Archiving digital photos

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Dweller, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. Dweller

    Dweller Inconspicuous Supporter

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    I am about to finally take the plunge into Digital! Expect many exciting and new threads that are sure to follow such as the forum favorite "Which camera is better?" and "What do you think of this deal?" And who can forget the ever popular "Film or Digital?" debates? But I digress.

    First, some insight into my thought process.

    I feel that we as a people are at risk of losing part of our heritage to Digital. I can go back today and find pictures taken 100 years ago. Some are basic snapshots, some of family, some really astounding work, but all tangible.. something I can hold, something I can pass along to my descendents. With digital all we have are ones and zeros on some type of fallible media. I would like to do my part to keep those ones and zeros around until my childrens children have an opportunity to see them.

    Thinking (and over-thinking) like I tend to do before a purchase like this I started wondering about archiving methods, specifically space requirements and longevity.

    I am a bit of a packrat and when it comes to photography (something I am learning, and with luck will be able to look back over time and see the improvements) and I intend to keep just about every shot I take. I can point right now to the first shot I took with my Canon AE-1 and I want to be able to do the same when I switch to Digital.

    I also intend to shoot RAW.

    I understand a 1GB card will hold something like 300 shots (6-8 MP) so based on that I am wondering about the best options. Do I use a 100GB (or larger) mirrored array so I always have a live copy (barring catastrophic failure like a fire or meteor landing on my house) or do I use DVD media (8GB on a dual layer would be about 12 disks for 100GB). Both have some issues, a running mirror will consume electricity for every moment of time its running, and the jury is out on the longevity of burned disks. Originally they said 99 years (which to me meant "we just dont know") now they say something like 5-7 years but then a manufacturer comes out and says it should be a few decades....

    so what to do?

    my thought is maybe a combination of both. A small cheap box with a raid card and two 100GB drives running in a mirror with a DVD burner. Keep the DVDs in a firesafe and call it good?

    Amy I being paranoid? Wasteful? Having delusions about the value of some snapshots by some hobbyist around the turn of the century?

    Help me Obi-Wan.. err... TPF... you're my only hope!
     
  2. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    Actually, you sound very prudent. I've gone back to film, except for P&S snapshots, which I copy onto 3 different hard drives from time to time, and from which I get a selection of favourites printed by a commercial printer; you might want to consider that as well. For the original files, I'd also think about having two copies on different brands of DVD (be careful though - different name on the label doesn't always mean that two brands don't come from the same factory).

    I think that in the short term your plan is as good as it can be. Over decades you will also need to update the hardware, perhaps copy DVDs to newer technologies if/when the format becomes obselete, renew the relevant software for new operating systems, and perhaps even convert the file formats. Although I'd expect JPG to be supported indefinitely, you say you will be shooting RAW, so you will need to watch out for changes to the format and the manufacturer's support. I think there is an argument for keeping a jpeg version of everything.

    Thomsk
     
  3. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    And with regard to -
    In some ways that is the more interesting question. Whether they survive depends on the practical steps that you and your descendents take to preserve them. Whether they have any value 100 years from now depends on what you photograph and how you document the subject matter.

    I found a great website for the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television where you can see photos from the last 150 years or so:

    http://www.nmpft.org.uk/photography/home_collection.asp

    Judging by this, all kinds of images are likely to be of interest to future generations.
     
  4. matdjj

    matdjj TPF Noob!

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    If you want to have that exact same tangiable security you can always make prints and save those. :)
     

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