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Since 2015, we’re in transition to faster, UHS-II SD memory cards from UHS-I cards.  The new generation of cards has a second row of contacts enabling speeds that are twice as fast as UHS-I.  But the camera and card reader must have the second row of contacts and associated components to deliver the faster speeds.  UHS-II SD cards in a camera supporting UHS-II cards will have faster write speeds, but if the camera only supports UHS-I cards, it will use UHS-II cards in compatibility mode and have speeds at one half to one fourth the speed possible with UHS-II.

In general, a fast UHS-II card is going to be twice the speed of the fastest UHS-I SD card, but because SD UHS-I cards have been around a long time, there are a lot of configurations. Some of them are much slower depending on the components of the card.  UHS-I cards are generally going to be cheaper than UHS-II cards.

Don’t confuse the published card speed with the actual speed in the camera. The actual write speed in the camera is usually 30-40% slower or more than the benchmark speed on the card. That means the fastest UHS-I card will probably have a write speed of around 70 MB/s while a fast UHS-II card has a speed of 140+ MB/s. These speeds have a big impact on the length of your maximum burst or series of bursts. This applies if you use the second slot regularly such as shooting RAW + JPEG or shooting video.

On the other hand, you can save money with a less expensive card in the second slot for overflow. So you might get a smaller UHS-II, or even a fast UHS-I card for the second slot. My approach is to buy a fast new card with any new camera, and then use my fastest older card as backup, but it depends on how current your older cards are. They do become more likely to fail over time, so after 5-6 years I just put the old cards in each camera bag for emergency use.

Right now I tend to stick with Sandisk, Sony, ProGrade Digital, or Delkin UHS-II SD cards. Lexar cards are okay but they are now owned by Longsys in China and service can be a challenge. ProGrade is the former Lexar management team.

When looking at a new card, I generally want a card size that handles a normal, high volume day of shooting. For me, that is 64 GB with a 24 megapixel camera if I shoot wildlife, and 32 GB if wildlife is occasional or uncommon. If you shoot a lot of video, or still photography with bracketing or a focus shift series of images, you might need larger cards. With a high resolution camera, I use a 128 GB card as my primary card.

Be careful of buying on Amazon or eBay. You may see counterfeits or older cards and it’s hard to tell the difference. Amazon cards that are sold by Amazon rather than third parties are normally fine.


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The Year in Review

How do you evaluate your photography for the year?  I think it’s important to review the year, but there are a number of perspectives.  I took about 30,000 images in 2014 – pretty typical for me, but a lot of images considering I did not have a major bird or wildlife photography trip.  Here are some images that were among my personal favorites.

Rocky Mountains National ParkStaton Rose GardenLeConte Lodge

Through the year I share a lot of images on Facebook and other social media sites.  For the most part, I only share images I really like – images of a quality level I would print them and hang them on my wall.  The images are all edited and sized for the web.  It’s a single folder that is synched to my iPad, iPhone, and maintained for a quick reference to my better images.  I maintain one folder per year.  This year there were about 250 images in that folder – with several bunches related to events or trips.

Golf - PGA Tour ChampionshipGolf - PGA Tour Championship

For me, the year in review starts with a calendar for family members and close friends.  The calendar is made of my favorite images, but selected in a way that tells the story of the year and maintains a seasonal perspective.  The use of a calendar limits me to twelve images – out of 30,000.  My calendar for this year has 12×12 photos, so crop size and orientation does play a part.  In creating the calendar, I start with the images in my social media folder for the year and pick the images that are the best candidates, then narrow them to the final twelve.  Here are some examples from the top 30 images.

Arizona    Monument ValleyMonument Valley

Jekyll Island - Driftwood Beach SunriseJekyll IslandJekyll Island - Historic Landing SunsetJekyll Island - Driftwood Beach Fog

Rocky Mountains National ParkRocky Mountains National ParkRocky Mountains National ParkRocky Mountains National Park

I made it a point to explore creative views and subjects during the year.  Here are a few examples of non-traditional images.

Chattahoochee Nature CenterStaton Rose GardenJekyll Island - Driftwood Beach Patterns

One of my favorite activities is photographing fox hunting.  In reality, it’s really chasing coyotes and their scent, and the coyotes are rarely caught.  But it’s a beautiful, rugged sport filled with tradition.

Belle Meade Opening Hunt 2014Belle Meade Opening Hunt 2014Belle Meade Opening Hunt 2014

Another view of the year is based on technical information based on EXIF data.  Lots of data is retained in image files.  I use a free program called WEGA2 to create charts covering focal length, ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds.  For example, I created a chart of the data for my images in the 2014 folder of web sized JPEG files mentioned above.  It was interesting to see that I have a lot more long exposure images than high ISO images.  It’s also obvious I like wide landscapes using my 16-35 and 24-70 lenses.  I can also see a group of images with my 105mm macro.  There is a wide range of images from my 70-200 lens, and a good number with my 600mm lens.  Surprisingly, I don’t have that many images in the 300-500mm range – but it’s because I did not spend much time with a heavy wildlife emphasis.  Clearly, landscape and macro dominates my images.

2014 webpost image data

I don’t try to pick a best image – although I may have several that move to the top.  That’s not the point. I don’t take 30,000 photos for a single image, but rather a portfolio of work that represents my interests, style, and preferences.  And the review does cause me to look at the variety of image types and to expand certain areas.  For example, I really liked a number of my black and white images – a high proportion compared to the total number.  In the coming year I’ll probably have a lot more bird photos, more wildlife – particularly zoo images, and increased diversity across different lighting conditions.

How was your year?

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