Recommended memory card size

Started Oct 28, 2010 | Discussions
photopilot2825 New Member • Posts: 9
Recommended memory card size

For the first time ever I've had a compact flash card go bad on me. Still not sure what happened. I use a 7d and it stopped taking pictures and gave me an error. I was able to get my images off of the card, but cannot format it. It scares me to try and fix it and use again, so I'm going to discard and buy a new one. I typically use a 8gb card and I also have a 4gb as well. I almost always shoot in RAW so images are quite large. What would be the recommended card size? I don't want to get too bid and put all of my eggs in one basket and lose everything if it were to go bad again, but on the other side I don't want to change cards very frequently.

Thoughts and recommendations?

Milner Senior Member • Posts: 1,102
Re: Recommended memory card size

I would say several 4g cards

PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
need more info...

What do you shoot? How many images for a session/event/whatever?

With 10-11mp images in RAW I like 4 gb cards (about 250 images). It keeps me from overshooting at port sessions but hold enough I'm not swapping cards every hour at a wedding.

My last camera came as a package deal with a 16b card and I"m using that for weddings - it'll hold a whole one and then some. I thought about getting some 8s but having 15 4g cards has it's advantages if you shoot a lot (12 sessions last week for me) - one card per session works very well.

If you're gonna shoot video your needs may be different though (i think that's why the camera came with such a big card).

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Thomas Kolenich
Thomas Kolenich Senior Member • Posts: 2,085
Re: Recommended memory card size

I use 16 Gig Cards for weddings and 4Gig for high school seniors.

Tom Kolenich

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Richard Weisgrau Veteran Member • Posts: 3,530
Re: need more info...

When I started with digital in 2001 I uses several smaller CF cards, but only had one go bad when using Canon gear. Turned out that the camera had caused the problem not the card. Seems that Canon had some sort of glitch built in that if you opened the card door while the camera was ON it could damage the card. That was eight years ago an a fluke that Canon corrected in that model camera. Went Nikon introduced the D100 I went back to Nikons as I had been using them with film for decades and prefer the ergonomics. I continued to use smaller cards on the theory that if one was lost or damaged I would not lose all the the images shot. Today, all my cameras use SD cards. I have dropped, stepped on, and given SD cards a soaking by leaving one in a pants pocket when the pants went into the laundry. They have never stopped working properly. I use SanDisk Ultra SD cards in 16 and 8GB sizes. I shoot RAW and RAW plus Jpeg sometimes so I find larger cards to be easier to work with. I don't have to worry about keeping cards in order so that my notes (I do a fair amount of editorial work that requires note taking) jive with the sequence of images. I only have one card to take real good care of except when I shoot with 2 cameras. However, I do take a precaution when a job cannot ever be reshot. I shoot with 2 cameras and the second camera is duplicating many of the shots taken with the first camera. That second camera always has a lens on it that is wider than the one on the first camera. It's like wearing a belt and suspenders.

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BSHolland Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: need more info...

Depends entirely on what you shoot. For wildlife, I'd certainly take more capacity than for studio portrait.

I've been travelling extensively (around 40 countries, a lot of overland routes), mostly with a SanDisk Extreme III, 16GB. On various bodies from Canon / Nikon, never had a problem with that card. (I always make sure I buy cards in a reputable place – it's pretty much impossible to tell real / fake CF cards apart. Ebay is full of them.

If your card gives you grief, try running a disk check on it. On a Mac, I'd recommend something like Drive Genious. It'll show & report any bad sectors if there are any. I also carry "Data Rescue" on my laptop – just in case I do get problems or accidentally format a card.

mr645 Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: need more info...

I use 2GB and 4GB cards in slot 1 and either a 16GB or 32GB card in slot two recording backups. Often I have 2 or 3 jobs sitting on the back up card while I keep swapping out the main card as they fill up.

BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,478

Pro or amateur?

From a pro view, there's a good argument in many cases for different cards for different clients.

Depending on jpbs, this might mean 8GB.

Movies require more space. But documentaries need more than spot news clips.

Client just bought 16GB class 10 for $60. That seems like good value.


chris_uk Contributing Member • Posts: 762
Re: Recommended memory card size

I use two 32gb cards in a D3

slowhands Veteran Member • Posts: 5,470
1Gb, 2Gb, 4Gb, 8Gb more?

My card carrier handles 16 cards, which suits me fine.

Sometimes I shoot and need to turn around the images fast while shooting something else... and I'll be cycling several cards all day long. Smaller tends to be practical for these.

Sometimes I shoot events where I may want to shoot many hundreds of images...up to a thousand or so before a logical break for card swapping occurs... Larger is practical here.

Sometimes I encounter a DAD with a CAMERA at a wedding who is bragging about his camera and the 32Gb or 64Gb card...and I just smile... those are too large ...for my needs... currently.

Only YOU can determine what is right for YOU, for YOUR photography needs and budget.
(4 - 8Gb cards may be much more sensible and affordable than 1 32Gb card)

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Julius T Santos Senior Member • Posts: 1,476
Re: Recommended memory card size

I use 4gb CF cards with an 8 gb SD card as back up.

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canuck dave
canuck dave Veteran Member • Posts: 3,038
Re: Recommended memory card size

The 4Gb cards back-up nicely onto DVDs, still a great safety measure.

Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: Recommended memory card size

Thoughts and recommendations?

Was it a Sandisk or Lexar card that failed? If so, you should ask for a free replacement. Those particular companies are jealous of their respective reputations for reliability... (which reputations are justified, IMO.)

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BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,478
Good point -- warranty

This happened to me the other day. I believe I inserted the card on an angle and tore a tiny plastic part. Replaced without question -- no receipts, etc. -- at camera store.

Same happened at Costco years ago except they checked price and gave me "bigger" card because prices had dropped.

Cariboou Veteran Member • Posts: 3,231
Re: Recommended memory card size

I use 4gb Sandisk Extreme III, never I had a problems and for me is a good size, and cheap enough

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Tickover13 New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Recommended memory card size

I use Sandisk or Lexar cards. In the studio I use whatever is lying around, in the field I use 8gb cards, and if I do movies I use a 16gb card. Never had one go bad yet, cross my fingers...


Vegasluvr Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
Re: Recommended memory card size

I shoot professional sports and the biggest card I use is the 4GB Lexar or SanDisk. I use these cards maybe 6-10 times and then discard them. I do it because I cannot afford it when a card does go bad on me. Luckily none ever has except the old IBM MicroDrive.

I have tried the 8GB as well as the new 64GB cards but to me, the 4GB serves me just as good.

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snapperZ Contributing Member • Posts: 872
Re: Recommended memory card size

Discarding a card after four shoots seems a bit extreme. I imagine failure on the first shoot is more likley than on the 10th. If a card's good it's likely to remain so for many many shoots (at least the likes of Sandisk pro cards with lifetime warranties).

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MOD elfroggio Veteran Member • Posts: 3,094
Re: Recommended memory card size

photopilot2825 wrote:

For the first time ever I've had a compact flash card go bad on me. Still not sure what happened. I use a 7d and it stopped taking pictures and gave me an error.

It's very, very rare that a memory card goes bad. Almost all of the times, it's usually operator related. The slowest operation of the camera is the writing of the photos to the flash card. The writes are done when time is available, usually after the buffer is full.

So how do you prevent this?

  1. Always shutdown the camera before taking the flash card out. And wait for the activity LED (orange on a 7D) to be off.

  2. If the card is full, turn off the camera, before replacing the card. You will have lost the last picture but...

  3. Never fill the card to the last photo.

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