A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

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chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

Hi All,

tl;dr I need to shoot 45,000 photos in a row for a 30 minute timelapse movie. I need to swap out cards to hold all those photos, but there isn't time to turn off the camera to do the swap (I'll be shooting every 2 seconds).

I have a set of 512GB cards, and I'd like to swap them out as they become full (each will hold about 11,000 raws). I'll of course be using two in the camera, with automatic switchover.

Here's the question: if the camera is shooting and writing to slot 2, can I switch out the card in slot 1? (or vice versa).

If I can, then I can ensure that there are no breaks in the timelapse movie (I'll be shooting every 2-seconds, not enough time to turn off the camera for a card swap).

What I've done before in this situation is to have a second camera with an identical composition and lens take over while I've turned off the first camera and made a card swap, but my second camera is an A7II (not III), and the raws are different enough in their look that it's proven difficult to layer the two resulting timelapse movies over each other. I'd much rather shoot the entire thing with a single camera (I'm well aware of the risks of card/shutter/battery/aperture/etc failure).

So, will it cause a problem with the camera or any of the SD cards if I swap out a card while the camera is shooting to the other card?

Thanks in advance for any insights!

Chas

ANSWER:
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phototeacher Contributing Member • Posts: 659
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

I would experiment before hand to see if it would work.  I know with the A7R3 and A9 when you open the SD door, the camera continues to be 'live', unlike my Canons, which switch off when the card door is open.

If you experiment, I would also make sure that nothing on the shot card is corrupted when it is removed.

An interesting problem; I can't imagine shooting that many frames of anything in one shot.   I imagine that the battery will last, or you are using an external power source.

OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for phototeacher

Thanks for the reply, I very much appreciate it.

I do plan to experiment, but I thought I'd ask for info first, before I risked corrupting a card (I'll buy some small, cheap, ones to experiment with).

My first extended project ended up being over 90,000 photos (I overshot a little bit, LOL, I had to buy a pair of 6TB drives to hold all the raws and renders). I bought an A7III specifically for that project, mainly because of the electronic shutter (just before that project started, I replaced the shutters on two cameras, one for £350, and one for £550, and I've done that several times before. The cost adds up).

And yes, I'm using a big external battery, 50,000mAh. This was another reason I bought an A7III: being able to power the camera via USB-C while still being able to connect an intervalometer to the USB-micro port (not possible with earlier generations of Sony cameras). I power my other cameras with external batteries too, but these ones use a dummy battery that replaces the internal battery. Powering the A7III via USB-C has a distinct advantage: I can swap out the external battery with a new one if I need to, while the camera is still working (with a dummy battery, once the external battery is exhausted, you have to turn off the camera to make a swap).

Thanks again for the input.

Cheers!

Chas

phototeacher wrote:

I would experiment before hand to see if it would work. I know with the A7R3 and A9 when you open the SD door, the camera continues to be 'live', unlike my Canons, which switch off when the card door is open.

If you experiment, I would also make sure that nothing on the shot card is corrupted when it is removed.

An interesting problem; I can't imagine shooting that many frames of anything in one shot. I imagine that the battery will last, or you are using an external power source.

SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 6,502
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?
1

Sorry if I missed this, but why not do this tethered?

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for SQLGuy

Impractical, I'm afraid. The shooting location is away from power (no way to power a laptop for 24 hours), and space is limited (no room for a generator). It's a good suggestion though! (now I'm curious: can an A7III pump uncompressed raws to a laptop every 2 seconds?).

Cheers!

Chas

SQLGuy wrote:

Sorry if I missed this, but why not do this tethered?

splashy
splashy Senior Member • Posts: 2,623
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

I would try this before the actual shoot. It might go very wrong.

But why not stop the camera for a few seconds, nobody will see this, contrary maybe to when the camera makes a picture while you are fiddling with the cards.

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
For splashy

Oh, I’ll definitely be trying it before the actual shoot, this post is just the first step in the testing (just wanted to find out if anyone knew the answer before I started testing the hardware).

And skipping a frame is a huge no-no in timelapse, absolutely it would be seen and noticed.

Thanks for the contribution though, I really appreciate it.

Chas

splashy wrote:

I would try this before the actual shoot. It might go very wrong.

But why not stop the camera for a few seconds, nobody will see this, contrary maybe to when the camera make a picture while you are fiddling with the cards.

Ed Constable Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

How are you going to format the card after downloading the files? My experiences of formatting the card on computer are not 100% positive ...and you will not be able to do it in camera while shooting at one frame every two seconds.

Ed

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for Ed

I won't, I have several cards, enough to shoot the whole sequence. But it was a good question, I appreciate the contribution

Ed Constable wrote:

How are you going to format the card after downloading the files? My experiences of formatting the card on computer are not 100% positive ...and you will not be able to do it in camera while shooting at one frame every two seconds.

Ed

texdpl Contributing Member • Posts: 716
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

Why is this a hard thing to test.  Just try it and see if it works before you get into your "big" project????????   See if swapping cards disrupts the test.

What seems a challenge to me is telling the camera to switch card slots for recording in a two second window without screwing things up.

Seems obvious to me you need to record directly to a storage devise.

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Don L.

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 6,502
Re: for SQLGuy

chasg wrote:

Impractical, I'm afraid. The shooting location is away from power (no way to power a laptop for 24 hours), and space is limited (no room for a generator). It's a good suggestion though! (now I'm curious: can an A7III pump uncompressed raws to a laptop every 2 seconds?).

Cheers!

Chas

SQLGuy wrote:

Sorry if I missed this, but why not do this tethered?

Probably. According to this article, the A7RIII can do it: https://petapixel.com/2017/12/20/amazing-tethering-speed-sony-a7r-iii/

How are you going to power the camera for 24 hours? If you go with a good sized battery, like a group 31 or larger, you should be able to power a laptop over 24 hours with a small inverter.

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for tedpl
1

My original post was a query, to see if anyone knew the answer before I tested the hardware. Surely this isn't an unreasonable request?

texdpl wrote:

Why is this a hard thing to test. Just try it and see if it works before you get into your "big" project???????? See if swapping cards disrupts the test.

What seems a challenge to me is telling the camera to switch card slots for recording in a two second window without screwing things up.

Happily, no challenge at all. The camera can be set up to automatically switch to a card in the second slot once the first card is full. My query hinges on whether or not it is then possible to pull out the full card while the camera is still running and writing to the second card.

Seems obvious to me you need to record directly to a storage devise.

Can you suggest one? I'm afraid that a laptop isn't an option, as there is no AC power nearby (a generator isn't an option either, and having enough external batteries for a laptop for 24-hours plus of work is prohibitively expensive).

The last time I shot a project this size I used two cameras (A7II and A7III) with identical lenses. When one was getting full, I started the second. This allowed me to pull the cards on the full camera, and then get it going again (and then I'd stop the second camera). Aligning the two sets of timelapse clips, and ensuring that the look was similar enough, was difficult (though not impossible). But I'd like to try the entire shoot with a single camera this time, which is why I came here to ask my question.

I'm curious: if we were face-to-face, and I had asked this question, would you have reacted so strongly? (quotes around the word "big" implies disbelief, or contempt, and the large number of question marks implies frustration or even anger). I'd certainly give some thought to any query somebody asked me, and have done so numerous times. If you perhaps have any questions about timelapse with Sony (or Nikon, or Canon) cameras, I'd be happy to answer.

Of course, if I have misinterpreted the tone of your reply, then I apologise, and I thank you for your contribution.

Chas

OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
Re: for SQLGuy

Hey, that's a great article, thanks for the pointer!

You've got me re-thinking the tethering option. Powering a laptop with a car battery isn't something I'd considered, another thanks!

As for the camera, I have a 50,000mAh battery with 2.1A USB output. It quite happily kept the A7III's battery charged on the last project.

Thanks again, really helpful.

Cheers!

Chas

SQLGuy wrote:

chasg wrote:

Impractical, I'm afraid. The shooting location is away from power (no way to power a laptop for 24 hours), and space is limited (no room for a generator). It's a good suggestion though! (now I'm curious: can an A7III pump uncompressed raws to a laptop every 2 seconds?).

Cheers!

Chas

SQLGuy wrote:

Sorry if I missed this, but why not do this tethered?

Probably. According to this article, the A7RIII can do it: https://petapixel.com/2017/12/20/amazing-tethering-speed-sony-a7r-iii/

How are you going to power the camera for 24 hours? If you go with a good sized battery, like a group 31 or larger, you should be able to power a laptop over 24 hours with a small inverter.

jamesdgessel Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

I'm quite interested as to what project would require so many frames?? Sounds fascinating If you feel inclined, you should post a link to some of your projects. I'm a time-lapser as well, but rarely shoot over 1,000 frames. Your work sounds interesting.

As far as solutions go, I have no idea on the cards, but I suppose you could consider renting/buying another a7iii and doing what you did before with the a7ii. I totally understand that the cameras are different enough, but I suppose if you can't find another alternative, you could always do that! Of course that is pretty expensive, but hey! Its photography.

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Ed Constable Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

Chas

I don't know what your budget is, but I have used a couple of these to power a 12" Mac-book for 36 h away from power.

https://www.amazon.com/Jackery-Supercharge-26800mAh-Compatible-g-MacBook/dp/B0791BGYS3

Not the actual ones I used, but similar.

What I do not know is how much shooting tethered is a drain on the battery. It might be worth a try.

But that gives me a wild idea. Why not use one of these to power an external wireless hard drive like the seagate and save directly to that. Of course, that will have a battery drain for the camera if wireless is enabled.

An interesting problem .. please give us more details of what you are actually planning to do - it sounds great.

Ed

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
For James

Hey fellow timelapse photog!

The first project was to create a static timelapse of London over three-ish days to be used on a huge 4K display in a company’s waiting room. When they contacted me and said they wanted a 30-minute timelapse, I thought they said 30-seconds and I told them it’d be no problem at all, LOL. I can’t talk about the new project yet, I’m afraid (not even sure it’ll happen, to be honest, but I want to be fully prepared).

I’d love to see your work. My own is on instagram as @BothHemispheres and the HD versions (all that are on instagram and several hundred more) are on vimeo as “Both Hemispheres”. FYI: the really big project isn’t up there, they have exclusive use for a couple of years.

And don’t tempt me with buying another A7III, I’ve seriously thought about it (I’ve never needed an excuse to get kit, drives my wife crazy).  But you’re right: rental is an option, and I have a line on a couple (I even have a friend willing to lend). Besides the look of the two cameras last time being different enough to be an issue, aligning the two cameras was a greater challenge than I thought it’d be (the subject last time was over 2km away, and the cameras were only 20cm apart, you’d think they’d be easy to match). If there was the budget, I’d acquire another A7III and another bunch of 512GB SD cards, and run both cameras the whole time, just in case one fails (still wouldn’t solve the card switching problem though, LOL). But I’m willing to risk 24-hours shooting time to avoid that expense (what day I shoot isn’t critical, just that I get one continuous series).

I've has some great suggestions in this thread. Tethering to a laptop (running off a big car battery) holds great promise. Of course I have to test whether or not a laptop can keep up with an uncompressed raw every 2 seconds for 24-hours (and I’d have to acquire a laptop too, ha ha), especially considering that I’ll have to use an external drive to store that volume of data.

But i I enjoy a challenge! (And an excuse to buy new kit once in a while

Looking forward to seeing your work.

Cheers!

Chas

jamesdgessel wrote:

I'm quite interested as to what project would require so many frames?? Sounds fascinating If you feel inclined, you should post a link to some of your projects. I'm a time-lapser as well, but rarely shoot over 1,000 frames. Your work sounds interesting.

As far as solutions go, I have no idea on the cards, but I suppose you could consider renting/buying another a7iii and doing what you did before with the a7ii. I totally understand that the cameras are different enough, but I suppose if you can't find another alternative, you could always do that! Of course that is pretty expensive, but hey! Its photography.

splashy
splashy Senior Member • Posts: 2,623
Re: A7III: can swap out SD card while camera shooting to the other SD card?

Is it not so that the camera will write to slot two IF slot one is full.

Now what happens if you put an empty card in slot one?

Just curious,  what about camera shake when you change cards? And why is that better then stopping some frames?

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OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for Ed again

Wow, it powered your laptop for 36 hours? That's quite impressive (I forgot that the latest Mac laptops are powered by USB-C, that's really useful). That opens up more possibilities, thanks.

Interesting idea with powering a wifi-equipped backup device and using that as tethered storage. You think that it could keep up with all that data over wifi? Happily, battery drain for the camera isn't an issue, my external battery is easily large enough.

As for details of the project, it's pretty simple: it'll be a static view of an iconic London scene from a bridge. Camera will be locked down to a solid railing with a clamp (vs using a tripod), and taking 45,000 photos in a 24-hour-ish period for a 30 minute movie (which is actually a photo every 1.9 seconds, but close enough Last project I did like this was a shot every 3 or 5 seconds (3 in the daytime, 5 at night, to allow for longer exposures) for a movie of the same length. I shot that over several different periods (10 hours here, 8 hours there, then a 24-hour straight shoot, then a break and then a 48-hour straight shoot, which was tough). It was my first time putting together a project like this, and I greatly overshot (over 90,000 photos in the end, I ended up using only 50,000). Blending transitions between clips taken at different times was challenging, as the tide was often different (the Thames is a tidal river, if you didn't know), and the skies certainly were. So this time I want to shoot the whole thing in a shorter period of time, with no breaks, for a seamless result. Theoretically!

Cheers!

Chas

Ed Constable wrote:

Chas

I don't know what your budget is, but I have used a couple of these to power a 12" Mac-book for 36 h away from power.

https://www.amazon.com/Jackery-Supercharge-26800mAh-Compatible-g-MacBook/dp/B0791BGYS3

Not the actual ones I used, but similar.

What I do not know is how much shooting tethered is a drain on the battery. It might be worth a try.

But that gives me a wild idea. Why not use one of these to power an external wireless hard drive like the seagate and save directly to that. Of course, that will have a battery drain for the camera if wireless is enabled.

An interesting problem .. please give us more details of what you are actually planning to do - it sounds great.

Ed

OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,428
for splashy again

splashy wrote:

Is it not so that the camera will write to slot two IF slot one is full.

If you set that setting, yes.

Now what happens if you put an empty card in slot one?

So you're thinking that maybe the camera will then stop writing to slot 2 and suddenly go back to slot 1 when I put a card in? Hmm, that's a very good point.  I can work around it, by using a small card in slot 2 and only using big cards in slot 1, but there is the serious issue of interrupting the writing process (which was the basis of my very original question in this thread )

Just curious, what about camera shake when you change cards? And why is that better then stopping some frames?

A bit of camera shake is an issue, definitely, but not as huge a one as a stills photographer would think (I also shoot stills, of course). I use a very solid clamp (locked to a solid railing) and an equally solid head. Plus I'm only shooting at 35mm. If I'm careful, I can swap cards with minimal camera shake.

And camera shake isn't as much of an issue in a video as it is in stills. One shaky (minimally shaky) frame when they are being projected at 25fps is almost invisible (that said, a single shaky frame when it's night and there are bright lights in the shot is a lot more noticeable than the same shaky frame in a more evenly lit daytime scene).

Whereas a skipped frame always catches the eye. Someone experienced will spot it every time, but I've had many people see one of my sequences in which I've had a skipped frame and ask what it was that just happened. They always notice (annoyingly). We humans are supreme pattern recognition machines, even if we don't know what we just saw, we know we saw something

Thanks for the thoughts, I really appreciate it.

Cheers!

Chas

Ed Constable Regular Member • Posts: 140
Re: for splashy again

Thinking about your problem again. Why not wait for the new 1TB cards from SanDisk ... 44'000 images

The other thought is to use compressed RAW?

On the rates of data transfer with the wireless drive ... you are probably stuffed. I had forgotten that you were using RAW. The wireless drives are slooooow.

The Thames project sounds fun ...... and where are you getting the armed guards to ensure that the camera is there in the morning?

Ed

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