Are You Carrying Spare Memory Cards in Your Camera Bag?

I had a (mildly) scary event this past weekend with my camera. I'd gone out for a sunset shoot – a special treat for me (backstory here). I arrived at Bird Rock about an hour before sunset and was immediately greeted with "God clouds." Another special treat – this time of year in San Diego is more often than not empty blue skies.

I scuttled along the jetty, setup, and started shooting. Three frames in, my Nikon D7000 emotionlessly said "Cannot write to card".

The last shot saved to my memory card before it died.

My heart skipped a beat. For a few reasons. I'm standing in front of this incredible scene and can't shoot. Also, I still had photos from earlier that day I hadn't yet downloaded to my laptop. Are they lost? Then my thoughts went wilder – is the memory card socket in the camera bad? That'd just plain suck.

All of those thoughts rushed through my brain in ~3 seconds. Deep breath, focus on what you can control. I powered down the camera, removed the "bad" card, and popped in another one. I always have at least 2 spare memory cards in my camera bag. Less than 15 seconds later, I'm back to shooting. The camera is fine and the new memory card is working fine. I kept on shooting and came away with others shots I would have otherwise missed out on.

I would have missed this if I didn't carry extra memory cards.

And the icing on the cake? I didn't lose any photos from the "bad" memory card. That one is sitting off to the side to be reformatted. I reformat all my memory cards periodically once projects have been backed on my main studio system.

The moral – always carry extra memory cards. They're not just for having extra capacity if you "shoot too much." They're your backup plan and the difference between coming away with the shots or not.