Lessons Learned the Scary Way (photo back-up in the field)

Started Jul 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Lessons Learned the Scary Way (photo back-up in the field)
Jul 9, 2013

(typing this on qwerty while I am used to azerty so excuse the errors...)

Currently travelling the SW-USA. Nine days down, another fourteen to go.

Photo gear with me (not carried all the time of course) is E-5 with 7-14, 8fE, 12-60, 50-200, EC-14 and pl25> Also an LX3 as backup for emergency or packing light gear.

Everything just about perfect, until this morning when I had a real scare...

Yesterday we were in Moab UT, with first some mild rafting (family friendly) on the Colorado and later a sunset hike to Delicate Arch in Arches NP. Perfect day, lots of fun shots.

This morning up at 4.30AM to drive to Canyonlands for sunrise at Mesa Arch.

Here is an Iphone shot of that (the only thing I can uploqd currently):


Anyway, more photo ops to make my heart beat faster... until it almost stopped when I suddenly noticed, this morning, that my CF card showed only 4 photos while there should have been more than 250.

I did not group delete or format accidentally (impossible with the number of steps it takes), just a random glitch on the card...

All my photos of yesterday seemed gone...

I carry a backup device (Hyperdrive) but yesterday had been very late and today very early, so I had planned to backup today after our return, including Canyonlands. Bad idea.

Luckily a photo professional in Moab managed to retrieve my files from the broken card, and I had continued shooting on the SD card slot, so nothing lost, but I did have some scary hours about photos lost and opportunities that will not return.

Lessons learned:


Everyone backs up (I presume), but don't wait until you are home. Do it in the field too. Don't reuse your cards until you have the files on two other media. Don't postpone the task, but back-up your cards whenever you can, even when not full (accidents seem to happen to nearly full cards most often...). Use a dedicated device, computer or cloud but do it.


If you use a camera with two slots, have a card in both in order to switch when in trouble.


The LX3 lives in my bag and hardly gets used on travel. Now I have decided to put it in my trouser pocket and use it at every photo op. Where I make 50 shots with the E-5, I will make 2 or 3 with the LX3 in order to have at least those if and when disaster really strikes.

When not with a second cam, use your phone for the purpose.


Cards that seem corrupt most often still have data on them. Let a professional look at them (or learn to do it yourself with the right tools) and don't make their work harder with stupid moves.


Enjoy your travels also without camera and make brain-memories of nice moments.

If you don't live with a camera glued to your eye, you might realize, in case of real digital disaster, that the memories remain even if photos are lost. It's not the end of the world> Relax and enjoy the rest of your day without endless worrying.

(I admit this is the hardest lesson for myself but I will try)

If you have similar experiences, please share your own tips.

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images: www.roelh.zenfolio.com
my E-3 user field report from Tunisian Sahara: http://www.biofos.com/ukpsg/roel.html

Olympus E-5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
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