What is your non-laptop image back up solution when travelling?

Martin

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I can’t believe there isn’t an easy solution to this problem: I don’t own a laptop; I’m travelling for a week on a photography trip; I want to back up my images each night and keep the back up in the hotel or car.
Things I’ve considered: two slots on my 5D MkIV but there doesn’t seem to be a way to transfer (back up) from one to another which would then allow me to remove the back up for safe keeping;
there used to be a number of hard drives with card slots on the market that would back up the card but they don’t seem to exist now and I can't find any second hand;I don’t want to spend a fortune on a (Mac) laptop that I won’t otherwise use;
I’ve also considered cloud back up but transfer speeds too slow (or non-existent where I’m
going) from camera to iPad then again from to Cloud . What do others do?
 
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Does your camera not have an option to write to both cards? Many cameras do have such an option, or an option to shoot RAW+JPG and then save the raw files on one card and the jpegs on the other card.
 

Martin

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Thanks. My camera can write to both cards simultaneously but that isn't a solution because it means that I have all images in the same place (i.e. the camera) at the same time. If I lose the camera in the sea then everything is gone. A true back up is where you have your images elsewhere (in my case, the hotel or the car).
 
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Thanks. My camera can write to both cards simultaneously but that isn't a solution because it means that I have all images in the same place (i.e. the camera) at the same time. If I lose the camera in the sea then everything is gone. A true back up is where you have your images elsewhere (in my case, the hotel or the car).
What stops you from taking seven (smaller) cards with you for that second card slot, so you can replace the 'backup card' each day and store it safely?
 

Martin

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What stops you from taking seven (smaller) cards with you for that second card slot, so you can replace the 'backup card' each day and store it safely?
Yep, I'm liking that idea. Hadn't thought of that one. Thank you.
 
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While travelling, I use Red and Blue Samsung T7 small USB C drives .

The Blue drives are used to store my primary copy of my cards. The Red drive is a full copy of my Blue Drive.

While travelling I can plug the Blue drive into my MacAir and use Lightroom to review / flag / very basic edits, apply metadata, my images and or export jpgs for email / web.

I reformat my card after I have copied my images to my Blue and Red drives, which guarantees that I do not have downstream issues with duplicate images.

When I get back to base I can use my Travel catelog to merge with my main Windows based catalog.

I start each trip with an empty travel catalog on my MacAir.
 

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I can’t believe there isn’t an easy solution to this problem: I don’t own a laptop; I’m travelling for a week on a photography trip; I want to back up my images each night and keep the back up in the hotel or car.
........What do others do?
I long ago decided that my photos were worth the investment in a cheap laptop for travel. I currently have a better laptop, as I want to sometimes edit on the road.
Simply for backup, you can also buy a cheap pc and an external drive. You then get 2 backups - once on the pc and once on external.
Move them to your Mac when you get home.

Otherwise, most hotels have a business center with a pc. Bring a card reader and an external drive with you, plug them into the pc, and simply backup your photos to the external.
 
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I can’t believe there isn’t an easy solution to this problem: I don’t own a laptop; I’m travelling for a week on a photography trip; I want to back up my images each night and keep the back up in the hotel or car.
Things I’ve considered: two slots on my 5D MkIV but there doesn’t seem to be a way to transfer (back up) from one to another which would then allow me to remove the back up for safe keeping;
there used to be a number of hard drives with card slots on the market that would back up the card but they don’t seem to exist now and I can't find any second hand;I don’t want to spend a fortune on a (Mac) laptop that I won’t otherwise use;
I’ve also considered cloud back up but transfer speeds too slow (or non-existent where I’m
going) from camera to iPad then again from to Cloud . What do others do?
I use the iPad Pro exclusively when I travel All of my images are sync'd from the Adobe Cloud to my iMac and Lightroom Classic by the time I return home or shortly after.
On extended trips where storing the images file on the 1TB iPad might be limiting, I have a portable USB-C hard disk that I use to make a 3rd copy on my originals. So one copy on the camera card, One copy on the iPad/Adobe Cloud and a third copy on the portable EHD.

https://www.amazon.com/External-Storage-management-iDiskk-Certified/dp/B07N2NQYZ2

It also has a 1000 mAh battery to charge the iPad Pro.
 
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While travelling, I use Red and Blue Samsung T7 small USB C drives .

The Blue drives are used to store my primary copy of my cards. The Red drive is a full copy of my Blue Drive.

While travelling I can plug the Blue drive into my MacAir and use Lightroom to review / flag / very basic edits, apply metadata, my images and or export jpgs for email / web.

I reformat my card after I have copied my images to my Blue and Red drives, which guarantees that I do not have downstream issues with duplicate images.

When I get back to base I can use my Travel catelog to merge with my main Windows based catalog.

I start each trip with an empty travel catalog on my MacAir.

Gnits, the question was: how do you do it without a laptop?
 
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I can use an Ipad. I also have a Gnarbox, but unfortunately Gnarbox have gone bust. I might be lucky in that I managed to get a firmware update just the week Gnarbox announcement.
However, I am unhappy that Lightroom will not work with images on an external device to the iPad. I am not sure if this is an Adobe or Apple restriction. There are workarounds for this, but for me ... too laborious and too error prone and not an efficient workflow.

I agree.... this area is totally frustrating.

I have written my own Ingest app to copy my images from SD card or my Samsung T7 drives to their final image repository on my Win machine.
 
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Here are some of the crazy ones I have used:
  1. I plugged in a card reader to a USB hub, which I plugged in a thumb drive and a USB cable to my Android phone. Then using a file manager I copied the images from the card to thumb drive.
  2. I plugged the camera into the USB on my phone, used the camera as a drive to the phone to copy the photos into the memory on the phone.
  3. I used the Canon WiFi file transfer tool to my phone, where I then copied the images locally first then using a file manager to an external drive attached via USB.
  4. Same as three, but used Bluetooth to transfer the files.

Many other variations with the above. Now, I just carry extra cards, and keep them at the hotel along with a cheap and light laptop to manage the transfers. I also bought two really cheap cases to hold the cards, it holds two cards per page and has roughly 10 pages (each page slightly larger than two SD cards side by side). After a day or two of shots, the cards go into the "full case" which stays at the hotel. When I get internet, and I have synced and uploaded the images, I format the cards and place them at the back of the "empty" case which goes with me. I have ten cards, representing five days in theory (I have the camera write to two cards at once). In practice, unless I am burning images like crazy, I find I tend to go two days per set of cards.

Tim
 
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Thanks. My camera can write to both cards simultaneously but that isn't a solution because it means that I have all images in the same place (i.e. the camera) at the same time. If I lose the camera in the sea then everything is gone. A true back up is where you have your images elsewhere (in my case, the hotel or the car).
This logic is a bit faulty. Until you do a backup to another device, using two cards is probably better than any other solution since it is happening in real time. And, most importantly, until you backup to an external device, you are always vulnerable to a total loss of equipment, regardless of what storage devices you bring. Were you planning on stopping multiple times during the day to do a backup on to another device during your trip? If not and you want to go light, bring lots of cards and follow Johan's suggestion of pulling the secondary card when you want a backup. It is probably the fastest and easiest solution if you are shooting all day long. It takes under a minute to swap cards, and a card wallet is easy to stick in a pocket.

If you change your mind and do want a very small, affordable laptop instead of something like a tablet, Microsoft has their Surface Go 3 which is the same size as a tablet and has a USB-C port: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/d/surface-go-3/904h27d0cbwn?activetab=pivot:overviewtab . This will also allow you to run some basic software if you want to do more than just back up images.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

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.

If you change your mind and do want a very small, affordable laptop instead of something like a tablet, Microsoft has their Surface Go 3 .
That would work. When I suggested a cheap pc, as money might be a concern, I should have explicitly included used laptops. In the states you can get them for ~ $200 US. If all you do is hook up a card reader and a external drive, this will be enough.
 
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That would work. When I suggested a cheap pc, as money might be a concern, I should have explicitly included used laptops. In the states you can get them for ~ $200 US. If all you do is hook up a card reader and a external drive, this will be enough.
The reason I recommend this model is that it is about the same weight and size as a tablet. So, if weight and size are important on a trip, and sometimes they are for me when I travel, this is a cheap and cheerful option. As you have pointed out, there are other options that can also work well depending on a person's needs.

--Ken
 
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I've used a tiny card-reader dongle to load images from my card to my Android phone. Cost about $8, light as a feather. Then the images are in two places, but with the obvious proviso that most of the time you will be carrying both the camera and the phone. But, once on the phone, you can upload images to cloud storage if you wish, or swap out the phone's memory card for a new one if you want to leave the old one in your hotel room.
 

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Thanks everyone for your contributions. I'm going to go with either:

(1) to record images on 2 cards simultaneously and buy lots of small cards and swap one of them out every day to store elsewhere;

or (2) buy a Lightning camera adapter, plug it into my iPhone; attached other end to a powered USB3 hub which I can then attached a card reader and a portable hard drive.

I have everything except the Lightning camera adapter so will try (2) first.

When I originally posted I hadn't realised small cards were so cheap. I paid £100 for a 1GB SanDisk in 2001 ! ; and I've been using a 128GB which I got free with the camera for years so I'm out of tough.
I also hadn't realised that the recent iPhone IOS updates allowed you to plug in a hard drive so I'll be trying that too.
 
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Thanks everyone for your contributions. I'm going to go with either:

(1) to record images on 2 cards simultaneously and buy lots of small cards and swap one of them out every day to store elsewhere;

or (2) buy a Lightning camera adapter, plug it into my iPhone; attached other end to a powered USB3 hub which I can then attached a card reader and a portable hard drive.

I have everything except the Lightning camera adapter so will try (2) first.

When I originally posted I hadn't realised small cards were so cheap. I paid £100 for a 1GB SanDisk in 2001 ! ; and I've been using a 128GB which I got free with the camera for years so I'm out of tough.
I also hadn't realised that the recent iPhone IOS updates allowed you to plug in a hard drive so I'll be trying that too.
If you take this approach, do a test run before your trip. Not all devices and dongles play well together, and they often need power despite what the manufacturers tell us. If it works a few time in trial, you should be good to go. If not, keep tinkering and you may get a working solution.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

Martin

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If you take this approach, do a test run before your trip. Not all devices and dongles play well together, and they often need power despite what the manufacturers tell us. If it works a few time in trial, you should be good to go. If not, keep tinkering and you may get a working solution.

Good luck,

--Ken
I tried the Lightning Camera Adapter in my iPhone and iPad and although it will read and transfer to/from cameras, card readers, and USB dongles, it won't read from anything plugged into a powered USB3 Hub. It seems everyone who has success with this is using an iPad Pro.
 
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I was going to suggest that I test the iPhone as I have a bunch of powered hubs, before I realised that all my hubs are USB C based. The Lightening Cable does not have the same bandwidth and power capacity of USB C / Thunderbolt and probably explains the constraints you found.

I have been searching for this non laptop solution since I got my first Canon 10d. Several early devices were a complete disaster. I got a Hyperdrive ( I think,cannot remember the precise name) which was the most successful and had SD and Compact Flash ports. Unfortunately, as SD cards had greater capacities a point was reached when the Hyperdrive would not read the higher capacity cards and became obsolete. I considered building my own, with something like a Raspberry Pi or similar single board computer, but was always afraid they would be too slow. I read with interest a growing band of videographers extolling the virtues of the GNARBOX, but they were very expensive. With the assistance of a gift from a friend I eventually bought one. I had mixed views on the device, but I contacted the developers and posted a whole bunch of suggestions. They implemented most of the suggestions immediately and gave me strong indications they would implement the remainder in later releases. I tested various firmware updates and received a firmware update with most of my suggestions included just a few days before they announced that GNARBOX was going out of business. My view was that they seriously understood what was needed, but I think they were too ambitious in terms of what they were trying to deliver .

My conclusion is that, despite the obvious usefulness of such a device, there does not seem to be a market to support one.

In desperation, I researched the IPad Pro with USB C port as an option, and bought such a device, to discover that Lr on iPad would not import images from an external drive and my iPad Pro had too little storage to cater for my typical travel needs. It will work to copy cards to the iPad or a connected ssd drive.

So, I currently have an IPad Pro and Gnarbox, which I do NOT use for portable photographic storage. Expensive mistakes, looking for the ideal solution.

I have finally resolved this for myself by buying a current MacAir. This acts as a portable storage container / manager (I travel with the Mac Air and 2 Samsung T7 ssd drives), which allows me to backup my images in the field, but also use the full version of Lightroom, with the advantage that I can use this device for email, internet browsing and posting images to Flickr, etc..

I totally understand the need and wish that a robust solution existed, but for now my MacAir will be that device.
 

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I was going to suggest that I test the iPhone as I have a bunch of powered hubs, before I realised that all my hubs are USB C based. The Lightening Cable does not have the same bandwidth and power capacity of USB C / Thunderbolt and probably explains the constraints you found.

I have been searching for this non laptop solution since I got my first Canon 10d. Several early devices were a complete disaster. I got a Hyperdrive ( I think,cannot remember the precise name) which was the most successful and had SD and Compact Flash ports. Unfortunately, as SD cards had greater capacities a point was reached when the Hyperdrive would not read the higher capacity cards and became obsolete. I considered building my own, with something like a Raspberry Pi or similar single board computer, but was always afraid they would be too slow. I read with interest a growing band of videographers extolling the virtues of the GNARBOX, but they were very expensive. With the assistance of a gift from a friend I eventually bought one. I had mixed views on the device, but I contacted the developers and posted a whole bunch of suggestions. They implemented most of the suggestions immediately and gave me strong indications they would implement the remainder in later releases. I tested various firmware updates and received a firmware update with most of my suggestions included just a few days before they announced that GNARBOX was going out of business. My view was that they seriously understood what was needed, but I think they were too ambitious in terms of what they were trying to deliver .

My conclusion is that, despite the obvious usefulness of such a device, there does not seem to be a market to support one.

In desperation, I researched the IPad Pro with USB C port as an option, and bought such a device, to discover that Lr on iPad would not import images from an external drive and my iPad Pro had too little storage to cater for my typical travel needs. It will work to copy cards to the iPad or a connected ssd drive.

So, I currently have an IPad Pro and Gnarbox, which I do NOT use for portable photographic storage. Expensive mistakes, looking for the ideal solution.

I have finally resolved this for myself by buying a current MacAir. This acts as a portable storage container / manager (I travel with the Mac Air and 2 Samsung T7 ssd drives), which allows me to backup my images in the field, but also use the full version of Lightroom, with the advantage that I can use this device for email, internet browsing and posting images to Flickr, etc..

I totally understand the need and wish that a robust solution existed, but for now my MacAir will be that device.
This looks interesting - and inexpensive. Suggested by another forum though not tested. It's not a hard drive but looks like it could connect to a hard drive - and it reads cards.
 
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I tried the Lightning Camera Adapter in my iPhone and iPad and although it will read and transfer to/from cameras, card readers, and USB dongles, it won't read from anything plugged into a powered USB3 Hub. It seems everyone who has success with this is using an iPad Pro.
Actually, it is possible with a Lightning iOS device…but it is tricky. I went through this with my old first generation iPad Pro, which is a Lightning device.

If a card reader or portable hard drive is not mounting reliably in the iOS Files app through a Lightning to USB hub, a possible cause is not enough power. If this happens, try powering the hub from a USB power source with higher output, like 2.4 volts. Which is less common than you might think. Many USB chargers, especially the ones for phones (e.g., 1.5 volts output) don’t provide enough power for that kind of multi-device Lightning setup.

Important: This is not an AC vs battery issue. For example, my Lightning hub with card reader and external drive attached mount on my Lightning iPad when my Anker power bank battery is plugged into the hub because that Anker model has 2.4v USB-A ports, but that same setup does not work with my AC-powered Thunderbolt dock because its USB-A ports supply a lower but much more common power level. So whether you are trying an AC or battery power source, it may need to meet that USB-A power output requirement. I think the incorrect general assumption that Lightning can’t do it is simply because most USB-A power sources are lower power level, so most people try what they happen to have, it doesn’t work, so they assume that’s just how it is.

Like you said, the problem is largely solved with newer iOS devices using USB-C, partly because USB-C is much more flexible about power delivery. With USB-C it is more likely that you can plug a hub into the iPad, plug stuff into the hub, and it works right away, often without an external power supply.

I have a USB-A powered dummy battery for a Canon DSLR, and the dummy battery’s manual describes the same requirement. Won’t work with most of the USB-A power adapters out there, but plug it into one that delivers over 2.1 volts and the camera starts up.
 
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@Gnits

If you want to come to the dark side. I have done this many times with an Android phone. Works great. Only caveat, if you want to connect a hub so the reader and the thumb drive are both active, at the same time, spring for an external powered USB-C hub.

Tim
 
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I was interested in the Western Digital linked above, but I read too many mixed reports.
And this tends to be the case for almost every "new" solution that has been released over the past decade or so based on my readings. For a task like backing up my images, reliability tends to be quite high on on priority list, so I tend to pass on these solutions. If one was that good and that reliable, then I suspect it would still be in production and widely used.

--Ken
 
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