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Thread: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

  1. #1
    carbonmetrictree
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    Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    I've always used 2gb Sandisk Extreme III's and IV's for shooting, but now that I'm moving to MF DB, I'm rethinking my compact flash choices.

    Because the files are significantly larger than a DSLR file, I would imagine that I would have a lot of cards to have on hand. Or, I could purchase a few 8gb or 16gb cards and lighten the load. I've been lucky enough to never been in the situation with a corrupted card, but with the whole theory of 'more eggs in a basket, I would hate to see the day that a 8gb card would fail on me in the field and all of the images would be lost. What have you guys decided on in terms of storage capacity? I will be backing up as much as I can, but sometimes I am nowhere near a computer or a backup hard drive while shooting.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    jingq
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    I find the larger the memory card the longer it takes to save the file. Not sure why, but my 2GB Extreme III's were working as fast as my 8GB Extreme IV.
    I'm getting some 4GB cards to use on top of my 8GB cards

  3. #3
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    It makes no difference in my Phase back the speed being larger or smaller card but my M8 it did for sure. For the Phase i guess it clears out faster than the back is ready to shoot again anyway
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  4. #4
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Hmm, you have a good point Guy. Considering that I won't be doing any high speed shooting, it shouldn't be an issue. I'm hoping that the reliability in the larger size cards are as good as smaller sizes (1gb,2gb).

  5. #5
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Cameras and backs that are designed to use the UDMA higher speed cards should show increased write speeds to the card. There have been some "sweetspots" with some card lines, where 4GB cards are faster than 8GB, or other comparisons. If the camera/back can take the faster card, it would be better to use them. And most cards are designed to fill in a non-linear way, so that the same area is not constantly written to. That being the case, speed should be pretty consistent in writes and reads, unlike a HD disk that has slower and faster sectors.

    The other advantage of the faster cards is offloading the image files. For some, this may not make a lot of difference. Go fix yourself a cup of coffee or pour a glass of wine while the card unloads to the computer. For others, getting at those files will always be painstakingly slow, so faster downloads are helpful. (When I shoot some events and need to get at a couple of shots for quick processing and uploading for client use ASAP, being able to offload those files quickly gets them into the workflow for naming sorting, etc., faster. Again, may not matter for some folks.)

    All cards will fail at some point when the flash memory inside starts to deteriorate from constant loading and unloading of charges, so plan of replacing cards at some point. I have yet to have one fail, but a couple of the older 1GB and 2GB cards sometimes balk when downloading, and that makes me nervous enough to "retire" them, rather than risk corrupted or lost files. Just not worth the risk of trying to nurse a failing card along.

    So, it is not just for high speed shooting to use faster, larger capacity cards. The camera is usually the bottleneck for writing to the cards, but UDMA capable cameras have erased that issue for the most part.

    LJ
    Last edited by LJL; 3rd September 2008 at 22:43.

  6. #6
    andershald
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Hi Andrew.

    I have never had a card fail on me, but I guess it can happen. With my Canon 1dsII I have used eight 4gb Lexar 133x cards. In a shoot situation I fill up a card, just under 200 shots, my assistant loads that onto the laptop and external disc and check the files, while I continue shooting on the next card. It takes about 20 minutes to transfer one 4gb card. I don't erase the cards, so at the end of the day I have the images in three different locations, card, laptop and external disc. When I have shot the last images of the day, I load the card onto the laptop, chakc that the files are good, before I send everyone home. If a card fails on me, the worst that can happen is that we shoot an hours work again and that some people will need to get paid overtime, but it is better than to loose images. This system also means that I find out if something else has failed...a flash that doesn't go off or something appearing in the shot that shouldn't. Obviously if I used larger cards the transfer would take longer and the card would contain more images so it would take longer to reshoot and the delay might get longer. A card with too few images would mean constant interruptions to change cards. So the trick for me is to find the card that will containg the number of images that fits best with my shooting 'rythm' (for lack of a less poetic word).

    Best regards,
    Anders

  7. #7
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Thanks Anders, I'll probably stick with the Extreme IV series with the Firewire card reader. I tend to keep all of my cards full until I'm done with retouching, just in case God is mad at me one day and lightning bolts' my computer. :

  8. #8
    andershald
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Hi Andrew.

    God does get mad sometimes, he he.
    Your shooting situation sounds like it is quite different to mine. Is it not an option for you to get one of the small Epson or Canon 'thingies' that you can transfer your files to for back-up in the field? I don't think they are very heavy, and it might give you a little peace of mind.

    Best regards,
    Anders

  9. #9
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Haha, time to look for more things to spend money on.

    I wish Phase One had an image bank solution like how Leaf does. But, oh well, what's the fun in photography if everything is perfect?

  10. #10
    Super Duper
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Here's my take on this subject. Sorry for the long post ... but it's based on years of observations and mistakes.

    Failure/lost images:

    I shoot weddings and events ... sometimes up to 10 hours continuous shooting using 2 or 3 cameras ... including my MFD H3D-II/31.

    Unlike many of my commercial shoots, there are no second chances if a disaster happens. A commercial job you catch in time to re-stage/reshoot, a press event, journalism/sports coverage, or wedding shoot is a one-chance, one-time gig.

    Over the years, I've tracked CF cards disasters on various wedding & event photography sites. A vast % of those are due to user error, not the cards themselves. The cards CAN and do fail occasionally ... but the overwhelming % is user screw-ups of all kinds.

    (I may take heat on this, but of the CF failures themselves, a majority are Lexar being used in a Canon DSLRs. Just reporting what I've observed ... and this may simply be due to the popularity of Lexar and Canon, so the numbers are statistically larger.)

    User errors, especially in the frenetic environment of a wedding/event shoot, are by far the most common source of lost images.

    They range all over the place ... from shooting over a previously used card; reformatting a previously used card; overshooting a card and corrupting a file or worse; accidently miss-loading a card in the camera and bending the pins (rare); switching off the camera and extracting the CF before the buffer empties (common mistake); trying to download to a separate HD during the event; accidental deletions & lost folders; losing card wallets; misloading in a card reader or computer failure while downloading; screwing up the down loads, etc., etc., etc.

    No matter how experienced or prepared, no matter how organized the shooter may be ... it still happens.

    Almost ALL of these screw-ups were people touting the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" concept using smaller cards. In fact, I cannot recall a single instance of an 8, 12 or 16 gig CF card failure.

    Those long term observations convinced me to:

    1) to use a dual card 35mm DSLR camera;

    2) use the biggest CFs available;

    3) change it well before it is full (which happens far fewer times, if at all, using large cards);

    4) never delete anything on the fly, do that in the browser later;

    5) never, ever, ever reformat on the job;

    6) Download the CFs to a separate desktop folder, and set the cards aside until multiple copies of the desktop folder that have been made on separate HDs;

    7) make sure your back-up battery is working ... and use dedicated, separate back-up batteries for your computer, your HDs, and your monitors if using 2 display monitors;

    8) dedicate cards to a specific camera and mark it on the back of the CF.

    On the subject of speed:

    I use the fastest CF cards available from Sandisk ... Ducati or IV for 8 gig CFs, and IVs for 16 gig. When Sandisk gets around to 32 gig, I'll use those in my MFD cameras. I save all my older, slower CFs for goofing off in the studio.

    I use 4 Lexar daisy chained stacked CF readers and download 4 cards at once to one desktop folder (they come with the short FW cord to link them together.) Lexar now makes these in FW800 which are "supposedly" twice as fast as my FW400 versions. Yes, you can download multiple CFs at once ... the computer doesn't care.

    I occasionally multi-pass erase my CFs using the Disk Utility in Mac Applications, and reformat right away in the chosen camera. This cleans the CF of any latent, left over bits of data and junk that could currupt a file.
    Last edited by fotografz; 4th September 2008 at 03:54.

  11. #11
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Interesting I do Number 2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 like a religion. I also when done with a card on a shoot and turn it over and place in my case. This tells me NOT to touch that card again until I get to a computer and download in three different drives after that i put back in case label up and only reformat before a shoot. This way if my whole system blows up i still have it on the card for a few days. And I ALWAYS format in camera and also once in a while reformat on the computer just to clean out anything sitting around. I also agree with Marc most failures are the guy behind the viewfinder.
    My advice never change anything up ever. Be as boring as can be and act like a machine and always do everything exactly the same way so you never ever get confused in the heat of the moment. I know if I look in my card case exactly what to use and exactly what never to touch.

    I also use a Lexar FW 800 reader
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Chiming back in.....I too am religious about doing things, as Guy mentions and do pretty much what Marc has mentioned in his list and comments. My experience has been much the same....the shooter causes the vast majority of errors, not the cards, and if you are very methodical in you handling of what seems a rather mundane set of tasks in workflow, you will not have many problems. Flashes not going off, things in the frame, etc., are separate issues that have little to do with the cards, except being stored as data on them. As Marc mentions, DO NOT delete files from cards while shooting.....delete them AFTER you have dumped the contents of the cards to the computer.

    Initially, I was buying into the myth about "all the eggs in one basket", but after working out the methodical workflow, that myth is busted.....higher capacity, fast cards are your friend. Treat them carefully, and they will not let you down. Abuse, neglect or slight them, and you are asking for problems....when you least expect them.

    LJ

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    I really wish camera companies would take that damn delete button off the freaking camera completely. It is nothing but a major issue waiting to happen. NEVER delete a image in camera. Love that stupid option delete one or ALL images. You know how many people hit the ALL by accident.

    Please never even get near that button. It's a disaster waiting to happen. Yes i am very religious about this subject as you see Marc and LJ are also. This is one area not to be a flake
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  14. #14
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Thanks for info guys. I tend to force myself to work as close to a film workflow as possible, one case for empty cards and the other for full cards. This also goes along with the LCD, I force myself not to use it, but I do check for focus and composition once in a while.

    Guy, you're definitely right about the delete button. It would be nice to reassign that button just like how you can reassign the autofocus and Live View buttons in the 1dsMk3. Would it really be that hard to make a on/off function for the LCD!?? If those engineers can build a camera with mirror lock up, Live View, and a very complex auto focus algorithm, you would think that an on/off function wouldn't be too difficult to have implemented in the firmware. Oh well, I suppose a nice Post It note will do fine for now.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    I currently use 8G and 16G Sandisks, but as a buddy pointed out when he was buying a few new 8's and I suggested a 16, he made the point that the battery for our backs won't even last long enough to fill an 8, so what was he going to do with a 16? Obviously two schools of thought here, and either way it is still a lot of eggs in one basket...

    I tend to upgrade my cards every year or so by buying the next larger size or two up, then fire sale the older, smaller ones.

    Oh, and I only buy Sandisk Extremes any more...
    Jack
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    My CF card treatment is much the same as that listed by Marc, Guy and LJL. Although I still use some of my smaller cards without issues. I work pretty methodically and don't do events where one is more likely to goof during card changes.

    That said, I thought I was perhaps the only one who hated the on-board delete feature. I often suggest to others to avoid it, but I'd prefer it wasn't even available. I would love to have a setting in the camera/back preferences that disallows in-camera deletions. I've never hit it by accident, but I've gotten spooked a few times when I was wanting to zoom to check focus or to call up the histogram. It would be great to have a setting which would be addressed like the LCD view timer or other preference where in-camera deletions could just be turned off.

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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Marc I was interested in your comment about the Lexar cards. In all the cards I have used over the years, I have had two bad ones-- both Lexar cards. I also had problems with their card readers. I had two that just stopped working after a relatively short period of time. I tried to call to get them replaced under warranty but they refused. I never bought one of their products after that. I pretty much use san disk at this point.

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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    Quote Originally Posted by mark1958 View Post
    Marc I was interested in your comment about the Lexar cards. In all the cards I have used over the years, I have had two bad ones-- both Lexar cards. I also had problems with their card readers. I had two that just stopped working after a relatively short period of time. I tried to call to get them replaced under warranty but they refused. I never bought one of their products after that. I pretty much use san disk at this point.
    Conversly, the most reliable card readers I've ever used are my Lexar Pro stackable CF readers. In fact, I just ordered 4 of the newer FW800 versions to go with the faster 16 gig Sandisk IVs.

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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    I use Sandisk 16/8 GB cards as well and never remove them during a shoot. When I get back to my computer I am extremly careful to ensure that there is not a static shock when inserting into the card reader.

  20. #20
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Opinion on large capacity CF cards?

    And now with SSD hard drives and HD video recording coming out for cameras, I'm hoping that solid state memory will start to drop. 16gb would be a great storage to have, but it's price is making me think about waiting a little while longer until the price drops.

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