Portable Photo Storage devices are great for trips and vacations.
They're small, usually have a viewing screen, have lots of memory, and download your pictures fast.
Professional photo-journalists like these because a DSLR shooting RAW format fills up SD cards quickly. Not only that, they don't want to have to carry a bunch of SD cards and have to remember what went on which one.
But there are other methods of portable photo storage that may be better depending on what you need. This article will discuss three approaches to portable storage devices: portable picture viewers; extra SD cards, and a small netbook computer.
Portable Picture Viewers
Portable picture viewers are storage devices that are made just for storing pictures. You stick your SD card into it, and it downloads your pictures and stores them.
The Nexto Di eXtreme is one example. It takes the data off your SD card, camera, or camcorder - really any device that connects to a USB without needing special programs. It is fast, and as soon as you offload your pictures (it can delete them from the card, or not), they'll be put into a new folder with a timestamp, so you can go back to filling up your SD card again.
These start at around $200 for 160 GB, but $300 for 500GB is a better deal. Then again, once you hit $300, you're starting to get into the small netbook price territory, which is another option for portable photo storage.
Nexto is not the only choice for a portable picture viewing and storage device. The Hyperdrive Colorspace is an award winning brand, and the WD Passport gives you plenty of storage for your money.
Another portable photo storage device is something you already have: a storage card. If you're shooting with a DSLR in RAW mode, these will fill up fast, so you will need to have several if you're going to be shooting all day without getting to your computer to offload them.
On the other hand, they're extremely portable, weigh nothing, don't have batteries that can run down, and don't cost much: 8 GB cards can be had for under $20, and 16 GB cards will run you about $40. But their great portability is also one of their greatest weaknesses. They're all too easy to drop into a swamp, step on accidentally, or send through the laundry. But for those who have to pack light, this may be the bet way to go.
A third option when it comes to portable photo storage devices is the low-end netbook. For $350, you can get a netbook that will take your SD card, get the pictures off it and store them on its hard drive.
And it happens to be a computer, too, which means you could have your photo editing software on it ready to go, or you can get on the Internet and upload pictures easily. You'll typically have a 160 GB hard disk, which can store a lot of photos.
You'll have to decide for yourself if a netbook is portable enough. They'll fit in a generous sized camera bag, and they don't weigh much more than one of the portable photo viewers listed above.
One concern could be battery life, however, if you will need to be operating without an AC outlet for several hours. Often this can be worked around with judicious planning: shoot all morning, offload pictures at lunchtime, shoot all afternoon, take everything back home (or back to the hotel), plug in, and repeat.
To sum it up…
Portable photo storage can mean a lot of different things. Professional photographers often find the investment in a device like the Nexto Di eXtreme to be very worthwhile, because it saves a lot of "did I back it up?" and "wait, is this card empty?" headaches.
If you don't need to do anything right away, but you know you'll be taking massive numbers of pictures, then extra SD cards work well, as long as you're not using a DSLR and shooting high resolution.
If you're flexible about when and where you can offload pictures and fancy having some extra computing power at your beck and call, then a small netbook may be a good choice, particularly if you plan to store photos online.
With portable photo storage, there are more choices than ever before as netbooks, SD cards, and portable photo viewers come down in price. You have a lot of options to choose from. Just decide what your highest priorities are (portability? capability? convenience?) and work from there.
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