Monday, May 29, 2006

What's Important to You?

I spent a good part of May 2006 traveling, so my blog languished in the meantime. I took both my D200 and my S2pro with me whilst I traveled through Peru, and I had a very good time.

When I left the United States, if anyone had asked me what the most valuable thing I carried with me was, I probably would have named a lens or perhaps my D200 camera body. However, as the trip progressed, the cameras and lenses became less valuable to me. No, not because they got damaged or destroyed, but because something else became even more valuable than those items--something I would not have expected.

I first realized this when another traveler told me that she couldn't take any more photos because her memory card was full. I offered her one of my compact flash cards and she accepted it--and it allowed her to keep taking photos.

So by the time my trip was nearing its end, I began running out of high-capacity cards. And that's when it occurred to me that the most valuable things I had were my memory cards, both blank ones for taking photos and particularly the filled memory cards with once in a lifetime photos. By the end of the trip, I would gladly have sacrificed my cameras to save the memory cards.

When traveling, some photographers will use a backup device to clear cards. These devices can cost hundreds of dollars. While a backup device is good, I think it's cheaper and more efficient to simply carry more high-capacity cards. These days, a decent 2 gig card runs around $75 on sale, so carrying plenty of memory is easier than trying to backup 1 card repeatedly while on the road with questionable power sources.

So what's important to you when you're on vacation, photographically speaking? These days, memory cards are the same as negatives. It's your memory cards that magically gain in value on every trip.

5 Comments:

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can get a backup drive of 40gb for around $200, whereas three cards @$75 =$235 and you have 6gb. I don't get your logic?

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

It's actually pretty simple. At the time that was written a backup device ran around $400 to 500 for a 20 gig device. These days, a 20 gig device runs around $250.

Most people on a trip don't shoot anywhere near 20 gigs of photos.

So, would you rather have 1 card and an expensive backup device which requires its own power system or would you rather have a bunch of cards? What happens when your card fills up in the field and it'll take an hour to move the images onto the backup device?

Nowadays, a 4 gig card costs as little as $60. 3 cards = 12 gig = $180, much more useful in the real world.

About the only reason to have backup is for an extended trip, where even multiple cards aren't enough. In which case, maybe even a 20 gig or 40 gig backup device won't be of much help.

 
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