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 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

Five Ways to Store Photos Without a Laptop Computer

01 May 2008

The convenience of digital photography is obvious.  We donít have to carry around rolls of film any more and since memory cards are re-usable, they cover the cost, over time, of the camera and memory cards when compared to the price of film and processing.


When you prepare for a trip, you have enough to bring along with you; camera (of course), digital media player, clothes, batteries, chargers, toiletry kit; then there are things you bring on the plane to keep you occupied: books, DVD player, magazines, travel Jenga; itís enough to weigh anyone down.


But what about a laptop computer?  They are getting more and more reasonably priced, but are still as much of a liability as ever.  Convenient though they are, they are fragile or heavy (sometimes both) and cumbersome.  Of the few laptops out there that is rugged and designed for abuse, the Panasonic Toughbook is heavier and offers fewer features than its similarly-sized counterparts.


So maybe you have a laptop computer and donít want to bring it, or donít have one at all.  Even so, youíll need a way to store your images on the road.  Here are our suggestions.  Remember, these suggestions imply that you are using ONLY the methods provided here.  No additional help is assumed.


1)      a)      Extra flash cards:  It is just plain stupid to bring one flash card for an entire trip, regardless of how long youíll be away.  To start, when the card is full, youíll have to get some images off to make room for more, which usually means deleting image straight from the camera.  Most camera screens are too small to see each image clearly, so youíll end up deleting something you donít want to.


b) Another reason not to store all your images on one flash card is the liability of all your images being in one place, in your camera.  If your camera gets lost, stolen or destroyed, so do all your pictures.


Bringing a few spare cards will eliminate the need to delete images from your camera and protect what you have already taken.




- Added (though minimal) security for images already taken.

- Memory cards are getting lower in price and easy to carry around.



- Itís easy to become disorganized trying to remember which cards you used and which are still empty.  Number the cards to help prevent this.


You can only really protect the images on your card once you finish using the card and keep it in a safe place.



- Bring along flash cards that are no larger than 512MB.  That way, all the pictures from that card will fit neatly onto a CD-R. Or flash cards no bigger than 4GB, if youíll have access to a DVD writer.


If youíre using this method or not, keep all memory cards in a waterproof container for added protection.


2)   Use your existing portable media player (iPod, Hi-Md, etc).


This is going to take some planning on your part.  You only have limited space on your iPod; be careful not to fill it with music, movie and pictures and leave no space for the pictures you take while traveling.


The Hi-MD has similar restrictions; youíll need to bring spare Hi-MD disks along to store your images, which can be bulky and almost as bad (but far less expensive) as bringing along flash cards.  Both the Hi-MD and the iPod require separate components to transfer the images from your memory card to the device.


For the Hi-MD, youíll need Sonyís MCMD-R1 Memory Card Reader (about $99 and near impossible to find).  It plugs into the Hi-MD using USB and runs on AAA batteries.  The iPod requires the Apple iPod camera connector device, which runs about $30.


The Apple iPod camera connector device plugs into your iPod and camera at the same time and requires power from both to transfer the images to the iPod.  There have been reports that using the transfer device may cause you to lose everything stored on the iPod up to that point though that may have been fixed by now.


3)  Another method of storing digital images while traveling is a digital wallet.  Many companies make them (ask about them at your local photo store) and some even double as portable media player, allowing you to listen to music and view videos, as well as the pictures you just transferred.


The main drawback of these devices is that most people already have portable media devices.  Digital wallets tend to be expensive and paying a lot of money for something you probably already have is not an attractive option.


There are advantages to using a digital wallet.


First, most digital wallets have slots within the device for your memory card (check before you buy to make sure), so there are no extra patches, cords or materials needed to transfer images.


Secondly, if you donít have a portable media device, one of these would work quite nicely.  If you do have a portable media device, some companies (like Wolverine) make models that only transfer photos.  If you donít want all the extra bells and whistles, you donít need to buy them.


Third, a lot of these devices run off rechargeable batteries, so bringing along extra batteries for the road isnít necessary, though you will need to bring the charger.


Fourth, some of these devices may act as a portable photo card reader and USB drive.


No matter which of the above methods you choose, youíll want to test everything at home first.  It is good to familiarize yourself with the time of the photo transfers, how much battery power each transfer uses and even the sounds the devices make while in operation, as well as problems that may come up and how to fix them.


This covers most of your options if you arenít traveling with a laptop.  But if you donít want to invest in extra memory cards, portable storage devices or more transfer devices, try to plan out what youíll be seeing when you travel.  For example, if youíre going to be trekking through the jungles in Africa for weeks on end (for starters, you should shoot film or bring a LOT of extra batteries and memory cards), youíll want something small, portable and easy to use, like a digital wallet.


4)  However, if youíre going to be in a place where there are a lot of PC rooms Ė Western Europe or South East Asia, for example Ė you may want to consider bringing along only the following two items:


- USB photo card reader.

- USB portable hard drive.


This saves you time and money.  The process is simple.  When you fill your photo cards, go to a PC room, plug the USB photo card reader into one USB slot, plug the USB portable hard drive into the other slot and transfer away!


The point of bringing a USB photo card reader is so you donít have to plug your camera (or all your cameraís

software) onto a PC room computer.  Most PC rooms arenít too keen on people coming in and loading

down their machines with software.  With this method, itís plug, play, drop and go.


This assumes youíre familiar with Windows and the basic functions of a computer (and if youíve made it this far,

you are), but you can transfer the images straight from the card to the portable hard drive with ease. You can look

at the images, make folders to keep things organized and even E-mail your images to friends and family

back home.


The main issue here (like the iPod or digital wallet) is that all your eggs are, quite literally, in one basket.  If you

lose that device, you lose all your photos.


A way around this is to purchase an...


5)   Online storage account.  A simple Web search for ďonline storage accountĒ should give you more

than enough to look through.  Weíre not going to rate online storage services now (that article is forthcoming), so

do some research before you choose a particular service.


Another point to consider is making CDs or DVDs while on the road.  Itís a pain to drag around CDs or DVDs,

especially if you donít have a laptop computer on which to make them, but you may get the opportunity to

copy your images to disc, be it at someoneís house or a PC room.  If you get the chance, take it.  You may not

know when youíll have the chance to back up all your images again.


If you can make one CD or DVD, you can probably make two.  If you can make two, do it; one copy to keep with

you, the other mail home.


Or you can always use film.


Using the methods mentioned above, your photos should be more than protected.


The more places you save your images, the better the chances everything will come home safely and youíll have

pictures from your once-in-a-lifetime experience to share.

© 2008

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