Storage solution needed for 4 week trip - please help!

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by lindsey holland, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. I'll be touring Thailand for 4 weeks and need a cheap storage solution for my images.

    I'll be using a 5D, and my husband will have a 30D. We'll probably lack any kind of discipline when it comes to
    how many images we take. We don't want to rely solely on CF cards, so we're looking into portable storage
    devices. Our budget is limited for this, though, so we wouldn't be able to buy a storage device, and enough CF
    cards to not have to wipe any of them.

    I've read that Hyperdrives are very reliable (something like an HD80 or the Space). Even so, I'm not sure I'd
    want to just rely on one of these, and buying two is over budget. I'm also investigating cheaper alternatives
    that we could buy two of, so that if one goes down, we'd have another copy. The probem with this is that cheaper
    alternatives are just that - cheap and poorly built.

    We've looked at getting an Asus EEEPC laptop/netbook, and then taking our two external drives as well - heavy but
    maybe a better solution?

    Another option that I'd like opinions on is getting a pocket surfer like the one they talk about here:

    and like this:

    I can't find much information as to whether it's usb compatible though. Would this work?

    I leave in less than a week - after a busy season, it's only now that I'm thinking about myself, this trip, and
    getting into a last minute panic.

    Please help!
  2. if youre not going to rely on a hyperdrive, then maybe you could consider a sony portable dvd burner or one made by another company. . . you could burn DVD's, multiple copies if you want and then reformat the cards. . .
  3. "I leave in less than a week - after a busy season"

    Based on that, I would buy more CF cards and not have to wipe any of them.

    If you're going on a trip that you won't repeat often, you don't want to experiment with new (to you)
    technology *and* erase your CF cards, which are a proven way of storing images.

  4. Tony - I wondered about a dvd burner. I do know another photographer who had one break during a trip - he only noticed after several days. That's the downside (the same as for drives that have no viewer): it's hard to tell whether everything's properly saved. Have you had better experiences with Sony ones?

    Eric: the thing is, I can go through 5 x 4GB CF cards in one day shooting a full wedding. So, for 4 weeks, even though I won't be doing anything like reportage coverage of my trip, I'd need to buy soooo many CF cards to be sure of not running out whilst stuck on a remote island. That's why I thought a drive with lots of memory would be a good idea. I'm not overly concerned about the dealing with technology that's new to me - so long as it's reliable and doesn't require major surgery to maintain it. Do you still think CFs are the way to go for me?
  5. I was just over there too, have a great time! I used the Smartdisk Flashtrax unit with a CF slot and pop-up screen. It was
    great b/c I didn't have to use camera battery or time while transferring, just pop in the CF card. Also, you could check to
    make sure the images were there since it thad the screen, which made me rest easier about erasing the cards. Of course,
    no hard drive is fool proof, so you just need to decide how much "safety" you need. Not sure on your budget, but it was
    around $300, I think.
  6. Thanks Amber - I'm looking into the Smartdisk. Where in Thailand did you visit?

    Another option that's occurred to me is to wait until I'm in Bangkok and buy something there where it should be cheaper - so long as I can find the right thing. Does anyone know how feasible this would be?
  7. OK, I have been in a similar situation, although my trip was only a week and I was able to make do with extra CF cards. Honestly, for the price of laptops right now, you can hardly beat that solution. The bonus is you also have a laptop to get online and communicate with the world, if you choose to. The secondary solution that comes with most laptops today is a DVD drive, and the third if you have internet access is web based storage. One thing to keep in mind however is that if you are not in a hotel or location with free and fast web access, it can take a long time for uploading large RAW files. Anyway, for $599 or less you're on your way and it is an investment you won't regret in the future. Getting a 15" size or smaller will keep the weight down as well...
  8. I always take my laptop and an external HD when I travel but I know many either can't or don't want a laptop. Don't know your budget but here are some alternatives......

    or their newer version
  9. Lindsey:

    The problem as I see is that you don't have sufficient time to test anything new to you at this point.
    Even a laptop. As cheap as memory cards are these days, it just wouldn't be worth the risk to me.

    Now, if your trip was a month or more out, and you had time to buy, test, and possibly return one of
    these solutions, I'd say go for it. A week out? I'd be buying CF cards if I were in your position.

  10. I've used a Hyperdrive for several trips. Just keep the batteries charged. Works great, never had a problem.
  11. mpo


    It's a risky idea to try something new on a trip you won't repeat.

    My advice is that you just buy extra CF cards. I traveled Europe for five weeks with just one 8GB SD card in my Nikon D80 shooting at its maximum resolution (but no RAW). Of course, I had two extra cards in my bag (and a lot of other things) but never used them.

    As you already noted, discipline has a lot to do here.

  12. Before I go on to ask more questions... point taken, Eric and Marcelo; I'm giving it serious thought.

    Bruce - this is what's annoying me. I'm in the UK. You have all of these fantastic gadgets over there in the US and I can't find them here! To make it even more annoying, guess where I'll be after Thailand?... Texas, for Christmas (family thing)... where I could have any of these things delivered easily.

    Does anyone know of a Wolverine stockist in the UK? Google finds nothing. I'd read that they'd ceased trading actually, although that could be wrong. All of their products here certainly show as no longer available.

    At this point, I'm either going to spend £150 on CF cards tomorrow or take my chances on Bangkok (unless in a moment of pique I click the hyperdrive buy button of course).
  13. Barry - I meant to ask: which Hyperdrive do you use?
  14. Use an iPod to store photos - you will need a card reader. This is what my son used on a trip to Italy about 5 yrs ago.

  15. Friends of mine recently visited Sochi on the Black Sea coast and just "winged it" with cards. They had no problem with a supply. According to this, the supply of cards is more than ample at your destination.

  16. I'd also suggest getting a bunch more CF cards. Most other storage devices (except a DVD burner + laptop) will only store the one copy. A laptop is a target for theft and a lot to lug around for a month if you are going on exotic hikes Don't put all your photographic "eggs" in one basket and just buy lots of CF cards and a way of storing and sorting them. I've heard the cards can even survive being underwater as long as they dry out fully before being used again. Having a limit on your photos may also make you think more about each shot and help you to make each one count. Since you say your shooting weddings and using a bunch of cards a day already, just imagine how many more you're going to need when you upgrade your camera. If you're not planing on upgrading soon you could always buy the cards now and sell them when you get back, or keep them for back to back to back weddings :)
  17. I travel in Thailand and Vietnam every year. Unless you are going to be stuck in the jungle (pretty hard these
    days), you can burn DVD's everywhere. Or upload to a site and keep it safe until you get home. I have an Asus eee
    that I brought the last couple of times. But laptops can be stolen or dissappeared.
  18. Bob, Jamie and Malte - thanks. Yes, I'm thinking of taking this route. As it happens, I have a 5d Mk ii on pre-order (didn't get released in time, for me to take d**m it), so I'm well aware of the need for more cards soon. I'm just trying to save money before Christmas, really, and I have been needing another back-up device for weddings (had a close call when my super new-ish Mac Pro started crashing and wiping files from all open windows).

    It's really good to know that there are DVD-burning cafes everywhere. My only concern regarding this is that I have 10 away-from it-all days: 6 on a remote island with no shops but with fantastic scenery, and then 4 in the jungle. But I can probably wing that with enough cards and that aforementioned, erm, discipline.
  19. I use a full blown portable computer. Does not have to be a fancy model, just one that will burn a CD. I have a
    MacBook 13" no options. It also has my second allowed installation of photoshop.

    We use it at home to take anywhere in the house as it connects to the wireless router.

    Download and then burn two CDs. Then check them to be sure the images are safe and correct. Some people
    mail one copy home.

    Upload to Smugmugg or Carbonite for later retrieval.

    Under no circumstances should you use public computers as the CD may not work when you get home. No way
    would I use a blind device.
  20. I've been using a HyperDrive HD80 for almost three years with no problems. It's more more portable than a laptop and more rugged than a laptop or DVDs. It (and my images stored in it) have survived backpacking trips around Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam (and Korea, Japan, and England).

    Internet cafes are common in the heavily-touristed areas, but I never saw them when I got away from the tourist areas. (That doesn't mean that they weren't around, but if they were there, there was no English signage.)
  21. Another note about HyperDrive: they do have international delivery. When I bought mine, it was shipped to Korea
    within a week.

    And another note regarding "erm, discipline": To hell with that! You'll have spent an entire day in airports and
    planes, with additional time in buses and boats (and maybe several hours of hiking) to get to your destinations,
    which you may never visit again. The last thing you want to worry about is whether you should or shouldn't take
    the shot because you may run out of storage. Take twice as much storage as you think you'll need, shoot anything
    and everything you like, and exercise discipline during editing after you get back home. You won't have any
    serious regrets about the extra hundred dollars (or fifty pounds) you spend on a bigger drive, but you'll
    definitely regret missing shots that you wanted on your multi-thousand dollar trip.
  22. I was just thinking, can PDA's or smart phones connect to cameras via mini USB ports & transfer files ? if thats possible and if u hav any PDA/smart phone with huge storage u can look for an appropriate cable and give it a try.

    i know, it sounds geeky ... still ... :)

  23. Asus eepc 1000H - 10", intel gma 950, 1 gb (one module only, if you want to change it, you must take out that only one and put antoher module - recommanded is 2gb for vista or/and xp) and 160GB HDD.
    Packard Bell 12.1" , intel x3100, 2gb, hdd 160gb hdd.

    You can use them everywhere you have battery inside, maybe you can take a car charger...
    You can take raw or jpg how many do you want now...
    I hope so it helps.
    Have a nice trip.
  24. Another vote for the Hyperdrive. I've taken mine to Turkey, Morocco and Europe for month-long trips and never had any problem at all. Small, reliable, simple.

  25. "I do know another photographer who had one break during a trip"

    if you spend enough time in this business you'll meet people who have broken just about everything there is to break. I've dropped $10,000 lenses, broken tripods, smashed cards, dumped hard drives in the water, flooded CF cards that were in my pockets, left items in locations that I could not afford to return too, it's just life, nothing is absolute. . .

    I use CF cards, hyperdrives, and DVD's. In truth, i've never, ever had a Hyperdrive failure. Why do you need to see the images to know if they saved? The Hyperdrive space that I use does not show a photo, it does tell me that the data stored/saved, i dont need to see the images, i know what I captured and if I really want to look at the images, i'll do it on the back of my camera (who needs two tiny little monitors) before I save them. Data is data, if it saved, looking at a digital file of it wont change that. I'll give you this much, it may make you feel better to "see" them on your tiny hyperdrive screen, but if it saves, it saves. . .

    I'd stop fretting over this, no matter what you do you will not have enough redundancy, there is a risk in all digital media, just like there was when we use to send off film. . . Just do your best to reduce the risk as much as you can and your budget will allow. . . Heck, you could have your great taken from you, the plane might even crash on the flight over. The point is you cant eliminate the risk, and with your limitations, you can only have so much redundancy.

    Good luck, and get back to worry about making images. . .
  26. you can buy one of this
    you can buy without hdd (only the case) and you'll buy the hdd after, because is much cheaper like this.
    is a very stable device and the batery is enough for 100gb of download.
  27. Hi ,

    I am a photographer based in Thailand. If you need any info drop me a line.

    I would recommend taking a small laptop and then buying an external enclosure plus a 2.5 inch notebook drive. These things are tiny and very reliable. I have 3 of varying sizes. I think they even go up to 300gb now. i would buy a smartdrive enclosure that can be bought at pantip plaza in bangkok for approx 10 pounds and the hard drive would be about 50 pounds.

    Alternatively , you could just take the external drive and load the pictures up in an internet cafe. They are all over thailand so you should be able to find one very easily.

    otherwise take 1 x 4gb card and edit like crazy. That would really help with the selection process and If you have 250 keepers after 4 weeks you could end up as the next Steve McCurry.:)

    richard daniels
    Bangkok Thailand
  28. Take as many CF cards that you can afford and only shoot what is worth shooting. Concentrating on worth while shots will save you a lot of editing time also.
  29. I copy everything to my laptop and take an external drive as backup. I think you should buy an EEE or a different netbook. The Acer Aspire One series has up to 160GB hard drives for $400. I'm thinking about buying one of those for travel. I would not trust burning a DVD unless you verify it after burning.
  30. I have been on the one month trip and I bought two 16GB CF cards (one for me and one for friend and promiss him that I will test it for him during the month) and then I took two USB sticks each 8G (you always find some internet coffee). You can take also you USB harddrive. You will know pretty soon you are running out of space and you will be forced to find any photolab, internet coffee, or any kind of shop where they can have PC and ask them if you can copy it, probably they will want some money....
    Good luck.
  31. I can suggest 2 options
    1) buy 10 Sandisk Extreme III 4 GB disks from at £ 13.24 each (throw in a fiver for the overnight) which would give you about 3000 RAWs or 6000 JPEGs
    2) Go to tesco and buy one of their small laptops at £ 299. Not the fastest but acceptable.

    Oh, and enjoy the trip. Most of us here are very, very jealous.

  32. Here's what I use (as you mention as an option above):

    That's 120 gigs of storage, plus all the features of a laptop. Very small, light, and cheap. I'm quite pleased with mine.

  33. Shoot film! :) :) j/k

    Laptop and portable hardrive. You can use your laptop to delete and edit your pictures on down time then back up everything to the portable hardrive. With the laptop you can also burn DVD/CD, burn every week worth of images and send those DVD/CDs home.
  34. My vote is for a few CF cards. They are rugged and dependable. A laptop can be a target for thieves. CD/DVD's I don't ever store photos on them and don't suggest to anyone to do it either, they are way too fragile and prone to errors.

    Good luck and hope the trip goes well.
  35. laptop and an external firewire disk drive. or two.

    burn DVDs for extra insurance if you want.
  36. CF cards are durable, no doubt. Recently I left one of my cards in the washer/dryer and it still worked. The thing about keeping all your images in CF cards is that you only have 1 copy. If your bag is stolent you will lose everything. A laptop will...

    1. allow you to store your images in its own hardrive.

    2. lets you edit your work on nonshooting time

    3. back up to an external harddrive

    4. burn DVD/CDs

    Your spouse carries the laptop, you keep the external you always have two seperate copies in two seperate locations. If you feel that two copies are not enough, this is where DVD/CDs come in, just burn your week/day worth of images to those dics and leave them in your hotel room. Someone I know actually burns another copy and sends that one to his house in the States.
  37. Lindsey,

    I use, constantly, the Epson P-5000 and LOVE it. It's been unbelievably reliable. It's an 80GB HD with a large LCD screen
    for viewing pictures. Rechargeable and makes redundant backups of your pictures. Personally, I would bring multiple 8-
    16GB cards and back them up each night on the P-5000 (which is what I do when I travel).

    Best of luck....
  38. After all of this, you'll probably find this both amusing and unbelievable.

    I'd been almost at the point of clicking the buy button for a 160GB Hyperdrive Colorspace - I'd filled all my delivery and payment details out, and then left the page open while I went to talk to my husband and have second thoughts about it all. After that, and reading a few more of your posts, I came back to the laptop idea, particularly since the Colorspace really does seem to be overkill, and the non-display ones (like the HD80) wouldn't get to me in time from. So, I closed the Hyperdrive order page and started looking at laptops again.

    I just checked my business email account and found a delivery update from the Hyperdrive stockist telling me that it'being processed for next day delivery! Apparently I somehow processed the order instead of closing the window. How ridiculously stupid is that?! I've never had anything like that happen before. I think it's probably too late to cancel the order now.

    Given my apparent inability to use a computer, maybe it's just as well I won't be buying that laptop:)

    I'm still nervous about the single unit though. I think I'll be backing up to an external (which I already have) at any available PC as well.
  39. Lindsey, there is nothing wrong with two backups. I do that with my laptop and external drive and keep both of them until after all my processing of the photos is done on my desktop computer. Then I backup to another drive.

    Nevertheless, you might want to try to call the company if you want to cancel that order. Alternatively, if they have a decent return policy, you could consider just sending it back to them when it arrives at your door.

    No right or wrong here, just different ways of doing it.
  40. I would take a laptop and get two Western Digital passport drives (one for original files and the second as a backup). Make
    an estimate of the number of images the two of might take and multiple it by 2 or will have a safe estimate of how
    much space you will need. I would also take a backup of my internal drive on my laptop.

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  42. The saga continues...

    It turns out that I'm not a computer-illiterate imbecile after all. The colorspace hasn't been ordered. The website I'd nearly ordered it from apparently stores everything you write into its forms, even if you don't tell them to process the order. Hence it sent me any email about the order status. I've now received another email asking me when I intend to pay for it. If every online store worked like this, what a confusing world we'd live in (have I bought it, haven't I bought it? Do I have early-onset dementia? etc).

    Which brings me back to: I now only have tomorrow and Friday for something to be delivered to me. I'd come around to being happy with the colorspace and two externals. But I could get that laptop now.

    How can this possibly have been such a complicated task?!
  43. Jim - thanks. Memory Kick doesn't seem to be available in the UK though.
  44. I've used the Wolverine with great success. I've since converted to using only CF cards when I can, though 4 weeks would probably exceed my CF stock and I'd be using the Wolverine as backup.
  45. Please consider that if you store all the pictures in one sole device, if you lose\break\drop\ it, all your pictures will be
    gone forever (the same applies if it's stolen).
    Having two of them won't help that much because probably you will pack both of them in the same bag, and if you
    lose that bag...Please also consider the weight of the drives and the attention you have to pay in carrying them.

    CFs are the best solution (the hardrive will be usefull only as a back up without erasing the images from the CFs).
    I have been travelling in that part of the world too (Vietnam, Lao and Cambodia -\albertogreco) and
    found CFs very easy to carry on and basically undestructible. Buy more of them.

    Enjoy your trip
  46. I just had my formerly trusty wolverine flash pac die. i was not using it as a backup to the cf cards, i was offloading the images and reusing the cf cards. Poof entire trip gone (well i was able to get 90% back by paying a data recovery place a tidy sum.)

    Lesson learned.

    IF all your eggs are going to be in one basket, make it the CF cards as you have to trust them to be the sole source for a little while anyway. Plus if something goes wrong, you'll only lose what was on the card. Go buy the cards. If you can afford some sort of backup to offload and not erase the cards you are covered.
  47. Last year, I've spent 45 days in Thailand ( basicly Bangkok, Damnuen Saduak, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Golden triangle, Phuket, Kho Samui, Phi Phi, Hua Hin, Phang Nga ) . I've taken my laptop and usb powered WD 250gb with me. During the daytime, my laptop was locked in my suitcase in the hotel rooms and luckily I didnt face any problem. During the night time I was loading my RAW photos to usb device even though I have several CF cards. In summary I had 32gb of Thailand photos with me when I was back home. Add 18 gb for dummies, sums up to 50GB per person. You need your PERSONAL laptop during the trip anyhow for personal transactions such as bank transfers etc. mostly for security reasons so try to carry one of yours with you and secure it in the room or reception during the daytime. Internet cafes are not the safest places for personal transactions. Enjoy your visit, Oguz
  48. Thanks to everyone. I now have my gear all ordered. In the end I've chosen:

    An Asus EEE PC 701
    A 250GB WD My Passport Essential USB 2.0 portable external drive.
    My current trusty Freecom 160GB Toughdrive.

    The plan is to back up onto both drives each night, so we'll have two copies of everything. I'll then carry one drive while my husband carries the other.

    We'll also only wipe the CF cards if absolutely necessary. I'm happy to have plenty of external drive space, as we'll be able to back up our horribly amateur but nonetheless fun camcorder footage as well!

    The EEE PC and the 250GB WD drive came to a total of £239 with next day delivery, from two different stockists. Going by the current conversion rate (which is currently fluctuating more than normal, of course) that would be $378.

    Ogus - that must have been a fantastic trip. Which of the Northern areas of Thailand do you most recommend? So far, we only have two of our four weeks planned: 4 days in Bangkok (one mostly flying), 6 days on Koh Phra Thong island, and 4 days in Kao Sok National park. After that we'll probably go to Chiang Mai and then disappear East in search of authentic culture, or maybe go to Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos. We're really not sure about that part of the trip - open to any ideas for good photographic material out there!

    Thanks to everyone for all of your help with this question - you've been fantastic.
  49. May sugget southern Lao? It is close to Thailand and probably one of the most beautiful place on earth for nature, people and culture. You will find a lot of stuff to shoot there.
    I have been in northern Lao (which I also strongly recommend): Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Ventiane. Skip the last one if you dont have plenty of time but do not miss Luang Prabang (which is the mystical and buddist toen of Lao) and a day trip navigation on the Mekong.
    Have a good trip

  50. Alberto - Thanks. I'd thought that southern Laos wasn't particularly interesting scenically (all the images I've seen have shown a rather barren, flat landscape). After reading your post, I'll look into it further.
  51. Lindsey,
    My travel agency recommended Chiang Mai ( one of my favourite in Thailand- clean- well planned,lots of historical places to visit and take photos ), Chiag Rai ( Golden triangle- not a must, but nice to see ). The rest of Northern Thailand is covered with rice fields as he reported. So I didint visit the rest.
    Enjoy your trip.
  52. I live in Thailand. Photographically, nearly every place in Thailand is good, particularly for people shots. But Chiang Mai might be better for mountainous scenery and hill tribes if you take a trek. All the islands are beautiful, with maybe Koh Phi Phi being the more picturesque (but small). All culture is authentic, everywhere.
  53. Sorry Lindsey I just checked back. I got one of the HD80's about 3 years ago. I use it for trips every summer since. Don't know what they
    are showing now. Its really very simple, no viewing, just storage. It seems you came up with your solution though. Have fun traveling and
    taking pics. Thailand to Texas? Yikes!

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