The latest "major issues" in the pursuit of photography.....camera insufficiencies! Oh my.

A few years ago many people were trashing new cameras if they did not come equipped with GPS. I never understood why and I still don't today. Very, very few people really need to have ancillary crap like GPS in their cameras.  People have rushed to explain the benefits of location tagging their images but I file that into the same folder as people who keep a meticulous record of every penny they spend in a day, or people who keep notebooks about the calories they've consumed. Meaningless informational crap. Might as well tell me how important it is to keep an Excel spreadsheet of your daily breathing patterns. You know, just for reference....

But this must be how they sell FitBits and "smart" watches that record one's workouts.

Well, the same compulsive and scary people have now decided on a new metric for all new cameras. They've decided that all cameras must now come with dual memory card slots or risk being labelled as major failures. The overwhelming rationale is that they MUST have an in-camera back up files for everything they shoot. Really? Most people who feel this way seem to be the same people who actually use their cameras to photograph their own lunches, their friends drinking coffee, selfies and bad landscapes. Hardly earth shattering reportage that would diminish the quality of life for anyone if the images were lost due to technical glitches...  And I can't for the life of me remember which film cameras we had that took double film just in case of lab accidents or mis-loads....

The cold, hard reality is that most memory cards don't experience failures on their own these days. If you follow the best practices of formatting your memory card, in camera, and never erasing images in cameras or when the card is connected to your computer, you will probably never experience a fault with your memory card. The other instances that might lead to failure are: the act of removing your card from the camera without first turning off the camera, or from a card reader without first ejecting the card from your computer.

Simple rules, and easy to follow. But no longer enough for a contingent of people who would rather try to buy their way out of incompetence and poor workflow protocols. They now demand that all cameras be equipped with additional "training wheels"  in order to be considered professional,  or even proficient. This is the same cohort that must have raw processing built into the camera as well as HDR settings and panorama settings. And all other manner of gimmicky things made possible (cheaply) by excess space on camera microprocessors.

But the very same people who demand all many of glitzy operational crap and unneeded redundancy will bitch and moan about the inclusion of first rate video on the same camera. Go figure.


Anders said...

If I were a professional photographer, I think that I would use a camera with a dual card slot, just to be absolutely certain that my images didn't get lost if one card failed.

On the other hand, I haven't had problems with memory cards for years when using Sandisk SD or CF cards. The only card that gave me trouble the last 5-10 years was a 16 GB Lexar CF card. The card simply destroyed many of my images. On the other hand I could just have used cards that were approved by the camera manufacturer 😉

The same goes for backup of my images. I used to backup on my Synology Nas with dual mirrored disks, and a few years ago I started using USB 3.0 WD disks which are synchronized with the same set of disks on my girlfriends computer. Besides that I always carry a backup disk when going to work or on holiday just in case.

Hate to loose images which was the case many years ago, when I lost hundreds if not thousands of slides from the US, Greenland, Scotland etc. when our cellar got flooded.

christian said...

I find it absolutely outrageous that a professional like you can't remember "...which film cameras we had that took double film.."

I had several, but their band name escapes me at the moment!

Best wishes!

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Anders, what if the camera you want to use only has one card slot? What if that camera is much better than any of its competitors? Do you use the crappier camera just in case? When I drive to my jobs should I take two cars in case one breaks down? In the old days cars broke down a lot. The new ones rarely fail. If I need an assistant should I take two in case one of them faints or dies? Should I take two iPhones in case one fails? How many card slots are really enough if it is true that we are playing the odds? Is photography really just like surgery? Will someone die if my card fails? Do I want that much responsibility? Are my clients willing to pay the costs of relentless, fault tolerant back up systems? How did we survive in the days before dual card slots? What did with do without in camera GPS? Etc. Etc.

Cliff said...

I strongly agree with the gist of this post. As poor as my aging memory is, I do not see the need for GPS built in to a camera. And, I strongly believe that one memory card slot is sufficient, albeit I do not take all the precautions that you recommend. But, I feel compelled to gently take you to task for some of your comments in the first paragraph.

First of all, I am positive that as a small business owner, you keep track of your income and expenses. The rigor with what you do this is none of my affair. However, for me, as a retired person who more or less follows a budget I find it just as easy to monitor my expenditures to the penny as it is to round up or down; given the tools that are readily available.

Secondly, I find the scorn you offer people people who record their workouts to very much undermined by your many posts over the years of the number of laps you swam on a given morning, and often at which pace. May be you log this information or may be you don’t. But, you did feel the need to make note of it, and seemingly it was not so meaningless to you at time.

I, at bottom, feel that these cheap shots are not up to the caliber of your generally excellent writing. But, as W. Somerset Maugham said, ”Only a mediocre person is always at his best." However, I maintain that we can only prove that if someone keeps notes.

Kirk Tuck said...

Cliff, I humbly disagree about keeping notes. I may remember the specifics or workouts but would never, ever record or remember my elapsed time for every interval. I can watch the clock and see immediately if I am swimming better or worse than usual. But keeping notes would suck the joy from it entirely.

Kirk Tuck said...

I must also disagree about my writing in general. I think most of it is fairly mediocre with only occasional flashes of competence. But I still keep practicing.

Anders said...

Hi KIrk, I probably got a trauma when I lost most of my slides :-) Card failures are really rare these days and if it should happen it is nothing but a personal "disaster" if you lose all your images from the one and only trip to the South Pole or you as a pro photographer can't deliver the images to the news paper or tennis magazine when Roger Federer wins his 19'th grand slam, but if you can reduce the probability of image loss why not?

These days there is really not a big difference between high end cameras from any of the manufacturers - great images can be obtained from Canon, Nikon or whatever camera you choose with or without dual card slots and in the right hands.

Anders said...

I do disagree, your writing is very competent. I enjoy most of your articles because your writing is very clear and to the point.

Anonymous said...

Dual Cards are essential in many photo practices which are obviously outside your area of expertise.
I shoot sports/press for a couple of news outlets, if I'm shooting a sports event I'm constantly handing over cards to an assistant for immediate uploading to our photo editors, its the same with press coverage.
It's never about card failure, it's about moving data.
I (and almost all my co-workers) will shoot duplicate files to two cards, one large card will always remain in camera and have all images from a days shoot recorded, while the second slot is constantly being handed over for uploads or even as final file delivery for some clients.
This leads to a lot of cards being lost in transit for one reason or another, not a huge problem as you've got your set on card 1. Even if cards aren't 'lost', it may be that you'll never get them returned simply due to time constraints, its cheaper to replace them than pay couriers....
As to your mention of film cameras not having a second roll, that's only partly true. When I shot press on film cameras we always shot on duplicate bodies where possible.
We had drawers full of film that was never processed. If you had something newsworthy you'd send your 'A' rolls to processing, then your 'B' rolls, just in case someone messed up the processing you didn't have both rolls in the same development tank. Or if we had two photographers covering the same event then it was essentially for the same reason.
Sorry for the long rant, I just think dual card cameras are maybe not targeted at the kind of work you do. Nikon and Canon have had them for many years which was one of the reasons you see them in the hands of press and sports shooters, not because they're spoiled children demanding extra features, because they're just essential.


Kirk Tuck said...

Aaron, I would have loved to have seen you holding a film camera up to each eye and trying to handle the controls simultaneously for 36 quick shots and would have enjoyed even more watching you re-load them. Even more fun with a couple of Hasselblads! Especially with those matched 350mm lenses!

Yeah. If you shoot sports you are exempted from the argument. But 99% of people who buy cameras and whine about the paucity of a second (or third slot) are, as I wrote, shooting banal stuff that can be re-shot. And any card failures can usually be chalked up to user error.

I love the instant and knee jerk response that because we disagree on this that the very complex (sarcasm fully intended) nature of dual cards must elude me or be outside my "area of expertise." Having owned Kodak DCS 660's and 760's in the early days of digital we got used to having two big card slots to use. Same with my more recent Nikon cameras, etc. I am keenly aware of the use. And, as I say, sports photographers who actually work for services are exempt. But the rank and file buying a XT-2 or a Rebel or a consumer Nikon are not exempt from my observation.

Now, which one of the those cameras that you use makes redundant back-ups of 4K video, just so I'll know which one to buy for shooting, you know, professional video.... Oh....we can't do that? And they call those cameras "professional?"

I'm surprised though that you aren't just sending the images to a nearby server via wireless tech and using your internal cards as back-up. My understanding (and experience) is that the real pros are streaming their take to the editors in the nearby trailers for immediate edit and upload. After all, physically running cards through a venue is so......passé...

tnargs said...

One neat thing I can do with GPS data is, using the Maps module in Lightroom, click on a location and see all my images that were taken in that location. I can zoom in and see all my images that were taken on a particular street corner, or zoom out and it bundles them together into larger and larger geographical clumps.

I like to document my home town, over the years, over the decades. I have many photos over many visits and years of the same locations. Calling me out for having mental problems if I can't recall them all is ridiculous.

Similar for my travels around my home state, country.

Rufus said...

When it comes to features and gizmos' the element of a camera spec that I have fallen for lately are the Fuji film simulation modes built into their JPEG engine.

Truly, shooting JPEGS with a Fuji using Velvia or Acros is a revelation. Images are beautiful. No post processing.

I am not ashamed to admit that as I get older I find post processing a bore. I would rather be off my ass doing something.

This is one area where latest tech has made a big difference.

Kirk - next time you are at Precision Camera pick up a Fuji XT2 and maybe a 23 or 35mm prime - wander around your usual haunt and shoot some colour velvia or B&W Acros. You'll have a ball. :)

Ray said...

The only pictures I take that I really care about are vacation snapshots and after a few years, one Europen castle looks about the same as the next. I like the GPS feature even though my current camera doesn't have it.

All features are good features and I could probably find a way to use two card slots if I had them. The real crime, and I think you would agree, is raising any such feature to deal breaker status.

I would put the concept of "Soft Corners" into this category as well. I seem to be on a roll here, so let me add Sony's lack of lenses to the list too. They make adapters folks.

Kodachromeguy said...

Hello Kirk, I agree with most of your post about insufficiencies. However, I wish my camera DID have a built-in GPS chip. During a long trip, even though I write in a notebook where I took a picture, sometimes the name is wrong or I am far from a town or village. The coordinates would be helpful in identifying the pictures after I return home. Now if we could just add the coordinates to the film in my Rolleiflex or Hasselblad..... (But recall, APS may have been going down this path of encoding data on the edge of the film.). Cheers,

TMJ said...

I have a Fitbit which I bought after I was mugged in London, almost a year ago, suffered a Maisonneuve fracture and after emergency surgery was in plaster for almost three months. And my watch was stolen, so I bought a Fitbit, which is quite entertaining, although I suspect the activity monitoring, including pulse, is not that accurate. In the meantime I have now bought a 'proper' watch again, a 1952 Longines. But I wear my Fitbit to work, although I don't wear a watch whilst working.

Diogenes Montesa Baena said...

As a Wedding and Event photographer, dual-card slots are a must. As Aaron has mentioned above, it's not that the cards will fail, it's that the cards will be lost or damaged in transit. Typically, I'll use a slot shooting RAW with a 128g card. I'll use smaller cards for jpgs in the second slot.
For the photographer who can shoot well-exposed and sharp files (with minimum cropping in post), the SOOC jpgs can be optimized for colour, sharpness, and contrast in-camera. Great for sneak peeks within 24 hours. Of course, for emailing straight from the camera (via a phone), you'll need the jpgs.

milldave said...

Hi Kirk,
It's a case of going with the flow.
We have so many unnecessary and unwanted additions to electronic devices and gadgets these days because we can.
In a world where the major developments, inventions, radically new ideas have been explored, beaten to death and then beaten to death some more, there's not much room for 'game-changing'/'earth-shattering'/'deal-breaking' improvements to be made.

So how can the Apples/Samsungs/Sonys of this world survive, if they can't sell us more and more conumer and 'prosumer' products?
By insinuating we 'must have' marginally useful features on our devices.

How can the dpreviews of this world 'reach out' (I can't, as my arms are too short!)to the current generation and show that they are, indeed, current, without the use of new jargon, new devices and 'new' features??

I don't need GPS because I can read a map, can write things in my little black notebook and have an innate good sense of direction.
My travelling days are done, so I don't need to have intimate knowledge of that street in Shanghai where I took my justifiably famous and awesome HDR sunset shot, that has made me so proud.

How does the current 'crop of crap' annoy me?
It doesn't, because I can look forward to totally ignoring such 'blah, blah' and just get on with taking and making photos that suit MY tastes, using equipment that is designed to just 'do the job'..
Flickr is just a misspelling of something I get from a poor quality cheap lightbulb, tumblr is another misspelling of something I use to polish stones and Lightroom is something my optician uses when examining my eyes.
It's not worth expending effort, time, anxiety on GPS and dual card slots, as they'll soon be overtaken by something new.
The new generation demands it!

Instead, concentrate on what makes you such a good writer: your skills, your experience because you've been there, done it and got the tee-shirt.
And when the sequel to Henry and the Lisbon connection comes out (which I HOPE IS SOON!!! Hint!), I'll be happy to curl up on my sofa and read the HARDBACK copy,
'cos I'm just an old-fashioned grumpy guy!
Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are writing about the "Consumer Reports" crowd - each little check in the boxes which tell which camera has which feature. Best camera, clearly, has the most boxes checked and presto- that is the best camera.

Anonymous said...

I shoot athletics (unpaid) with a massively insufficient sensor (MFT).

Most athletes/parents of athletes just want to look at or post 1024 x 768 on Facebook or Instagram. Every so often, Athletics New Zealand requests one of my photos. I send that in full resolution, but it invariably ends up on a website. Some people download my 1024 x 768 files and print them on flyers/programmes etc. They don't look great, but the paper is newsprint. Now, apparently, I should forget about the E-M1 Mark II and go for something like a Sony A9. Better files. Never mind what's in them.

Seriously, speed and accuracy of focusing counts. The E-M1 is a little dodgy in that respect, but I figure it's forced me to become a better sports shooter.

Colin said...

Let's be honest, cameras basically reached the point of sufficiency some time ago. So the manufacturers have to keep adding crap (sorry, 'features') in the hope that one or more of them will become must-haves. If it's not dual card-slots for amateurs who never do any paid work and therefore shouldn't worry about the tiny possibility of card failure it's weather-sealing for people who never shoot in the rain or GPS for those who never leave the town. And the punters who get caught up in the upgrade (boy do I hate that word) cycle are complicit in this scam. It really comes down to the basic question: are you a photographer or a person who likes to buy shiny new toys? If the former, most of these new features are irrelevant at best and a distraction from the process of creating memorable images at worst.

Mark Davidson said...

As a working professional, I have owned cameras with single and dual card slots. I have never felt compelled to back up my images to both cards but rather would shoot Raw to one card and JPG to the other so that they could be handed over to an event director for instant use.
GPS is not a tool of interest to me but rather a novelty that enthralls some people who use it for their own purposes. I can see it being of professional use in a very narrow range of technical applications.
AS you note our film cameras did not have dual film. Nor did they have weather sealing. Nor did they have TTL flash (until the OM2).Nor did we scrounge the world for ultra speed lenses to minimize the last millimeter of focus plane.
In film days fast lenses were seen as an advantage for focusing in low light otherwise it was deemed that you money was better spent on fast film.
The advances I DO like are silent electronic shutters and EVFs. After that it's all gravy staining the front of my shirt.

Greg Heins said...

The end product of my personal photography is large-ish prints for exhibition and, hopefully, sale. In order not to have in my archive a dozen different photographs titled "Tree and Building," for example, I like to title with location: "Boulevard Carnot." "East 53rd Street." Now that I have a camera with GPS (something I didn't know until after purchase, by the way), I'm planning on learning how to use it, with the hope that it will save me a lot of driving around on Google Street View to determine (often a year or more later) just where I took a given photograph. So, not necessary but useful.
When I think of all the lengths I went to as a film photographer (studio, sheet film, to be specific) to have a back-up, just-in-case image, especially when the assignment required travel, dual card slots seem like not much at all. And I have had a card go wonky. There were a couple of times, and all you need in a career is just one, when that back-up exposure saved an assignment.

FasterThanEver said...

Kirk, I enjoy reading your blog about your own experiences with gear, the process of taking pictures and about the business of earning a living as a photographer. Sometimes you do go too far in dismissing anything that doesn't fit your own experience.

I'm one of those people who would like a better workflow for getting GPS info into my pictures. My wife and I take pictures of wildflowers and the insects that visit them. Recording where we saw a flower is always useful to us and sometimes it is vital if we are reporting on occurrences of plants. After unsatisfactory experience with smartphone apps, I am using a standlone GPS logger band syncing with image files after the fact. That multi-step process is very cumbersome and error prone.

I'd like to get GPS info into image files in a simpler and more reliable way. That solution could be a camera that records GPS on its own. It could also be an attachment that collects GPS info and transmits it to the camera which records that info in the image files. I want to get the GPS info into the image files at the time the photo is taken.

I don't claim that my needs apply to everyone but I get tired of discussions where a number of people say that they need GPS info in the image files and then another set of people argue that "I don't need it so you don't need it. I speak for everyone, you speak for nobody, not even yourself."