Secondary Memory Card Slot - How best to use it?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Mary Doo, Sep 24, 2021.

  1. Serious shooters, I would like to hear from you for reference:

    How do you use your secondary card slot? Raw + Raw, Raw + JPG, or as overflow? Other?

    I have not been shooting seriously for a while, but will be on a Zimbabwe safari next week. Currently I am thinking Raw + JPG.

  2. I use RAW and JPEG. The idea is to have a backup (which would dictate RAW and RAW), but also something that can be delivered quickly, without processing (so JPEG).
    You hardly ever need a backup, so i find RAW and JPEG the best option. Should the card containing RAW files fail anyway, you still have backup, albeit in JPEG format. Acceptable, for those may-never-happen occasions.

    So it depends on what you do. I find that those fast-delivery JPEGs are not needed very often, and do prefer to deliver processed (by me) files instead of camera processed JPEGs. So i might almost as well just use just the one card (or put RAW on both - two cards = more moneyvand more archival storage. So maybe just one?)

    But to be safe, straight duplicates would be best. So RAW and RAW, or JPEG and JPEG. Depends on how afraid/brave you are. ;-)

    Overflow would be another option. But it's not that often that you find your card is full when you can't swap it for an empty card.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
    Mary Doo likes this.
  3. Either full backup (RAW + jpeg / RAW + jpeg) or separation (RAW / jpeg).

    Theoretically, RAW / jpeg should clear the buffer the fastest (of options that save both), but depends on camera. As jpeg files are smaller, you could either use unequal sized cards (64/32), or equal size and switch to putting everything on card 2 should you fill card 1 and have no spares / time to switch.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  4. I am assuming we are talking about Nikon Z?
    Will you shoot video? The CFexpress slot is preferable for 4K -and in combination with still photography that may influence your strategy as the CFx card will fill up fast.
    For serious work as in once-in-a-lifetime or paid work I would always use a second card for back-up. I am normally fine with RAW+JPG, but that is because in the few cases I have done critical stuff I was only expected to dump the JPGs to the client post shoot and no further processing was expected on my part - RAW was just my insurance in case Auto WB or something misbehaved. If post processing is required, I would do RAW+RAW in case of card failure.
    For my own normal shooting, I do RAW+JPG overflow to optimise card space usage.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  5. If I'm just shooting for myself, I don't use in-camera backup. However, if I shoot for someone else's use and if it's a one-time chance to capture the images I do write NEF files to both cards. If I were dependent on fps rate and buffer then I might consider writing NEF to CFe/XQD and JPG to SD, but usually I shoot those things on a camera which has dual CFe/XQD cards and relatively small files. If I'm using a high-resolution camera, I just accept that the camera might slow down in heavy burst activity. I don't necessarily think that the JPGs would not serve the purpose of backup but it's easier to work with the same source material across a set of images and not worry about whether vignetting correction or white balance or exposure are optimal in all cases.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  6. For a non-repeatable event like your safari, using the 2nd slot as backup seems like a no-brainer. (And take something like a Wi-Fi disk to do daily backups from the cards.)

    The only decision is whether to separate Raw from Jpeg to increase storage capacity - slightly. Although since JPEGs are much smaller than Raw files, I'm not convinced there's a heap of benefit there.

    Personally, I'd store Raw+Jpeg, mirrored on both cards. But it depends how heavily you rely on Raw, and how paranoid you are about losing one file type over the other. But then a Raw file will always be able to generate a Jpeg, not vice-versa.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  7. How you use double card slots depends on the application.

    Most of my shooting is recreational, in parks, during travel, etc. Many times I shoot bracketd exposures which triples the usage. It makes sense for me to shoot to one card with automatic transfer to the second card when the first is full.

    For a paid job, it makes sense to duplicate shots, or split cards between RAW and JPEG. JPEG is useful when speed of delivery is important, for example, news coverage. For an important one-time event (e.g., a wedding), RAW + RAW would be my choice. There's no scientific explanation, but a card dropped on a boat dock will fall cleanly between the boards into the water, or into a crack between rocks.

    Shooting video uses a lot of card space, so serial storage makes sense. While I usually use an external recorder, in-camera storage provides an effective backup. My Sony cameras let me do both simultaneously, at different resolutions or bandwidth if necessary. For recreational use, with a mix of stills and video, reserving the second card for video helps organize your work. Most of the time I record both to the same card and sort it out in post.

    For safety, I carry a 4 TB hard drive or two on the road, and do a daily backup when possible. I used to use CDs, the DVDs, then Blu-Ray discs (which can't be accidentally erased), but 25 GB for a BD isn't large enough for a day's shooting, and takes 3x as long to burn the same data as a hard drive.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  8. Mary, my advice is: "It depends". Most of the time I use the second card slot as overflow for RAW images if my primary card fills up. My primary cards are mostly 64 GB cards so on a D850 or D500 they can get full on one shoot.

    If I am on vacation, and I want instant Jpegs for sending, I use the second card slot for Jpeg and the primary for RAW.

    I always check my camera manual to see what effect the card selection might have on frames per sec and buffer clearing.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  9. If the images are important to me – special locations far away – I use raw/raw, but if it is f.inst. street photos or landscape at locations where I come or can come often, then it is raw/jpeg. I never have paid jobs, so never a question for fast submission.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  10. When I shot my nephew's wedding, it was RAW + RAW.
    Less serious would be RAW + JPG.
    But normally I shoot with just one card, either RAW or JPG.

    I "try" to manage my card load, so that I don't run out of space, so I don't bother with 2nd card for "overflow."
    Mary Doo likes this.
  11. Thanks for all your responses and points of view highlighting the pros and cons and reasoning for each option. I will be using mostly 256gb cards and I worry about losing a whole card of images if it corrupts; thankfully the chance of this mishap is not high. Since JPG is a huge convenience right out of the the camera, I will use the seconary slot for JPGs. If the raw card dies, the duplicates will still be there jpg format. Thanks.
  12. What card type(s) are they?

    And which bodies?
    Mary Doo likes this.
  13. Backup to hard drive each night anyway.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  14. Duplicates as in the same picture, yes, but nowhere near the same quality from a once-in-a-lifetime event.

    I've never been to Zimbabwe, but I'd guess it can be pretty contrasty sometimes, and not being able to pull highlights back from jpeg would worry me.

    I'd go RAW + JPEG to both, and as Q.G said, back-up every night to HD, ideally SSD.

    What are your power plans? Z's are real battery hoovers....:eek:
    Mary Doo and bgelfand like this.
  15. Easy one for me - whenever I rely on shooting at the fastest possible frame rate (which is almost always on the D500 and D850), the 2nd slot is set to overflow. For the simple reason that it's use to simultaneously store anything slows down the camera too much. All other applications (D810, Sony A7RIII): RAW to both slots simultaneously for backup. I never shoot RAW + JPEG. For a special occasion like a Safari, I would most likely go with the option to write RAW to both cards even at the expense of filling the buffer and slowing the camera down.
    Mary Doo and bgelfand like this.
  16. Thanks again. All your suggestions make sense.
  17. Percieved risk changes with time it appears. 25 years ago I wouldn't think twice about going on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation with 1 camera and a bag of film - talk about things that could go wrong.
    Erik-Christensen likes this.
  18. And your budget.
    25 years ago, I could not afford a 2nd camera, other than a P&S.
  19. This is what it will be.

    Thanks again.
  20. I shoot raw and .jpg basic for social media most of the time.

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