I photograph a lot of corporate events and am constantly on-the-go. Up until recently, I had relied on trusty SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II memory cards. I’ve had these for quite some time, and they’ve served me well. I’ve never once had a card break.

That is, until a few weeks ago.

As I was photographing around Toronto with fellow photographers Michael Muraz and Angie McMonigal, I loved that I was able to photograph quickly. While Burst Mode might not be necessary when you’re shooting architecture, it sure comes in handy for event work, or brackets, which is what I did on occasion up in Toronto.

When I got back to my laptop though, I realized that something wasn’t right with my SD card. One of the ribs on the back — those skinny pieces of plastic — had bent, and was about to break off.

I knew right there and then that the card needed to be replaced. Luckily, I was able to carefully insert it into my SD card reader and retrieve the photos and videos I had taken. Which was important, because the videos were only saved to that one card.

So, what did I do? Did I just go out and buy another SanDisk card?

My thought process

I’ve always tried to be careful with my cards. But when you’re constantly running around and oftentimes switching cards during events, you inevitably push the card to the limits. And that’s what happened in Toronto.

I didn’t want this to happen again. After all, I’m a professional photographer. How bad would it sound if I had lost an entire day of photos or video footage to a small piece of plastic breaking on my memory card?

So I decided to do some research. I looked at all the major memory card brands — SanDisk, Lexar, Hoodman … you name it, I researched it. But then I stumbled upon a card that I knew would do the trick.

Sony’s TOUGH line

I was intrigued by Sony’s TOUGH line, as they clearly were going after a market of photographers that put their memory cards through constant wear and tear. And I fit into that group perfectly.

That wasn’t the only reason, however. Upon closer inspection online, I discovered that the TOUGH cards were not only slightly faster than my SanDisk cards — with write speeds up to 299 MB/s — they were also, well, tougher. The TOUGH cards eliminated the pesky ribs on the back, in addition to the write protection slot (which, let’s be honest, who uses that anyway?). The cards also feature a one-piece molding and are dust, dirt, water, mud and grime-proof. They’re 18 times more resistant to bending than typical SD cards on the market.

Basically, they represent what happens when Peter Parker turns into Spider-Man.

The SD card on the left is what most UHS-II cards look like, with ribs and write protection switches. The Sony TOUGH card on the right foregoes both, featuring a one-piece molding design without materials that can easily be broken.

Performance and peace of mind

I ordered two 64GB TOUGH cards and had them delivered to my doorstep in just a couple days. When I opened them up, I was impressed — about as impressed as you can be about a memory card. Clearly, they were well-built.

I had the chance to try them out a few days as I went on a few photowalks. I paired the cards with one of my older SanDisk cards and then went on a walk with just the Sony TOUGH cards as well.

The TOUGH cards performed like a rock. They were fast and I never experienced any lag time, whether it be during sequential shooting, bracketing or creating a long exposure.

Photo by Daniel Sak

Back at my desk, I used my ProGrade Digital SD card reader to import the photos. The import process was just as fast as the SanDisk cards, if not just a little bit faster.

Going forward, the TOUGH cards will definitely be the primary cards I carry in my camera. If for nothing else but for peace of mind, and knowing that it’s going to be a lot tougher for me to damage these cards down the line. At $115 apiece, they aren’t cheap — but they’re only $6 more than the comparable SanDisk cards. I’ll eventually be replacing a few more of my older SanDisk cards as well, probably with the 32GB version (which run $72 apiece).

The TOUGH cards come with Sony’s SD Scan Utility, which alerts you to when your cards are getting to the end of their life span. Also included is Sony’s Memory Card File Rescue program.

If you’re worried about the flimsy package that SD cards are normally encased in, take a look at the Sony TOUGH cards. I find myself breathing just a bit easier because of it. Not to mention my peace of mind.

Lead photo by Daniel Sak