Memory Cards for Wedding Photography

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by lulu_jones, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I was just wondering out of interest the size and number of memory cards you use for Wedding Photography?
    (Based on using RAW format).
    Do you tend to use one large memory card or a few smaller cards?
    Thank you!
  2. kinda depends on how big your raw images are and your expected shooting rate?
    if you have 1 large card and it screws up, you're totally out of luck.
  3. i typically use more smaller cards as opposed to fewer large cards.
    I break the wedding down to logicial segments on my cards - 1 card for prep, 1 card for formals, 1 card for bride / groom, 1 ceremony, etc...
    That way if anything gets damaged, it's not the whole shooting match - it's a single segment. I also back them up right away to an Epson P-200 and don't reuse the cards until the wedding on my main file system 2x.
  4. Howard is right, but if you lose track of one of the eight you've used, and it happens to be the one with the ceremony on it, you're totally out of luck as well. IME it's a whole lot easier to recover files from a card going bad than it is to recover files from a lost card, or one finger flubbed into the ocean.
    My professional view is that a wedding shooter should carry the largest fastest best quality cards they can afford, assuming that they can afford enough capacity to shoot the wedding twice.
    So, for example (shooting RAWS on 5D2s), currently, I carry 4x 32gb cards. The two that are NOT in the cameras serve as the 'reserve tank' should I somehow fill the cards (the capacity on the 5D2s for 32gb cards is about 1700), which I've done once, or if some failure should occur (unlikely in the extreme). Most of the time I don't come close to filling either, but part of what I'm being paid for is being prepared. So yes, if one card decided to evaporate in a puff of gas, I would be relying solely on the other camera's card, which would put me in a very, very bad mood, but I could still recover from even that.
    If (OTOH) you choose to use a pocket-ful-o-cards, you (should) be less screwed should one fail (unless it happens to be the one w/ the ceremony on it), but with all the card shuffling, inserting, removing, it is exponentially more likely that sooner or later you will loose one or more cards. IMPO, I'll trust in the reliability of a piece of solid state electronics over the reliability of my hands.
    I used to use a hodgepodge of cards, 1, 2, 4gb ones (still have them), and swap out as needed, then at a ceremony, while swapping, I fingerflubbed a 2gb card into a fountain. Not a big deal, got home, rinsed it off, let it dry out, and I recovered the images without a problem (of course it was then retired). This was worrying, but everything worked out okay.
    two weeks later, I was shooting a beach wedding, and we wentup on the pier to do after ceremony portraits. On a wooden pier, over the ocean, in the strong and blustery wind, I had to change out the memory card full of all the ceremony pics. Nothing bad happened. But I was very very careful (I'm not always). And I thought to myself there has got to be a better way.
    The 'better way' I use is to never change a card in the field (unless disaster strikes!), and the most effective way to prevent that from happening is to use cards that are sizeable enough to, in nearly all circumstances, never have change while 'on the job'. Because the bottom line is that you (or your environment- which you don't control) doing something to damage the card, the camera, or the files, is so incredibly vastly more likely than a spontaneous memory card failure that I chose my path for a reason.
    regardless of how you choose to go, make sure that you make a cohesive plan, and work in contingencies. Make sure your card plan works with your equipment setup, and that you have a backup plan to implement.
  5. I agree with everything that has been said. I used to change cards at each stage of the wedding so as not to loose a whole wedding, but now I have upgraded my camera to a Nikon D600 with twin cards I now use two 64GB cards one backing up the other. Problem solved.
  6. I don't shoot "weddings" any more, but I still shoot various professional assignments. I am not overly tech savvy so I tend
    to keep things very simple. I prefer not to change cards unless I have to. Such as if I am working for someone else doing
    a location portrait setup, then I use their cards or even larger format cameras and just turn them over and leave when I'm
    done. For me I use several DX bodies with 16GB cards and down load via the cable along the way onto a laptop, then
    once back at my home office I transfer those files onto backup hard drives or other media as needed and just clear and re
    format my cameras. That's what works for me. I also have two older bodies with 8GB cards that I still use at ISO 125 with studio flash.
  7. Some may remember that I'd retrieve information from corrupted cards with close to 100 percent success. The program I used was a leased program, costing a lot of money per year. You couldn't buy it and the company would charge you each time you used it.

    It seems like photographers are much more careful, the cards are made much better, and the card readers don't seem to suffer from bent pins.

    There are still issues with the SD cards splitting, but even that seems so much better.

    The quality of cards has skyrocketed, mainly the CF type of cards that are now being used in video cameras. Wow no need for tapes anymore. So much money is saved.

    At one time Lexar cards often could screw up with Canon cameras.

    Long story short, there's hardly any problems with cards anymore, and because of this it wasn't worth it for me to continue leasing that program. I only got one call last year from a wedding photographer that screwed up a wedding, however I referred them to the actual company I was using.

    I shoot with the 2 card camera slots; the 1Ds Mk3. As of last year I'm just using 2, 16 gb cards. It's actually pretty exciting seeing the quality jump so high in just a few years.

    Some may think that the 1Ds Mk3 is too expensive. Used ones are less than the 5D 3's. You can find them everywhere on ebay for well under $3000, as low as $2200. I will always buy a dual card camera before the 5d-3. The 1Ds series are built like tanks. Weather resistant, they shoot in sub zero weather, somewhat water resistant, unlike the other Canon models.

    I find it a bit unsettling that hard drives are not solid state. The dang things still spin. I know this is not a computer forum, but it's just something on my mind as I write. Knowing that you can buy 32 gb cards for under $50 sometimes, why can't a company make a terabyte solid state HD.

    I still strongly feel a dual card camera is the best way to go as far as protecting you and the wedding couple. It seem only fair to the wedding couple that you photograph a wedding with the least amount of possible failure.

    For those that shoot with just one large card and you don't change cards at a wedding, well it's a gamble and it could really sting if the camera failed, the card died, or the card reader pins bent and fried the card. I strongly feel we need to change cards often at weddings. A 1 gig card holds about 40 shots. If you have card failure, camera failure, some sort of catastroophic experience you incur, it's often very easy to reshoot those 40 images; mainly the formals. You can pretty much reshoot everything with the exception of a few ceremony shots, the cake shots, I think that may be all.

    If I were to use a single slotted camera I would use only 1 gig cards. Dumping 40 shots, then recreating them, you may only lose 10 images at the most.

    Think about it. The exchange of the rings, the kiss, the first dance, the toast or toasts all are images that can be redone, often without the couple knowing about it. Even the garter throw can be redone.

    Hope this helps.
  8. If you use two cameras, I would use the Sandisk larger cards. My theory (and it has worked for me for years), is to use the largest cards. I never change cards during a shoot, therefore never screw up the connections in the camera, nor do I loose or accidentally overwrite one.
    I use two cameras, and have dual cards in them, so card failure, and loss of images is almost (99.999%) impossible. I would have to loose both cameras simultaneously, and I never put them down at a wedding, so no fear of them being stolen either.
    When the wedding is done, I put one card from each camera in a little case that stays on my person until they are downloaded to my computer and backed up.
    Any time you swap cards during a wedding, you risk not only loosing images due to card corruption from the contacts, but also lost cards, debris getting into your card slot and messing up the next card(s), accidental reinsertion of a used card, etc.
    There have long been two methodologies for shooting, but using well tested large cards has never failed me, or anyone I know who employs this system.
  9. I shoot with 32G Transcend cards. Been doing that for 7 years. They've never failed me. The one time I had a card issue (it was one of my oldest, heaviest-used cards), I was able to recover everything using Photorescue. Never lost a card, never lost a photo. :)
  10. David, shooting with 2 cameras will surely solve any memory card dumps!

    Anne, Transcend cards are very good for sure. When I was getting images back for people these cards never popped up for repair. Mostly Lexar, 1 Kodak, a few SanDisk cards, and several SD cards. all brands, because of splitting open.
  11. my advice is to have some sort of hard drive to back up each card as it is filled, example an epson viewer. I have never lost a card but I have reused a card that was already shot, my assistant made that mistake. Since then i always back up each card as I go. I have a 21 megapixel camera and I use 8 gig cards that gives me about 280 shots. I do also have two 16 gig cards that i like to use during the reception.
  12. Thank you everyone for their responses.
    It seems everyone has different opinions and there is no 'right' answer.
    Thank you for your feedback, it has given me a lot to consider!
  13. The key risk factors I can think of are:
    1. Data loss or other software error on a card resulting in loss of some of the files on the card;
    2. Physical loss or theft of a card;
    3. Distraction from changing equipment at an inopportune moment resulting in missing a shot.
    The first factor is a reason to use multiple cards: an error on one card in a series may be limited to destroying only a fraction of the day's images.
    The second factor can support an argument either way: if you slip and drop one card in a series, you've only lost a portion of the day -- bad, but better than losing the whole day. On the other hand, simply carrying and swapping cards significantly increases the odds of losing a card: if you use one card, it stays in the camera all the time, and you're less likely to lose a camera body than a small card.
    The third factor is a reason to use one card. Even people who have a system for card changing can be surprised by running out of room and needing to change cards. And changing cards -- like changing lenses -- means the camera body is incapacitated and your attention is diverted for at least that small amount of time.
    I use a body with dual slots, so the risk of data loss from an error on one card is low. And I think cards are very reliable now -- especially solid brand names (I use only SanDisk cards). Additionally, I almost never let the body out of my physical control. I therefore use one pair of high-capacity cards per camera body for the day.

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