Don't be an idiot and 'delete' images from your camera DURING THE SHOOT!

October 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

© Terry Mercer


Today, I saw someone calling themselves a 'professional' photographer claim that people should try to 'cull' (delete) their bad images on the spot... before leaving the event, venue, shoot... to 'save time' when they get home, and have to download, rate, sort, tweak, export, and upload images.
Here was my response to that person:
Wow ~ I totally disagree with that one! Because I'm 100% sure, unless I KNOW it's a crap shot, someone stuck their arm, or an object in the way, that an image on the back of my camera(s) will look different on the computer (and some of it *might* be saved, or used for some other purpose. And, more importantly, deleting from the card during a shoot is the #1 way to cause a corrupted memory card. In the last 30+ years of shooting digital, I've lost one card (sadly, the big race at the Kentucky Derby - on the finish line). Since then, I ceased 'culling' onsite. Do it on the computer. Not only does it help your memory card work correctly, no holes of gaps to fill in (or split files over), because the 'recording' (to the memory card is no contiguous)... it saves you battery life... keeps your camera ready for 'the next shot' (rather than down looking through the images you've already taken)... and frankly, virtually anyone can cull faster in bridge or LR (and more accurately) than they ever can on the back of their camera.
If you think of a 'drive' (including memory cards) as a deck of cards... you'll quickly understand that file 1 comes before file 2, which is necessarily before file 3. If you delete file 2, and snap a shot for file 4 that is a different size (which is 99.999% likely, unless EVERYTHING IS EXACTLY THE SAME - number of colors, focal point, focus, depth of field, focal length, etc.). When the file is large, part of it will go where file 2 was, the rest will be placed after file 3. Thus causing a fragment. The more 'fragments' there are, the tougher it becomes for the 'computer' to keep track, which not only complicates things a bit, but ultimately slows down the future 'writing' (and reading) of your memory card (or drive). If the file 4 is smaller, then it would leave a 'gap' in the spot where file 2 was, thus making file 5 fragmented 100% of the time. With part after file 4 (in the remainder of the file 2 spot), and the balance after the file 3 spot.
So, in my opinion and experience, a person is 100% (or more) safer, and better, just shooting everything they are going to shoot... never deleting anything on that memory card, until it is fully downloaded to the computer, then culling there. Once you are 100% sure you have the files downloaded, and you know you for sure have them all, THEN you can either delete all files on the memory card OR reformat the memory card (which is what I personally do, so I'm starting each shoot with a clean, clear, blank slate... and start the process all over again).
I don't understand why anyone would try to tell people to purposefully create a problem for themselves, unless they just want to help set them up for challenges, let downs, and failure. I can only assume they haven't yet experienced the problem, or were too obtuse or ignorant to understand that 'fractionally shown' file (missing part of the information, and picture) was really because they deleted files on that card previously, and created fragments, which the camera was incapable of filling in the gaps quickly (especially if you are shooting in burst modes, multiple images in a second). Anyhow, that's just my two-cents... backed by some experience, a few tests, and the reality of how computers (and cameras) actually write to their 'drives' (whether hard drives or memory cards... or thumb drives).


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If you have any questions about photography, please feel free to ask. I might not know the answer off the top of my head, but odds are I can either help you find the answer or know someone that knows the answer. After nearly 45 years of playing with hundreds of different cameras, both film and digital, I probably don't know specific 'make and model' info... but I UNDERSTAND PHOTOGRAPHY, and the PRINCIPLES & CONCEPTS of capturing and creating good to great images.
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