC
    #23
    Ever since upgrading to a D3, I feel much more comfortable using larger capacity cards as I use the second card slot to back up raw files in JPEG.
     

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