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General Blog

Do You Have Plenty of Storage Space?

King Penguin, Gold Harbour, South Georgia.
Canon EOS 5DS R - EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM – 400mm
1/2000 second @ f4.5 – ISO 100.

In November on South Georgia, 'storage space' is at a premium for Elephant Seals and penguins. The Elephant seals are basically on their way out, the Antarctic Fur seals on their way in, and there always seem to be so many penguins, I'm not sure what they are up to! (Well, actually, their numbers are rapidly growing in November and nesting is high on their to-do lists.)

I've just returned from a second voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia with Aurora Expeditions on board Polar Pioneer and suffice to say, we had an amazing trip. The weather gods smiled upon us with rain, snow, shine and wind - the storm conditions on the Gerlache Strait were sensational to photograph (I'll show you some pics in a future post). It was really windy, but the Strait itself is relatively sheltered, so for the passengers it was just a fun day on the water.

And we also managed to get Gold Harbour in perfect sunlight to shoot the King Penguins, as shown in the photograph above and the two below.

 As amazing as Gold Harbour is, it can be challenging to photograph things differently from the previous time, so I set myself two tasks: details of penguins, and differential focus, both with a long telephoto lens. I was using my Canon EOS 5DS R along with a Canon 200-400mm 1.4x f4 L-series telephoto, which has to be the perfect wildlife lens. Yes, my biceps grew while using it and, yes, the new 100-400mm is lighter, less expensive and still amazing, but you can't fault the 200-400mm, even with the 1.4x extender dialed in (so it becomes a 560mm lens).

King Penguin wing.
Canon EOS 5DS R - EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM – 400mm
1/1600 second @ f5.6 – ISO 100.

And it's sharp. I love looking at the detail. I know the 5DS R isn't as competent a camera as the EOS-1D X, but what it lacks in handling and frame rate it makes up for with high resolution files. I can't help but think many wildlife photographers around the world are going bananas over the extra detail. 

Someone commented on my post about the Phase One XF 100MP that if you were just shooting for editorial and the web, why do you need so many pixels - and the comment is right, IF that is what you are doing. However, when I shoot I'm not exactly sure where my images are going to turn up. I know, for instance, that some calendar companies are asking for big files. While an 18-megapixel file might be all you need for a double page in a magazine, 50- or 100-megapixels is going to look a whole lot better on a large format calendar.

Kin Penguin chick - the tail end.
Canon EOS 5DS R - EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM – 400mm
1/1000 second @ f4.0 – ISO 100..

Which brings me to the point of the post this week: the Sandisk Extreme 500 storage drives. SanDisk lent me a couple of 240 GB units to trial in Antarctica and they worked like a treat. They are small (half the size of a mobile phone), light (around a quarter the weight of a mobile phone) and so far appear to be very robust and rugged. And they are fast, so once I have copied my photos onto my Wacom Companion 2 to review, it is a very quick job to back up the files to the Sandisk Extreme 500.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 is the smaller unit on the left. The larger unit behind isn't that big either - the SanDisk Extreme 900 - but it offers up to 1.92 TB compared to a maximum of 480 GB on the smaller unit.

And this is where it all comes to a head. Shooting on this trip with 50-, 80- and 100-megapixel sensors, the 240 GB SanDisk drives filled up very quickly. If you're shooting with an 18- to 36-megapixel camera, then 240 GB is probably a good size for an extended shoot, but with the larger sensors, the 480 GB model is the go.

Yes, I had two of these drives, but the way I work is as follows: I try not to reuse my storage cards (CompactFlash and SD), and I try to keep two back-up copies of all the files on small archive drives - like the SanDisk Extreme 500. So, if you're in the market for a small drive with lots of capacity, check them out!

And full disclosure - I'm a SanDisk Extreme Team Member. 


Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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