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Tips for Importing RAW+JPEG when Shooting on Separate Cards

PhotoJoseph's picture
December 11, 2012 - 4:50am

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 image on the left has the [R] on it, meaning the RAW is the Master. On the right; [J] for JPEG

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.

Deleted JPEGs

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.

Apple Aperture Eye-Fi

Just as an aside: I recently started using my old, dusty card again– in tandem with my iPad. I had read about the iPad app– Shuttersnitch, which now enables me to immediately transfer photos from my Nikon D800 directly into my iPad running Shuttersnitch. I can do this without the benefit of a wireless network being present– in fact, the iPad is now “tethered” to my D800.



Interesting — what model EyeFi card do you have? That’s what this new model also does, with EyeFi’s own software. You can set it to transfer ALL photos, or just the ones you lock (selective mode). And yep you can do it to the iPad or desktop, too. Pretty cool.

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I am using the 8GB, Class 6, Pro X2. They have a new 16GB version which is Class 10. A friend of mine has that one…but we really don’t notice any significant speed difference between the two.

I also find the EyeFi software cumbersome to use; with Shuttersnitch you needn’t run the EyeFi software.




Shuttersnitch is pretty pricey. I see that it lets you filter images by exposure and other variables, but since the setup still has to happen to get the EyeFi to work (the app description even warns you this could take hours to get working right), what is the advantage of the app for EyeFi users? Assuming they have the latest card, of course (which also does not require a wifi network to transfer to the iPhone or iPad, and you can set it to transfer all photos or just the ones you lock).

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I could never get my EyeFi card to work efficiently - in order to adjust settings (including setting which device it downloaded to) one had to connect it via USB to a computer.  Every time I did that it proceeded to download all its contents onto the computer to which it was connected -but over WiFi! Madening. I effectively gave up on it.  

And now that I have an OMD EM1 I use its WiFi capabilities with an OM app and the results are everything I might have wanted from the EyeFi which is now relegated to a standard SD card.

Joseph, RE your rawjpeg post; I presume side-by-side means effectively importing the two photos as as two files as a opposed to a stacked pair. Is that correct? Then if by the other choice of first importing the JPEGs one then imports some of the corresponding RAWs do they end up as side-by-side or RAW+JPG pairs? Or can one choose?

Is there a command that makes the later import simple if the names are not changed? While it is a real bummer that name-changing on import effectively makes the subsequent RAW import a very manual process, could an identical name-changing regime on import fix it as far as the library behaviour is concerned?



Yeah, the Eye-Fi can be persnickety, for sure. Built-in WiFi is by far a better choice if you have it!

I presume side-by-side means effectively importing the two photos as as two files as a opposed to a stacked pair. Is that correct?

By “side by side”, yes I do mean two photos as two files. You will see duplicate files next to each-other in Aperture; the JPEG and the RAW file. You can manually stack them, but you can't turn them into a RAW+JPEG pair. That's a feature I feel is missing.

Then if by the other choice of first importing the JPEGs one then imports some of the corresponding RAWs do they end up as side-by-side or RAW+JPG pairs? Or can one choose?

I actually don't recall, and can't test it right now… but give it a try. Shoot a couple of pairs, import just the JPEG files, the see what the options are when you import the matching RAWs.

Is there a command that makes the later import simple if the names are not changed?

It's in the import dialog. You'll see it says “import matching RAW files” or something like that, under the RAW+JPEG section.

…could an identical name-changing regime on import fix it as far as the library behaviour is concerned?

Hmm, I don't think so. Once a file has been renamed, it gets complicated. You could try renaming the files in the Finder before importing, using some other batch renaming software, but at some point you're going to stop saving time and start wasting it.

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