When shooting landscape images over a period of a few days, one of my biggest anxieties comes from protecting my Lightroom image library especially when out on the rougher terrains. Horror stories of corrupted memory cards, computer failure and lost luggage have driven me to change my memory cards periodically during a trip and to back-up to two hard drives when the opportunities arise.
What I Pack
I tend to travel as light as I can, I pack two cameras, the Fujifilm X-T1 with 14mm, 23mm and 10-24mm lenses and of course the Fujifilm X100T camera.
In addition I pack four memory cards that I rotate in each camera on a daily basis and then finally a Macbook Pro (with a memory foam case) and two G-Technology Evolution Series Drives, one EV RAW that remains at base and is used as backup and the other, an EV ATC that is used as the main drive out on location.
Internally these drives are identical in terms of both spec. and storage capacity with the EV RAW coming with a rubber bumper and the EV ATC offering rather extreme rugged and robust performance casing. My G-Technology EV ATC offers a Thunderbolt connection built in via the case despite the drive itself being a USB3 connection. The built in thunderbolt connection (protected from the elements by a rubber stopper) is particularly useful as if there is one thing I am going to forget (or lose) it has to be cables.
I decided that the only way to test a new outdoor workflow was to spend a day in the Mournes with the bear basics of gear. All the images on this post were shot and edited using the gear listed in the post. The image above was captured at Hare’s Gap looking down over Trassey track and Trassey river.
Hard Drives are Fragile
The most vulnerable part of my mobile workflow comes in the form of storage. It is no secret that computer hard drives are fragile, even at home dropping an external drive can have catastrophic consequences so importing images while in the raw outdoors creates a whole new level of fragility and risk. The G-Technology EV ATC series offers a remarkable level of protection and resilience that removes the panic created when you stumble in the mountains, drop a bag or find your lunch has leaked inside your rucksack.
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How Rugged is Rugged?
The standard EV RAW drive comes with a anti-shock bumper that offers some great additional protection. The data-sheet claims you can drop the drive from 1.2m onto carpeted concrete and from 1.5m with the bumper installed and for the EV ATC this increases to a 2m drop.
We are used to grand claims in the photography and technological world but I found I instantly felt my data was safer stored on the G-Technology EV ATC rugged drive than on any other storage I traveled with but just how rugged is ‘rugged’?
The first thing to note although it might look heavy the EV ATC is remarkably light weight so it has little additional impact in your rucksack and because the drive is waterproof I was able to place it in the easily accessible outer pouch of the backpack without concern.
I loaded the drive with some important images taken the day before and decided to really put the rugged claims to the test. At worst I would lose a day shoot at best it would assure me my data was held on a solid device that lived up to exploring the great outdoors.
I dropped it, I submerged it and the ultimate test was completely unplanned when the drive slipped out of my hand and ended up flowing down the rocky Trassey River including descending several rocky waterfalls.
I honestly thought I had lost the drive as the flow of water was quicker than I could actually run down the riverbank, thankfully, although the rocky terrain meant for a bumpy journey it did manage to stop the drive making it too far down the river.
I was sincerely filled with the feeling of dread that I had pushed testing the concept of ‘rugged’ just too far. Although I was happy to have recovered the drive from the rocks along the river, on seeing a few surface scratches I was convinced I had managed to wreck the drive completely.
This anxiety was so high I decided to take the drive out of the case and inspect for moisture before connecting it to my laptop. In total awe I discovered not only was the G-Technology EV ATC perfectly dry on the inside of the case but it was still in perfect working order. The image below is how I found the drive in a shallow pool following its journey down Trassey river.
Back at base I was then able to update my Lightroom Catalogue with the images from the Mournes and back up to the eV RAW using the brilliant Carbon Copy Cloner App. As soon I connect the eV RAW drive Carbon Copy Cloner will automatically backup my EV ATC.
As already mentioned the difference between the EV ATC and EV RAW models is simply the external casing. Both internal drives are identical and thus the cases are interchangeable. You can also use the drives in G-Technology’s EV Dock system although I haven’t ventured that far as yet.
Performance : Returning to Base
Back home I then import the catalogue from the EV ATC drive into my main Lightroom Library that resides neatly on a desktop G-Technology 4TB Thunderbolt drive.
I tend to use the 1TB EV RAW drive as my initial Lightroom library when I return from a day shoot simply as I find the editing process quicker than when using a Lightroom library that contains over 40,000 RAW file images. Once I am happy with the edits and have discarded all the rejected images I then import the catalogue from the 1TB EV ATC drive into my main library and perform a full backup. The EV drives are quick thanks to USB3 connectivity so importing 16GB worth of images to my 4TB desktop drive is exceptionally quick.
The EV ATC is a drop resistant, water resistant, pressure resistant, dust resistant, performance drive that is compatible with with G-Techology EV range of drives. The build quality is remarkably sturdy but given this drive floats the EV ATC is also remarkably light. I really can’t fault either flavours of the drive but if you are looking the ultimate in ‘rugged performance’ owning at least one EV ATC is highly recommended. I did everything I could to test the the ATC drive to the maximum with the worst it will ever experience while in the mountains. I dropped it, I submerged it, I accidentally let it flow a good distance down a river and it still remained as good as new. My experience with the ATC drive assured me my data was safe and sound on my 1TB drive regardless of the weather.
If you venture outdoors with you photography or video gear then the G-Technology EV ATC drives are a no-brainer companion for your storage needs.