It’s becoming more and more rare as the price of flash memory has come down, but it’s still possible to fill your flash cards when on vacation taking pictures. A lot of people, including myself, have taken to carrying a laptop with them on vacation. I am currently typing this on said laptop. But what if you fill your available cards and you’re not near your laptop? Then you’re out of luck. Enter the Digital Foci Photo Safe II.
Essentially, the Photosafe is a USB Hard Drive with a series of Memory Card slots; it also has a battery. So when you’re out in the field and your card fills up, you can pull the memory card out of the camera, insert it into the appropriate slot on the Photosafe, and press the EXE button. The Photosafe then copies a exact image of the memory card to a folder following the naming scheme SDXXXXX. In each folder on the Photosafe, the complete folder structure that was on the memory card will be recreated. If your press the Exe button again, it will copy the card to the disk again in another folder.
Memory card formats that are supported include CF (Including Extreme III, IV, and UDMA), MMC, SD, SDHC, miniSD, Memory Stick MS Duo, MS Pro Duo and xD; I also was able to backup the microSD from my phone. My phones microSD had some audio files on it, and they also copied to the drive just fine.
The Photosafe copied 143 MB of data in less than a minute; it took a few minutes longer for about 840 MB to transfer to my 1 GB SD card from my digital camera. Copying 2.5 GB of card images from the Photosafe to my laptop’s hard disk took about 3 minutes. It would probably have taken less time if Digital Foci used a 7200 RPM SATA drive instead of the 5400 RPM SATA drive. However, the battery life of the Photosafe would probably be less if they had included the faster drive.
Waiting for a card
Memory Card Waiting for Backup
Memory Card all Backed Up!
Power and USB Port on the Bottom
As for the battery life, it has never run out when I needed it; it always had plenty of juice when I needed to backup a memory card and it did the job reliably every time. I could not take enough pictures to fill up the 80 GB version of the Photosafe I was sent, but your mileage may vary on this depending on how big and how fast your memory cards are. Mine are mediocre so far as speed, so the battery was sufficient for my use.
The question now remains….do you go spend $139 on this device or do you spend less on a memory card? If I didn’t have this with me, it would have been $12 bucks at Walmart to pick up another 1 GB SD card or $37 for a 4 GB SDHC. That’s not very expensive, and these memory cards are everywhere. Even amusement parks are starting to sell them – but you will pay much more in the park than outside, of course. So is it worth getting a Photosafe? If you are a professional, it may be just the ticket. The Photosafe may come in handy when you’re out in the field; it’s much more convenient than lugging even my Eee PC and a external hard disk along to off load the pics. However, I think most people would probably just opt to pick up a memory card, like in the old days when we just picked up another roll of film. While the Digital Foci Photo Safe II did the job, it’s cost is where I balk a little. $139 is a bit much for 80 GB of hard disk even with the addition of the battery and the memory card slots. Considering I saw a 1 TB Western Digital Hard Disk at Sam’s Club for $199, I think that the pricing is probably the only thing that would stop me from buying one, versus picking up a few more memory cards.
The Digital Foci Photo Safe II is available at http://www.digitalfoci.com for $139 for a 80 GB model and $189 for the 160 GB Model.
What I liked: Very convenient to offload the memory card when you’re out taking pictures while on vacation; great battery life and easy operation makes it a joy to use.
What needs improvement: Price. With the ever lowering cost of flash memory, devices such as this will not be necessary in the near future. Why spend more for this when you can pick up a few more memory cards for a lot less money? I also might add that those flash cards will take up MUCH less space than the Photosafe. However, memory cards as large as this won’t be as cheap for quite some time. If you need alot of space and don’t care about the bulk, then this device is for you.