CF and SD Card Care Tips

8 CF/SD Card Care Tips

The CF/SD card care tips I’m sharing with you are basic.  It’s extremely important to follow a plan when storing your image data while traveling.  If you have a plan and develop good habits using your CF/SD cards you should not have any problems.  Here are 8 TIPS that will help assure all your images are captured and stored safely.

1.  Get in the habit of not filling the card completely with images. In other words, when you are shooting and the counter is indicating that you have only 30 images left on your card, consider changing out the card with a fresh one.   Don’t overshoot the card.  If your camera tries to save the last few shots onto your card it can corrupt those images and can lead to card lockup.

2. When you are ready to use your card again, instead  of choosing to “Delete All Images” within the menu on your camera, choose to “Format” the card. When you format your card you are starting over, erasing all your images.  You are making sure the card’s system structure is wiped clean and is in sync with the camera you are presently using.

Use One CF/SD Card In One Camera

3.  Only shoot with your card in the camera you are shooting with. After you have formatted your card (see #2) you don’t want to remove the card and use in another camera body.  When you do that you risk the chance of corrupting the card because of the two different camera file systems. You can do this, not saying it’s impossible to do or won’t work, but by doing it you are taking more risk with your cards. For example, I will format all my cards on my Canon 5D Mark III. If I decide to shoot with a different body I will put a fresh card into the camera and do a quick format so that the file systems match (since my original format was done with the first body I was using).

4.  Try not to delete images from your camera as you are shooting.  This is what is called “back fill” and I will try and explain. As you hold the shutter button down you are shooting a succession of images 5,6,7,8,9. Each image you shoot will be a different size depending on data recorded. If you decide that you want to delete image #7 and immediately take another shot, your memory will “back fill” the next image to fill the space that image #7 was. If this new image is bigger it will try and fill the rest of the data from where you last left off. Our cameras, being computers, understand what they have to do and can piece all this information together. This is all well and good.   But if your card is corrupted it’s harder to recover the data because of “back filling”…make sense?

5.  Have a plan to know what cards have already been used, and what the subject matter is on the day you are shooting. When I store my cards I place in my CF/SD card holder with the label side facing in. This is a quick reminder that the card has already been used. There are many small cases on the market to hold your CF and SD cards so finding one to suit your needs will be easy.

Power Off Your Camera Before Removing Your CF/SD Card

6. Always turn off the power of your camera before removing your card. Let me repeat this…Always turn off the power to your camera before removing your card. Also, if your camera is recording images to the card (usually indicated by the LED light lit up on the back of the camera) do not remove the card until that light is off.

 7. If you store the cards in your pants or shirt pocket make sure to keep them in the plastic storage cases. While compact flash cards feel secure in your pockets, they are really at risk if not in a case.  Dirt and lint in your pockets can get inside the multi-pin sockets and can destroy and corrupt them.

8. Make sure the batteries on your camera do not fail when you are shooting. If your battery signal is flashing “low power” it’s time to replace. If you don’t, you run the risk of having the battery die as you are recording images to your card. Not only will you lose those images, but you also run the high risk of causing card errors. So, make sure to keep an eye on your camera battery and replace it before it goes completely dead.

If you are from the old school, before digital came into view, you used roll film in your camera.  Or you may have even shot sheet film like myself.   Did you treat your film like it was irreplaceable?  I’m sure you did!   Treat your cards like they are rolls of film because in essence that’s what they are. If you shoot 1000 images in the Serengeti and you loose them due to a dirty or corrupt card…guess what…you just lost 1000 images and will understand how important it is to practice good habits taking care of your cards.

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