In the arms race of storage Vs. resolution and ever higher bit rates, it still all comes down to just one thing, disk space. Even with the best camera ever, if a storage card fills up after 20 minutes, you're no better off than your contemporaries staring forlornly at their finished ‘Boots disposables'. You can go back and edit the pictures, even reduce the quality of the remaining shots, but eventually you'll have to play ‘Uncle Joe' and start removing family members from the recorded history of the even.
The solution? Well either you invest in a memory card capacious enough to match your love of photography or look for some way to off load the images half-way through the shoot, so you can wipe the card(s) and start again. A computer is the ideal answer, but laptops aren't always practical, so how about a removable disk drive that does everything a computer does and is no larger than an old Iomega Zip drive? So we get to the star of the show, the Fujitsu DynaMo 1300U2 Photo.
This drive currently sits the bottom end of the ‘DynaMo' range with storage capacities ranging from 1.3Gb to 2.3Gb. Previously a 640Mb version of the drive existed but has been replaced with the Gb versions. The storage technology is based around Fujitsu ‘MO' (Magneto-Optical) removable jewel cassettes (see-through disks) and once formatted each disk holds about 1.15Gb of data. The real strength of the 1300U2 Photo, over its more spacious contemporaries, is that it can function perfectly well without a computer connected to it, as almost all the functions can be accessed via the onboard menus and screen.
The drive itself is a veritable cornucopia of inputs and outputs. The front edge playing host to slots for SD, MMC, Compact Flash, MICRODRIVE, Smart Media and Memory Sticks (pro's as well) and even, via an unsupplied adapter, xD cards. Once a card is inserted the 4-way navigation keys on the drives top-surface can be used to control the menus displayed on the small colour screen, contents of the card can be transferred onto the ‘MO' disk, or visa versa. The menus are surprisingly detailed, allowing you to see the images you are transferring as well as allowing you to alter the pictures orientation and create dedicated folder in which to store them on the MO disk.
Even if you don't need to transfer any data, insert your card(s) and attach the drives jack output to the ‘phono' input on your TV, or projector, and instantly show your photos to a wider audience. There is even a remote control included so you don't have to hover over the drive while presenting your handiwork to guests.
£219 drive, £12 disks
Gripes, well the only really one, you cannot format the MO disks in the drive without attaching a computer, via the USB 2.0 cable. For a device sold on its independence, having to be connected to perform a basic task like formatting seems strange. And as I discovered the 1.3Gb disks are not pre-formatted out of the box, so cannot not be recognized, or used, until formatting is completed.
Overall, this gadget's a useful addition to any digital photographer's bag. The capacity isn't tremendous but the 1.3Gb disks cost £12, making them about £35.00 cheaper that a 1Gb compact flash card. The drive also offers a cheap way to back-up relatively large quantities of data in a more solid-state fashion than a hard drive. Each disk is totally rewritable and MO storage has a lifespan in excess of 50 years. Even though it's sold for photographers, doesn't mean it won't work for MP3s, or any other type of digital media file you want to store, or transfer, from disk to card.