I get lots of questions about my backup workflow, my travel packing workflow, my post-processing workflow but not enough about my memory card workflow. Memory cards are kind of important – if they don’t work nothing else matters.
It’s not a big deal really but I do think it’s worth a short post just to make sure everyone has at least considered this.
Here’s my basic memory card workflow.
1. Test every new card in at least two cameras – download images, reformat card – make sure it’s solid.
2. Label every card with my name, phone number and month/year of the purchase date. The latter is because I want to know which cards have the most use (the oldest) and the name and phone number is simple – if I am in a group and memory cards get exchanged, lost, etc. whoever ends up with mine will know it and hopefully return it.
3. Find a dedicated storage device for your memory cards and always keep the cards in that device. I use and very much like the Pixel Pocket Rocket from Think Tank Photo. Holds more cards than I need for any shoot but takes up little space.
4. Always, always, always have your memory cards on your person. If you hike three miles find out you left your cards back in the truck and miss a cool shot because you are out of memory this will likely only happen to you once. Additionally – if you leave all your gear in your car and someone steals it and the cards are inside you are out the most valuable thing you could have on any trip – the photos. The gear should be insured and is replaceable. The photos are not.
5. Develop a system for knowing which cards are empty and which full. I simply place the card back in the Pixel Pocket upside down to denote it is full. Works well.
6. Don’t delete single images from your card in your camera or from a computer. Format to delete and do it in camera. This is less of an issue with newer cards but older cards can easily be corrupted and this is one of the ways that happens.
7. Don’t share cards. Unless you’re the type who would also share a toothbrush with a stranger.
8. Keep your cards dry and in reasonable temperatures and humidity so that they function within the manufacturer’s specs.
9. Don’t buy the cheapest card. If you have a $10 head buy a $10 motorcycle helmet. This isn’t a place to skimp. The name brand cards don’t cost that much more than the off brand cards.
10. Don’t buy the biggest, fastest card on the market. Buy the model one down from that. Not only will it cost a lot less per megabyte, it’s safer. Sometimes the new cards aren’t supported by older cameras.
I could go on but I’ll stop here. This is a good starting point. Have a plan when it comes to your memory cards and your odds of experiencing a memory card-related problem will drop to almost zero.