Why dual card slots? (or: "why not to include dual card slots")

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Why dual card slots? (or: "why not to include dual card slots")
9 months ago

I've been reading over the posts about what features people want in the replacement to the alpha 65/77/58/whatever.  And one feature on many people's wish list is the dual-card slot option.  "Gotta have two cards" is a frequent comment, often without further explanation.

I'm a bit baffled at the frequency this comes up.  Personally, i see two-card slots as an early 2000s solution to cards that were expensive, had slow read/write speeds and had only a fraction of today's capacities.

Today, I can buy a 32GB, UHS-1 card for under $40; a drop in the bucket when it comes to prosumer/enthusiast photography.  64GB cards can be had for under $80 with 80/60 read/write speeds.  And the newer cards offer 128gb & 256gb capacities, at even better speeds.  Admittedly these large and fast cards are expensive now, but if they follow historical pricing their prices will fall by more than 50%

From my perspective, current card capacity isn't limiting photographers.  There isn't much (or any) savings buying two fast 32GB cards compared to one 64GB, and a 128GB UDMA7 card isn't a huge increase over two similar 64GB models.  Are people really bummed that their a65/77's capacity is limited by a single card? My battery needs to be recharged long before I can ever fill my 64GB card.

Then there's the question of transfer speed.  I admit dual card slots would allow up to twice the transfer speed, but to me the real issue is buffer size.  If the problem is not being able to take enough pictures in burst-mode, increasing the buffer size makes more sense than having two cards to simultaniously write data to.  In engineer-speak, the bottleneck is upstream, not downstream.

The only sensible argument I can see for having dual-cards is having an electronic backup.  Perhaps this is very important to some, I don't know.  I simply haven't experienced problems with name-brand cards failing.  ever.

I will make two arguments against dual-card slots; 1) added price and 2) reduced internal space for other components.  Every additional component adds a cost to the bottom line, and I'd rather see that price applied to other things.  More importantly, like most modern electronics, Sony's SLTs are so tightly engineered that every cc of internal space is valuable.  By NOT having a second card slot it allows room for other components, like WiFi connectivity (coincidentally opening up another avenue for increased capacity and increased transfer speeds), or a slightly larger capacity battery.

These are just my rambling thoughts.  I honestly would like someone to make a solid case for why a dual-card slot would make sense in a camera designed for the 2014-2018 enthusiast market.  Perhaps I'm overlooking or completely unaware of some major advantages they would give me.  But for right now a dual card slot just seems to be an outdated feature, and one I hope Sony doesn't try to include.

Happy New Year all

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