Your memory cards hold much power; without them, your digital camera is worthless, which is why you should always be sure you are purchasing the best memory cards and take care of them properly. Here are some key pieces of advice on purchasing, managing, and salvaging memory cards.


1. Invest in Reputable Cards

Make sure you are buying reputable cards from reputable companies and from reputable places. Two major brands out there and the ones we use are Lexar and SanDisk.

Also, make sure you purchase them in retail packaging which are sealed so you know they haven’t been tampered with or repackaged.


2. Memory Card Speed Matters

Speed is important, especially if you’re shooting fast action, sports, live action events, etc. Whatever you’re shooting, if you’re shooting Raw and want to shoot 5, 6, 7 images per second for 10 seconds (or whatever amount of time), you’ll need fast cards.

For instance, if you have an SD card and it’s 45MB per second, class 10 and holds 32GB of data, it basically means is that it can write 45MB per second. If you’re shooting at a rate that’s creating more images than 45MB per second, it will back up the buffer. There will be a delay, so once the buffer fills up, it has to pause as it’s transferring images over to the memory card and you might miss some shots.

Faster cards will affect the overall cost of the card, but it’s worth it. Gauge exactly what you will be shooting, so you can get the appropriate speeds.



3. SystemaTize The Way You Shoot

Make sure you have a workflow in place for the way you handle your cards while you are shooting – Don’t just shoot and pull the card out and set it down, as it’ll get confusing because you risk mixing up cards you’ve shot with cards that are ready to use.

When we finish a card and take it out, we place it in our Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket upside down with the label facing away from me. This tells us immediately that the card has been used, and I will grab a card that isn’t upside down, with the manufacturer’s label showing.


3. Label Your Cards

It’s a good idea to label your cards with your name, phone number, and the date you started using the card. You should also number your cards to help you keep them in sequential order as well.

4. Back Up Your Memory Cards

It should go without saying, but warrants reminding that you must back up your memory cards and try to back them up right after your shoot.

In our studio, we take the cards and dump them onto a local computer. It then goes onto a server which has redundant backups. Before we clear a card, it’s backed up in three different locations, just in case; one of them is on the Cloud.


5. What if Something Goes Wrong?

Hopefully it won’t happen to you, but it does happen more often than we’d like to think.

What if something goes wrong with your cards? Maybe you accidentally formatted it before backing it up. In that situation, all is not lost. Generally, when you format your memory card, what happens is the camera just preps the file system. So it hasn’t actually cleared everything. Essentially, the camera is preparing it to be written on. So, as long as you don’t start shooting again on that card, you can actually recover all the images.

Let’s say you happen to throw your card in your washer and dryer. There’s still a good chance you can still recover images. If the cards have been damaged or such, many of the images can possibly be recovered. Look for image recovery software (SanDisk and Lexar cards come with their own software), and it is possible in many cases to save those images, particularly with CF cards.

For more tips and tricks like this and more, check out Photography 101Gain access to this workshop and so much more by purchasing a Premium Subscription to SLR Lounge!