Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards
PhotoCamel: Your friendly photo community, with free discussion forums, digital photography reviews, photo sharing, galleries, downloads, blogs, photography contests, and prizes.
Photos of the Week Photos of the Week
 

Go Back   PhotoCamel - Your Friendly Photography Forum > Tools Of the Trade > Tutorials

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-21-2014   #1
F1 Camel
 
Tat2Duck's Avatar
 
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,505
CamelKarma: 6617978
Editing OK?: No
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Batteries and memory cards. These are two essentials we as photographers need extras of. There is no worse feeling than being out on location to find that your camera or flash has run out of juice or you are out of memory. Sure, you can always carefully delete unwanted images to make more room on a crowded card, but that is a hassle and you might just miss the important shots while you are fumbling with your camera. If it's power you are lacking, well, there's no recovering from that. So the lesson here is to carry extra batteries and memory cards. Always.


While having extras of these will save your tail in a pinch, it presents a problem on how to keep track of their usage. It does you no good to swap out a dead battery for another dead battery, or a full memory card for another full card. Here is a simple tip that I have learned along the way that can help you keep track of both batteries and memory cards. This is a top secret, professional tip. Are you ready? The answer is direction.

Direction

All batteries and memory cards have a direction that orients it as being up or down, front or back. For example, typical round batteries have a positive and a negative terminal where the positive usually has a nipple and is considered to be the top. Camera batteries tend to have their terminals on one end and not the other. With batteries, keeping track of directions is easy enough, positive terminal on commercial batteries is up and terminals on camera batteries is up. Now that you understand this, this system will become easy. If the batteries are oriented up, they are good and ready to go. If the orientation is down, they are depleted and need recharging.

Memory cards can be tracked much the same way, terminals up or terminals down. My concern is that I like to protect the terminals, to a certain extent, on my memory cards. For these I tend to prefer the terminals pointing down and tracking them by their labels. Label up or label down. Just like batteries if the label is up it's ready to go. If the labels are down they are full. Just keep these in mind for now because we'll get back to them.

Storage Systems

The easiest method of controlling batteries and memory cards is by utilizing some kind of container to keep them organized. Plastic cases and zippered wallets are two commonly used products. You can buy inexpensive plastic cases for just about any kind of battery. Zippered wallets are handy for storing both batteries and memory cards. I strongly suggest a zippered wallet for memory cards as their small size makes them real easy to lose.


Whatever system of storage you decide to use there is only one criteria I want you to keep in mind. You should be able to have a quick and clear view of the battery or memory card. In particular, you should be able to see, at a glance, what the orientation is on the card or battery.

"Aha!" I hear you exclaim in understanding. In other words, the storage system should have some mechanical means of being able to track what state the memory card or battery is in when stored. With a zippered wallet the tracking is fairly easy. Most wallets contain a pocket for storing batteries or memory cards. The opening become the control. If battery terminals are up, the batteries are charged and ready to go. If they are down into the pocket you know they are dead.

With Memory cards you should get pockets that are meshed as that will allow you to see if the labels are up or down. If labels are up you know you have a fresh card. If labels are down you know that card is full. While it seems obvious, having a consistent system will save time and aggravation when push comes to shove during a photo shoot. It also makes it easier when you get home. A quick glance tell you what batteries or cards to pull out and take care of.

Plastic cases are slightly more problematic. Most plastic cases are translucent and can become difficult to track orientation of the case. After all, unlike a pocket, there is seldom any way to tell what's front or back, top or bottom. Specially very symmetrical cases. For these I suggest taking an indelible marker or using a small sticker and marking a direction on one side of the case.


In the illustration at right you can see the cases have been labeled with a blue marker. An arrow with the word charged let's you know that if a battery is in the up position the same as the label, that battery is fresh. A battery facing opposite the direction of the label and you have a spent cell.

Keep it consistent

I can't stress enough how keeping a consistent system will simplify your life out in the field. I don't care if you are a photojournalist in a war zone, a wedding photographer during the ceremony or a proud parent chasing a child. When it comes to changing batteries or memory cards on the fly, you will be glad you have a system in place.

All illustrations Charles Unitas. All rights reserved.

__________________
Members don't see ads in threads. Register for your free account today and become a member of PhotoCamel to open up the site's many benefits and features.
Tat2Duck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2014   #2
Photocamel Master
 
scoundrel1728's Avatar
 
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Posts: 8,992
CamelKarma: 1411293
Editing OK?: Ask First
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

I use a variant on that for my multi-cell cases for AA batteries. Charged cells go in with alternating top-bottom orientation. This is also the way these cells typically go into the devices they operate. When discharged, I put them into their cases all facing the same direction, which is the way they go into my charger.
scoundrel1728 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-04-2014   #3
Llama
 
RetCombatVet's Avatar
 
Location: In the beautiful mountains of Arizona
Posts: 923
CamelKarma: 1028299
Editing OK?: No
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Thanks Tat. That is a helpful hint.
RetCombatVet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2014   #4
F1 Camel
 
Eero Makela's Avatar
 
Location: Toronto
Posts: 4,407
CamelKarma: 8600328
Editing OK?: Ask First
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoundrel1728 View Post
I use a variant on that for my multi-cell cases for AA batteries. Charged cells go in with alternating top-bottom orientation. This is also the way these cells typically go into the devices they operate. When discharged, I put them into their cases all facing the same direction, which is the way they go into my charger.
Wow I do the opposite, when full they are lined up, dead I alternate +-+-

For memory cards I store all in the plastic case they came in. For my CF cards I flip it so the text writing side faces a label on the case to show it is full. For SD I really don't have a good way, but with dual slot and 64gb size not much of an issue. I keep empty ones in the zipper case and full just in bottom of camera bag in their own plastic case.
__________________
Eero Makela
Photographies des femmes pour les hommes.


Eero Makela is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2014   #5
Guanaco
 
Earguy's Avatar
 
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA
Posts: 323
CamelKarma: 800291
Editing OK?: Yes
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

When I'm doing an event or something big where I'm taking lots of pictures, I start totally fresh. Formatted cards, charged camera batteries, AA rechargeables topped off.

I've taken a sharpie and numbered these items. Memory cards, 1, 2, 3. Batteries 1, 2, 3. Sets of flash batteries, 1, 2, 3. Easy to keep track of, no guess work or "codes" (upside down means used).

Your mileage may vary, but it works for me.
Earguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-05-2014   #6
F1 Camel
 
Tat2Duck's Avatar
 
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,505
CamelKarma: 6617978
Editing OK?: No
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earguy View Post
When I'm doing an event or something big where I'm taking lots of pictures, I start totally fresh. Formatted cards, charged camera batteries, AA rechargeables topped off.

I've taken a sharpie and numbered these items. Memory cards, 1, 2, 3. Batteries 1, 2, 3. Sets of flash batteries, 1, 2, 3. Easy to keep track of, no guess work or "codes" (upside down means used).

Your mileage may vary, but it works for me.
You bring up a good point I didn't bother writing about. Keeping track of usage.

Somewhere in my travels I recall reading about rechargeables having a lifespan. When I bought my first set of rechargeables I labeled them with numbers according to the set. For example; the first pack of four I labeled with a 1, the second set of four with a 2 and so forth. When I cycle them through my speedlight I make sure to keep the sets together. They also get charged together. Not sure if this makes any difference but in my mind it not only keeps them somewhat organized, it keeps the spend/recharge usage even across the set of four batteries. I later expanded to sets of eight when I got the battery packs for my speedlights. These I label with letters; A, B, C, etc.
Tat2Duck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2014   #7
Llama
 
kennethwfd's Avatar
 
Location: New forest UK
Posts: 513
CamelKarma: 2222889
Editing OK?: Ask first
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

I label my cards/batteries and use L to R in my camera bag. spare cards/batteries in the left hand pouch, full cards/discharged batteries in the RH pouch.

Also , if you use 2 different makes of camera that can use the same card, best not to swap cards between the cameras, so from my list "C" = Canon "F"= Fuji
__________________
what is the most important piece of equipment - the eyes


kennethwfd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2014   #8
Guanaco
 
jdt360's Avatar
 
Location: California
Posts: 389
CamelKarma: 2638122
Editing OK?: Ask first
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

I like tamrac's red flag system.
tamrac | S.A.S.? Memory & Battery Management Wallet 4
jdt360 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2014   #9
F1 Camel
 
Tat2Duck's Avatar
 
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,505
CamelKarma: 6617978
Editing OK?: No
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdt360 View Post
This is too funny. The image of the Tamrac wallet that is open is the basis for my illustration for this tutorial
Tat2Duck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2014   #10
F1 Camel
 
Tat2Duck's Avatar
 
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,505
CamelKarma: 6617978
Editing OK?: No
Constructive Critique?: Yes
Default Re: Useful tips for tracking batteries and memory cards

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethwfd View Post
I label my cards/batteries and use L to R in my camera bag. spare cards/batteries in the left hand pouch, full cards/discharged batteries in the RH pouch.

Also , if you use 2 different makes of camera that can use the same card, best not to swap cards between the cameras, so from my list "C" = Canon "F"= Fuji
Great point.


__________________
Members don't see ads in threads. Register for your free account today and become a member of PhotoCamel to open up the site's many benefits and features.
Tat2Duck is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

« PhotoCamel - Your Friendly Photography Forum > Tools Of the Trade > Tutorials »


Share this topic:

Thread Tools
Display Modes