Next week I will be on my way back to Africa, specifically, South Africa, Angola and Mozambique–so I thought I would talk about my preparation for this six-week trip.
The last time I was on assignment in Africa for that long, I shot more than 250 GBs of raw images. That is a lot of pictures and figuring out how to store them while traveling as light as possible is a challenge.
I know that when you travel there are no guarantees.
In February, I was in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. I had a brand new Firewire 160GB bus-powered drive, along with a 120GB USB-2 bus powered drive.
Of course, I promptly lost the 160GB Firewire before even landing in Kigali, so I had to go with the flow, and figure out how best to maintain my archives with a combination of deleting images I would never use; burning DVDs and having to wait until I returned home to back up the images–not my favorite way to work.
But fortunately for me, everything turned out fine. I discovered that Aperture worked pretty well on my Western Digital 120GB Passport bus-powered drive, which I basically was going to use to back up my main Firewire drive. I was actually surprised how well Aperture ran with the USB-2 drive on my older MacBook Pro.
For this trip, as I prepare to leave, I noticed that bus-powered 250 GB drives have become available at a good price; yes, these little drives are the same small size, but are now up to 250 GB’s in storage capacity.
I have been very happy with my Western Digital Passport Drives. I have 160GB and 120GB USB-2 versions. They are inexpensive, small, sleek and cool looking and have done a great job for me on the road.
Western Digital USB-2
But since I also have a Firewire-400 160GB drive, I decided to do a little test to see if the speed difference justifies the added expense of firewire. The LaCie 250GB Firewire 400/USB2 portable sells for $240, the Western Digital Passport 250GB USB2 can be had for $180.
LaCie Firewire 400/USB-2
I have to admit that I was secretly hoping that the speed differences were not that great so I could save some cash. I used the same 40GB Aperture Library on my Western Digital 160GB Passport vs my 160GB Firewire LaCie Portable, both small and Bus-Powered and perfect for traveling.
Of course there are many variables that will effect the speed at which Aperture will work (processor speed and graphics card being two important ones). My testing was unscientific, but real world using the equipment I take with me on the road.
I opened each library and did similar things: moved from project to project, went to full screen, made the same adjustments, exported and imported images and realized that though the difference in speed was not too great, the Firewire connection seemed to make a positive difference in my Aperture experience.
The Firewire was clearly faster on import, almost twice as fast importing from my local laptop drive and from my USB-2 card reader. (My Firewire reader stopped working and I haven’t replaced it yet).
There are few people that would disagree with the “faster is always better idea” when it comes to computing speed. But increases in speed don’t always justify the cost, and it’s a personal decision. For my purposes it makes sense to spend the extra money and get the Firewire version, though I know form experience that USB2 works well when pressed into action.
I think it would be useful to hear others experiences with Aperture Libraries on different drives.
Has anyone compared 7200rpm vs 5400rpm drives with Aperture? We’re starting to see portable and notebook-sized 7200rpm drives pop onto the market, but for considerably more cash than 5400rpm versions.
The question is not always how fast?; but how fast is fast enough? I expect having a MacBook Pro with a Firewire 800 connection should speed things up and I’m looking forward to upgrading my laptop when I return.