A Pocket Full of Compact Flash Cards
The price of compact flash cards continues to drop, just as their capacity and speed continue to go up. Whether you have just started with digital and are looking to get a second card to augment the one that came with your camera or you are an experienced digital shooter with a number of CF cards already, you may have found your reading ads for compact flash cards with at least a touch of lust. Well, at least I'll admit that I have from time to time. In fact, I just bought a new 4 GB Lexar Professional card for just $58 after rebate. It was too good of a deal to pass up on. If your own stack of CF cards is growing as well, you may be wondering how best to carry them.
There are quite a few brands of "card wallets" and such available in the marketplace, but I've never found one that seems worth getting. Call me a purest or something, but I've found it perfectly adequate to keep my cards in my pants pockets. Each one is in its own small plastic case it came with, but these in turn are simply loose in my pocket.
It is important to have a method to the madness though — some sort of system for keeping track of which ones have been used already and which ones are still waiting to be filled with images from that day's shoot. There's nothing worse than taking a card out of your pocket and realizing you have no idea whether you should put it in the camera and reformat it or whether it contains some killer shots you were fortunate enough to capture earlier in the day. Sure, you can resolve this dilemma by putting the card in your camera so you can review the images on it, but that's cumbersome at best.
The straightforward method I use is to always put clean, unused cards in my left pants pocket, and then move them to my right pocket after I take them out of the camera filled with images. Simple, and it works.
Whether you keep your cards in your pockets as I do or you buy a card storage wallet, you need a way to keep track of what you have. Back in the days of film, you could easily tell which rolls were used and which weren't since the leader would no longer be out on the ones that already had been exposed. Compact flash cards look the same whether they are full or empty though, so work out a system and stick to it. Otherwise, sooner or later, you may well accidentally format a card full of images, and that's something to be avoided at all costs.
Update 06/05/2007 - Reader IW writes in with another great suggestion for keeping track of which compact flash cards have been used and which haven't yet:
I also store CF cards in their plastic case loose in my pocket. I start a session by formatting all the cards and putting a piece of paper in each case. When I load up that card I remove the paper. This way it is easy to see which cards are empty (those with the paper marker) and those used.