SD Card, Wintertime, and Static

Yet another reason on my mile long list to despise the winter months. I trashed a 32G Lexar Pro SD card the other day. I would have included an image of the destroyed little piece of technology but unfortunately I tried to fix it. No such luck. It was toast and my homemade surgery elimiated anything worth taking a photo of. More precisely it eliminated the damage caused by the original incident.

The short story is that it was extremely cold and dry here in the mid-atlantic over the last week or so. When combined with the carpet and the shoes I happened to be wearing any movement by myself whatsoever seemed to build up about ninety million volts of electrical potential on my person. I happened to notice it but didn't really think too hard about it. During one of my little test sessions where I was pulling the SD card out of my camera every few minutes and inserting it in to my iMac the little Lexar Pro decided not to show up for import. I removed and reinserted it a few times to no avail.

After repeating this and rebooting my iMac due to the entire built-in card reader not even showing up under system info I actually looked at the card. All of the plastic between the gold plated contacts was literally melted and there were burn marks on some of the contacts. Hence the surgery that was unsuccessful. Watch out and pay attention - this will happen to you to if you are not diligent.

Now a slightly longer version about diligence for those of you that need a little Monday humor… Yea I noticed the static. I was reminded of it every time I moved and touched everything with a little sharp jolt and sometimes even a visible blue arc before I actually came into contact with ground. Heck I even saw that arc from the SD card to the case of my iMac. Yes I saw it and things were fine more than once. To be candid I saw it and felt it a bunch of times and even knocked out the card reader once before trashing the SD card itself. Hence my attempt to reboot the machine the second time it would not read.

Sometimes I am like this… ummmm I do stupid shit seemingly on purpose. Not really on purpose but I do tend to put them on some sort of imaginary back-burner list of things to do something about at some fuzzy point in the future. This usually happens when I am focused on some other puzzle or endeavor. Upside - when I actually get focused every once in a while I stay focused and cannot be distracted - the world could be coming to an end around me but I will just keep on moving forward in a strait line like the terminator. The downside is that I do stupid shit like this.

You can be assured that this will never happen to me again as I dutifully ground myself with left hand on my iMac case while holding SD card in right hand even when there is no static build up like today and yesterday.

The reason I bring this up is first and foremost to alert you that static is a huge danger in winter climates to memory cards. Imagine if that card was actually important to a client - like a wedding or something. The secondary reason I bring this up is that technology fails. Even reliable technology. I know this and you know this but I would venture that it's a bit more of a concern now that it was when you first started shooting digital.

Way back in those days when I was shooting RAW I actually had to change cards fairly frequently. Yes it may be a big deal if I lost one but not world ending. Fast forward to 2013. Memory is dirt cheap - most cameras have lossless-compressed RAW - and… given todays middle of the road tech like a 24 megapixel D600 and a 32 Gig SD card I quite literally can shoot all freaking day RAW+JPEG and not change cards. Heck I just did that the other day.

Here's some common sense but worth articulating out loud. If your camera has dual memory slots actually use them. Not for additional capacity. Not for movies. Actually use them redundantly. If you don't have this capability then make it a habit to switch memory cards back and forth between two of them or three of them. Yea you could by smaller cards on purpose but who does that? I do but it makes no practical difference unless you are nuts. I buy 32 when double or quadruple that are available. I could buy 16's but that is still a hell of a lot of lossless compressed 24 megapixel images. Is anybody really going to buy 8's or 4's or 2's at this point. Fact is those may not even have the performance to get the most out of your camera and certainly will be completely unusable with your next.

Point is the game has change for middle of the road tech in terms of how much actual work you loose when you loose one. Be proactive about it. You can bet not only will I be grounding myself but will use the D600 dual slots religiously when shooting anything other than StupidCrap™

RB

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