Card Storage Devices - got a new toy and love it!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bmm, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. bmm


    Over the last few months I've been looking at portable card storage devices in
    order to not have to take a laptop on some month-long travels coming up.

    I had the chance to borrow both Wolverine and Digital Foci products and put them
    through their paces. Both performed as-described and without any problems, so
    please do not imply any criticism from what I ended up with. They were both
    perfectly satisfactory units.

    What I ended up purchasing - and it turned up on Friday so I've had 4 days to play
    and experiment with it - is one of Sanho's Colorspace units.

    Let me tell you that while this thing doesn't look remarkable out of the box, it is
    quite a fantastic little unit on two fronts.

    First, while the Wolverine and Digital Foci needed recharging about every 4 to
    6GB of transfer (I use 4GB cards so that is one card per charge) this Sanho
    device has operated all weekend, including taking over 40GB of data, and its
    battery indicator still shows half-full. I should add that it has a colour screen in
    play, whereas the others don't, so technically it should draw more power - and yes
    I've spent quite some time fiddling with settings etc so my normal power
    consumption should be less than over these first 4 days. My reckoning is that if I
    don't do too much image review/browsing, I should be able to fill its entire 80GB
    capacity on one charge without a problem.

    And second, the speed difference is huge. A 4GB SD card takes me about 6
    minutes to download and verify (I believe it goes even faster with CF) whereas the
    same card took 20+ minutes on the other devices. I also like that the
    viewer/browser allows verification that all photos are on-board without a problem, a
    touch of added peace-of-mind.

    Now if anyone thinks I'm being paid to write this, I'm not! I just wanted to share my
    experience with this thing with fellow phototgraphers.

    Oh and one final thing, I opened it up and its hard drive is a generic Samsung
    laptop unit. So if I ever find 80GB too limiting, no probs to buy a unit with larger
    capacity from an IT supplier and install. Instant upgrade without having to buy a
    new unit.

    Here endeth the gushing :)
  2. Just had a look at it online....pretty impressive specs. Thanks for the review.
  3. Bernard,

    What is 'Card Storage Device'? Does it store cards?

    - Sergey
  4. "is one of Sanho's Colorspace units. "........which is ....which one to be exact????-raf
  5. Sergey... When I started to read that is exactly what I thought! They are a portable back up hard disk. When you are away you transfer all your pictures in there if you don't have a computer at hand then you can format your card and use it again.

    Bernard... They lso sale only the case, huh? So you can add any HD you want! Cool! Good to know about them! Is that your new company that you were talking about? :)

  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bernard, thanks for the information. The following comment is a general one, not directed only to you.

    What I find surprising is that I keep hearing comments such as "don't put all your eggs in one basket" so that we should not use large-capacity 8G, 16G flash memory cards, even though flash memory is a highly reliable solid-state device; they certainly can fail, but that is rare.

    However, some of those same people are perfectly willing to put 80G, 160G (or more) of images all onto a single hard drive, which is a mechanical device that spins rapidly and is far more vulnerable.

    When I travel, nowadays I always bring a laptop plus 2, 3 portable external hard drives so that I have several copies of my images. I also travel with other people who bring laptops, just in case mine fails.

    I would never trust any hard-drive based storage system with only one drive.
  7. Shun... I understand what you are saying. Usually I travel 3 times a month and I always carry my laptop and a portable HD. I back up every time at night at the hotels and the next day i use an empty card until I run out. The question is, how safe do we have to be? I even find so ridiculous that I back up everything in 2 pc's, Time capsule and 2 USB HD's and DVD. The good part is that I don't take that many shots coz I don't have the time. What about people who take 200 or 300 pics per day? How do they do it? How do they find the time for backing up? In Bernard's case, the places he is going to be visiting and all that, I don't think a lap top is the way to go. He will need a few more of those little toys! :) Rene'

    to answer Shun,

    I think I would use one as a back up device but would not erase or reformat my CF or SD cards until I was back at home base.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    First of all, I am assuming that the images you capture are important to you.

    To echo Ellis' point, today, you can buy a 16G Sandisk Extreme III type CF card for about $100, and the price is still dropping, quickly. For a "typical" trip, it is entirely doable to buy, say, $300 worth of flash memory cards in 4G, 8G or 16G cards and last the whole trip. If you absolutely don't want to bring a laptop, I would get sufficient flash cards. If I can have only one copy, I would much rather have it on flash memory than on one hard drive.

    In addition to that, you can get a hard drive-based device to review the images and have a backup.

    At home, I would set up a RAID/disk mirroring system so that each image is automatically copied onto multiple hard drives.
  10. Or just buy a D3 and pop two 16GB cards in it - set it to backup and you have two copies recorded automatically!
  11. These days I primarily shoot with a D3 and here how:

    The camera is set up to record to both cards simultaneously and I use either 2GB or 4GB CF cards in slot 1 and a 16 Gb SanDisk Extreme III in slot 2. The 16GB card is obviously a backup, But ithink if I were goign o na long trip or takign a workshop I'd get additional 4GB and 16GB cards and possibly one of those devices.

    when I use a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark 2 or the EOS 1D Mark 3, a large capacity SD card goes in to the SD slot and backs up the CF slot.
  12. FYI: My trips are usually no more than 2 weeks so 8GB or so is enough to cover my shooting. I have a $400 Asus EEEPC hooked up to a $100 Western Digital Passport HD (120GB) to backup my cards. The Asus is small (about the size of a typical portable DVD player) and under 2lbs in weight and runs XP just fine.
  13. Sergey... When I started to read that is exactly what I thought! They are a portable back up hard disk.

    Thanks Rene' for clarifying. I thought so also, I even googled for it, but could not find anything that would seem relevant.

    I think this devices have improved over the last few years. I use Vasonic, plugged in large hd from the older laptop few years ago and off we go. The good thing about these devices is that even if the battery dies the images remain on the hd. I usually plug mine in in a hotel while downloading the images from the cards, and it charges at the same time. Very cool little device.
    - Sergey
  14. "Oh and one final thing, I opened it up and its hard drive is a generic Samsung laptop unit. So if I ever find 80GB too limiting, no probs to buy a unit with larger capacity from an IT supplier and install. Instant upgrade without having to buy a new unit."

    I don't know if you can assume that for sure just because it's a generic hard drive. It may have some sort of bootstrap or firmware partition on the hard drive that needs to be there in order for it to function.

    But if it did work, that would definitely be cool!
  15. bmm


    Hi guys - great discussion and I'm glad my review has prompted this. And Rene, no this is not my new business :) Wish it was though.

    The issue of backup is a complex one. If I was to turn pro and rely on my images for mt living, and for my artistic reputation, 100% agree with Shun. But I am not, and though a lost shot would cause me some sadness, it would not be the end of the world.

    For me what this device offers is the ability to travel light. I use 4 Lexar 66x Platinum SDHC cards, each 4GB - which equates to about 330 NEF files on each from my D80. So in total my card-based capacity is about 1300 images which I fill on average in 7 to 10 days - and up to 14 if I stretch it and do a lot of in-camera deleting.

    Fortunately this timeframe covers 90% of my trips and, as such, the Sanho will be a backup device for images that will also stay on my SD cards.

    However, on the rare occasion that I am away for longer, such as my month in Asia coming up (with portions spent remotely in Sth China, Nepal and Nth India) I have to accept the risk and use this device as my only storage for some images. Short of getting another 12 of my preferred SDHC cards, its not the sort of trip on which I can realistically take multiple forms of backup technology. So my hope is that thorough testing before, and care in handling on route, will monomise the risk of loss.

    PS: The model I got was the 80GB Hyperdrive Colorspace. And I carefully read the manual last night and can confirm that you can switch out the hard drive for a larger one, within a given set of dimensions / pin-set / etc. Indeed, as Rene points out, the unit is available with no drive installed as an option, so that you can separately choose whatever drive you prefer (if you don't like the default Samsung units that Sanho install for any reason).
  16. bmm


    Sorry about my spelling above. It's morning in Sydney and I have not yet had that essential first cup of strong coffee :)
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The country name Nepal catches my eye. Unless they are sealed and pressurized, mechanical hard drives also tend to fail at high altitude because of insufficient air pressure. Whether your trip will reach an altitude such that this becomes a concern will be up to you to decide.

    That is not a concern in Sydney, though.
  18. bmm


    Shun - hmmm I should check that out, may be a significant constraint. I will be, on certain days, above 5000m (15000 feet) altitude.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Not sure how much we should trust Wikipedia, but they specify 3000 meters for hard drives:

    Didn't mean to be the spolier for this thread, but I think you (and we) are better off learning about these issues now instead of during the trip.
  20. bmm


    Indeed! And in keeping, many thanks for this heads-up on an issue that I CERTAINLY wouldn't want to find out about the hard way - while half-way up the mountain.
  21. bmm


    Just following up with more detail on Shun's comment.

    I've just gone into the Samsung site and checked specs for their mobile HDD range. Sure enough, operating altitude range limitation is -300m to 3000m (-1000ft to 10000ft).

    Non operating range goes up to 15000m (50000ft) so I should be fine to carry it through my trip, as long as I'm careful when and where I turn the device on.
  22. Serge... you're welcome!

    Shun... so much to learn! basically I back up everything manually! Well, 1 pc and 1 USB HD are in my office. Another pc and 1 more USB HD at home. The only one easy to do is the time machine since it does it as soon as I turn on my Mac.

    Reading ELLIS post, i think I have my first reason why to upgrade to a D3! C'mon guys, I need 9 more! :) Rene'
  23. I just returned from a four-month trip around Indonesia and Malaysia. Took a pair of Hyperdrive Colorspace devices, each with a 250GB drive (the Western Digital laptop drive, biggest made in the PATA interface and likely to stay that way as the market has moved to SATA drives). Anyway my scheme was to backup each card to both drives in parallel and verify with the built-in screen before formatting. I never felt very secure with the data on my card until I was backed up to both, as there's always a non-zero risk of bag or camera snatching. One drive I kept in my carry bag at all times, the other deep in my other bag at the guesthouse or hostel or whatever.

    Long story short I shot 168 GB (5D+G9, RAW+JPG small) and had no problems, no read errors, only occasionally had to charge the things (5 or 7 times in four months), and the compromise between size/weight, redundancy, and ease of access (used internet cafes to upload a few select JPG-smalls along the way, with no editing) was perfect for me. A laptop and a clutch of drives was not an option. I stored the drives in waterproof pouches and was glad for it, having been caught in a few tropical downpours where the supposed "waterproof" cover on my LowePro bag was anything but. One of the drives took a hit in the plastic cover over the screen and cracked badly, but no real damage done. Overall I can recommend this setup for harsh and prolonged use in the field.

    As for the altitude limits, recall these are laptop drives. The maker's guidelines are for use in a laptop, subject to vibration, shaking etc. They more or less guarantee it will work up to that altitude. As you increase altitude above their limit, the resistance to bumps and vibration decreases. At some altitude you will actually get head crashes, however the 4000 meters of Tibet, Nepal, Peru etc should be OK if you're careful not to keep it very still while running. This is a topic with a long history in forums like this, you can find plenty of stories of people with no problems at 4000 meters and a few stories of problems at higher altitudes and very cold temperatures.
  24. sorry - "4000 meters of Tibet, Nepal, Peru etc should be OK if you're careful to keep it very still while running"
  25. bmm


    Andy - that is good news. I have looked at the topography of the entire journey I am doing. There are a number of areas where I'll be below 3000 so will use those to back up my cards. It then goes above 3500 on seven occasions, including at the start in Lhasa, and of those three are above 4000 and one is above 5000. I'll obviously be particularly aware of those 4 highest-altitude periods and keep the device domant at those times.
  26. <p>for time I used an ipod as image tank, without problem!<br>
    now i'm interested in a Hyperdrive 500gb.... due to the fact that with the ipod thetranfer speed is very limited..<br>

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