What Level of Photographer Are You: A One Slot or Two Slot?

The Internet experts are at it again, and this time Nikon is in their crosshairs.

The much-awaited Nikon mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and the Z7, were released last week after much hype. However, within hours the Internet was abuzz with claims Nikon had a substantial failure on their hands. These experts were claiming Nikon's new mirrorless cameras could never be used by any respectable “professional” photographer. One person stated in the comments section “...this is almost unforgivable.” Unforgivable? All of this because Nikon decided to include one memory card slot.

I'm not trying to advocate for or against the latest Nikon release or any camera release for that matter. I'm advocating for consumers to decide what is right for them based on their reasoning that is based on their own needs.

Well, at least not all of the Internet experts have lost their minds. The lead video by Matt Granger along with the video below by Daniel Norton attempt to address the hysteria with logic, something that doesn't get many page views. To claim that the number of memory slots contained in a camera determines the level of photographer who will use a particular camera is pure nonsense. I dislike using the word “professional” to describe the talent of a photographer but for this article, I will since that is how most of these experts are referring to photographers that will not use this camera because of the number of memory card slots.

The claims that a professional photographer must have two memory cards because they would never risk the loss of data by using only one card is nonsense. How long have these so-called experts been photographing? My goodness, what did photographers do in the film days? Or the first days of digital photography when cameras only came with one memory card slot? Did they refuse to photograph because of the fear of losing data? Sure dual card slots can be used as a backup and reduce the risk of data loss, but to say that this is an absolute must for “professional” photographers is a complete cow fertilizer claim. These people who are claiming a one slot camera is a failure are now off looking for the next nonsense topic to get page views. They attempt to justify their claims with subpar logic and are no help to real photographers of any skill level.

Do yourself a favor and evaluate your own needs in a camera and buy the camera that fits those needs, not a camera because some person on the Internet says the camera is only for certain types of photographers.

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103 Comments

For god's sake again with this thing? C'mon is 2018 now! To have 2 cards slots is always better than one. Too late for justifications. Nikon dropped the ball badly, now wait for the Z7s.

Yes, it is 2018 and your camera is still using 19 year old technology from 1999? Back then floppy disks were also used. Does your computer still uses them? You do realize that technology has moved forward to the point that some cars have electronic steering wheels? Where is your back then? YOU do need two SD slots because the card are flimsy built and have those pesky exposed pins which makes them extremely unreliable.

Michael Jin's picture

All memory can fail.

*will fail (eventually).

Why are you arguing against his point when he is making the same point as you? At least read people’s posts correctly before ranting.

Jon Kellett's picture

Two slots are better than one... How exactly? I've only been shooting for 18 years, digital for 13. In all that time, I've had a few rolls of film where I couldn't salvage _any_ shots, but haven't lost a single memory card. In the time that I've been shooting digital, I've only ever had a single card slot.

The point - Not everybody _needs_ two cards. How do you use two cards now? Do you interleave shots between cards, or RAW on one and JPG on the other, or do you simply duplicate shots? Does your dual-slot camera use the same card type on both slots and with the same write speed?

Different scenarios present different priorities. In the old days (say, three years ago) a fast action sports shooter may indeed have needed two matched slots, set to interleaved write. An event photographer perhaps wouldn't care about the slots being matched, as long as they could duplicate the writes.

These days we have reliable memory cards available for relatively little cost. For my last overseas trip I intended to dump all images to my laptop and reuse cards - As it turned out, my laptop was too slow for this to be viable so I purchased branded (but not top brand) cards in S.E. Asia. That means that even with checking the packaging against images from the manufacturer, there was a risk of buying counterfeit cards. Guess what - Didn't have any issues at all and still use the cards (which do perform per their specs).

I'm not trying to say that dual slots aren't needed for some people, only that if you care about that, you'd probably be disappointed by other facets of the camera and would be best to keep the D850 (which almost tempted me from Canon at the time). I think that Nikon did a good job on almost all fronts with these cameras, they're not perfect, but no camera is.

I think the only real criticism is that Nikon is charging way too much for these cameras. I'm sure they'll sell like crazy, but they're still overpriced.

Michael Jin's picture

2 mirrored slots are better than 1 the same way 2 mirrored hard drives are better than 1. When it comes to data, more redundancy = better. You can argue at which point you start to hit diminishing returns in relation to the amount of actual risk that you're mitigating for your investment as well as any potential performance hits that you might take from the processing power required to mirror that data, but having a single slot means that you have no redundancy at all and not even the possibility of it.

We preach over and over again that data that doesn't exist in at least two places should be considered not to exist at all and that's why it's so important to have a backup. A second redundant card slot creates an immediate backup as your shooting and is your first line of defense against data loss. Once you are done shooting with any particular pair of cards, they can also be stored in two physically separate locations (eg. one in your backpack and one in your pocket) for extra security.

The common theme here seems to be people sharing their anecdotal experience of how they've been shooting x number of years and never had a memory card fail on them, but it cannot be denied that there are people who have had memory cards fail on them either due to physical damage or data corruption. These anecdotes are just as valid. I've personally never had my camera equipment stolen, but I'm not going to take that experience and then tell people that they don't actually need to go out and insure their gear. If you're a professional, it's essential to do so because you're talking about your livelihood.

If memory never failed, this wouldn't be a discussion at all. It's a discussion because it CAN fail for a variety of reasons. Nobody is saying that XQD cards are not robust or reliable. They are. What we're saying is that there's a non-zero possibility of any memory card either failing or getting corrupted for a number of possible reasons. That's why many of us want the option to back up to a dual slot.

You don't need insurance until you need insurance. You don't need back-up until you need back-up. When the day comes that you do need it, though, you'll be glad that it's there.

And yes, Nikon is charging way too much for these cameras.

Douglas Turney's picture

And three would be better than two? Why stop at two? Why not demand 3 slots?

Carlton Canary's picture

If you shoot tethered you don't need card slots at all. >_>

But tethered is writing to only one disk drive!

Brian Schmittgens's picture

The folder I write to when I tether automatically syncs with my NAS, so as soon as the file is created, I've got two backups.

David Pavlich's picture

I'd like to see your tethered setup catching the bride throwing her bouquet. :-) Not everyone needs two cards, but anyone shooting a one off event like a wedding is surely tempting fate by using a single card camera. Of course, you can always ask those involved to come back at a later date to shoot the parts of the wedding that was missed because your one card went belly up.

Brian Schmittgens's picture

Never said I shot weddings. Most of my work is in-studio.

David Pavlich's picture

Note the "smiley" at the end of my first sentence. It was meant as tongue in cheek.

Carlton Canary's picture

I always bring a full rack-based server with me when I shoot. I also have them uploaded to at least three different cloud services simultaneously via a gigabit satellite connection. All jokes aside, I made a decent living shooting film and an original 5d for years. Arguably card technology has only become more reliable. I see where some people would want the extra security, but shouldn't those same people be more worried about buying into a camera system that isn't fully tested yet. Wait until gen 2, or keep buying into the system that already works for you.

thomas Palmer's picture

With Sony at least, it writes on a card AND on the hard drive (in case the cable fails)

Anthony Cayetano's picture

What kind of photographer am I? A very, very, very, very careful one... so sue me! =P

Jan Kruize's picture

Finally someone writes an article i totally agree with. I saw a sony ambassador burndown the nikon because the one card slot and 3 years a thick thumbs up for the sony a7rii with one cardslot.

Michael Jin's picture

I've also seen plenty of Nikon fans burn Sony down for one card slot and then suddenly become apologists for having a single slot when Nikon does it. Hypocrisy seems to work both ways.

Rob Davis's picture

A nice change from the typical YouTube diarrhea cannons (e.g. Northrup's).

Jonathan Brady's picture

Wow. Name calling. Classy.

Rob Davis's picture

I'll let my tremendous restraint speak for itself.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Trying a new approach this time. Good for you. Later.

Great comment bait article

Douglas Turney's picture

I like for my articles to have lots of comments. Not arguments per se but discussions. I like to read other people's thoughts especially when they use logic and are civil. I also like to see other peoples photos when they are related to the articles topic.

That's why you wrote this great comment bait article. I don't accuse, I make statement.

PS: There is no "lead video by Matt Granger". It's also statement.

thomas Palmer's picture

I'm a 2 cards slut

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