The Epson P-2000 and Aperture Import

by Bakari Chavanu

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When I started my wedding photography business a little over a year ago, the volume of my digital images shot up over a hundred percent. No longer post-processing an occasional 50 or so family or street photography images from a typical shoot, I now on a regular basis shoot and import 800-1200 photos at a time. And because I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, I still shy away from capturing all my images on a few 4 or 8 gig size media cards. I feel much better filling up about eight 1-2 gig cards per wedding. I could maybe scale back to six cards, but that's as far as I would like to go right now.

So with eight cards and a pretty fast SanDisk reader, it takes me anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to import images from those individual cards into Aperture. Each of my media cards is numbered (a tip I learned from Tom Lee's very useful book, Digital Capture and Workflow for Professional Photographers) so I can know exactly what order I shot them, and each imported card is reflected in a separate project file in Aperture, so I'm assured that I've imported all the photos I took at the wedding.

While the numbering of cards has been helpful to my workflow, I didn't like the time it took to import each card. So two months ago I lucked upon a very good used Epson P-2000 40 gig media storage and playback device from H&P for like $250, which is what I think the original price should be. Other more costly models with higher storage memory and improved features for RAW photos exist on the market today, but the P-2000 model fits my needs for now.

Using the P-2000
First off, using this device provides me a great way to back up my RAW image files while I'm on the shoot. I have the P-2000 and my media cards in a pouch that I wear on my belt at all times during the wedding. After I feel up a card, and when the time permits, I simply slip the card in the P-2000 and set it to import. While it's importing, I put the device back into my pouch and go about my job of capturing the wedding. The import process is slow (about 15 minutes per card), but it's not an issue when you're off doing something else.

Tip 1: While it's easy to just allow the P-2000 to import your images and put them in folders for you, you'll find that when you hook up the device to your computer to capture in Aperture, you have to search through several folders or directories to find the actual photos you captured. It's a serious waste of time.

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The folder/directory structure of the P-2000

So while on the shoot I found that it was best to have the P-2000 both import images and put them in a custom named album. It will take about twice as long for images to be imported into the device when you tell it to also copy images into an album. But it only takes a few seconds to create a new album with a custom name. You don't have to be fancy with the naming. The object is to just get those photos quickly stored and managed. The P-2000 also comes with pre-named albums that you can you use.

As I import more cards, I simply have the P-2000 capture and copy them to the same custom album. That way, by the end of the wedding shoot, I have all the photos I shot and copied to one album, and a unique folder for each imported card. Equally important, I now have an almost instant back-up of all my images. Of course, I never reformat my cards until I actually prepare for another client shoot.

Tip 2: There's two ways to quickly check if your photos were actually imported. In the Home window of the P-2000, there's an icon for Latest Data. You click on that and it will display thumbnails of all your last imported images. You can also click on the Saved Data icon and it will show you folders of each of your imported cards. Each import is put in a separate folder which is numbered and dated. So if you imported six cards on particular shoot, you have six unique folders that reflect that day's shoot.

Now the problem with having the P-2000 import and copy files to an album is that it of course requires more battery use. The battery last a good amount of time, but on a few occasions it has gotten too low for me to import the last card or two of the day. I had to wait until I plugged the device into an electrical outlet to finish the importing. My goal however is to get all the cards imported during the shoot or at least during my drive home. So I've ordered a car battery charger for the device to solve this problem.

Importing to Aperture
With all the cards imported into the P-2000, I simply set it up to capture in Aperture. This process is pretty simple; however, it would be great if the custom name I gave for an album would actually show up in the Finder instead of the number title assigned to each created album. But other than that, I can now import all my 800-1200 wedding photos into Aperture without having to babysit the process of importing one card at a time at my desk. With this method each wedding shoot goes into one project file.

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The Album folder structure for the P-2000


There are similar devices for portable image storage, but I simply like the design of the Epson P-2000 and the ability to actually see the photos I import into the device. Other less costly devices only tell you that files have been imported, but you can't actually see them. I don't trust that. Plus, though I haven't done it yet, you can use the P-2000 to plug into a television set or projector and run a slide show on the spot. Clients can also view their photos right on the device itself.

My goal is to complete wedding projects in a 1-2 weeks with no more than six hours of post-processing time for a typical wedding. Using the Epson P-2000 with Aperture is certainly helping me reach that goal.

12 Comments

Jack
2007-08-28 09:20:03
I have the Epson P-5000, 80 gig Media player, with built in Compact Flash and SD card readers. I bought it because it directly supports RAW images, and because it is much faster at import, and upload. ... I think both are USB 2.0


I do shoot on four gig cards, and the import of a full card seems to be about 10 minutes. And the import into Aperture is like, blazing. ...


When I get back to the studio and connect the P-5000 and start the import. ... I can start editing the images immediately. ... No waiting. ... So the time to import is almost meaningless.

Thomas Pindelski
2007-08-28 09:43:51
Well written and informative.


Thank you.

Bernt
2007-08-28 09:59:59
Please enlighten me:


I always understood those flash-cards are supposed to be fail safe compared to the more fragile spinning hard-drives...


More so, if you invest in high-end cards, you get a quite extended guarantee on the material which isn't matched by far by hard driven devices.


So, now prices became seriously affordable for 8 GB cards. I would feel way safer with this material...


Or, did I missed something?


Best

Bakari C
2007-08-28 10:10:23
Bernt, I hear you. I've heard the same thing you have, I just need the courage to step up to those size cards. However, on the other hand, smaller cards provide me a way to manage each part of a wedding shoot. I start off with a 1gig card for pre-ceremony/preparation shots, and 2-gig cards for the ceremony, group shots, and reception. I think I would do well getting 4-gig or 8-gig cards for the reception so that I don't have to stop and change cards as much. I've had cards fill up on me a couple of times during a crucial part of the reception. So yes, 4 or 8 gig cards might be very useful. I still though would use the media storage device for backup. I don't archive RAW files on DVDs, so this type of backup helps a lot.
Travis
2007-08-28 14:01:38
Doesn't matter how much the card is "guaranteed" - if it fails when you're shooting a wedding, the shots are gone forever. It's not like you can go back and re-shoot those photos.


I think Bakari's use of multiple smaller cards makes perfect sense.

JvG
2007-08-28 14:10:43
Interesting, just came back yesterday from 3 weeks in Namibia with 2000 pics. I had brought enough 2GB (for the same reason as yourself) and when a card was full I would copy them to a P-2000. So when I arrived in the Netherlands yesterday, I had everything on Sandisks as well on my Epson (in 2 different bags). I copied all the folders with CR2 files from the Epson to my desktop, put the individual files in one folder and from there imported it into Aperture. Then do check if everything is there (by checking the file numbers), if not, there are 3 places with files. I couldn't think of a better way.
Bernt
2007-08-28 19:10:58
Hm, again the question remains which technique to trust.


Hard-drives or flash cards. I have seen more hard drives going down down down, than flash cards, specially the ones from specialist companies like SanDisk. I don't know about Lexar though.


I ever data was lost, people had to blame their-self as they didn't format in the camera, so sometimes the card became corrupt.


I don't know why people are afraid to trust those big cards. Maybe the technical part of the cards wasn't as perfect before as it is now...


But suffice to say, I do sometimes time lapse movies and those big cards are simply wonderful. BTW, now Video is going to flash too...


On your Mac you can use several readers hooked on with FireWire. There is an Automator workflow which allow you to import all cards simultaneously, which shortens the import process dramatically and is much more convenient than baby-sitting those cards.
BTW, should you use two or more cameras, don't forget to synchronize their timestamp (hook your camera with USB/FireWire to your Mac and Aperture allows you to retime your camera - click on the little clock in the import slide and you're done).


Best



Bernt

Jeff Ott
2007-08-31 08:31:50
Nice article. I bought and use the P-3000 in almost exactly the same way. On a recent trip returning from Scotland to shoot a wedding at the Edinburgh Castle, I was required to check my camera gear... (not a happy story, but one for a different time...). Not a good experience, but knowing I had the CF cards AND the P-3000 riding with me and not in the baggage hold, was comforting.


On the issue of size of CF cards to use, it would be interesting to hear of those that prefer the smaller capacity cards -- did you convert from film? I did and I use nothing larger than 4G cards, and mostly 2G cards. My guess is that those who've grown up on digital have a different experience base to draw upon.


Thanks again for the nice article, Bakari.

Bakari C
2007-08-31 11:13:02
Interesting, I was just reading a interviewwith well established wedding photographer, Gary Fong and this is what he said in part of about flash cards: "Stacy, most important is to have a ROTATING stock of flash cards. I can't stress this enough. I would use an avery label marker and label my CF cards from A TO Z, and then every other week I would use a different crop of cards to make sure that I didn't format the shot cards until I knew for sure that all of the images were uploaded and safe. (8.21.07, 3:55pm)"


Len T
2007-09-03 06:24:00
You have to be careful with the P2000. It is not compatible with the fast Lexar cards, 133x and above. Since new cards are getting faster, that is a concern.
Andreas
2007-10-04 06:45:31
Interesting and very nice Article! Thank you! I own a P5000 and really like it. Do you have any idea how i can use the ratings made on the P5000 in Aperture? Thanks, Andreas
Bakari C
2007-10-04 07:21:30
Hi, Andreas, thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure about transferring the ratings from the P5000. I don't have that model. When you import images from the P5000, if those ratings are transferrable they should show up in the metadata, but that doesn't mean they will show up in Aperture. Maybe a really technician can answer this question better than I. Keep us posted if you figure it out.