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.
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.