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With time lapse, memory cards become absolutely critical. Of course the memory card is going to actually hold the images that you capture, but choosing the right memory card is an important decision to make. During time-lapse shooting, I'm going to be capturing a lot of raw files. If you're going to go through all the effort to set up a motion control rig, you're not going to rely on JPG. Take advantage of the full quality that raw offers. Of course, that's going to mean you need big cards. I tend to favor getting the largest cards available.
This could be a 64 or a 128, or 256 has even come onto the market. It doesn't matter, just find large, high-capacity cards that you can afford. This will give you longer shooting times. Now, one of the other things that I find really important as I select cards, is making sure that those cards are fast. As you check the speed ratings on the card, look for things like SDHC or SDXC when working with SD cards. Or, some of the higher-class cards available for things like CompactFlash.
What you're looking for are transfer speeds 400 and above. This is going to give you the most flexibility as you're shooting because it means that the file will be quickly written to the card. This will cut down on some of the delay of the card image transferring from the camera to the card itself. Fast speeds really improve that write time. Now, it's just not the card, the camera's processor's also going to come into play, but the card is one of the biggest factors. Speaking of cards, you're going to need a lot of cards.
Time lapse will chew through your footage, you're shooting high-quality stills and it's very easy to run out. You see, I have a card wallet here and its filled with cards. Now, we've already been shooting a little bit today and I've used a few of em up, but I've got lots of spares. You'll also notice that the empty cards aren't back in this wallet. One of the things I see happen all the time that people screw up, is they put the cards in their wallet, maybe they put them upside down, but then the cards shake loose and you're not sure which cards you shot on and which ones are empty.
Well, I've got a really easy solution. I put all of my empty cards in my right pocket, and I put all of my shot cards in another wallet in the left pocket. Notice both wallets, nice, hard, protected, keeps everything safe. But the blank cards are in the right pocket and the shot cards are in the left pocket. Now, you might be saying, why right and left? Well, when I'm out shooting there's a lot on my mind and it's really easy to get distracted and forget which cards are the right cards.
Well, you just heard it right there. The cards in the right pocket are the right cards to shoot to. The cards in the left pocket should be left alone. Right to shoot, left to leave. This simple strategy will always ensure that you've got empty cards ready to shoot on, and that the footage you've captured is ready to be taken into post production.
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