Retail therapy – UHS-II SDXC

Human’s. After feeling down, a great way to get over it is to spend some coin! I ordered and received some camera gear over the last few weeks I thought I’d share and review, along with a tip or two.

Firstly, a not real cheap but very fast 300MB/s Lexar UHS-II SDXC card (eBay). 64GB is more than enough for my photography needs, if video is your thing, you may require a larger capacity card.

The Olympus EM1 Mark II has two SD slots, but only one of them can take advantage of UHS-II speeds (check your camera for compatibility before wasting your money). Unlike normal SD cards, these cards have two rows of contacts as shown below. Note, there are many fake cards on the market claiming to be UHS-II but they only have one row of contacts and the printed writing is different.

Why? Well, it’s not really necessary for general photography but is highly beneficial in reducing buffering and increasing write times for video recording (which I don’t really do much of) but for me, the main advantage is in macro photography – where I take multiple images to bracket and stack the focus. It is much faster, especially when bracketing up to 150 images – saving them all to the card with one press of the shutter button!

Also, the EM1 II has an Olympus exclusive feature called “Pro-Capture”, which I use mainly for birds and fast moving objects. In this mode, on half pressing the shutter button the camera starts taking frames without recording them. When you then fully press, it can save up to 14 frames recorded before the button is fully pressed – and up to 99 more images after the press saved to the SD card – at 60fps on high mode. The faster card means you can keep shooting without waiting for the card to save.

Another benefit of the fast card is in long exposures such as astro photography, especially when using in camera noise reduction. These files can take a while to write on a slow card.

SD card tips: OK, so here’s a few I learnt the hard way a long time ago. When transferring files from the SD card to PC, I ALWAYS remove the card from the camera (or drone) and use a card reader. I NEVER use a USB cable or WIFI (unless I want to edit a quick shot on the iPad while away).

Why? I have lost data – images – using USB. I have also had a card become corrupt and unusable. Direct transfer is more reliable and faster! I have never had a problem since doing this. I double check all files have been transferred – usually to my server which has two hard-drives mirrored – before I delete all images off the SD Card. Remember to back up your PC hard drive to a remote, off-line one every month or so (cough, cough, note to self!!).

Leave the camera’s SD card door open until you put a card back in! (Same with the battery door, but do take care where you place the camera, you don’t want to break a door). There is NOTHING WORSE than getting to a location and discovering you have forgotten and SD card or battery!

Formatting: While not usually necessary, it is best to always format the SD card in your camera (not PC) before using it. Some people suggest reformatting it every time you transfer photos off it, but I think that’s ridiculous. I probably reformat mine once a year, again, I’ve never had a problem.

I also bought some after market Wasabi Power batteries (ebay) with a convenient dual USB powered charger – so I can recharge from a USB power-bank anywhere! I paid extra for these higher powered 2000mAh fully decoded batteries, they work perfectly (at least 10 charges now) – with battery % reading in camera unlike the non-decoded version that show a non-genuine warning. I put some strong tape on the batteries to make a tab, so if they ever swell, there’s something to pull on.

Well, I hope I haven’t bored you and maybe you learnt something from my mistakes. I was going to include some more goodies, but this post is long enough, so … more exciting optical gear – including a birthday present from my wife, soon 🙂

And to finish off, if you made it this far, here’s a surprise photo or two I’ve had for a while, but it didn’t really fit in anywhere. Happy snapping 😉

Inspired by black lives matter, portrait of an inherited figurine that lives in our lounge room.
Classic V8 beast – Ford Rambler ute, so big, it has it’s own postcode!

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