Digimate II Plus: Best Non-Photography Photographer Tool for Cheap

Here’s the DSLR camera-user dilemma: memory cards aren’t cheap, but I need tons of storage. I sometimes shoot RAW, dammit, so I really need a backup device that doesn’t break my bank account.

Well, I don’t shoot RAW (for a number of reasons), but here in Shanghai, China, there’s a cheap, little gadget that most amateur photographers seem to have: a Digimate II Plus.

Usually sold around at around 200RMB (PHP 1,200; without haggling), the Digimate II Plus is essentially:

… a USB 2.0 Smart Portable Storage device [that] accommodates 2.5-inch hard drives (not included) making it possible to Copy/Backup contents of flash memory cards to the DigiMate II without a PC! Supported flash memory cards include Compact Flash card Type I/II, Hitachi MicroDrive, SmartMedia card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital Card, MultiMedia card, and XD card.

View Digimate II Plus Amazon.com Product Details (with images).

The monochrome LCD displays storage space occupied by the inserted memory card, as well as the installed hard drive. There’re only two buttons: on/off, and transfer. There’s also a file-transfer progress indicator, and an auto-off feature. Need an oversized multi-card reader? Yes, this does that, too. Digimate III’s have been sprouting at local electronic stores lately, but with almost double the price, and the only enhancement being a colored display of the same info the II Plus provides, I’d skip it.

User nuances are very few, mainly regarding the ‘insufficient’ battery life, which I’ve always found sufficient since the only time you’d need the charge is when files are being transferred (approx. 3-4 minutes for a full 1 GB CF card). The installed hard drive must also be formatted FAT32, or at least have one FAT32 partition. The Digimate II Plus comes with a power adapter, and a USB 2.0 cable (which can charge the device, too).

A definite must-have for any struggling photographer-wannabe on-a-budget, but you should still have an extra memory card to cover for those precious minutes when transeferring files.

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  • thinknow101

    where can I find one of these?

  • Very informative little site. I had very limited knowledge of this item but will now buy at least one.

    Thanks very much Gordon S

  • twinkililing

    How reliable is the Digimate II? I researched about this and uncovered some issues about it: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-84059.html

    I found one on ebay Phils selling for P1,900 without a 2.5 inch hard drive. Is this already usable, or does one need to buy a separate harddrive? And how easy is it to upload files from the Digimate to a PC (are there drivers needed?).


  • twinkililing: That’s a fair price for the casing. As a rule, when buying mobile storage casings -the cheap generic ones- its always best to buy your own hard disk, since if these casings do come with their own disks, they’d be those un-branded types, and you’re not that sure of warranty, too. No drivers are needed, works as easily like any thumbdrive. Issues? I had battery issues, but that was it.

    thinknow101: AFAIK, there are just a select number of entities selling these. You might as well try eBay Phil, as twinkililing mentioned.