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Taking Care of Your Camera Cards

02_Camera Cards

They have the capability of storing so many precious moments, from that adorable shot of your French bulldog licking its own crotch to that epic flash of lightning over the Grand Canyon. We have gotten so used to handling, using, and reusing these little pieces of encoded plastic, we often forget how valuable they are. A broken camera or bent tripod can be replaced, but you can never recreate the same shot twice. When managing multiple memory cards at a time, routine is key, and while you may come up with your own maintenance system, here are a few Peter Lik-approved tips:

Keep Your Memory Cards Dry and Safe

 A total no brainer, right? Then why do we so often find our memory cards resting at the bottom of our debris-filled pants pockets, or living amongst that pile of change in our backpacks? Even worse, many of us have accidentally let these valuable storage units roll around in our laundry machines with our unmentionables (gross). Always keep your cards in their own special spot – a pouch, bag, or case – a place where they will be completely protected from the elements. One option is to check out the very durable lineup of memory card cases from renowned brand, Pelican™, perfect for protecting Peter’s cards on any adventure.

Keeping Them Clean

Let’s not neglect those crucial metal contact areas that are exposed and vulnerable to our grimy little paws. DON’T TOUCH ‘EM! The oils from our skin can affect the way the cards interact with slots and card readers. Always carefully wipe them clean using a dry, delicate microfiber cloth. No matter how tempted or obsessive you are, please stay away from going for that cleaning spray under your kitchen sink. It will only make matters worse.

Always Keep Your Cards Handy

Do you know where your memory cards are? Well, you should. Whether need to switch out cards, change cameras, or if a card falls off a cliff in the Andes, you will need to grab another one quickly. Not only is it best to keep them in an easy-to-find location, you might want to go a step further and categorize your cards based on how many digital bodies you are using. Staying organized will give you a more efficient day of shooting and will ensure a much easier afternoon of uploading.

Reformatting is Your Friend

 Just like tailoring your pants to fit that growing gut, it is so important to reformat your cards to be perfectly compatible with your camera. Can you imagine getting ready to line up for that epic Hawaiian wave, when you encounter a dreaded ERROR message on your LCD screen? A total soul-crusher. Reformatting your cards, only after downloading and saving their stored images, will keep them interacting properly with the camera and wipe out any old bits of information left behind from previous files. Always reformat cards, old or new, using the camera itself, and not a computer.

Don’t Overfill Your Cards

 Your memory cards are not endless black holes of storage. They are more like big closets that can only hold so many sweaters you have decided to save for absolutely no reason – other than a mild case of hoarding. Waiting to download images off your cards until they are full is like waiting for the closet door to burst open and spit out a few of those cable knits. Since every card is a bit different, a good rule of thumb is to keep your cards as tidy as possible by consistently removing shots. This will help avoid potential image corruption, gigabyte loss, or worse.

Buy Quality Cards

Stay away from the discount rack at your local convenience store! No question you are gonna want to spend a bit more cash – if you can – on decent brand names, such as Lexar or SanDisk, with high capacities for storage and good processing speeds. Cheaper cards, while not known to affect image quality, are usually slower, unreliable and can be less than helpful when it comes to data recovery. To make matters a bit more fun, not every SD or CF card is compatible with every camera due to continual model upgrades and format variations. So, definitely do your research beforehand, and ask a professional to help you select the best cards for your needs.

Have a Backup Plan

 So, you have captured your masterpiece and you can’t wait to get home and upload that beauty to your computer for hours of endless staring – while imagining all the fans and collectors that will attempt to outbid each other over that quadruple rainbow you captured in Phuket, Thailand. Then, panic sets in as you realize your card is missing!!! First, if possible, always upload your images to a card reader or laptop while on location, as a precautionary measure. Also, when using a fresh card, write your personal information on a piece of paper and capture that as your first image. In the case that the card is accidentally grabbed by another shooter or found by a random stranger, he/she will have a good shot at locating you.

For more photography tips, be sure to follow Peter Lik on Instagram @peterlik

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Posted on May 3, 2016 at 4:46 pm

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