Backing Up Solid-State Cards In The Field
: Field Production
: Helmut Kobler
: Backing Up Solid-State Cards In The Field
PORTABLE CARD BACKUP DEVICES
The Nexto Video Storage Pro & Panasonic AG-MSU10
There are plenty of advantages to shooting video on solid-state cards, but cards have one particular headache of their own. That's when you have to offload your cards to a backup hard drive while working in the field. Maybe you have to free up card space so you can continue shooting, or maybe you have to hand your footage to a client who didn't bring their own cards. Either way, doing an in-the-field offload usually means bringing a laptop, a card reader, external hard drives and lots of cabling to your location, then finding a secure place to set it all up, and then waiting around as each card slowly copies to the drives.
No one looks forward to this. It certainly never appealed to me; in fact, I bit the bullet a couple of years ago and bought more cards than I might have otherwise, just to avoid doing an offload on set.
But there is another way. Instead of hauling around an entire computer ecosystem, or busting the bank on excess cardage, you can invest in a portable card backup device, which includes a built-in hard drive or SSD (solid-state drive), is small enough to hold in your hand, runs on battery power, and makes copying cards quick and foolproof.
This review takes a look at two of these products that I've worked with for the last few weeks.
- First, is the Nexto Video Storage Pro 2500, which can offload just about any solid-state card format -- Sony SxS, CompactFlash, P2, SDHC, Memory Sticks, and others -- to its internal drive. Being fluent in so many tongues means you can bring the Nexto to most sets, and then backup and take home your footage no matter what camera shot it. That's very impressive, but if the Nexto has a limitation, it's workflow. While it's possible to remove the Nexto's internal drive by taking the unit apart with a screwdriver, most people won't want to do that. Realistically, when the Nexto fills up, you'll want to get it back to your office before offloading it to an editing system or archival drives/tape. But if you're out in the field for long, or shooting a lot of material in short order, that might not be so easy. One more hitch: you can't remove the Nexto's internal battery, and it peters out fairly quickly.
- Then there's Panasonic's brand-new AG-MSU10. It only works with P2 cards -- that's its limitation -- but it does have a removable, swappable drive tray and that gives it great flexibility. With the MSU10 you can buy multiple trays from Panasonic ($150 each), install a hard drive or SSD in them, and then quickly slide them in and out as they fill up. Each tray has its own bus-powered eSATA and USB 2 connectors, as well, so you can send the tray to a client or mail it back to the home office for easy offload. In the meantime, you can keep the MSU10 working in the field, as long as you've got a spare tray. Finally, the MSU's battery lasts a long while, and you can always swap in a fresh one. In other words, the MSU10 is perfect for people who spend a lot of time in the field, or shoot through a lot of footage.
So we have two back-up devices with very different approaches. Read on for more impressions...
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