13 Replies Latest reply: Feb 18, 2013 3:22 PM by Iron Dragons
Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

This one is a bit long. I've been looking around for an all purpose mobile device. I tend not to use devices much when I'm out on the go, and if I do use a device it is for pretty simple stuff. Looking up stuff online, checking the weather, looking at maps, quick calculations, using an ephemeris, maybe playing Angry Birds at the airport terminal. Either way, I do like to have something. What really matters to me are some little quirks:

1. It must be small and lightweight (otherwise, I would just buy a MB pro).
2. It must have a high quality screen and high resolution (iPad Mini is just too small).
3. It must be able to interface in some way with a CF card or a second device for that purpose must not be self-defeatingly expensive.
4. I'm a minimalist, so the less accessories the better (especially connectors/adapters).

 

There is one more stipulation, but that is where I'm having trouble with my decision. If I could identify today a device that meets every mark, I'd buy it right now. Problem is that there isn't one since the last stipulation is up in the air. That stipulation is storage space. The device cannot ever run out of space. Now, that might sound a bit crazy, but that is pretty easy for me. I never use much storage space... except when we start talking about photos. Additionally, if the device (iPad) is going to be off grid, I'll have to cache maps. I just can't seem to find any storage requirements (or average sizes) for map caches, so I have no idea how much those would take up, too.

 

When I'm on a photo trip, I produce about 2 - 8 GB of photos per day of shooting or 12.5 - 18 GB per week (includes days lost to traveling). These photos must be stored redundantly. I have five 16 GB SD cards, one 8 GB CF, and eight 4 GB CF cards. I have never filled them all up. I usually make it home a good bit before that point. So here's the dilemma:

 


MB Air (13")
Pros

- Real keyboard
- 128 GB base (more than enough)

- Already own a CF to USB adapter

- Can use Lightroom 4 for editing while out (though I am leaning towards just waiting to get home)

 

Cons

- $1200 - $1900
- 1440x900 (for now)

- Double the weight of an iPad
- Would never see home use
- Pain to pull out and store photos if in the field
- If post processing is not done while on the road, Air is more device than needed

 

 

 

 

Retina iPad
Pros

- 2048x1536
- Smaller form factor
- Easier to read books on

- Longer battery life (2 - 3 more hours)
- LTE version can do GPS (ultimately as a mounted device in a car dashboard)

 

Cons

- 16 GB base model
- No physical keyboard (not really a big deal)
- 128 GB model is $800 or $930 (not far from the Air)
- May require storage accessory for camera or iPad for ~$250 - $500 additional

- Requires an accessory to interface with CF cards (the device mentioned above might already have)

 

 

 

The choices so far are looking like:

 

A. Macbook Air - $1200 or $1600 (for on road processing; today's prices)
B. 128 GB iPad - $800 or $930 (for GPS) + ~$30 for adapter for Camera/CF to iPad + $50 for cover
C. 16 GB iPad - $500 or $630 (for GPS) + $300 for 120 GB external storage that takes CF/SD + $50 for cover

 

 

The real difference in option B and C is that B requires I pull out the iPad and connector to store photos, which is only a problem when in the field. Option C allows me to pull out the photo storage device only, but it assumes that the 16 GB iPad can hold plenty of cached maps (and maybe a few GB of music and ten small apps). I might not have accounted for everything... but what do you fellows think? Also, does anyone have any idea what a ballpark ratio of storage space to geogrpahic size of cached maps might be?

 

In case anyone is wondering, the secondary stoarge device I would pick to use with the iPad would be the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2. It reads in CF and SD, connects to the iPad via Wifi (usb connector is sold separately), and doesn't even need to connect to the iPad to store photos. 120 GB model is $300, as a reference point.


iPad
  • 1. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Skydiver119 Level 7 Level 7 (21,245 points)

    I'd say go for the Air. You might get the iPad to work the way you want it to, but it'll take fiddling and fixing and tweaking. The Air will just work.

  • 2. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Tgara Level 4 Level 4 (3,540 points)

    What camera gear are you using, and what file types do you want to store?

  • 3. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    7D and 5D III producing full size RAW (22 - 28 MB per photo), potentially to become 7D II or 1DX and 5D III.

  • 4. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Tgara Level 4 Level 4 (3,540 points)

    Iron Dragons wrote:

     

    7D and 5D III producing full size RAW (22 - 28 MB per photo), potentially to become 7D II or 1DX and 5D III.

    I think those are Polaroid and Casio cameras, right?

  • 5. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    They are Canon cameras.

  • 6. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Tgara Level 4 Level 4 (3,540 points)

    Iron Dragons wrote:

     

    They are Canon cameras.

    Yeah, I know.  I'm just yanking your chain.  Because I can. 

     

    I have a 5D3 and a 7D too, so I've had similar concerns when travelling.  I have an 11 inch MacBook Air and an iPad 2 (64 GB Wifi + 3G).  I take both when I travel, and they serve different purposes.

     

    For RAW backup, I use the MacBook Air (128GB), in combination with a G-Tech portable 500 GB hard drive.  Using a CF card reader, I back my photos up to the G-Tech drive every evening after a day's shooting.  I have iPhoto on the MacBook Air, so I can do some light editing and post the photos on Photostream or Flickr to share with friends immediately.  I alway keep the original RAWs for processing on my (high end) iMac when I get home.

     

    The 5D3 also has an SD card slot, so if you have the camera record midsized JPGs onto that card, you can upload the JPGs to an iPad.  You can lightly process them in iPhoto on the iPad and share them on Photostream or Flicker. 

     

    Here's my bottom line.  After about a year of research on this issue, I concluded that the iPad, by itself, is not a good backup storage device.  The memory isn't big enough, and while it can store RAW photos, it doesn't interface with CF cards directly and getting RAW images off the iPad when you are back home can be a difficult proposition.  That's why I went with the MBA plus portable HDD instead.  I can plug my G-Tech drive right into my iMac, and imprt the photos right into Aperture without any hassles.  I think you'll be better off with an MBA and a separate HDD when travelling.  This works best for me.

  • 7. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    It sounds like I should be buying both (which is funny)... I'm still on the fence about MBAs as a sole device. I used to have one, and I really liked it, but these days it feels like more than I really need. Additionally, it won't fit into the bag I use for walking around. If the iPad is not a viable solution by itself as a RAW storage device, then that eliminates option B.

     

     

    Have you had much experience with dedicated mobile backup hard drives? Things akin to the Hyperdrive I mentioned in the OP, basically. I haven't had too much of a need for one before, but now that I no longer have my first gen MBA and have a month-long trip to Europe coming up, I definitely need something. If only I had a million dollars to spend with wanton disregard.

  • 8. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Texas Mac Man Level 8 Level 8 (45,805 points)

    This is for the iPad.

     

    Expand your iPad's storage capacity with HyperDrive

    http://www.macworld.com/article/1153935/hyperdrive.html

    On the road with a camera, an iPad, and a Hyperdrive

    http://www.macworld.com/article/1160231/ipadhyperdrive.html

     

     Cheers, Tom

  • 9. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Ziatron Level 4 Level 4 (3,265 points)

    I would purchase a MacBook Pro with a built-in optical drive.

  • 10. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Tgara Level 4 Level 4 (3,540 points)

    Iron Dragons wrote:

     

    Have you had much experience with dedicated mobile backup hard drives? Things akin to the Hyperdrive I mentioned in the OP, basically. I haven't had too much of a need for one before, but now that I no longer have my first gen MBA and have a month-long trip to Europe coming up, I definitely need something. If only I had a million dollars to spend with wanton disregard.

     

    For me, a mobile storage solution for digital images has always been an issue.  When I got started with digital in 2006, I got an Epson P-5000 media backup device.  It's about the size of the Hyperdrive, and had an 80 GB hard drive and a 4 inch viewscreen built in.  It worked great for a while with my Rebel XT and 40D, but with the size of RAW files increasing with increased sensor resolution (think 7D and 5D3), I started to run out of space with it, particularly on longer trips.  Epson stopped making these things a couple years ago.

     

    For a month-long trip to Europe, and shooting RAW, you're going to need a lot of space for storage (250 GB minimum I would guess).  The iPad, even a new 128 GB model, won't have enough space even if you could get your CF cards to interface with it.  Seems to me you have three options, each with advantages and disadvantages:

     

    1.  A Hyperdrive-like device.  On this route, you can save some money by purchasing the empty casing and adding your own 2.5 inch hard drive. 

     

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/887222-REG/Sanho_shdcsudma2000_Casing_for_ UDMA_2.html

     

    2.  Bring lots of CF cards and don't reformat them.  CF cards are cheap these days and take up very little space.  This is probably the least expensive option.  Just keep them in a safe place.

     

    3.  Get a small laptop or netbook and a portable hard drive (I do this, as do most pros).  For me, I use my MacBook Air for business as well, so it gets lots of use beyond photography.  The G-Tech Slim Drive is 500 GB and weighs nothing, perfect for travel.  This is the most expensive option, but also the most versatile.  It just depends on what you want to do and how much connectivity you need.

     

    When I travel, I take my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air.  The iPhone is with me during the day, but the iPad and MBA stay in my hotel room.  The iPhone is for calls, calendar, and urgent email during the day.  The iPad is for reading books, watching movies, etc. on the plane and for email, web surfing, and calendar at the end of the day.  The MBA is used for photo backup and light photo processing if I want to share some photos immediately (via Photostream or Flickr).  I also use it for email, Powerpoint presentations, Wordprocessing documents and PDFs if a client emergency comes up while I'm on vacation.  For me, it's nice to have a full version of OSX Mountain Lion travelling with me.

  • 11. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I like the idea of having something small in the field (like the Hyperdrive), so I think I'm going to go with that. I'll pick up an iPad just for a general use device, and if I feel so inclined down the road, I'll consider an Air (or Pro) on top of it all. Thanks for your input!

  • 12. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Tgara Level 4 Level 4 (3,540 points)

    Iron Dragons wrote:

     

    I like the idea of having something small in the field (like the Hyperdrive), so I think I'm going to go with that. I'll pick up an iPad just for a general use device, and if I feel so inclined down the road, I'll consider an Air (or Pro) on top of it all. Thanks for your input!

    That sounds like a good solution.  Don't forget, your 5D3 also uses SD cards which are compatible with the camera connection kit for the iPad.  You can record RAW images to the CF card and JPEGs to the SD card, and then upload the JPEG images to your iPad so you can share them with friends on the fly using the iPad's social media like iMessage, Twitter, etc.  It works great.  And you would be considered very hip for an old guy. 

  • 13. Re: iPad or Air? (Photography, Storage and Cached Maps)
    Iron Dragons Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Right now I'm using the SD as a redundant storage for RAW, since I don't have anything else at the moment (and the $/GB is pretty low for SDs). I can certainly swap to JPEG once I pick up an actual storage device.

     

    I hope I still fall into the "hip" age; I'm only 25!