Do RAW files lose detail/degrade when copied?

Started Feb 17, 2013 | Questions thread
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Mark B UK
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Do RAW files lose detail/degrade when copied?
Feb 17, 2013

Currently when travelling for several days at a time I take half a dozen SD cards, ranging from very high performance (Sandisk Extreme Pro 32GB) to relatively low (own-brand class 6 cards bought very cheaply online) together with a rugged/waterproof USB portable hard drive. Every night I back up that day's card to the hard drive then replace it with the next card.

I'm frustrated at the buffering times of the slow cards, so am considering replacing them, probably with Sandisk Extreme 45MB/sec ones (the Pro versions are around double the cost and I don't shoot that much action). However, another thought has occurred to me: why not back up each day's images as usual, but also transfer the images to a second portable drive, then when both storage devices safely hold duplicates of my RAW files, remove the SD card from my computer, return it to my camera, and format it for use the next day? That way, I could use my best card every day (I have never shot more than the 4000 or so images it can handle n a single day), perhaps also carrying one or two of my slower cards in case it suffers a fault.

If I go down this route, every time I transfer RAW files to my Mac for storage and PP they will be second- rather than first-generation, that is to say they will be copies of the camera's output, rather than the originals written direct to card. Does this matter? Does the act of copying RAW files introduce any risk of errors being introduced, resulting in any image degradation?

 Mark B UK's gear list:Mark B UK's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm 1:2 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm 1:2.8 Macro Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm F2.8 OIS
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