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.

Douglas Turney's picture

Doug Turney is a Connecticut based photographer who specializes in non-ball sport types of photography such as motocross, sailing, and cycling. But that doesn’t stop him from shooting other types of photography too. Doug believes photography is photography and doesn’t like to be typecast. Doug loves to travel and often shoots when traveling.

Log in or register to post 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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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

But tethered is writing to only one disk drive!

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

Thank you.

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.

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

Wow. Name calling. Classy.

I'll let my tremendous restraint speak for itself.

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

Yup hahahaha.

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.

I'm a 2 cards slut

At least you are honest and have come to accept that you are fine being a 2 cards slut.

These comments are only really a market driven question*, in other words, has the market shifted and does it expect dual slots? Well, the market has already responded, and Nikon can't service demand.**

Hence, the argument is settled.

*the average rate of failure of XQD is likely negligible.

**unless Nikon is lying, which is doubtful.

I’ve been shooting professionally for 8 years. When I saw the first reviews about the card slots, it was the first time I’d realised that people write to 2 cards (seriously, who does that). I’ve never had a card failure. Writing to two cards seems like such overkill!

As a professional who's been shooting for 8 years, do you not back up your images to more than 1 drive? If so, how would that be any different?

I backup my cards every night. The difference is that if a card goes, I lose at most, 1 days work. If I lose a drive that isn’t backed up, I could lose the entire job.

Yes, they would shrug it off. I do 150 days a year. Also, for me, recording 4K footage onto two cards is impossible, so I approach photography with the same tactic. Remember also, losing a day's work is the absolute worst case scenario. If a card did break during the shoot, it is unlikely it would happen after the final shot of the day.

Finally, I shoot landscapes as part of a broader travel theme. Landscapes is just what I choose to show in my portfolio. With travel, if you lose a days work due to card failure, you could make it up in the remaining days. It is not too dissimilar to a rain day, except that card failures never happen but it often rains.

A lot of people do that, both professional and amateur alike.

When was the last time a card failed in your camera? Do you need more memory than 128GB? Can you fit a card into your shirt pocket as a backup?
I wonder if the complainers are professional photographers or people who just write on subjects they think they understand just to hear themselves talk?
Get real people, one card slot is enough for us mortals who do photography for real.

A card in your shirt is not a "backup" because it will not have the photos that you lost in the event that the card in the slot failed. Whether you're a professional photographer or not, every photograph represents a unique moment in time that won't come back.

If that's not important to you, that's fine. For some of us, it is important regardless of whether we are professionals or not. I shoot redundantly even in a non-professional setting because I value the images that I take even if it's just of my family—especially if it's just of my family.

I also find it rather amusing that so many of the people now defending Nikon's one-slot decision were either bashing Sony when they were releasing cameras with single slots or sitting quietly on the sidelines.

There is MORE THAN ONE benefit to having dual card slots. It's not solely to mitigate against card failure.

True, Nick. I've never had a card fail, but I have effed up a card or two all on my own. That's why I dupe the sucker as quickly as I can.

And back in the film days when I was shooting weddings, I shot with two cameras and duplicated important shots on both cameras as often as possible--because sometimes film labs also screwed up.

We're in agreement. However, what I'm saying is, having dual card slots is NOT just about card failure. You're only talking about card failure. Film days = moot.

In this debate, a frequent rejoinder to the complaint about not having dual slots is "you didn't have dual slots when you were shooting film"--so apparently it's not moot. The response to that is, "No, we didn't have it, and we weren't happy about it."

People complain about not having dual slots on a >$3000 camera today for the same reason they'd complain about not having heating and air conditioning in a $500,000 house...when other houses in the same neighborhood have it for less money.

It's not about what level of photographer you are. It's about how important the photos you take are to you and how much risk you're willing to take.

It's also about a $3400 camera body ridiculously deciding to leave out that second slot when the same exact company puts dual slots in not only similarly priced bodies, but lower end bodies as well.

While I don't think that a single slot is a mis-step, the pricing is...

The problem with the single card slot (IMHO) is 90% related to the price of the camera and 10% to the year we live in. Nikon released the D750 with two card slots *(technically not listed or marketed as their PRO model) and charged $2,300 for it, and I believe they could only get that price because it had 2 card slots! Otherwise people would have bitched about it back then too.

When Sony released the A7II (back in 2014) it only had one card slot, but it also only cost $1,700. Again, it was also 4 years ago. Now Sony releases the A7III and its still cheaper then the Nikons and its has dual cards.

If Nikon would have released the Z7 for $2,000 and marked it strictly as a PRO STUDIO shooter, and wildly good at other things, then released the Z6 for $1,600 and said, "this is our entry level (but still can do it all) FF mirrorless" the world would have rejoiced.

You can't charge more then $2,000 for something and not at least offer the same as the competition in specs. Especially when those specs are not mind boggling hard to achieve, its a dual card slot, not that hard.

PROS can still use a single card slot, but a SMART PRO, would not pay $2,000 for a camera that didn't have one in 2018.

Really, smart pros? What about all the smart pros that use Leica or Phase One (not the latest)?

The vast majority of people shooting Phase One are doing so tethered and hopefully to RAID setups that automatically enforce redundancy.

As for smart pros that use Leica, I'm not sure which "smart pros" you're talking about since paying an obscene luxury price for an inferior product is hardly a "smart" choice by any measure. Not referring to Leica film cameras here, which are actually very solid as a system. Primarily referring to their digital cameras, which are gimmicks and whose lenses are better served adapted onto other systems.

Besides preventing data loss due to corruption, having two card slots is also useful for:
- You can delete unwanted photos on the first card to make transferring easier and editing faster, while having a backup if you delete something by mistake (I use this daily).
- You can delete and leave only the best pictures for a real time delivery, while having a backup for a most thorough edit later. (I use this on big events with real time delivery)
- If you are running out of space and don't have means to get a new card, you can change from backup to overflow for some extra mileage. (Already saved me while shooting big festivals)
- You can send one of the cards to edit by someone else in a real time delivery, while you can keep the backup and don't have to worry about getting the files back.

More comments