How to Safely Store your Pictures.  Memory cards and Storage Devices

 

FILM AND PAPER PHOTO STORAGE.

Film and Paper/photographs will suffer BADLY from HUMIDITY. So keep them in an dry house. (Do not seal them completely from the air, Paper needs to breathe). This goes for Camera equipment as well. Mold growing on lens elements is impossible to remove.

If your negatives or slides are dirty, use the special film cleaners to clean them before storing.  If there is any mold on any of your slides or films - Separate them from the rest!! Mould is a living and breading organism and will spread.

Negatives are best kept in the modern archival loose leaf sleeves that are provided at the place of processing, or in the archival type sleeves such as "Printfile" sleeves which hold the strips on one see through page. 

TYPES OF PLASTICS USED IN ALBUMS AND SLEEVES:  There are two types of COMMON plastics used to make albums and sleeves. One is Polypropylene. Polypropylene pages in bulk have a milky look to them. This material is safe, but polypropylene in the cheaper manufacturing processes can not be welded or glued very strongly. (You can pull the pages apart very easy). The other plastic used sometimes is PVC, it can be made clear, but to make it pliable some manufacturers put softeners in the plastic. These softeners will stick to your pictures and attack any paper type products held within.  PVC can be strongly welded together. It is used to make bags etc.    Saying this, some of the best pages are one's manufactured using softener free PVC, this is very Strong and crystal clear.  Safe Albums and Lindner to mention just two Manufacturer's.  These plastics are safe but not cheap.  There are other types of archival materials used, but they tend to be very expensive. Mylar film is a trade name for one of them.  Crystal clear Polypropylene albums are starting to appear that have been welded with very special HF welders, they look great till you see the price!!

To sum up, Polypropylene pages are fine for storing film and prints in, and are inexpensive. I would stick to Polypropylene for general storage.  But if you really want those pictures in your portfolio to impress, Try the softener free PVC albums and pages  Below is just two of many manufacturers of these products.

PRINTFILE PAGES SITE

SAFE ALBUMS OFFICIAL SITE

I will of course suggest that you scan your negatives into the digital world. So they can be turned into a stream of indestructible numbers. But this might go against the grain. (no pun intended). If you like the crackly sound of vinyl, records, fine by me, I use CD's.  Rest assured modern scanners can scan at qualities well past MOST film stock. The only down side to scanning, it takes a long time and the files created can be HUGE!!. But film does have one advantage. I can't hold my CD up to the light to see my pictures :-)

 

MEMORY CARDS

When you take a picture with your digital camera the image gets recorded onto these memory cards.  When you want prints of your pictures, you transfer the pictures from the card to a computer or take the card to your local drug store to have prints made.  The pictures can now be erased from the card and the card used again.  Use the camera to erase the pictures.

THE LOCAL LIBRARY AND MEMORY CARDS STORY

Memory cards store pictures the same way as hard discs in a computers. For the purpose of this explanation, Just think of memory cards/computer hard discs as a  EMPTY LIBRARY. with shelves and a filing index system.

When you place your picture in the library you put it on the shelf and write an index card for the filing system, noting where the picture is. Now you can look through the index cards in the filing system and find what shelf your picture is on to retrieve it.  Easy so far.

When you delete a picture you throw away the card in the filing system, NOT the picture on the shelf. So the picture is still on the shelf, but there is no index card in the filing system for it anymore.  Remember when you go to the library for pictures you only look through the index cards. Not the shelves. When you  bring a new picture into the Library, the filing system will see from the index cards that there is an empty spot on that shelf, so it will write a new filing card for that spot and then go and throw your old picture off the shelf and replace it with the new one. OK SO FAR?

Open your mind now and you will see your Library/memory card after time will always be full of pictures. even if you delete all your pictures from the card all!!! ALL you have done is thrown all the index cards away in the filing system.  But all the pictures are still on the shelves. This is why you can retrieve pictures at this point. Your camera sees an empty Filing system. AGAIN..Your camera/computer only sees the filing system not your shelves, so as far as it is concerned there is space in the library!!! Even though the library is full. Think library.  Once you write over your old pictures on the card with new ones, you can not retrieve the old ones anymore.

FORMAT: This will level your library to the ground!!! And build a completely spanking brand new library with empty shelves and a new index filing system. ONLY USE FORMAT WITH YOUR CAMERA!! COMPUTERS SOMETIMES USE A  DIFFERENT TYPE OF FILING SYSTEM

When you have taken your pictures off your card and backed them up, it is sometimes  good housekeeping to FORMAT your card now and then with the camera to give you a completely clean card

WARNING: DO NOT FORMAT YOUR COMPUTER DISC UNLESS YOU KNOW HOW TO REBUILD IT.

(SEE BACK UP!! BACK UP!! MY NEXT ARTICLE).

 

TYPES OF CARDS

There are many different flavors and styles of memory cards. What is the difference? They come in different capacities. (number of pictures they hold). Different speeds. etc. 

First the style. The memory card you use is dictated by your camera. Your camera takes Compact flash cards or Sony memory stick etc etc. Their are about 15 different styles. The 4 most popular are listed below. Some like Smartmedia cards are not used by modern cameras anymore.

Compact Flash Cards

Used on early cameras and nearly all the professional cameras. Because of its large size it is not used in most modern point and shoot cameras anymore.

SD Memory Cards

Used in nearly all the modern cameras except Sony, Fuji and Olympus.

A new smaller mini SD cards are being made for phones and pda's now.

Sony Memory Stick

Used in Sony products. Be warned there are 4 flavors so check compatibility with your camera before buying.

XD Memory Cards

Patented by Fuji & Olympus. There is a new type out called M type which will not work on the early Olympus and Fuji cameras. Check.  Both Companies used larger Smartmedia cards years ago.

 

CAPACITY OF CARDS 

Approximate Number of Images per Capacity
 
  Approx File Size 64MB 128MB 256MB 512MB 1GB 2GB 4GB
2 Megapixel
Camera:
900KB 71 142 284 568 1137 2275 4551
3 Megapixel
Camera:
1.2MB 53 106 213 426 853 1706 3413
4 Megapixel
Camera:
2MB 32 64 128 256 512 1024 2048
5 Megapixel
Camera:
2.5MB 25 51 102 204 409 819 1638
6 Megapixel
Camera:
3.2MB 20 40 80 160 320 640 1280

SPEED  OF CARDS

First lets get a myth out the way. There is no set standard to say one card is 40x or 50x. what is it measured against!!. 50x faster than what?  NOT ALL CAMERAS WILL MAKE USE OF THIS SPEED INCREASE WHEN TAKING PICTURES.  The number one priority is to get a good make of card. That bargain cheapo on line you might regret  buying, when it stops working during your dream cruise. The subject of what makes a good card is too complex to explain here. Just stick to brands you know PNY, Scandisk, Lexar, Promaster. Most Small cameras with good video capability and all Nikon cameras will benefit from high speed cards.  Modern Canon professional SLR's have high speed large memory buffers built into the camera, so for picture taking purposes it does not make any difference what card it uses. Saying this, the small price difference you pay between high speed cards and normal cards nowadays,  I would use high speed cards anyway.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES:  With all memory cards the only real way to destroy them is pulling them out of the camera or card reader attached to your computer WHILE THEY ARE READING OR WRITING TO THE CARDS. You've been warned. Be patient.

I would also steer clear of Micro drives. Solid state cards have no moving parts to go wrong and are not subject to shock. Micro drives are the same as hard drives in your computer and suffer from the same problems. They where a great buy once, but with solid state memory prices going down every month!!! You decide. A 4G Solid state compact flash card is about $150 each as I write this.

COMPACT FLASH CARD USERS ONLY  Be very careful how you put your card in the camera or computer reader. It only goes in one way. Alas with billions spent on memory chip design, these cards can be inserted sideways and cause about $300 worth of damage to your camera. Not to be recommended. So just take care.

For more information about Memory cards

   
BACK UP!!! BACK UP!!! BACK UP!!!
So you have your memory card full of precious pictures, What now?

If you take your memory card to the local drug store to print your pictures. Pick the option to have CD as well, then you have  a CD of your pictures to get extra prints in the future. (same as your old negatives). WARNING. Those of you with very good cameras, check they do not down size the image quality to speed up the printing process, as this is what they will copy onto the CD!!! lower quality pictures. Just check.

Those of us that suffer the pains of the computer (love/hate relationship). When you transfer your pictures onto your computer, do create a sensible filing system for your pictures.  Imagine a filing cabinet with dated folders for your pictures , how easy is it to go and find a picture. Now imagine you just transferring them to your computer without worrying about where the go. A filing cabinet full to the top with unsorted pictures!!!! I have over 10,000 pictures on my own PC now. If I did not have an organized system, I would not be able to find anything in my filing cabinet or 2 !!!! So organize your pictures. Some programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements come with a great picture filing and tagging system along with one of the best photo editing software programs around to boot.

So your pictures are on your computer. A Lightning strike within a mile, sickening sound of hard disc head crashes, virus, the thief.  Just some of those "it want happen to me" scenarios. 5 years of pictures gone in a instant. So take the time to back up your pictures.

There are two main ways to back your computer up. COPY your pictures onto CD/DVD or get an external hard disc.

 

External Hard Discs
This is by far the best way to back you pictures up. You can buy very inexpensive usb or firewire external hard drives nowadays. 250Gb or 300GB drives are common now with prices below $200. They just plug into your computer and you copy your files too them. You can then unplug the drive and keep it in another location. at the office etc. If you keep it in another location out of the house this will cover you against all the above "it want happen to me" scenarios except a very slight threat from virus attack. 

Capacity, a 250GB hard disc will hold about 80,000 pictures from a 6 megapixel camera.  Plenty of room till you get that 40 megapixel satellite/GPS model.  I have 2 external hard discs, one I keep out of the house. Thanks to my wonderful wife I also have a new wireless network box that holds a hard disc and has space for 2 more. Accessible by everybody in the house on our wireless network.

Remember hard discs can suffer from shock/movement. So if you drop them or move them while reading or writing!!! But like me if you have 3 hard discs, the chances of me losing all my pictures are small. I also use CD/DVD back up, which will by the next article.

 

 

CD-R AND DVD AS BACK UP MEDIA

HARDWARE AND BLANK DISCS SYSTEMS. THE TRUTH!!

 

 

 
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