I realize this is a tip that will be useful to very few of you, but I came across it today and thought I’d share. And even if you don’t have a camera that holds multiples cards, you may find some of the thinking here interesting.
A small selection of highest-end dSLRs have multiple camera card slots. The older Canon 1D series have a CF+SD card slot combo, the latest 1Dx has dual CF slots, and the top-end Nikons feature two CF slots. I suspect there are other dual-slot cameras out there, too. There’s lots of ways to use those two slots, but what I’ve always done on my 1Ds Mk III is shoot RAW to the CF and a JPEG (sometimes full size, sometimes smaller, depending on the need) to the SD card. For example if I’m using the SD card for JPEG backup, then probably I’ll set the camera to capture full-size JPEGs.
The Eye-Fi Pro X2
I recently bought the Eye-Fi 16GB Pro X2 Card which allows me to send photos from my camera to my iPhone wirelessly. It’s really quite awesome (but not perfect… I’ll talk more about the card in another post) and allows me to satisfy my indescribably odd and curious need to post photos to Instagram religiously and immediately but also to shoot with a better camera. Usually the Eye-Fi card is in my X100, but that’s in for service now so I ended up carrying around my 1Ds this weekend, specifically because I could still use the Eye-Fi card and post images to the socials as I shot them.
For those who have seen my posts elsewhere about the X100, you’ll know that when I shoot with that camera, I almost always have it in one of two recipes that I’ve developed for in-camera image processing; a crunchy, saturated color look or a high-ISO high-contrast B&W look. When I’m shooting with that camera, I don’t want to mess around in post processing later. I want to shoot and be done with it; hence the in-camera look. This is something I never do with my dSLR cameras; when I’m shooting there, I want clean and pure and I’ll make any changes I want in Aperture, thank you very much.
However this weekend, since I was shooting with the 1Ds yet wanted to treat it like the X100, I went ahead and dialed in a couple of custom looks, and then set the camera to shoot RAW to the CF card and small JPEG to the Eye-Fi SD card, since it was just for Instagram sharing. In retrospect though, I quite like the look I got and wish I’d shot at full size JPEG! But I digress…
Importing to Aperture from a single card
Aperture has some really fantastic features for those who shoot in RAW+JPEG. At the time of import, you can choose to import them both side-by-side, or as a RAW+JPEG Pair, and then choose whether you want the RAW or the JPEG to be the original (a term that is sure to change, now that “Original” has taken the place of “Master”… oi, the confusion). Anyway you choose which version goes on top, and that’s indicated by a little [R] for RAW or [J] for JPEG on the image pair. You can swap them at any time from the Photos menu, too.
The other choice you have is to first import JPEG files, which being smaller will import faster, and then after a primary edit, you can choose to import only the matching RAW files (say, just for your 2-star and above selects). This way you still have a JPEG for the rest of the files, but don’t have to fill up your drive with RAW files that you don’t care about. I think this is a feature that was designed with photojournalists in mind; those who shoot a lot, need to import and make selects as quickly as possible, then once the job is done, probably don’t care much about anything other than the selected shots.
The challenge with the first scenario is that to import as a pair, both versions have to be on the same memory card — so in my example of shooting RAW to the CF and JPEG to the SD, you can’t do this. The second scenario works just fine; import JPEGs from one card, make your selects, then pop in the CF to grab the necessary RAWs. But that leaves the dual-card, single-import shooter without a solution.
(Oh and it’s worth noting that if you rename your JPEGs on import, then the RAW files won’t be able to match. So there’s that little challenge, too.)
Copy to the hard drive first
The solution is quite simple and obvious; copy all photos from the CF and SD cards to a folder on the hard drive first. Put them all in one folder, and let Aperture sort them out. This also allows you to rename on import as you usually would.
NOTE: If you have been using an Eye-Fi card, then you may have been locking photos in-camera to trigger the transfer to your iPhone. If you do that, then copy the photos to your drive, then import as referenced and choose to move not copy, those original files will import but not move, and the thumbnail will actually end up in the Aperture trash. Took me a while to figure out what was happening. So just be sure to unlock the photos in the Finder before import.
There is still one situation to rectify. At least on the Canon (can’t speak for other cameras), you choose which card you want to look at when previewing the images — the CF or the SD. This also means that when you delete an image in-camera, you’re only deleting it from whichever card you’re looking at. So you could have more RAW photos than JPEGs on import if you deleted any while chimping the LCD.
Easy enough solution though. If you imported with JPEG on top, then just search for RAW files and you’ll find your orphans. Easy to delete. Aperture won’t show you the RAW files hidden under a JPEG in a pair when searching like this, so no matter what’s on top, it’ll be easy to find the alternates and whack ‘em.