Why You're Better Off With Low-Capacity Memory Cards In Your Camera

SD cards have started getting cheaper, and you can find some pretty huge cards at prices that seem worth the joy of never swapping out cards again. Here's why that could be a bad idea.

Photo by Jasleen_Kaur.

Weblog Techerator notes that, while we never expect SD cards to fail, they can do so at inopportune times, just like the hard drives in our computer. This is why we regularly back our computers up, even if we have a brand new drive — sometimes things just happen. However, we don't always have this opportunity with SD cards:

Since you can't really back up a memory card when you're out in the field shooting photos and video, how do you protect yourself against bad luck? Well, there's obviously no way to fully protect your memory card data if you can't back it up, but there's still a way to lessen the disaster level when a memory card takes the plunge.

Instead of getting just one high-capacity memory card and risk losing all of your photos, have multiple low-capacity cards. That way, if one craps out, you'll still have a majority of your photos that are safe, instead of having all of them go down the drain at once.

Instead of worrying about capacity, see if you can't get some higher speed cards instead, or ones designed to survive the worst of conditions. That way, if one fails, you haven't lost everything — you've only lost a batch or two of photos. Of course, this only really matters for you serious photographers that are taking hundreds of pictures at once, but it's something to think about if you regularly run out of space on your current card. Hit the link to read more.

Think Again Before Buying a High-Capacity Memory Card [Techerator]


    I think your more likely to misplace an extra card than a larger one that stays in your camera to fail.

    But where's the 'sweet-spot'? isn't there a formula for me? Should I carry 60x 256MB cards? or half of a 32GB card?

    this is the same reasoning that says you should never buy larger hard drives because you could lose more at once when one fails. People have been arguing the case for decades, and it can be applied to a whole bunch of things (don't drive with all your kids in the same car, in case there's a crash. Make one take the bus.)

    It's pretty much an empty argument. As the cost for larger media drops, the cost of effective backups drops at around the same pace. Copying your 32gb SDcard to your 3tb portable HDD won't cause you any dramas.

    Hardware failure is nothing new, and its something you should always plan for. If something is important to you, keep at least two separate copies of the files.

    (As a side note: keeping many low-capacity SD cards actually increases the chance that you will lose some data. It just reduces the chance of you lose all your data at once.)

    I'm more worried about losing a card in the changeover, or when I've moved it out to somewhere, or trying to use and already used card than I am about a large capacity card failing. (But I don't really trust them, it seems, as I bought a couple of cameras with dual card-slots...)

    If you're a pro or semi pro photographer, you have a (wireless) ethernet connected camera and a laptop with wireless broadband in your kit backing up to multiple cloud backup storage destinations in near real time.

    Carrying multiple cards can fix one problem, but you're still screwed if anything other than one of the cards is lost or fails.

    Bag yourself a small laptop or nice Android tablet with an SD card slot and backup every night. I bought a Transformer Prime for this purpose, and it's perfect. Even better is the ability to back up to a hard drive via the USB port (sorry iPad users): essential for shooting HD video, and having a nice screen to view and edit if you feel the urge is a bonus.

    Or just get an http://www.eye.fi/ so that every time you take the camera in range of your wireless network, it stores your photos on your laptop. Backup your laptop photos as usual. Seems much easier.

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