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I have come up with a way to make sure the memory card I pull from my memory card case is blank, formatted and ready to use.

Before I go into that, you might wonder why I’d use a case to carry around something as small as a CF memory card in the first place. Two words: washing machine. Yep,  I’ve left cards in my pants pockets on laundry day — with predictable results. Don’t believe the stories about folks using their cards after taking a spin (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in the washer. They may appear to work fine but would you trust them to hold images from your next paying assignment? I won’t.

So, I picked up a freebie Canon card holder at a photo convention and have been using it to hold my CF cards ever since. Now that you have the backstory, here’s the system I came up with to manage my memory.
Memory card case

All blank, formatted cards go into the case with their labels facing out. As the cards are used, I take them from the camera and put them into the card holder with their labels facing in. That simple routine allows me to quickly grab an empty card when needed and also provides a visual way to determine when I’m out of memory and need to fire up the laptop and transfer files to my computer.

No muss, no fuss.
I like that. The time saved can be spent checking your pockets before you do laundry!

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Keep this in mind when shopping for memory cards. The brand doesn’t affect the quality of the images captured to the card. The brand of the card, however, can make a difference in the speed at which images are captured to and downloaded from the card. Not having the time or inclination to do speed tests on every memory card out there, Rob Galbraith, noted digital photo guru and acquaintance of mine, has done the work for all of us. Check out his website for a comparison chart of the various cards on the market and see where your card ranks.

I personally use Sandisk Ultras in my camera but also have a couple Ridata cards in my bag that have served me well. I also have a half dozen Lexar cards that have let me down. Like most things in life, you find a brand you trust and like and stick with it. Sure, some cards are better (read FASTER) than other cards. But it’s a difference of microseconds!

Like I’ve said before, it’s the photographer that makes the difference, not the gear. Stop worrying about the speed of your cards and start shooting!

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In an effort to post more frequently, I’ll share this tip with you. If you use Canon gear, buy and use Sandisk cards. I use a Sandisk Extreme IIIs in my Mark II and 20D. Lexar cards, while they’ll work, are optimized for Nikon gear. You’re still shooting in RAW format, right? GOOD. Go and sin no more. 

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