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Dual cards in Nikon D800- please advise!


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coolrat Registered since 21st Jun 2012
Thu 21-Jun-12 07:03 AM

I am awaiting delivery of my D800 and would like advice on CF cards and SD cards. I have several questions:

1. Can I use my Transcend 16 gb Class 6 cards (write speed 11mb/sec) with the D800 without slow writing speeds? Are these cards fast enough for RAW format still photos? I assume they will be fine for hi-def video because I previously used them in my Panasonic HMC-150 video camera without any problem at all.

2. I want to use both CF cards and and SD cards set up as MAIN and BACKUP. If I use the Transcend 16 gb Class 6 cards as backup, then:

a) should I use a 16 gb CF card as my primary card? Or can I use a 32 gb CF card? Will the D800 work properly with a 32 gb CF card for primary storage and a 16 gb SD card for backup?

b) Will a Transcend 400x 16gb card (write speed 30mb/sec) be fast enough? Or do I need the 600x 16gb cards (87mb/sec)?

Thanks very much for any advice.


Hawk Eyes

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#1. "RE: Dual cards in Nikon D800- please advise!" | In response to Reply # 0

Hawk Eyes Registered since 09th Jun 2012
Thu 21-Jun-12 05:47 AM | edited Thu 21-Jun-12 05:57 AM by Hawk Eyes

Hi, Congrats on the new D800 purchase. This has been discussed many times on here. If you use search you can find more but here is the best info for the most part.



Cape Coral, US
5755 posts

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#2. "RE: Dual cards in Nikon D800- please advise!" | In response to Reply # 0

Ferguson Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for the generous sharing of his high level expertise in the spirit of Nikonians Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004
Thu 21-Jun-12 09:21 PM

A few thoughts to keep in mind.

The overall write time for images is roughly the sum of the write time for both cards when using as primary/backup.

How fast of a write you need is personal. There are two reasons you want faster writes -- you shot a lot of bursts (more than 17 over a short period of time), OR you frequently want to review your shots and use the back display very quickly after a burst (if you shoot a burst, then try to look at them, it is very sluggish to almost unusable until it finishes writing to the cards).

I find that two medium speed cards is more than fast enough for me, in fact two fairly slow cards would be fine most times. I usually shoot with about 60mbs and a 30mbs together and am quite happy; your mileage may vary depending on your demands.

As someone will point out the upload-to-PC time is also a factor for some (I do not care personally), but there it is only a function of the one card you upload.

Bear in mind the setting for video is separate from the stills, so you might inadvertantly end up with video on your backup if not careful. I do not think video is backed up, ever (I have not tried hard to find out, but pretty sure).

For sizing, I think you want the backup the same size or larger than your primary, because any shots you delete (e.g. obvious mistakes) are deleted only from the primary. Thus usually your primary will be less full than your backup if the same size.

You also do NOT need to use them consistently, e.g. you can swap out the primary, leave the backup in place (without formatting), and the new primary will be backed up (added to) the backup. I frequently do that, using smaller CF cards and a big 128G backup SD, just leave the SD in through several CF card swaps, downloads, and reformats. It's sort of a continual safety net -- maybe I look on the PC and find a corrupt shot a few days later, it is likely still on my SD card. Last time I looked really large SD cards are cheaper than really large CF cards so the economics worked also. Plus I like CF as primary since that's what you want to download to a PC, and I feel less likely to loose or break a CF card out of the camera.

Does it stop writting if it fills the backup before the primary? I think so, but am travelling without my camera and cannot check right now.

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