The Hidden Value of Large Memory Cards

When picking up a new memory card you’re faced with roughly a bazillion choices, so how do you know what really matters?

Like size! How big is big enough? Is there such a thing as TOO big?

What about the speed? Will you be holding yourself back if you don’t get the fastest?

And does the brand really matter? Can you get away with the cheapest option, or is it necessary to stick to the big brands?

I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed myself right now!

We all know that bigger isn’t always better, but for our latest memory card purchase we went big, and found it was actually more useful than we expected!

So check out the video below to see the hidden benefit this memory card is giving us, why we’re so fond of it, and some essential tips on making your next memory card purchase!


Now tell us in the comments, what size of memory card are you using? Have you ever thought of using it as a temporary backup?

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

Extremely Essential Camera Skills

Extremely Essential Camera Skills

A multi-media tutorial designed to help you get control over your camera, and get creative and confident with your photography.

Learn more →


16 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. We’re using 32 gig cards for our work. 128 gigs is probably a bit more than we’d like right now :P

    Btw, hey there! Nice to see you in a video. ;)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      For weddings we used smaller cards as well! The 128 SD card is so affordable these days it blows our minds :) And hey, glad you liked the video! More the come :)

      • Hi Lauren thanks for info & video on Memory cards as you say so cheap now. Love this Very informative site sure giving me some great tips etc & savings. Thanks again. Rick from UK

  2. When shooting for clients, is your on-location backup always to a computer? or have you ever worked with those portable drives that provide direct transfer capability from CF or SD (Nexto etc.)? if the latter, do you have a preferred device, likes, dislikes?

    • Lauren Lim says:

      We only ever used a laptop, so I can’t comment on the portable drives unfortunately! We made slideshows for wedding receptions that played on the laptop, so it was already there, making it an easy choice!

  3. eric scott says:

    never ever shoot with a card that large unless I can go back immediately and recreate the shot. now when I am shooting a catalog in the studio and the product is still there until files are transfered to the computer then that is different

  4. My camera has dual memory card slots so I use an 8 or 16 GB in the main slot with all RAW photos backing up to the second slot with either a 16 or 32 GB. I had two 32 GB cards but one kept causing errors so I retired it to the memory card slot on my laptop where it works fine there. Who knows. Unless, of course, I’m doing a print-on-demand event, then I have to change it so RAW to one card and JPG to the other so the printer can have something to print. Then I’m switching out cards anywhere from 2 to 8 GB from the JPG side and leaving a bigger card for the RAW to work with later. But having a camera that records to two different cards at the same time has laid a lot of my data loss fears to rest!

  5. Interesting. I’ve always heard not to go too big in case the card errors out.

    I have a D7000 with two slots. Last vacation I bought a few smaller cards (anywhere from 4-32gbs) and would shoot (RAW files) and then import at night to the laptop and then put into the memory card holder reversed. This way I could run the gamut of cards and have a copy on the laptop and on the cards themselves until I got home. I actually still have those cards waiting, I’ve gone through and edited the shots but want/NEED to transfer them to the iMac and backup. I have a fear that if I format the cards before I transfer, there will be an issue.

    and I stick with SanDisk or Lexar. I have a Kingston I got from amazon but that thing is slower than is claimed

  6. Speaking from experience, data on your SD cards, even SanDisk and Lexar can get corrupted. Something as simple as removing the card/card reader from the PC while it is still in use can lead to corrupted files. Using them as extra backups is okay, but one should really have his files saved in triplicate with at least one copy saved in a secure location external from the PC.

    We prefer to use smaller 4GB cards, which is generally way more than enough room to shoot a typical portrait session in RAW (about 270 images). These are so cheap, we have almost a dozen of them.

    Our card/transfer/back-up best practices include:

    1. We always start with a freshly formatted card. This helps prevent common errors and corruption issues. Use your camera’s “format” function to correctly format the card (and erase the card’s contents). Although you can format a card using Windows, we don’t do this. The best format is going to take place inside your camera.

    2. Immediately after shooting a client session, the card is removed and locked to prevent overwriting or formatting. Then it is placed in our card holder at the end of the holder (which tells us it was the most recent card used). If needed, we move to the next card in the holder to continue shooting (more common for weddings).

    3. The locked card is placed in the card reader in the studio and the contents transferred to our PC. We verify the folder contents to ensure the files transfer.

    4. After verifying the transfer, we “right-click” the card in Windows Explorer and choose “eject”. After Windows tells us it’s safe, we remove the card reader and card.

    5. The card is “unlocked” and placed back in the card holder at the end for future use. The contents have not been erased at this point, allowing us to access them on the card if need be later.

    6. When we photograph another client, we take a card from the front of the holder, insert it into the camera and format it. If a card is still locked, we don’t use it until the contents have been verified on our PC.

    Once per week: new image folders are backed up to one redundant internal drive and one external drive so there are now three copies on our PC on three different drives. If a drive fails or data gets corrupt, we have two other copies immediately available.

    Once per month/period: new image folders are backed up to an external drive, which is then removed from the PC and placed in our fireproof/waterproof safe.

    Hard drives are so inexpensive, too. It makes sense to have a full copy of your client/personal images in an external, secure location.

  7. Any issues with cards going bad? I’m just curious if you’ve ever had that problem. Also, is there any reason to choose compact flash if you have a slots for both card types like we do in our Canon 5d mark iii’s? We shoot with 32 GB Sandisk Extreme CF cards. By the way, I’m totally going to buy Backup or Die.

    • Hey Josh!

      We’ve stuck mainly to SanDisk over the years and some of the really old, well used, compact flash cards did produce errors. This happened so infrequently it was hard to pin down the problem. The most obvious problem we’ve had is with two 16GB Kingston compact cards which both produced errors (basically corrupt raw files).

      Good question about compact flash vs. SD. We actually don’t have the 5DmkIII so I’ve never really thought about it. My preference is for SD cards because of their size (they’re also faster and more affordable), but the compact flash cards feel more solid (I always feel like I have to be a little extra careful with an SD card or I might snap it).

      Hope you enjoy Backup or Die!

  8. Hello guys! I use a PNY Technologies 64GB PRO 233X SDXC 35MB sec class 10 memory card. It performs well for me! What do you guys think about this card?

  9. I use a Sandisk 64GB 80MB/S Works Well!

  10. Mrs. Lim, I am using a 1Tierbyte external drive to store my photos for backup. It has been good to me since I’ve used it so far and I have no problems at all what so ever. I am going to continue to use the external harddrive for as long as I shoot with my Nikon D3200 DSLR Camera. I really do love your white wrist watch that you wore on your right arm wrist that was in that video, Mrs. Lim.

  11. Cindy K. says:

    As an update, I would also include Samsung as a reliable SD card manufacturer.

    Also, advice to your readers, eBay is a bad place to go for memory cards – they are almost all fake! I have tested several from several different eBay suppliers, and they are all bad! I have also read that you have to be careful on – only buy from a reputable seller, like “Sold and Shipped by Amazon”. I now only buy from places like B&H, Best Buy, and even Samsung directly.

Speak Your Mind


Send this to a friend