We’ve been using passport hard drives during our travels since converting to digital from film in 2005. We always carry at least 2 passport drives and keep a copy of all images taken on each of them. These are used daily when travelling. We then each carry one of these with us at all times when in transit or alternatively leave one in the room or hotel safe and one in our camera bag. This way we reduce the chances of losing everything.
Downloading the images in the past has been a time-consuming chore at the end of the day when you would rather be relaxing (preferably soaking your sore feet from all the walking!). We have always wondered why the manufacturers of external passport hard drives never gave customers the option to be able to download their images straight to the external hard drive, saving them heaps of time. Well, they must have heard us, as Western Digital has released the WD My Passport Wireless. Although quite expensive and a bit bulkier and heavier, this hard drive is a great tool for the working Travel Photographer, or anyone travelling for extended periods that takes a lot of photos, especially when shooting RAW images. It is especially great for those short trips where you don’t want to carry a laptop.
Below are the dimensions of the 500GB, 1TB & 2TB capacities in descending order.
- Built-in SD card slot
- Rechargeable battery
- Wirelessly connect to your mobile devices
- Internet sharing
- Ultra-fast USB 3.0
The passport has an SD card slot on the side which allows you to quickly backup your images on the fly, which is awesome if you have some free time and your memory cards are filling up. As a Travel Photographer you can pop in a card and download your full card while still out and about. Unfortunately, the passport will not take CF (Compact Flash) cards although if your camera has Wi-Fi then you should be able to use this function to transfer your images (although slower) and for those with Micro cards (such as GoPro users), it will work with the SD card adaptor. The passport will also need to be kept charged so unfortunately, it will require you to carry yet another charging cord. For those connecting the product to their laptop, it has USB 3.0 capabilities making it super fast for transferring images. We have not tested its capabilities using the transfer of images wirelessly, however, we will get back to you on that one. One of the great benefits is the ability to access images on the drive wirelessly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop for processing images and loading to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
- Great for shorter trips when you don’t want to carry a laptop
- Downloading images on the go/in the field
- >Excellent for accessing images to share to your social media platforms>
- USB 3.0 – lightning fast
- Large capacities
- Will only take SD cards (unless camera is Wi-Fi enabled)
- Another item to keep re-charged and another cord to carry
- A lot bulkier and heavier than other current passport drives available>
- Expensive but hopefully the price will come down in the future>
- Displays only JPG files when accessing on your smartphone or tablet
It currently comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities however you can only buy the 1TB and 2TB capacities in Australia. Prices retail in Australia start at about $250-$300.
We always like to check that the images have actually downloaded to the device. Call it paranoia, but before we re-format our SD card we would prefer to check that the files are actually there. You can do this easily using the downloadable app ‘My Cloud’ which allows you to view the files on your tablet or smartphone using the Wi-Fi. However…
- If you only shoot JPEG then you will be able to see all your files on the device in folders when you click on the ‘Photos’ tab and a small thumbnail image will also display.
- If you shoot RAW+JPEG then you will only be able to view the JPEG in the ‘Photos’ tab, the RAW files will not appear. You can view the RAW file by clicking on the ‘All’ tab and select the SD Card Import option. This will show you all the JPEG and RAW files on the device. You will see the JPEG files as thumbnails but not the RAW files.
- If you shoot RAW files only, follow the above step to confirm that all the RAW files are downloaded however you will not be able to view any thumbnails.
Naturally, this is only the case when wanting to view the files on a mobile device. Using a laptop will allow you to preview images with thumbnails for both RAW & JPEG.
We are very excited about this product and we will be travelling with 2 of these on all our trips. So instead of sitting in your hotel room downloading memory cards and making backup copies enjoy that extra drink or 2 at the bar before dinner 🙂 or alternatively do your backups throughout the day/night without having to rely on a laptop. Well worth the money!
Since this post, Western Digital has released the WD 2TB My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive – WIFI USB 3.0. See picture below. Click on the picture to find out more. Not sure why they changed the design however we foresee this model as being more difficult to carry around in the camera bag. Think we will stick with the original.
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