Give Photographers What They Really Want

by Derrick Story

Digital photography has so much going for it right now.



I'm hooked on direct printing from cameras to portable dye sub printers, which actually makes printing fun again! Kodak has just announced a wireless EasyShare camera that lets you transfer pictures and video via WiFi. That's cool. And the new Photoshop Elements 3 is a fabulous image editor for less than $90.



With all of these wonders, you'd think that digital photographers would be dancing in the streets. But we're not. Because we still don't have the one thing that many of us want.



I want a device about the size of an iPod that I can insert my digital camera memory card in to, transfer the pictures, then put the card back in the camera and reuse it. It would be nice if I could review the pictures I've uploaded on a small screen, but not necessary. I should be able to recharge it with the same charger I use for my camera. It should have USB2 or FireWire connectivity to my computer. Everything should work fast. And I want this device to cost less than $250. That's right, I want reliable, portable storage for my images on the road, that I can connect to my PowerBook when I get home.



Don't get me wrong, I really like my PowerBook, but when I'm on vacation I don't want to take it with me. That's not really "getting away from it all." I want to take my cell phone, digital camera, and this new storage device -- that's it. There's this thing called "human interaction" that I hear is really fun. I figure if I leave the laptop at home I can try it.



I've had many disappointments while waiting for my savior. Epson produces the lovely P-2000, which would be perfect if it were half the size and half the price. Kodak just announced the EasyShare Picture Viewer for $150. I got very excited about this until I realized you had to hook it up to your computer to transfer the images. What the heck?



Apple provided the same disappointment with the iPod photo. Guys, listen to me. We don't need another device to show snapshots of the kids. I can do that with my Sony Ericsson T637. What I want to do is empty my memory card on the road and keep shooting. I'll get to the computer when I return home. (And don't talk to me about the Belkin adapter for the iPod because I could run home and transfer my pictures directly to the computer, then run back, before the Belkin was finished doing its thing.)



I thought this year's CES show would finally provide me with the device I've been waiting for. But apparently not. If it exists, and I've missed it, will you post a talkback? Otherwise, I'm asking those in the imaging industry to please give photographers what they really want. Just for once, let us leave the computer at home.


28 Comments

silver02suby
2005-01-06 10:23:53
I see your point but somewhat disagree
I see where you are going with this article, and in points I agree with you that the workflow isn't polished yet. You seem to be suggesting another hard drive storage device and that's not practical. The Belkin device for iPod is far from perfect, but it does the trick for the moment. I would like to see something small, "PocketDock"-like, if you will... that allows me to stick a CF, or SD, etc, memory card into and quickly dump off all the photos onto my iPod. It needs to be small, roughly $39 or $49, and run off the iPod's power. They should be available for many types of flash memory, but not multiple in one. Make one for CF, one for SD, etc... because nobody uses both at the same time.


The part where you say you can show photos on your T637 is ridiculous. Yeah that cameraphone has resolution just as good as the iPod photo screen, and the camera is the same as your Canon A400, for example - not. iPod photo is a great next step, and if that screen isn't enough, they gave you the dock to hook it up to a TV with no thought process required. What else do you need???


Besides, if you run into the problem of needing to dump off your card and keep shooting, perhaps you should've purchased a second CF card, shouldn't you? Now the process matters much less.....


Just my input.

Matthew Doar
2005-01-06 10:24:26
For backup or for more pictures?
If this is for more pictures, isn't the cost of extra memory less than the cost of carrying yet another device. In other words, how many pictures/movies would you ever take during the time away?


If this is about backup or transfer data to other people, yes, I see the point. A backup solution across the internet would be ideal.


~Matt


zero11
2005-01-06 11:21:28
Echo
I couldn't agree more. I shot regularly, I shot in places that taking a laptop isn't practicle ( hiking trails, camping trips, wandering the streets of SF ), and I shot in RAW. My 1 GB card holds out for a while but hardly long enough.. it's like shoting film in that I'm back to worrying about how much film I have.


There is a solution out there that actually dumps images to an ipod from CF. I've not tested it though... might be worth a look.


http://www.professordevigal.org/blog_in/archives/000278.html

derrick
2005-01-06 11:23:09
RE: For backup or for more pictures?
For more pictures, but back up is nice.


Carrying extra memory isn't really the solution over the long haul, at least not for me. Yes, I could go buy a handful of 1GB cards and spend a fair amount of money doing so. But with a small hard drive I can store many memory cards worth of of data and simply plug it in to my computer when I'm ready to upload.


Having the option to back up memory cards while on the road is a terrific option. If I have a series of shots that I think are real winners, then I can upload those images to the device and tuck away that memory card. Then I sleep better at night until I get to my computer.

derrick
2005-01-06 11:29:23
RE: I see your point but somewhat disagree
Your input is terrific :)


I think we're just different types of shooters. I see the iPod photo as a playback device. It's great for that. But I don't really need that. Actually, may camera shows off the images well on its LCD. And I can plug it in to the TV too.


What I want is a device that I can use for storage over the course of a week or two and serve as a back up for precious photos while traveling light. Personally, I don't like the Belkin device for the iPod. I tried to like it. I even wrote about it. But in the end, it isn't quite right.


Thanks for your comments.

Gregorius
2005-01-06 12:22:14
I know it's not exactly what you're asking for but...
1. Aito A-62200 is quite close to your specs:
http://www.aito.com.tw/ts04c.htm


2. There's lot of card readers integrated with DVD-RW burners, so you can actually burn DVD-RW from CF without using PC.


3. Macally SyncBox looks good. It's not storage device itself, but -according to their website - you should be able to copy your pictures to small external USB hard drive or relatevily cheap 1GB pen drive.
http://www.macally.com/new/new_syncbox.html


with best regards


Grzegorz

derrick
2005-01-06 12:44:22
RE: I know it's not exactly what you're asking for but...
The Aito looks pretty interesting, but it doesn't appear to be for sale here in the States. Have you seen one in person? Also, do you know how much it costs?


Thanks for the lead. It was fun checking out the web page.

derrick
2005-01-06 12:47:15
Re: Echo
Yeah, that's one of the Belkin devices. It works, but...


It is very slow and it eats batteries pretty fast. Plus, it's bulkier than the iPod itself. I tried to love it, but I just couldn't...


Thanks for your feedback :)

dnorman
2005-01-06 13:01:00
Belkin media reader?
http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Section_Id=201526&pcount=&Product_Id=158350


Copies your pics from storage card to iPod. Syncs with iPhoto when you get home. $99US.


I haven't used one, but it sounds close to what you're looking for...

dnorman
2005-01-06 13:02:16
Belkin media reader?
ah. just read the last line about the slow speed of this sucker (their website claims to get an amazingly fast 300K/sec over firewire - wtf? Firewire can do a couple orders of magnitude faster than that...)
maarky
2005-01-06 14:31:16
For backup or for more pictures?
I would like something like this too. I am getting ready to hike the Pacific Crest Trail so I need something real bad. I can take well over 100 pictures in a 50 mile hike and the PCT is 2,750 miles long (that's over 5,500 pictures). Something that can backup onto CD or DVD would also be good so that I can mail the pictures back home along the way.


What I also want is a good camera with GPS built in so that it can get the coordinates in the exif data. I need this data, so having it all done for me when I take the picture would be much faster and more accurate than what I do now which is to manually add this info when I get home. I know there's one camera out there that does this, but I want more than one to choose from.

Guillaume
2005-01-06 14:55:59
Transcend PhotoBank maybe ?
The "Transcend PhotoBank" looks like what you need:
http://www.transcendusa.com/products/ModDetail.asp?ModNo=11


It costs 249.99$ on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002XCE4K/


Guillaume

__Jon__
2005-01-06 15:03:06
Here are a couple...
http://www.xs-drive.com/xsdrive2/
selling for about 200, uses a 2.5" hd, so its not as small as an ipod, but its quite portable.


http://www.archos.com/products/prw_500286_specs.html
you need to add it one of the archos jukeboxes, a little more expensive than the xsdrive2. Doesnt look very robust.


derrick
2005-01-06 15:57:15
RE: Here are a couple...
Hey Jon, have you used any of these? I looked at the X's Drive, and it seems to have some promise, although it might be bigger than most of us want. Good lead though!
derrick
2005-01-06 15:59:00
RE: Transcend PhotoBank maybe ?
The PhotoBank intrigues me. I'm going to write them and see if I can get my hands on one. Unfortunately there weren't any reader reviews on Amazon. Have you seen one in real life?
b_isikoff
2005-01-07 00:57:15
RE: I see your point but somewhat disagree
I like both perspectives, really. I would like to see a quicker interface between my camera and iPod Photo. Something speedy, that can wipe the card. My PhotoPod's got 40 GB; my music collection's only 15 GB or so at this time.

I'm also glad to see the bloom of wi-fi enablement on cameras. I can see it as being handy, especially with a laptop set into a server mode. I take an annual week-long camping frim in NorCal, and as the group switches almost entirely to digital cameras, the idea of an ad hoc wi-fi network providing drop box and back-up capability is something I find catchy.
jwenting
2005-01-07 04:04:48
Belkin media reader?
Firewire may, but the speed of the cards is lower than the max speed Firewire can achieve.


Thus the transfer speed over Firewire is likely limited by other factors rather than the transfer limit of the protocol.

Guillaume
2005-01-07 05:44:37
RE: Transcend PhotoBank maybe ?
No, I didn't see it in stores. I found similar products on the web before, but I can't remember the URLs nor the names, sorry.
acmcleod
2005-01-07 08:05:48
Use your iPod, I do...
For 29 bucks I bought a lexar 8 in one card reader.
For 80 bucks I bought a delkin USB bridge


110 buck later, and yes admittedly too many cables later too, I have what I always wanted...


I take my Ipod with me on vacation anyway so these 2 more small devices are all I need to get my camera pictures to my iPod. No failures yet!! Supports my smartmedia camera, my CF camera and my SD camera too!


Had to reformat my iPod to Windows FAT but it simply works!


Luka
2005-01-07 11:29:49
iRiver
The iRiver H320 and H340 can supposedly do this without a computer. You would probably need a USB hub though. Plus they have color screens so you can see the photos. I just dont' know how fast the transfer speed is. It could be as fast as the camera could output photos, AKA computer upload speed.
Luka
2005-01-07 11:32:55
Archos Gmini 220
The Archos Gmini 220 has a Compactflash card reader built in, so it can do that too.
Adroitus
2005-01-10 16:50:35
This looks awesome.
I have never used one, but everything I have read about them makes me lust for one. This looks like everything you could want, except for the price.


http://smartdisk.com/Products/DigitalMultimedia/FlashTrax.asp

timseye
2005-01-13 12:39:06
minidock card reader
timseye
2005-01-13 12:41:01
minidock card reader
Has anyone tried to connect a card reader to the ipod using the minidock?
danchow
2005-01-24 16:33:24
RE: Transcend PhotoBank maybe ?
i have just purchased and used the transcend's photobank (20gb).


comestically it looks and feels nice, but although not poorly constructed, i'd handle it with extra care while on the field. fortunately it has a protective case.


it's light and compact; USB 2; will not charge from the USB port but will charge from supplied charger.


transfer speed from flash card to the photobank is relatively slow. for example, transferring a full sandisk ultra II 1gb card took between 12 and 14 minutes. the NEF files transferred were between 5.1 and 6 mb.


however that was no big deal for me because i have a second 1gb compact flash card. so while one card is busy transferring to the photobank, i can use the other available card to take pictures.


i hope this quick review helps a little bit.


daniel

hooly
2005-12-30 19:43:07
iRiver
The H3*0s are USB hosts out of the box - your plug the camera's usb cable, into another cable, into the mp3 player. Copy stuff.


I haven't tried mine with any large quantities of files - it's only USB 1.1 so it won't be fast. But the connection for my camera to my mac seems to be 1.1 as well. Whereas the iriver-mac connection is USB 2 (which is much much faster) so overall you don't loose much time. Unless your camera uses firewire, in which case it would no doubt be slower, except it wouldn't work at all.


They have radio (which they record) a built-in and external mike, line out and with the firmware update they play video. If you want something that does everything it's worth a look.

Mark B
2006-04-12 13:35:24
I have an ipod video and a digital camera with an SD card. All I want is a small device, to plug into the ipod port, that can read the SD card and allow the transfer of my pictures. I don't understand why the Belkin device is so big and slow? my digital camera is tiny and can read and write to the SD card and communicate over USB2 and the battery lasts forever ! Somebody make this adapter and sell it for $40 or less and i'll be your first customer!
Fiona
2006-04-19 00:47:27
http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore?productLearnMore=M9861G/A


I think this may be the type of thing you guys need. The iPod Camera Connector. I've used it on my 5th Gen iPod photo/video (it doesn't work with earlier versions) and it was great, until I bought a new camera (listed on iPod site as being compatible) but I can't get it to work now.