Photographers spend great attention and detail to lighting and arrangement and the right equipment, but they don’t always extend such care to protecting the actual photo assets.
The SD cards within digital cameras are magical, as such small devices can hold thousands of images and are easily transferable from device-to-device.
However, these cards are not meant for longer-term storage, and photographers should instead look to safer options such as external hard drives and cloud storage.
The fragility of SD cards does expose them to certain risks, and in this tutorial, David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology International, suggests six best practices photographers should follow to ensure they don’t lose those precious moments they’ve captured.
01 Keep warm and cozy
SD cards and liquids do not mix as the contact points and inner workings can easily be disrupted. Avoid spilling a cup of coffee on the cards and preventing extreme changes in heat or humidity.
If the cards are wet, then allow them to air dry before reinserting so you don’t damage the inside electronics of the camera itself. Better to buy a new $40 SD card than risk your $4,000 professional DSLR.
02 Give it a minute
After clicking on the shutter button, the DSLR formats and saves the image to the right location. This process isn’t instantaneous, so avoid accessing or removing the card immediately after taking a shot.
Especially if you’re taking multiple shots (of for example a sports scene), then the device needs a little time to create the right formatting. Otherwise, you risk corruption.
03 Don’t swap them out
SD cards are best kept with a single device during their entire lifespan. This is because the device has its own formatting process which is then imprinted on parts of the SD card.
Moving the card from a DSLR to a computer, and then a GoPro is a bad move because it introduces formatting errors and further exposes the card to the elements.
04 Watch the power
A DSLR needs enough battery power to properly write the file and perform other functions. If you take some shots on low power, then there might be a formatting problem.
You can then use a reputable data recovery software, but some problems might not be fixable.
05 Avoid “on the fly” editing and deleting
DSLR cameras have editing functions where you can crop and zoom into photos. However, these functions can be tricky because they change the formatting.
And if you use the camera’s editor to delete photos, it might use “destructive deletion” which is permanent and non-recoverable. Don’t delete a batch of great shots by mistake without a backup.
The better approach to editing and deleting photos is to safely download the photos a computer and then use editing software (after backing up your files!).
06 Be redundantly redundant
The last point underscores the need for file backups for all of your work. External hard drives and cloud storage are both cheap, especially compared to the value of your photos and the potential costs of photo loss.
The best approach is to automatically copy files after every shooting session.
Consider making “backups to the backup” by, for example, moving files to an external drive, and then copying them all to the cloud.
Then if you have a natural disaster in the home or studio and your DSLR and computer are wiped out, you still have the cloud.
For photography pros, the actual photos are the inventory, revenue source, and branding image all rolled into one. The digital property should be protected at all costs.
Following these best practices for SD card handling and backup storage allow photographers to focus on composition and scale, instead of file corruption and data loss.
David Zimmerman has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years, and specifically in the data recovery software market for 18 years. During this period, he has been involved in the creation, marketing and support of the earlier drive recovery software products to enter the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally.
His company, LC Technology International, Inc., is a leader in data recovery, file system utilities and data security technology. Clients include original equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, corporate security specialists and IT consultants, among others.