You might know this person on your photo workshop: Mr. Speedy (I’m not making this up; a group once named a workshop participant Mr. Speedy). Mr. Speedy was that photographer who came to the bar with all the day’s images already downloaded…after only being back in his room for an hour. How was that possible? In reality others (including me) were envious of his efficient workflow and blazing download speeds.
Your workflow and download times are determined by your slowest link. It doesn’t matter if you have the fastest card reader or Mac computer; if your flash cards are slow to download, every other aspect of your workflow is bottled up. It might be time to upgrade your flash cards, especially if you are using a large MP camera.
First, let’s talk about compact flash cards. Or not. CF cards are fading into history, and almost all new cameras are supporting SD format (or XQD format cards for high end Nikon cameras). Next, consider SD cards, the most popular format for digital cameras. For years I used UHS (ultra high speed) cards rated to 90MB/sec. Plenty fast for most of my needs. But then I started shooting the D850, and with the grip attached, I am shooting 9FPS at 45MB…huge files ticking off at a blazing speed. Enter the UHS II flash cards. UHS II flash cards read and write at 300MB/sec, three times faster than UHS cards. But here is the catch. You need to know if your camera is able to capitalize on this blazing speed. For Nikon users, the D500 and D850 are both UHS II compatible. You are going to get much faster performance using the new cards, and increase your workflow speed (first at dinner downloaded!). You can use UHS II cards in older cameras, they just can’t take advantage of the maximum speed the card offers. So if you are buying new SD cards, I’d highly recommend Sandisk Extreme Pro (UHS II) flash cards. If you buy a new camera in the future, chances are it will be able to use this speed. I’ve used Sandisk flash cards my entire career, and they are excellent. I’ve even sent a few through the laundry (don’t put cards in your blue jean pockets) and they worked just fine afterwards…and even looked cleaner. Sandisk has a lifetime warranty of their flash cards. To maximum your workflow speed, make sure you use a USB 3 card reader as well. Or plug directly into your computer SD card slot which is probably faster than your card reader.
I’m headed to Portugal for a workshop soon. I’ve streamlined my workflow down to the fastest components. They’re going to call me Mr. Speedy for sure on this trip…