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12-23-2013, 06:41 AM   #1
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Travel - best option for backing up images without a laptop

Mr frogoutofwater and I have a big trip planned to celebrate our 50th birthdays in early 2014. We're going to Borneo and Singapore for 3 weeks and I expect we'll be taking thousands and thousands of images. We're giving some thought to not taking a laptop with us and travelling instead with just a couple of tablets (my Nexus 7 and his Samsung). Unfortunately, both our laptops are fairly heavy and bulky (14" and weighing in at over 4.5 pounds each).

Of course, we will bring lots of memory cards with us but we'll probably need to reformat them at least a couple of times on the trip (RAW files on the K-3 are memory hogs). We will have good internet access on most days (but there might be a few periods where we won't have good access for a couple of nights in a row).

Can anyone recommend a system for backing up photos while travelling light and using the Android devices mentioned above? We have Dropbox, Smugmug sites and portable hard drives. I also wouldn't rule out buying a small, relatively inexpensive laptop to which we could download photos and do some editing, but the size (13" or smaller, maybe even 11") and price (under $1500, preferably under $1000) would have to be right. (We expect to do more photo-heavy travel in the next few years, including some photography workshops, so a lighter laptop for travel photography might be worth it). Oh, and one more thing - we're PC, not Mac, people.

Thanks

12-23-2013, 07:20 AM   #2
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I have an Asus Vivobook which is an 11.6 inch screen, weighs less than 3 pounds, and cost less than $500. It has a 500gb hard drive and runs Photoshop Elements very well. Great for travel and has a touch screen. The dual core processor is more than adequate for the task.
12-23-2013, 07:32 AM   #3
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Pound for pound, money and weight I would think extra memory cards would be the lightest, cheapest, most secure and best option. 500 gigs would only be 4 cards.
12-23-2013, 08:13 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Colbyt Quote
Pound for pound, money and weight I would think extra memory cards would be the lightest, cheapest, most secure and best option. 500 gigs would only be 4 cards.
We do plan to bring a lot of cards, but I want to back up the images on them and not just trust the cards. So I need a way to upload the images from the cards to something else (on an online system might be the best approach), but we'll need an interface between the cards and the back-up storage system.

I know that a computer isn't the optimal choice if storage is the only question, but a lightweight computer has other uses (for photography and otherwise), so I'm willing to consider it. As I mentioned in the first post, beyond this trip I'm looking at the need for a computer that I can use in travel photography workshop situations (where I definitely would need to be able to view images, select the best and maybe do a bit of basic editing).

12-23-2013, 08:24 AM   #5
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You might consider a storage tank, which is basically a hard drive with a flash card input and battery backup. There was a Wolverine PicPac recently on the Marketplace, but can be found relatively inexpensively on eBay.

12-23-2013, 08:41 AM   #6
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What I did recently on my honeymoon trip was, I bought a Wifi HDD enclosure, rooted the Nexus 7 and installed Stickmount, got a USB-OTG cable. With this setup, I just plug a SD card reader to Nexus 7 via the USB-OTG cable and backup the files to the HDD every night. Unfortunately this isn't plug and play but it works.

The Wifi Hdd Enclosure I bought is this one: Newegg.com - macally WIFIHDD White Mobile external Wi-Fi Hard Drive Enclosure For Wireless Storage but there are other options of course.
USB-OTG cable and SD card reader can be a bit finicky on Nexus 7 at first (software issues). But once you get it working it will continue to work.

I am not sure if Samsung tablets have easier time with it or not. I know some support USB-OTG mass storage so you wouldn't need root and Stickmount.

There are apps like RawDroid that will be able to view DNG files which is useful from time to time.

One other thing is, while copying the file, I found that it often stops if the Nexus 7 falls asleep so either use apps like Keep Screen on Free or change the sleep timer in system setting.

Good luck
12-23-2013, 08:46 AM   #7
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We recently took a trip to Yellowstone National Park with no laptop. We both had our ASUS tablets and an external hard drive. The HD plugs into the USB port on the tablet and the SD card goes in the SD slot. Simple to copy everything to the HD. I do not think online storage would be practical with any significant number of images unless the internet speed there is dramatically faster than in the US. I've found even uploading a few images to FaceBook took longer than I wanted.

That said, I agree that more cards is the simplest and most cost effective method. New, good quality cards would still be less expensive than a HD and new tablet/laptop. I bought plenty of 32gb and 16gb cards, and just swapped out the cards and put the full ones in a safe place. Even if you do backup to HD or other method I would not reuse the cards during the trip. Just consider them 'film' and only use once until you get home.
12-23-2013, 08:53 AM   #8
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I purchased this little Asus laptop for this express purpose:
Asus 11.6" TouchScreen Laptop 4GB Memory 320GB Hard Drive X200CA-HCL1104G - Best Buy

Got it on sale for $200. Even at regular price, ~$250 is what you could expect to pay for a hard drive or the Wolverine device. Neither of those give you the ability to put your photos into folders, delete the ones that you obviously don't want to keep, etc. I don't use this Asus laptop for editing; I don't trust the screen for that. But it works well for what I wanted it for. At only 3 pounds and 11.6", it's very portable.

You can also try a Chromebook. I had one and put Ubuntu linux on it (instructions can be found on the web). It was ok, but there were some quirks I didn't like. For one, it wouldn't shut off properly, so I had to take the battery out when storing it to avoid draining it. Plus, as Linux, some software I wanted to put on it didn't work. It was $200, but for $50 more, you can get a Windows laptop, and that seems worth it.

QuoteQuote:
Simple to copy everything to the HD. I do not think online storage would be practical with any significant number of images unless the internet speed there is dramatically faster than in the US.
The real issue here is that hotel uplink speeds are glacially slow. If you're staying at someone's house in a fairly urban area, no issues using online storage. But if you have to rely on hotel WiFi...forget it.

12-25-2013, 07:17 AM   #9
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At one time there were several gadgets marketed specifically to transfer files from one storage device to another storage device without a computer in the middle. The Macally SyncBox was one such device. Most disappeared from the market as storage size and file sizes increased.

If you can find one used, the HyperDrive Album is a well designed external drive with an integrated battery pack, direct reading of flash memory cards, and a photo viewing LCD. To be honest, many netbooks are less expensive and more versatile - but not as transportable as the HyperDrive.
12-25-2013, 07:28 AM   #10
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Any tablet is not going to be more secure as storage than SD cards; they use very similar storage technologies. I would buy a lot of small SD cards, then if one does go bad (which doesn't happen often, but does happen), you don't lose much. Tablets often have not enough storage; just the RAW photos I've taken in the past few months would fill up a 64GB tablet.

If *I* were traveling to such awesome places, I would use the belt & suspenders approach. And given what you said about future travel, investing in a lightweight laptop capable of photo editing might be your best bet. The problem is lightweight generally doesn't equal incredibly durable, so I would *still* have lots of extra cards and then copy images to the laptop but not overwrite your SD cards, so you have two copies. Cloud backups would be a bonus. You can't be sure everywhere you travel will have the capability for large, reliable cloud backups.
12-30-2013, 07:36 PM   #11
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After much trawling across the web a few years ago, I came up with my solution for travelling in remote areas (no electricity), you may find something of use in the philosophy although the hardware is now dated.

I acquired a Samsung netbook with really good battery life and about 300 GB harddrive, a small wireless mouse, plus an external WD Passport (500 GB), plus weather-proof SD cases and about 20 SD cards from various BH PhotoVideo sales. My daily bedtime routine is to climb into sleeping bag, put headlamp on, create a folder for the day on the netbook, and copy contents of the day's shoot into it. Then have a quick peek via Faststone Viewer to make sure the copy was successful, this is freeware and very light on CPU & memory (and I can't resist a look at the day's captures even on the crappy screen). Also copy the folder to the external hard-drive and do a quick check - number of images and folder size compared to the netbook folder. If the SD card is nearly full, lock to read only and put into the storage case. Mind you, I'm using a K5 and the cards were relatively cheap, so I don't need to reformat during the trip.

The Samsung lasts for at least a week without recharge (I've not tested for any longer) because I restrict its use and have removed all extraneous stuff off it. Lightroom barely loads anyway, so I'm not tempted to edit anything. I even leave the obvious duds for culling at home.

Yup, I'm paranoid about losing pics from places I know I won't be revisiting, but it works for me.

The netbook is quite useful for the odd email when close to the internet and electricity. Not sure I'd like to use it for a walking trek though, the battery makes it heavier than a tablet (about 1Kg I think).

So: reasonable weight, long battery life, dependable storage, at least 2 copies on physically separate devices, the comfort of viewing the images and easy to use (same OS as my desktop PC).
12-30-2013, 09:51 PM   #12
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Hi Frogoutofwater! Those tablets you and your husband have are simple content consumption devices, not productivity ones. For real peace of mind, you will need a device that reads the memory cards of your cameras, and backs them up to itself, the cloud, or attached USB storage. Bonus points if it runs Picasa/Lightroom/whatever you use to post-process something occasional for your friends and rellies to enjoy on Twitter/Facebook/email etc.
02-07-2014, 10:33 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I purchased this little Asus laptop for this express purpose:
Asus 11.6" TouchScreen Laptop 4GB Memory 320GB Hard Drive X200CA-HCL1104G - Best Buy

Got it on sale for $200. Even at regular price, ~$250 is what you could expect to pay for a hard drive or the Wolverine device. Neither of those give you the ability to put your photos into folders, delete the ones that you obviously don't want to keep, etc. I don't use this Asus laptop for editing; I don't trust the screen for that. But it works well for what I wanted it for. At only 3 pounds and 11.6", it's very portable.

You can also try a Chromebook. I had one and put Ubuntu linux on it (instructions can be found on the web). It was ok, but there were some quirks I didn't like. For one, it wouldn't shut off properly, so I had to take the battery out when storing it to avoid draining it. Plus, as Linux, some software I wanted to put on it didn't work. It was $200, but for $50 more, you can get a Windows laptop, and that seems worth it.



The real issue here is that hotel uplink speeds are glacially slow. If you're staying at someone's house in a fairly urban area, no issues using online storage. But if you have to rely on hotel WiFi...forget it.
I decided to pick up the Asus laptop recommended by MadMathMind (with slightly different specs), since I expect to need a laptop not just for this trip to Borneo but also for other photography workshops I take throughout the year. (I took one in January in NYC, where I live, and it just about killed me to lug my equipment, tripod and 5.5lb laptop, which required a separate bag, to class each night.) I picked up a version with somewhat higher specs than the one MadMathMind bought (3rd Gen i3 processor and 500GB hard drive) from Adorama for $419. It fits easily into the hydration compartment of my LowePro PhotoSport 200, which the camera bag I usually travel with. I haven't played with it much yet, but it does seem a fair bit slower than my existing laptop. However, I think the benefit of having something over 2 lb lighter to carry is worth the sacrifice in processing speed.

Asus VivoBook 11.6" Touchscreen Notebook, Core i3, 500GB HDD, 4GB Ram - Pink X202E-DH31T-PK
02-07-2014, 08:32 PM   #14
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you could use a tablet with microSD port, and use microSD cards with an adapter in the camera.
02-08-2014, 11:16 AM   #15
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If you have a K-3 (ie have two SD card slots in-camera), you could additionally:

(a) set up the camera, using 'Save to Both' mode, to simultaneously write images to the two SD card slots, then simply keep one card as your backup; or

(b) use the camera's ability to copy images between memory cards in playback mode to manually backup one SD card to another after a shoot.

No laptop, netbook etc required, just extra SD cards.
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