three options for file storage while travelling - which is best ?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by pawel_kazmierczyk, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. Hello,

    I am currently trying to decide what is the best way to ensure storage of
    photos when travelling.

    After reading up on the photonet, I am a bit more confused than before i
    started. There seem to be three schools of thought on this: (1) buy as many
    cards as you can (I have about 8GB worth of Compact Flash) (2) a portable CD
    burner, and (3) some sort of storage device, like an external hard drive

    So here is the question: what is the best/most convenient/safest way to store
    pictures when travelling ?

    I'd like something with does not need the computer to operate, which is light
    and portable, and dependable. My budget is in the range of 200-300USD (approx 6-
    8GB worth of good CF cards)

    I am tempted to go for sth with an LCD, so that you can select the photos on
    the gadget, rather than in the camera. But i can be persuaded otherwise, if it
    is not very useful and has high price in terms of cost and power consumption.

    Any ideas ? Specific brands or models to go for ?

    Thank you

  2. How much storage do you need? How long will you be travelling?

    Safest method it to just buy more CF cards, but those limit your storage.
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    There's a fourth option, which is small laptop. Laptops don't cost that much more than the portable devices, at least for low end ones. They can run an image editor, do email and web browsing. They can burn your CDs and provide backup on the hard drive. I was about to buy a portable backup device a few years back, then tried taking an old laptop. Much, much easier and much more useful.

    I make a CD (it's too old for a DVD burner) every day and mail them home every couple days if I'm gone for a while. I arrive home with a hard drive of images and CD backup. Very simple...
  4. I'd go for more CF cards as long as you think you can get enough storage space. They are by far the smallest, lightest and most convenient method of storage. If you are trying to travel light, they are clearly the best option.

    A small portable hard drive or CD writer is also good, but is larger, heavier and needs batteries, rechargers etc. If you get a CD writer make sure it can span a card across 2 or more CDs though.

    A laptop is probably the best bang for the buck, but is even larger, even heavier and consumes even more power. if size and weight aren't an issue (e.g. on a car trip), it's really nice to have a laptop. I took one on my last trip. It cost $500 and has an 80GB drive and a DVD burner in it, so I can make multiple backups of everything. I wouldn't want to be hiking through the Himalayas with one on my back though.
  5. My personal opinion:

    1) Short travels: bring CF cards only

    2) Longer travels: bring something like the PD70X portable storage device

    3) Epic travels: laptop and an external HD and blank DVD media

    Of course, all three of these have to be adjusted for weight, time away from electricity, durability, etc.
  6. I like to keep it simple. I normally bring extra CF cards for short trips (3-4 days.) If I suspect that I'll be doing a lot more shooting or take trip longer than a week, I'd bring along a laptop.
  7. Our preferred method of travel is by automobile (road trips), and in this environment, a laptop win hands-down. As tempted as I am by the portable storage devices -- particularly the recently announced Canon models -- there's just so much (more) you can do with a laptop:

    - review (and, if desired, edit) images (it's fun to look through each day's images when we settle down for the evening, as well as delete the bad shots);

    - check out the details of the next day's travel (on-line or with a program like MS Streets & Trips);

    - play background music or watch a movie (we keep a set of audio/video output cables with the PC, to connect the laptop to the hotel room TV's inputs);

    - and -- if absolutely necessary -- check e-mail.
  8. I'm leaving this weekend for a three week trip in the Grand Canyon. I'm taking what I think will be enough memory cards, but I have an older portable 20GB backup HD drive just in case. My bigger problem is lack of power. I thought about packing a solar charger, but decided against the additional weight and expense. I settled on a 12 volt power pack that runs on a sack full of AA's and can charge the camera and HD's batteries. We'll see how well it goes. A PD70X that uses AA's directly would have made this simpler for me.

    Either way, my personal choice would be a portable backup drive, especially something like the PD70X, since it's the fastest thing out there, and I don't care about editing while on the trip. I have too many other things to do, see and shoot to worry about editing. The portable CD/DVD burners are larger, require a stack of discs, take more power and cost more than the HD's do. You still always wonder about the reliablity/durability of the CD/DVD, so I don't think they are better than the portable HD's for that. The portable HD storage only solutions are far less cost than a laptop (even used) so I think they are the most ecconomical solution if you need to store large amounts of data on a trip. Also, battery/power issues are easier to deal with on these devices if you go remote.

    If you want to view/edit, then the small laptop is a very good option, especially compared to a portable HD with viewscreen. Those little HD's with a viewing LCD cost too much for the little they add over the non viewing drives. And while the small laptop cost even more, at least they have good screens with real editing capabilities.

    But unless you need a lot of additional space additional memory cards are more reliable, take up less space & weight, are easier to deal with, and may even cost less.
  9. Well, it does totally depend on what type of traveling your doing (via car, backpacking, etc.) and where you're going...

    I just finished a year's worth of traveling and had an external hard drive. If you're traveling light and most anywhere in the world (outside of the US), this is a great way to go as you can pick up very small external hard drives very cheaply (I had a Lacie drive that measures 75mm x 128mm x 15mm) and are very light.

    With this, I only carried a couple of cards and with copious amounts of Internet cafes everywhere (except in the US), it's easy to download the cards. Every machine I used powered the hard drive via the USB hub so I didn't need the power cord.

    The drive also held up to a surprising amount of abuse, too. Less than what a CF card can take, though.

    (There, I've chimed in in favor of the third option....)

  10. The Epson P-2000 (now they have newer models) is the best option for storage beyond CF cards can hold. It holds 40G of images and can display them on near photographic quality that no other portable display (even many laptops) can match. Laptop is nice to have but is too heavy and bulky for me.
  11. It doesn't fall into your budget, but the "best/most convenient/safest way to store pictures
    when travelling" is to take a small laptop plus portable Firewire/USB2 (so you don't need
    external power supply) backup drives. If you try to rely on a single drive you have to
    accept that you will, eventually, lose your files. If you decide to backup to CD/DVD you
    have to accept that you'll spend more time doing this than you will taking photographs.
  12. A combination of enough flash storage cards and a portable storage device to meet your
    expected needs is the right solution if you don't want to carry a laptop. With enough
    storage cards, you use the cards as primary storage and the portable storage device as
    backup. End of the day routine is to backup the cards to the storage device and mark the
    cards as full.
    Since I capture 100% in RAW and I'm traveling on a 3 week trip, that would require too
    much flash media to handle all my captures; I'm capturing several Gbytes of photos a day.
    So I am carrying a laptop as well as portable storage device : I backup to both, then clear
    the cards every day.
  13. I'd never start dumping pics far away from a plug.

    Why are you shopping for "good" cards? Cheapos should store your pics too and if you needed them every day you'd already own these additional cards. Write speed isn't that important for travellers IMHO.

    The best backup option I know for conventional travelling would be bringing my cardreader and borrowing somebodys computer (internetcafe?) to burn 2 sets of CDs, mail one home and fill a external HDD of mine. OTOH this takes ages.

    CD burning can't be done on the so called road, and I don't know how stand alone CD burners can handle bigger cards.

    All small storage devices I 've ever seen aren't cheap enough to call them dependable. So a purse full of no-name CFs seems the best option.
  14. Burning CD is not a solution at all for today's DSLR. My 5D produces RAW file of size about 13M. You can burn about 50 images on one CD only. Even one DVD only holds about 340 images. How many images you may take on a 2 weeks trip?

Share This Page