Reccomendations for portable SD card reader/storage?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by eoghan_hanrahan, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Hi there,
    I'm planning on taking a trip for a couple of weeks and want to leave my laptop at home as I wish to travel as light as humanly possible. I'll be shooting timelapses and raw photos so will be using up quite a lot of memory. So I've been looking into portable SD card readers/storage devices. I was set upon the Digital Foci Photo Safe II (500GB) but have read mixed reviews about it. It seems good value for money, aprox $170, but of course if it fails in its primary function of delivering my photos at the end of the trip I'd never forgive myself for skimping on it.
    Has anyone used a similar or indeed this device? Got alternative recommendations? I've been looking around for forums but some are a couple of years old and I'm sure these things are constantly being updated. Money is certainly an issue unfortunately for me so I'm looking for the best ratio of value to reliability. I'm not really interested in screens on the device either to view photos while traveling, this seems quite pointless to me and an unnecessary drain on battery power.
    Thank you for reading and I look forward to any comments you might have.
  2. I'm sure it's been said before, that if you don't need a screen to preview them, then think about just taking lots of SD cards and keep them rather than re-using.
    As you hint, you stand to lose everything if the card reader fails, and you may not even know it has failed until you get home and try to copy the photos.At least if a card fails you've only lost part of your work
  3. Get a netbook. They are cheap and most have a sd card reader built in. You can download your pics onto the hard drive and then view them as well. Additionally, as it is a laptop you can use it for other things as well (emails, internet, image processing etc). Get a large capacity memory stick (80GB+) or a usb hard drive for a back up.
  4. Do you have to shoot RAW all the time? If you are not planning on post-processing all of the images, but want to keep the memories, consider shooting JPEG for at least part of the time. I took a trip to Scandinavia last summer, and did exactly that. The 16 GB CF cards that gave me between 500 & 600 RAW images from my Canon 7D, stored over 2,000 JPEGs each. When I wanted to, I could always switch into shooting RAW (actually, RAW + JPEG...). I barely got into a second card over two weeks, and I've been known to shoot 1,200+ images in a day on occasion, just not on this trip.
    But before my trip, I got paranoid, I didn't want to drag my laptop with me, so I ended up buying a 64GB iPad for "backup", and ended up not really needing it, as I never did fill up the 4 CFs I had with me (3 16s and an 8).
    Memory is getting cheaper by the day. If you have time, Both Adorama and B&H Photo are having a very good sale on Lexar media. I just picked up a pair of 32GB UDMA7 (1000x) CFs for about half price. The sale includes SD and CF. I hear Sandisk has also dropped prices...
  5. I'd second the vote for a netbook. I can't imagine storing the files on a device where I had no idea if they were correctly saved or not unless you don't really care if you come back with the photos or not. I travel with a small laptop and an external USB drive for backup so that I have at least 2 versions of each file.
  6. Or an iPad - either with a higher capacity disc, or with an external Seagate disc.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    How much total image space are you going to need? Last year, I went on a wildlife photo trip to the Galapagos Islands two week plus a few additional days on mainland Ecuador. I captured about 10,000 images on my 16MP Nikon D7000, and it was about 120G total.
    That was last year. A few months ago I got one of these Sandisk 64G SDXC cards for just over $80, but the price has since dropped by $15 or so (and I am sure it will continue to drop):
    So perhaps 1, 2, or maybe 3 of these cards will be all you need. I am not sure which camera you are using, but 64G cards are SDXC and if that is what you get, please make sure that your camera is SDXC compatible.
    Needless to say, there are 32G, 16G or 128G options as well.
    And before people start telling you not to put all your eggs in one basket, SD cards are based on flash memory. They are by far safer than hard-disk based storage devices.
    In my case, my Nikon D7000 can accept two SD memory cards and I can store each image captured on both cards. That would make things very safe unless you lose your camera, but not very many DSLRs have that capability. Some higher-end Canon and Nikon give you the dual SD + CF option.
  8. And before people start telling you not to put all your eggs in one basket, SD cards are based on flash memory. They are by far safer than hard-disk based storage devices​
    I'll be the 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' misery boots. I wouldn't trust either an SD card or a single external disc drive. I've found SD cards to be fragile and easily corrupted - I lost all images from a trip when a transfer to computer went wrong, result was a destroyed card and I was told by the data recovery people that this was very common with SD cards which fail extremely easily, and that Compactflash cards tend to be more reliable. I don't know whether that's true, but after my own experience I don't trust SD cards an inch. They're also awfully easy to lose.
    I wouldn't trust a single disc drive either. Multiple SD cards backed up to a disc via an iPad is the way I'd personally go, though of course a netbook would do the backing up too. And of course keep always keep the backup in a different bag from the originals.
  9. david_henderson


    I would not go with any device that did not give me visual confirmation that the picture is loaded OK. Neither do I delete images from cards (other than rubbish/excessive duplicates) whilst I'm away. Frankly I'd rather rely on the cards than any other single device. The opinion on other threads seems to be that cards are pretty reliable, though I use CF.
    I just bought a netbook for that purpose -I do not want to edit while away but I do want backup for my cards and the ability to email and use the web occasioanlly will be nice. If you really don't need the internet, there are hard drives with screens available smaller, though I doubt a lot cheaper because of economies of scale.
  10. For my road trips I just take along lots of cards, all numbered and used in numerical order. If I needed more I would buy a cheap note book, some are pretty small, and an external hard drive so as I reused the cards I would have the shots on two devices, the notebook's hard drive and the external drive.
  11. As much as I like to review the shots I took, bla bla....the lightest way to go is to get several SD cards. Sure, consideration should be given whether you shoot RAW and how large are the files. Personally, I use CF cards and during two weeks in July (intensive travel) I shot 850 pics. Instead piling up all the pics on one card, you can separate them to 8-16 or 32GB types...get a waterproof container and you're good to go. This way you'd not need to allot time for downloading in the field. Happy travels.
  12. Take à look at nextodi extreme!

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