The downside of 128GB CF card in remote travel

Discussion in 'Travel' started by tropdude, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. What are the downsides (purchase price is not a factor) of using 128 GB CF cards in travel photography vs. smaller ones or not filling up the 128 GB to capacity? (Applicable situations: remote, minimal-gear backpacking, no electricity, not much time for late-night backups, etc. in remote parts of the world.)
    Shooting couple thousands of images without the need of changing cards or download to an external hard drive is a definite plus.
    The downside is that you have 4,000 precious images from the last two weeks on one single card that is also in use in the camera. (In the old days, we had 120 rolls of Velvia in a Pelican...)
    Any thoughts, brainstorming, experience on this subject?
  2. The downside is that you have 4,000 precious images from the last two weeks on one single card....​
    And then you have a card failure - everything you shot is gone. With smaller cards at least you still have the images on whatever other cards you're using.
  3. I suppose you've covered the big issue with the "all the eggs in one basket" scenario. If you lose the card somehow, or it gets damaged and corrupted you lose everything on it. I never considered using a single card of that size - we use 16 and 32 GB cards. Let's face it - they are smaller than exposed film, easy carried around and even easy to ship if you want to send updates from remote airports.
  4. I don't think you'll get any consensus on this issue. You'll just have to pick which risk you're more willing to live with, card failure vs losing card(s)/damaging card(s)/damaging CF slot.
    Personally, I've never had a card failure and I'd go with one card. If your camera has dual card slots, set your camera to write to both for added insurance.
  5. I would go change out the card after at most a few hours, back it up to a portable device of some sort, and then put it away not to be reused during the trip. This means the card size ranges from 2GB to 128GB, depending on how much shooting you're doing in those few hours.
    As an alternative, to save on so many cards, I would put a card back into the camera after it's backed up, but I would not erase it first. This is assuming that the card size is much larger than what is needed for the few hours until backup.
    So, the key is the backup approach, not the size of the card.
  6. I would actually use purchase price as a determining factor - what combination of CF cards would give me the storage capacity that I desire for the lowest cost. For me, based upon my experience, reliability is not a factor to consider. The bulk and weight of CF cards are also not factors.
  7. Although the risk of failure is v. small, but it's much easier on your constitution if you have several cards that equal the 128GB. Why take that chance ? From my pov, that defies gravity.
  8. Thank you folks!
  9. One downside beside what's already discussed: Consider the extent of time needed to copy one full 128GB card to an external drive via USB. When you are in a rush to reuse the card, this would be a hardship. Sometimes I find backing up a 32GB card a time-consuming task.
  10. I've been going with the fewer-cards-the-better approach. Less to keep track of, less to lose or misplace. So, fewer also means larger capacities. But, I think flash memory makes an excellent short-term "archival" storage medium. As soon as I get home, I archive my CF card data to DVDs using a stand-alone CF-to-DVD burner.
    This thing works great (no computer required):
  11. The multiple batteries you would need to shoot 4,000 photos are going to be much larger and heavier than a few extra
    memory cards. You'd be putting a lot of work at risk for a trivial savings of weight and space.
  12. If you use many smaller cards, and they sit in your pants or a backpack, they are of greater probability to get corrupted than the card that sits inside the camera and is never removed.
    USB 3.0 card readers and computers are sufficiently fast to use larger cards.
    Since I also use some video, along with still pictures, the demand for storage is greater. 64 GB works fine for me, for a 2 weeks vacation, and moderate shooting. No more hassle with smaller cards. The 32GB is the limit on the SDHC, and some devices for MP3 playback, so there is no other larger choice here, but for latest DSLR the SDXC works nicely. No need to fear of eggs and basket, as you can as badly messup your backet full of small cards.
    Cameras with 2 memory card slots allow instant local in-camera back up, for those with memory loss paranoia.
  13. Yes, I agree, Frank. I think the risk of damage or loss is actually minimized with a large, single card which remains in-camera (that said, I'm taking two 64GB CF cards for my D800E on the next trip). I use a Lexar ExpressCard/34 CF reader for my 17" MacBook Pro (which I'm leaving at home), which ingests directly via the PCIe x1 bus at 2.5Gb/s (which seems pretty fast).
  14. Are you considering buying a new camera? My Nikon D3, D800, and D7100 all have multiple card slots. It can write the same data to both cards so I have an immediate backup.
  15. I am a firm believer in dual or triple image backups. Bad things can and do happen. Why take the risk when you can minimize the risk at a low incremental cost with alternatives that have already been mentioned? I will add one more, a portable hard drive like a Hyperdrive Colorspace that takes cards of different designs and works off of battery, USB or power. You can do incremental backups with it so the card can be reused without reformatting. Joe Smith
  16. When I travel these days I typically carry a number of smaller large capacity cards (at least one for each camera) and download them to my external hard drive and laptop at the end of each day regardless of how late it may be. Each card typically is large enough for a full-day's shooting with that camera, but I naturally carry others along in case.

    Then I use fresh cards for the next day and leave the files on the old cards until I cycle through all my blank cards, at which point I reformat each card in the camera before using.
    Depending on how long the trip lasts and how many cards I bring, this means I have the RAW files on 2 HDs (one in the laptop) and on a memory card too for a while.
    I rarely wear suspenders and a belt, but I understand the wish to do so. :)
  17. A large card doesn't free you from backing up, nor does a bunch of small cards. I'd want a separate HD and the HD on my laptop. Cards can substitute for the HD, but they need to be outside your camera and until you load them somewhere (laptop, cloud, etc.) you're not backed up.
  18. Instead of carrying a separate hard drive when traveling I bought some USB memory sticks and use those for backup. Much smaller, and they are available in USB 3 versions, although I use USB 2 and just go do something while the images are copying from my MacBook Pro.
  19. Darron said:
    Instead of carrying a separate hard drive when traveling I bought some USB memory sticks and use those for backup.​
    Good idea! As I said, I think flash memory (USB thumbdrives, CF cards, etc.) are robust media for temporary "archival" storage until you get home (then transfer to magnetic and optical media once home). I don't take a laptop on vacations, so I use the CF cards themselves, but I like the USB thumbdrive idea a lot!
    Even though I never format or over-write my CF cards until I get home, since my stand-alone DVD burner will perform automatic disc-spanning directly from the CF card, I wish there was a mobile way to write CF cards to a USB thumbdrive without a computer. Is there?
  20. To it's six of one half dozen of another. I carry six 64GB cards, have NEVER filled one up in a day (I have a 5DMIII and I only shoot raw). I think for my camera, the 64GB card gets me roughly 1900 pics on a single card, so six cards = around 9400 pics, which is way more than I've shot on a two week trip. Mind you, I do three shot exposure bracketing for virtually everything.
    My process is to get done shooting for the day, dump the photos to an external HD, copy to a 2nd external HD. When I travel, I keep one HD in my briefcase, one in my camera bag, both are carried on.
    I keep the photos on the CF cards as a 3rd copy. A bit excessive, yes, especially when you consider I've never had a failure of an external HD or a CF card. But better safe than sorry
  21. I favour multiple redundancies. When travelling I invariably have my laptop with me. At the end of the day I copy images from the day's flashcard to the hard drive, then I burn 2 DVDs. I mail one set back to my home address and keep the other with me. I take several 64GB cards and if I don't fill them all, I won't delete anything or format the cards until I'm back home. It's an old cliché, but better safe than sorry.
  22. A warning with respect to USB external hard drives: not only can the hard drives fail, but I learned the hard way not to keep the cable attached to the HD. When you do that and the HD is pushed against a stable object, the USB connector inside the HD can loosen or detach. This effectively disables your HD as they are not designed to be opened up.
  23. USB 2 is slow as blazes. Go with USB 3, Firewire 800 or something faster.
  24. IMO, the less card swapping, the better. You reduce the chances of losing a card or damaging the camera's contact pins. Buy a well regarded model, test it a few times, and go shoot, happy in the knowledge that risk is the unavoidable price of life.

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