One camera feature I would like...

OzRay

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...is USB host capability. This would mean you could directly connect a portable HDD to the camera and download your files and manage them from the camera. I know that you can get portable drives like Nexto, Hyperdrive and the like, but they tend to be a fair bit of hassle; I've owned several. To be able to connect a cheap portable HDD to a camera and copy across the files using the camera would be outstanding. I wonder why no camera manufacturer has implemented what must be a reasonably simple feature?
 

piggsy

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IIRC the power draw is actually pretty intense unless you're using one with an external PSU, can get to over what a USB2 port will comfortably tolerate powering by itself (which is why many come with double usb-2 headers). USB3 drives tend to have a single connector but again I think it's actually a pretty narrow margin as far as power headroom goes on those (and you then need a camera with native power-over-usb3 capability). So. You could probably do an external flash drive easily enough ... but ... you're already writing to pretty much as fast and cheap and small a variety of flash media as exists, on the camera already.
 

fortwodriver

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...is USB host capability. This would mean you could directly connect a portable HDD to the camera and download your files and manage them from the camera. I know that you can get portable drives like Nexto, Hyperdrive and the like, but they tend to be a fair bit of hassle; I've owned several. To be able to connect a cheap portable HDD to a camera and copy across the files using the camera would be outstanding. I wonder why no camera manufacturer has implemented what must be a reasonably simple feature?
I believe you can do this with some of the Wifi/networking grips with some Canon and Nikon cameras. However, you would be surprised how ridiculous the current draw most USB-powered hard drives are. It's a very inefficient system. Way back when some companies tried to do it with the old IBM Microdrives. I think that project kinda died on the cutting room floor.

The closest thing I've seen to a useful version of this was the Hasselblad shoulder hard drive that hooked up to the first generation digital back they released for the 500C camera. It was basically a 5 pound hanging hard drive that plugged into the back with a proprietary cord.
 

OzRay

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I don't know about power requirements, but I'd be happy to rely on a spare battery, like my crappy aftermarket one, to just provide power for file transfer and then recharge when necessary or convenient. When you look at it, a digital camera is already a computer and storage device, the portable HDD would simply be an extension of that storage device.
 

fortwodriver

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I don't know about power requirements, but I'd be happy to rely on a spare battery, like my crappy aftermarket one, to just provide power for file transfer and then recharge when necessary or convenient. When you look at it, a digital camera is already a computer and storage device, the portable HDD would simply be an extension of that storage device.
What if you could dump to a flash drive or an SSD? Would that be a suitable alternative?
The biggest problem is the gargantuan power draw required to spin up that drive.

On the other hand, there is that AP2 port which has enough "oomph" to it to charge and power a small flash unit. Does anyone here have any specs on the AP2 port?
 

OzRay

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My Nexto Extreme has a battery about the same size as that in the E-M1, but I don't know how may GB it can transfer on one charge. My first portable storage device managed to get a cracked screen and that was the end of it, and now the Nexto seems to be playing up, so I'm mighty wary about using it to store files.

I guess my only option, when out and about for longer times, is to do a round trip by connecting the camera and the portable HDD to the tablet, and transferring files that way.
 

Ellsass

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I know that you can get portable drives like Nexto, Hyperdrive and the like, but they tend to be a fair bit of hassle
How so? The process on my Hyperdrive is: plug in the card; turn it on; press a button to back it up. Done. And it has its own battery so you don’t have to worry about your camera battery dying. The benefits over your USB solution are: you can keep using the camera while it’s backing up; the device can have other features that are out of scope for a camera, such as recovery of erased images on the SD card; it can have multiple SD slots; etc.

I agree that cameras have much better photo review interfaces than the Hyperdrive, but when you’re main concern is dumping a backup they work quite well.

Re: everyone’s (correct) comments about USB power draw, I wonder if an SSD would mitigate that.
 

piggsy

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Yeah the issue is less about the drive type or power or even interface as that there is already internal flash media read/write that has people hammering away at it driving down size and cost and driving up speeds for years and years. There are ways to get around it - so you could use say a low powered low profile laptop drive to get around the power issues - but then you're way down to about 1/5th of what the internal flash interface will support. You could use an SSD but then you're going to be significantly more expensive per gb, huge in comparison and still 1/2 or so the speed of the internal flash socket without a new interface. There just aren't a lot of ways to win unless you're doing it for an application where the price and size doesn't really matter.
 

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IIRC the power draw is actually pretty intense unless you're using one with an external PSU, can get to over what a USB2 port will comfortably tolerate powering by itself (which is why many come with double usb-2 headers). USB3 drives tend to have a single connector but again I think it's actually a pretty narrow margin as far as power headroom goes on those (and you then need a camera with native power-over-usb3 capability). So. You could probably do an external flash drive easily enough ... but ... you're already writing to pretty much as fast and cheap and small a variety of flash media as exists, on the camera already.

Yeah, that would seem to be quite a load for a camera battery, BUT . . . if the external drive had a separate power supply (even if you had to plug it in to the wall outlet) That would be a very useful tool.

I suspect though the camera manufacturers are muttering to us, under their breath, "We've given you the ability to upload to Google Drive! What more do you want? Slave drivers!"

I'd love to see it, but I don't expect to see it for quite a while, if ever!
 

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I think these ideas would make more sense if the camera's memory was internal. With SD cards, I can see how this might make things marginally faster or easier, but if I were a camera manufacturer, I'd say "what's the point?"
 

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OzRay

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How so? The process on my Hyperdrive is: plug in the card; turn it on; press a button to back it up. Done. And it has its own battery so you don’t have to worry about your camera battery dying. The benefits over your USB solution are: you can keep using the camera while it’s backing up; the device can have other features that are out of scope for a camera, such as recovery of erased images on the SD card; it can have multiple SD slots; etc.

I agree that cameras have much better photo review interfaces than the Hyperdrive, but when you’re main concern is dumping a backup they work quite well.

Re: everyone’s (correct) comments about USB power draw, I wonder if an SSD would mitigate that.
I have owned a Hyperdrive and still own the Nexto Extreme and a Vosonic X-Drive, and I've simply stopped using them because of various issues. In general, I've found them to somewhat temperamental and sometimes unreliable. I think part of that is due to the oddball OS that supports each one. Even after updating the firmware on my Nexto yesterday, I still can't get my PC to recognise the drive, but my tablet will. It's these sorts of uncertainties that make me wary about using them, especially if I plan to clear my SD cards after downloading. It's not that I've ever had a drive failure, it's just been the software that seems to play up, which means I can't be guaranteed of successful copies etc.

One thing did come to mind, now that SSDs are becoming so cheap, is that there's no reason why you couldn't produce a portable HDD with the guts of an SSD (very small form factor), or an mSATA SSD (becoming a lot more common now) and a thin battery and have the best of both worlds. That is, if the camera could act as a USB host. This would mean a small form factor drive with low power requirements, yet fast copying and large storage capacity.
 

kinlau

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I have two generations of Hyperdrives, and both work fine with a variety of HD's, and no issues ever connecting them to a PC.
 

OzRay

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All of those have been around for years. I was thinking about a simple extension to the camera and the ability to save to a simple external drive, maybe even a USB thumb drive with an OTG cable. Why can't a modern digital camera do this?

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A simple thumb drive is small, high capacity, low power and costs very little: http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Cruzer-Glide-Drive-SDCZ60-128G-B35/dp/B007YX9OGW.
 

dancebert

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All of those have been around for years. I was thinking about a simple extension to the camera and the ability to save to a simple external drive, maybe even a USB thumb drive with an OTG cable. Why can't a modern digital camera do this?
...

A simple thumb drive is small, high capacity, low power and costs very little: http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Cruzer-Glide-Drive-SDCZ60-128G-B35/dp/B007YX9OGW.
Not enough power to be a host has two problems - 1) unable to run the external drive, 2) frying the camera's electronics. No amount of warning or instruction by the camera manufacturer will shield them from being blamed by consumers for either. All the consumer knows is it's a host and it has a standard port so therefore anything I plug in should work.

Most users have another device which can read and backup SD cards, so it's a niche requirement. Turning a profit from manufacturing cameras is tough enough without adding features to the camera which have nothing to do with making images.

It may not be supportable by the camera's operating system. Developing a new operating system for a niche requirement is a non-starter for any company with 2 brain cells to rub together.
 

OzRay

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Considering that mobile phones are providing features found on many cameras, and cameras are providing features found on mobile phones, I can't see this sort of thing to be a big issue. If the OTG works on mobile phones and doesn't fry anything, why would a camera be any different? If nothing else, you could add a battery grip with this feature.

I don't think it would be a niche requirement, just think of the simplicity and ease of being able to plug a USB drive into the camera (even via OTG) and store the recorded images. For major expeditions, a handful of USB thumb drives would be far easier to carry along, be safer as you can distribute the files, and be more durable than an external HDD and whatever devices you need to carry to accommodate an external HDD.

I have these devices, have used them for years, and I don't like them. Since everyone keeps telling me about these devices, here are two that I own:

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dancebert

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Considering that mobile phones are providing features found on many cameras, and cameras are providing features found on mobile phones, I can't see this sort of thing to be a big issue. If the OTG works on mobile phones and doesn't fry anything, why would a camera be any different? If nothing else, you could add a battery grip with this feature.
By the time the first smartphone was designed, manufacturers knew they were making a general purpose handheld computer that happened to make phone calls, so they used many of the best practices from the computer industry. Their hardware platforms were designed to be expandable, their operating systems (OS) were designed to run on different hardware with easy modifications. That means between versions the maker can swap out the hardware and/or expand software features without starting over from scratch. Early digital camera makers knew they were not designing a general purpose handheld computer. Wouldn't surprise me if the current Nikon, Canon, Oly, Panny, etc OSs are direct descendants of their first OS.

I don't think it would be a niche requirement, just think of the simplicity and ease of being able to plug a USB drive into the camera (even via OTG) and store the recorded images. For major expeditions, a handful of USB thumb drives would be far easier to carry along, be safer as you can distribute the files, and be more durable than an external HDD and whatever devices you need to carry to accommodate an external HDD.
I said it's currently a niche requirement. Would it be in the future? Doubtful because hand held computers keep getting smaller and more powerful. It's currently a niche feature because it's not needed for those who return home after every shoot. For travelers, there are few who cut the electronic umbilical cord by leaving their handheld computers at home. Those mounting major expeditions usually carry all the infrastructure they need to keep the world up to date with their progress. If I were still wilderness backpacking, I'd want this feature but I know how to make do without it. The market size of travelers who can't or won't carry a handheld computer is too small for camera makers to bother with.
 

OzRay

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I'm not sure, but as I said, it's one feature that I'd like to have over others that are being implemented and sometimes demanded by reviewers, and which are making some cameras appear more like mobile phones (eg Samsung NX30). Most cameras aren't that far removed from being fairly powerful computers on their own; they have touch screens, NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth, ability to connect to TVs and display video/stills, can do modifications to images in-camera, have GPS built in etc.
 
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