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Managing Memories: Digital Camera Memory and Storage Options

by Bill Myers, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 3/26/2009

So, you're headed to Walt Disney World on vacation and you've got one of those new-fangled digital cameras. How many memory cards should you take? What happens if you fill them up? What options are available to you on vacation? Confusing, isn't it?

How many memory cards should you take? There are two trains of thought on this. The first is to buy the largest memory card your camera will take, and keep all your photos on it. Every night review your photos and delete those that are out of focus, blurry, or just bad to conserve space. One of the biggest problems with this is losing the memory card, or having something happen to it and the card is no longer readable, resulting in all of your photos being lost.

The other option is to take a few smaller cards, keeping photos from one or two days per card. The thought here is that if a card goes bad, or you lose one, then you only lose a small portion of your photos.

Regardless of how many cards you have, you should still back up or save your photos to prevent losing these precious memories. How, you ask? Here are some options.

While at Walt Disney World, you can have them burned to CDs in the parks. Disney Outfitters in Disney's Animal Kingdom, The Darkroom on Hollywood Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios, The Camera Center in the Main Entrance Plaza at Epcot, and Exposition Hall in the Magic Kingdom are the places to go. You can have them burn the cards to CD (limit of 120 photos per CD) for $12.99. They also have self-service download kiosks available. They accept all types/sizes of memory cards.

You can also head off Disney property to Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or most any of those type stores and have your memory cards copied to CDs for a lot less. The limits on how many photos can be burned are usually 999.

You can always carry your laptop computer, and download your memory cards every night. One major concern with this is theft. If you keep it covered and out of sight, this should not be an issue. If you are really concerned about it, you can get a laptop locking cable and attach it to something solid so it cannot be taken without being damaged. If your laptop can burn CDs or DVDs, then take some blank ones with you to copy your photos to every night. This is a good way to back them up. Don't close/finalize the CD or DVD until you have filled it, that way you can put more photos on it and fill it up.

Don't want to take a chance with a laptop, or take time to go off site or drop your cards off at a service center to back the cards up? There are other options.

Do you have an iPod with a larger storage drive? They make an adapter cable that will allow you to plug in your memory card and store/backup your photos on the iPod. There are also a number of devices that can download/store your memory cards. The really nice thing about these devices is that they are relatively small, will take most any/all memory cards, run on rechargeable batteries, and have hard drives big enough to store a lot of data. You can carry them in your camera bag and download/copy your cards as you go. I have one and copy my cards in the parks when they get near full. I also use mine to copy my friend's memory cards during our trips to get their photos of me and my family, group shots, and to back up their cards for them.

*NOTE: the following links are in no way an endorsement or solicitation for these businesses or products. I have included them for reference only. If you see a device you like, take the brand name and model number, place it into your favorite search engine and find the best price/dealer for you.

Vosonic makes four devices currently that can read most memory cards and contain large hard drives for storage/backup. All of these have view screens on them so you can check out the photos and delete as needed.

NexTo has three devices that will read your cards and copy them to a small hard drive. None of these have view screens to look at your pictures, and the prices are a little lower.

Digital Foci has a series of devices that will allow copying, but not viewing.

MemoryKick also has some devices, which allow viewing.

There are portable stand-alone DVD burners with card readers in them.

EZ Digi Magic makes a couple of models that let you plug in your card, copy it to CD/DVD, and allows you to keep the disk open so you can add more files later.

This Sony CD\DVD recorder allows you to plug your camera/video recorder directly into it and download your photos/movies.

These are but a few of the many devices available right now. Feel free to search the internet with your favorite search engine and find more. Whatever you finally settle on, rest assured that your prized vacation photos will be safe for you to enjoy for years to come.

About the Author: Bill is a Forum Guide on the PassPorter Message boards and has been active in photography for over 40 years.

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Updated 3/26/2009

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