Once upon a time I had six 128 and 160 megabyte PCMCIA memory cards and I happily rotated them through my 1.9 megapixel Canon/Kodak DCS520 cameras. That was over nineteen years ago and, like most other photographers, I have kept on buying more and more newer, faster and larger cards ever since. In 2002 when I was shooting with the original Canon 4.1 megapixel EOS1D I graduated to a small pile of 256 megabyte cards which were replaced by 512 meg’ cards pretty quickly. Nine and a half years ago (2008) when I went freelance I was shooting with 8 megapixel Canon EOS1D MkII cameras and I had eight 2 gigabyte cards (along with a stack of ‘retired’ cards) and rarely needed more than four of those a day.
Fast forward to today and I still have a Think Tank wallet with eight compact flash memory cards in it – but now they are all 32 gigabyte plus three spare SD cards for the Canon EOS5D MkIVs and the 7D MkII. On top of that I keep a couple of 16 gig’ CF cards, six 8 gig’ cards and a couple of specialist SD cards in my ‘just-in-case’ case. further on top of that each camera starts the day with a 32 gig’ CF card as well as a 32 gig’ SD card.
That’s a lot of data but, now that I shoot a lot of commercial projects, I seem to get through it! On a three day shoot this week I used up the equivalent of fifteen 32 gigabyte cards with RAW files from my Canon EOS5D MkIV cameras as well as four 32 gig’ SD cards with medium JPEG backup files that can also be sent quickly to clients for their social media.
We are now crunching through so much data that I no longer ingest cards into the computer to make selections later. These days I only import the good pictures into the computer which saves time and space. Of course I then edit those down to form the final edit which get prepared in Adobe Camera RAW for the clients. You often hear the word ‘exponential’ used when talking about the growth in the amount of data we are creating and storing and in my work that is certainly an accurate term.
Every single card in my case is Sandisk – one of those rare brands that has given me no stress over the years. Most of them are the Extreme range with write speeds of 120 MB/s. I buy new cards every twelve to eighteen months and relegate the oldest ones to the back up folder. Logic would dictate that the next purchases should be 64 or even 128 gig’ cards but there’s something about the pace of shooting when you get around 700 pictures on a card. When you fill one, you know where you are and I seem to make subconscious notes of how much time my edit is going to take.
I still own one DSLR that has a single SD card slot (the EOS6D) but I am far happier with a camera with dual slots and far happier with compact flash than I am with secure digital.
There are a few other low or no stress brands too; Think Tank, Manfrotto, Canon and Volkswagen spring to mind as being on that high level with Sandisk.