View Full Version : SD Card to HD (no computer)...why so expensive?

09-03-2011, 10:18 PM
Hi everyone-
Here's one I can't get my head around.
I'm about to go on a nice long backpacking trip (Australia, NZ and India) with a new DSLR and no laptop, so I want a place to put my pictures. As I see it, my options are
a) lug a bunch of SD cards around
b) Set up server space somewhere and hope I come by internet sources regularly enough
c) Find a way of transferring the pictures to a 2.5" hard drive that I don't mind also carrying.

Barring "Photo storage devices" that include hard drives and aren't cheap, the closest thing I've found to option C would be this:
but it's pretty old and doesn't support SATA.

So my question is, why is this sort of thing so hard to do? Or am I misunderstanding USB OTG and will any external case with "One Touch Backup" do the job?

OR...can a Propeller be rigged to do the job?? (Jk, highly doubt it, although it would be so cool!)


Mike Green
09-03-2011, 10:44 PM
a) Best solution. If you get really large capacity cards and don't use RAW mode, you can store thousands of pictures on a card. 32GB is about the largest available now and four of those is equivalent to a modestly big laptop hard drive. You might still want to keep backups. What if an SD card fails and you lose all the photos on it? Maybe you want lots of 4GB or 8GB cards that you can switch out periodically. If a card fails, you've got some of the photos for a given segment of the trip.
b) Dicey, particularly getting a high enough speed connection to upload. What are you going to use to do the upload?
c) There are photo storage devices that copy your files to a hard drive. You need a device specifically made for backing up photos. Most of the "One Touch Backup" devices require a PC which actually does the backup.

You could rig up a Propeller to copy photos from one SD card to a large backup SD HD card setting up a new subdirectory for each backup or something else if you want it. Kye's SD card driver handles FAT32, HD cards, and subdirectories and it can mount more than one SD card at a time with appropriate programming. If you have the time and inclination, you could do it. Do you want to mess with something like that or use a commercial product?

How about something like an iPad 2? There's an adapter for it that allows you to upload photos via USB from your camera. You can organize them using iPhoto and upload selected photos to a website (or all of them) via WiFi when you find it. That'll also let you use e-mail and Skype when you have internet access.

09-03-2011, 10:48 PM
The reason it's so expensive is that it contains 3 expensive parts;
a 2.5" 'Laptop HDD' (More expensive than 3.5" HDDs used in desktop machines)
a rechargeable battery, so that you can transfer files without access to external power,
and a small, dedicated computer of some sort(a microcontroller capable of handling many different types of physical media, and also understands file systems)

Frankly, if I were you, I would have brought a decent netBook or something.
Not only can you then organise the pictures, but you can make notes or write a travel diary.

If not, bringing lots of SD-cards is your best option. But even then, I really recommend that you don't erase any SD-card before you've also uploaded the pictures, or otherwise made certain you have them on at least two different media.
(SD-cards are really solid and take very little space, so they're rather good for storage)
In fact, I know of people who buy new SD-cards whenever they go on a longer trip or vacation and bring their camera.
When they get home they copy the pictures to the PC, then archive the SD-card in a safe place.

Most cases with 'OTB' is junk. The theory is that you connect it to your PC, a program is Autorun from it, and waits for you to press the button to start the backup. It does NOT backup any memory cards.
(And everyone who is at all security-conscious has already disabled the Autorun 'feature' in Windows)

OTG devices though, are supposed to make backups of other portable media. and therefore have a microcontroller and higher price.

09-03-2011, 11:45 PM
When I went to China last summer for two months, I took with me a small HP notebook with extended battery, and a USB external hard drive. Every day after I went out and shot lots of pictures, I'd come back to my room and copy them to the computer's HDD and make duplicates on the external drive. I'd also go through and select the best pictures, and toss those onto a weatherproof flash drive that I always carried on my person with my passport and spare cash.

The netbook was not troublesome to carry around with me, and was very handy for checking email and destination information. You definitely won't be able to upload the pictures to a server if you are traveling anywhere outside of the West.

If you're really picky about photo gear, you'll need a nice flash drive (say, class 10) and be shooting in RAW and burst mode, so it could get expensive to carry around a bunch of cards. That's why I only carry the nice card in my camera, and a decent card as backup in my camera bag.

09-04-2011, 12:26 AM
I would suggest sticking with SD cards. If weight and volume is the main consideration (which it usually is when backpacking) 3 or 4 dozen SD cards take up less space and volume than a 2.5 inch HDD, and are nowhere near as delicate. One drop and the HDD is likely to be toast, regardless of whether it is a standalone device or part of a PC/Netbook.

Another advantage to multiple SD cards is that you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. Buying packages with multiple lower capacity cards saves money, makes organizing photos simpler, and may save you from loosing all your photos to a mishap.

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
09-04-2011, 12:26 AM

There are also these: http://www.eye.fi/ They could be used in a wifi-equipped internet cafe environment where you could verify that the pictures were actually uploaded. Try it here before you leave on your trip, though. (I'm kinda jealous about your travel plans, BTW.)


Peter KG6LSE
09-04-2011, 06:24 AM
I use the EYEFE . its a hit or miss device]
and took me like 4 hours to work at first .

for the Ipod classic a few years ago was a reader that dumped to the HDD , Moot point as you can get 128GB CF cards if need be .


and if it can write to the cards too you can do tons of cool stuff with it ,


Loopy Byteloose
09-04-2011, 06:36 AM
I went to Thailand for 3 weeks with friends a couple of years ago and brought along an EEEpc (4gbytes) and several largish SDcards 8gbytes. My friends thought I was crazy to bring a computer on a vacation, but they didn't realize that [1] the EEEpc was so small and [2] we had wifi available just about everywhere and [3] the screen was large enough for them to take a good look at the photos.

So what happened. They kept borrowing the EEEpc to email home or to browse the internet. And they also enjoyed viewing everyone's photos on it as the trip unfolded. in the past, I had carried a Palm Zire72 PDA on my travels and as a photo viewer, but a notebook - not a full sized laptop - made the trip even more fun. It also helps that the notebook is not so expensive that theft or damage is a huge disaster.