When Is It Too Small?

I’m talking about flash memory cards. 

The trend is for physically smaller flash memory cards with greater amounts of storage.  Between my DSLRs, compact cameras, PDAs, GPSs, and mobile phones (I’m sure I forgot something) I have flash memory cards in many shapes and sizes, and each new device hosts an even physically smaller flash memory card.

 

The trend is for physically smaller flash memory cards with greater amounts of storage.  Between my DSLRs, compact cameras, PDAs, GPSs, and mobile phones (I’m sure I forgot something) I have flash memory cards in many shapes and sizes, and each new device hosts an even physically smaller flash memory card.

I should have got the hint when my ‘micro’ SD card shot out of the spring loaded slot of my mobile phone a while back and it took me two hours to find it in the rug!  It’s really that small.  Fortunately I don’t need to handle it that often, it stays in the phone and we only talk to each other via USB cable.

 

However, there are two devices I own that require a very frequent handing of the cards.  My DSLRs and my compact cameras.

However, there are two devices I own that require a very frequent handing of the cards.  My DSLRs and my compact cameras.

I’ve always been very comfortable with Compact Flash (CF) cards.  They’re large enough not to lose, sturdy, and you can even wash and dry them without harm if you forget them in your pockets.  I can’t say the same about Secure Digital (SD) cards.

They’re too small, too light weight, appear to let water inside, and did I say they’re too small?

My professional DSLR takes one each.  A CF and SD card.  Brilliant!  (not)  When I was up north last week I had one 16gig CF card and one 16gig SD card installed in my DSLR.  When traveling I tend to use the SD card as much as possible because my laptop has a built in SD slot.  If I use the CF card then I need to find the CF card reader at the bottom of my camera bag and plug it into a USB port.

I was up in my hotel room and noticed my 16gig SD card was still in the computers slot.  I took it out, placed it in the front pocket of my shorts, and went directly to the car.  Once at the car I reached into my shorts pocket for the SD card so I could put it directly in the DSLR.  I figured I was ahead of the game by doing this immediately.  I was wrong.  The SD card was gone.

How?  There were no holes in my pocket and I heard nothing fall to the floor.  Not that you’d hear a tiny small SD card anyway.  For sure you’d hear a big clunky CF card though!  I backtracked and searched and turned my hotel room inside out and still no SD card.  Later I turned the car inside out.  Then my dirty laundry, suitcase, and camera bag.  The SD card had somehow escaped into the wild or wherever SD cards go when they’re set free.

This could have been a catastrophe.  I had 12 gigs of images from the last three days of shooting on that card.  6 gigs of those images I couldn’t replace.  Fortunately (this time) I followed my own advice and had already backed up my images on both my laptop hard drive, and my external USB powered hard drive.  This way I only lost the cost of a 16gig SD card.  It could have been much worse.

What if I was shooting a wedding and lost the card between the camera and computer?  I take precautions so this doesn’t happen, like using very large capacity cards that won’t require changing, leaving them in the big camera until I’m right in front of the computer, and so forth.  But what if I didn’t?

I’ve never lost a CF card in 15 years of use.  So far I’ve lost three SD cards.  I tend to think I’m a very careful person when it comes to such things. 

The only thing I can think of as to ‘how’ I lost the SD card, was reaching into my pocket for my keys, phone, or something on the way downstairs.  Pulling out another item might have allowed the SD card to be pulled out and fallen to the floor unnoticed.

These are the sorts of things professionals should consider when selecting and using equipment.

Until next week..