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jdaley

Portable Storage Devices

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I was interested in any experiences the group can share about using portable storage devices to download pictures between dives or on extended trips. There are so many choices and given the environment (boats, salt air) that I would be using this device in, does anybody have any advice.

 

We have a lot of digital photographers that are traveling, what is everyone using to store their images until they get back to the dock or even home?

 

Thanks,

 

James

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This subject has been discussed many times on this site. Do a search and you will be able to find those posts. I personally have a Image Tank III 80g portable device, Apacer device that allows me to copy cards directly to a CD, and a FlashTrax storage device that has a screen for viewing the photos. Probably overkill but it's kind of like looking for the right luggage. You just keep looking for the "perfect" piece. :)

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Here is what I posted at another site....

 

So for all of you looking for something a little less cumbersome to pack around than your laptop here is my experience so far with the Flashtrax.20Gig unit. The main reasons I went with this unit are; price, ease of use, and ability to review pictures. My goal is to edit pictures while on a long trip, no coming home w/2000 pics to review.

 

Construction:

Made of a fairly heavy plastic equivalent to your standard portable CD player. General construction is also about on par with an average CD player. Not as well constructed as IPODS or high end cell phones. Buttons are also plastic in a silver to make them look like metal. This is probably the weakest point, IMHO. They feel a little flimsy, will have to see how the hold up over time and repetitive use.

 

Instruction Manual:

Is adequate. At first you think it will be very detailed but seems thick only because it is written in about 7 languages. The instructions on how to download pictures and review them are easy to follow. As are how to hook it up to your TV and computer. The unit also allows you to zoom, rotate images, see them in thumbnail form, etc; instructions regarding these functions are not very well detailed. Fortunately even a “non-techy” like myself was able to figure out most of the functions via trial and error.

 

Functions:

I am still playing with the various functions of the unit. To download pictures you just plug your card into the unit and hit “Copy”. The unit has your standard “keyboard” for naming files via up, down, left, right, enter, arrows. It is very easy to download to your computer. It is able to store JPEG and RAW files. There is a decent tutorial and the unit does have limited help features. There are several options for viewing files; I prefer the “thumbnail” mode.

 

Screen Image Quality:

We all have experienced seeing a picture displayed in our camera’s screen that looked great but when you downloaded to the computer it looked horrible. The screen on the Flashtrax gives a fair view of the image. It is very easy to see what ones are keepers and those that need to be deleted. When I compared the images on the Flashtrax to my computer monitor they were very similar.

 

 

General:

The small rechargeable battery that comes with the unit is good for about 2.5 hrs. I estimate the 20 gig unit could hold about 760 RAW NEF images and +2000 JEPG Fine. It takes about 4 minutes to down load 36-40 RAW images 36 JEPG take less than a minute. I like the unit; I just hope the construction holds up over time.

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I have a FlashTrax and like it EXCEPT for a bit of flimsiness in the jacks and buttons. In fact, on my last trip the power jack broke loose. My FlashTrax now sports a wired plug for the recharger, which does at least make it easy to switch to external battery packs (ugly field repair; soldering iron and parts from RadioShack)

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I too have just opted for the Flashtrax - Had to go for the 40 GB as it was all they had in stock.

 

I have retired my archos jukebox from active service as I have been finally got feedup with the battery life and do not want to risk running out of power on my next trip - Borneo

 

The flashtrax won through as it was readily available wasn't manufactured by Archos and due to the general limit of other alternatives !!

 

I was disappointed by the plastic build but was very impressed with the copying from my microdrives which lets be honest is far more inportant.

 

Incredibly easy to use all the functionality the movie playback was good quality, although I am not likely to use it as an MP3 player. I have decided that a dual purpose MP3/photo storage device is not the way to go.

 

I intend to run some tests on the battery life before I depart so will update with the findings.

 

Anyone looking to buy one in the UK might want to have a look at Simply Computers. Delivered within 24hrs.

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I always travel with a laptop (Apple Powerbook). I store my images on there and another copy on a Lacie Pocketdrive. That is powered down the firewire - so no extra cables. I also always travel with my MP3 player (indeed, I rarely take it off). And I use this at the end of the trip to backup my favourite 5GB of images - so I have 3 seperate copies for the journey home.

 

Alex

 

Total images shot on recent trips (with 6MP camera). To give an idea of storage needs.

1 week in Red Sea June 17GB.

3 weeks in Grand Cayman 20GB. Images Edited in field.

1 week in Manado. 11GB.

10 days in lembeh. 19GB

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Alex see you've been cutting back then!!

I travel with a Toshiba Laptop and write to CD as a backup, I also drop other peoples RAW images on to CD giving them a copy of their Flashtrax etc.

 

The problem is HDDs are susceptible to crashing when traveling.

 

Regards

 

Shannon

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Remember Laptops are not counted on your 5-8kg ishhhh hand luggage allowance on most flights.

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That's a very good point about the hand luggage weight on the laptop, Shannon. If you have one it can travel for free.

 

I much prefer the laptop route (not only for all the other functions of the laptop) but also because it is important to me to be able to see post-shooting white balance adjustments of RAW files when I am doing a lot of filter work.

 

Alex

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Alex,

 

Do you struggle to physically carry it all? I am certainly not meaning to cast doubts on your strength but we are a similar build and by the time I have got my dive gear, clothes and camera equipment packed that last thing I want is the extra weight of a laptop to lug from airport to hotel to boat (if living aboard) and back again

 

What is your secret !! or do you travel with personal chauffeur when abroad :)

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Hey Rob,

 

First, I'll have to correct you that I am much chunkier than you. Wish it wasn't the case.

 

Second every piece of dive kit I have bought for the last 5 years is the lightest I can find. Titanium reg, tropical BC, watch dive computer, mini-contents (pressure) guage, molded foot fins. It is amazing how much can be saved there. Plus no other dive toys. No D-rings on my BC. No heavy clip on stuff. No big torch. Plus I take only the clothes I really need. It is hard to save wieght on cameras. I am completely rechargable for batteries. And everything charges from a single plug.

 

I went to the Red Sea In June with 29KG of hold luggage. A 6KG camera bag and laptop in a neoprene sleve in a plastic bag! Camerawise this includes: Subal + D100. 2 Subtronics that weigh a ton. Plus 2 ports and an extension ring that let me shoot 10.5mm, 16mm, 12-24mm (borrowed), 17-35mm, 28-70mm and 105mm. When I take my F100 and Subal as well that adds about 3kg to the hold luggage.

 

Alex (chubby)

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I must say I have never seen Alex with his luggage all packed .. but I have seen it all sprawled out in his room ... Even though he makes it sound organised it is still impressive, I guess when you travel as much with all that stuff you get used to it.

 

Me on the other hand have trouble with my Oly in a Tetra housing setup with one strobe .. and all I am doing is going from house to water which is like 20 ft away.

 

I like storage devices cause of their gadget factor, I have been wanting the FlashTrax for a while, but until I start travelling I dont really need it, although I will be going for a laptop first, I mean look at the price difference, its not that much and a laptop can do so much more.

 

And as for Alex and his amazing packing abilities .. I'll be seeing you in a couple of weeks buddy, not sure if I will be working or not ... but I have gotten us a west side boat if it is not already being used !!!! how cool.

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Hey Giles,

 

That sounds excellent. I am really looking forward to being on the island.

 

I have to say that Cayman is a bit different for me. First, because it is a trans-Atlantic flight the luggage allowance is massive. A typical SE Asia hold luggage allowance is 20kg. Trans Atlantic from the same UK airport on the same carrier is 64kg. Same plane. Also I leave quite a bit of my photo kit in Cayman, so there are always a few extras waiting out there for me!

 

Alex

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When are you going? It's only a 2 hr flight for me to get down there and I'd love to join you. Not sure if I can though - as I've got to be on a boat in teh gulf for a month...

 

Cheers

James

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I'm a big fan of the Archos Gmini 220. 20 gigs, and smaller than an ipod, with built-in compact flash slot. Battery life reported to be good enough for 7-8 1 GB transfers. I haven't ever exhausted the battery while out in the field, so I can't report battery life myself.

 

gmini220.jpg

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That Archos option is a lot cheaper than the Flash Trax.

 

The Black and White LCD would put me off, and even though people defend it's battery life it has been brought in to question in many reviews I have read. Most people seem to buy it as well as an MP3 player rather than storage device for photos, but I have been told that its a nice portable hard drive too.

 

Imagine how loopy you mac people would be (or you iPod crazy folks) if iPod would only put a view screen on their little poddy things.

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Bah. You can prune based on composition even in B&W, but you're not going to be able to prune based on sharpness on a tiny little LCD. I don't view any of those devices as a image pruning device. If you must, you can do it on your camera or wait until you are in front of a computer, right? :)

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I support Eric's comments on the Archos Gmini 220. Used this unit on a recent assignment and found it perfect when spending a whole day shooting. Once a flashcard is full, simply snap it into the Gmini slot, start the copy process and put the Gmini in a smalll Otter Box into the photo bag.

 

At the end of the day, transferring the Gmini content on a LaCie mobile drive is a breeze.

 

As a bonus you get an MP3 player and a digital recorder... great for those impromptu interviews. LCD screen is useless for RAW pictures, and even JPEGs are so...so. However, they sell a wonderful tool to view the images and it is called a laptop. :-)

 

Michel

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I love it .... BAH .... what a great post start ...

 

Maybe when I get my canon in a damn housing I will start to worrk about this stuff ...

 

You know what I am still disappointed about, and that is that no housing manufacturers have made a wetlink USB download for your camera. How cool would that be if you could just plug your housing into your laptop and download, if cameras came with a hotlink for charging you could do the same to charge your battery, then you are coming close to having a bespoke digital udnerwater slr.

 

anyway back on the storage issues, didnt you have one of those mp3 players you could replace the hard drive with ? I couldnt find the post you made about it, but i remember it like it was yesterday .. did that not work out so well ?

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Hey, Giles. Are you talking about the Creative Labs Muvo2? I bought it for $199, ripped the 4GB drive out of it, and now have a 4GB microdrive. :) Not sure what the current state of that whole deal is, but I'm sure it is easy to find on the web.

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Actually, the Aquatica D100/S2 has a plug in the side for just that. I have not inquired about making it live, but it is there nonetheless!

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I also use a 4GB Hitachi MicroDrive from a Creative Labs Muvo and because of that I had to go with the Image Tank G2. The combination of a 4GB card and a PSD on the boat means that I never run out of memory during a full day of diving. Now if I could only get my batteries to last as long.

 

When I was researching these PSDs, I found that many of them cannot read cards greater than 2GB. The Archos was one of them and the bad part was that Archos Customer Service insisted that it worked with the 4GB cards, however nobody I have spoken to has been able to get it to work.

 

Eric, were you able to use your Archos with your 4GB MD formatted FAT32?

 

James

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