I took a 21-day trip in Turkey, shooting Raw files with both a 21-megapixel DSLR and a 12-megapixel point-and-shoot. I wanted a set-up that travelled light, gave me ample storage, allowed some light photo editing, and let me share images with friends and family back home. An iPad met most of those needs, but its limited storage was an issue.
Image files are large, especially if you’re shooting Raw. The iPad 2’s 16GB of RAM just wasn’t going to cut it. For me, a 64GB iPad was also too small, even without any media or applications. I solved my storage problems by adding a Sanho HyperDrive to the mix.
There are devices for backing up images in the field, such as the 250GB Photo Safe ($130 [£81]; www.digitalfoci.com), but there’s no way to get images out of the Photo Safe and onto the iPad if you want to edit or share them.
The HyperDrive iPad Hard Drive, like the Photo Safe, is a battery-powered hard drive with media slots for Memory Stick, SD, and CompactFlash cards. I bought the enclosure-only option (£164.99; www.hypershop.com) and stuck in my own 750GB drive. Prices range from £275 for a 320GB version to £365 for a 750MB version.
The HyperDrive includes a 3in screen that allows you to review your images after transfer, or to select specific images to transfer. It also provides an easy-to-use interface for the HyperDrive’s more advanced features.
For example, by selecting the Manager option, you can manage the files that you’ve already copied to the drive. You can delete, copy, or move files. Although the interface to these options is a little clunky, they’re not operations that you’re likely to perform that often.
What makes the HyperDrive unique is that you can plug it into the iPad via the iPad Camera Connection Kit (£25; www.apple.com/ukstore). When you select iPad mode, the HyperDrive prompts you to select a folder, and then it makes that folder visible to the iPad, just as if it were a camera being connected. In other words, the Photos application pops up on the iPad, and all of the images in the folder on the HyperDrive become visible. You can then select the ones you want to import.
The HyperDrive is a great solution for iPad storage problems. You can dump huge batches of images onto it, but only pull in a handful to your iPad that you want to edit or review, or that you need to submit for work or send to friends.
With my storage problem solved, I now have the option of editing any image that I’ve shot at any time during the trip. I can browse images on the HyperDrive to zero in on the folder that the image is stored in, and then connect the HyperDrive to the iPad to import the images I want.
When I’m done with my image editing, I save the JPEG files to the iPad’s Photos app, and then erase the Raw file in the Photos app. I still have the raw file on the HyperDrive, so by storing only JPEGs of my finished images, I maximise the use of the iPad’s storage. Ultimately, when I get home, I’ll re-edit many of the images in Photoshop.
After transferring images to the HyperDrive, I leave them on the card and go to the next empty card. When it’s full, I transfer and move on to the next card. I don’t start reusing cards until my entire collection is full, and then I start reusing with the smallest card first. This affords me a tiny bit of redundancy – my most recent images will still be on the cards if something happens to the drive.
There’s an added bonus to the HyperDrive. With only a few gigabytes of storage free on the iPad, I can’t carry a lot of movies. But I can delete movies from the iPad as I watch, and import more into the iPad Photos app from the HyperDrive later.