Monday, July 31, 2006

How Not To Save Your Holiday Snaps

This blog has been inactive while I did "little" things like move house and travel to Canada. But now I'm back and ready to write up any number of articles. I'll be in France, England and Wales with my family over the next few weeks so expect sporadic reports of foreign places.

Of course we took lots of photos, each having a camera. Coincidentally we filled both our memory cards at the same time. Being in Goderich, Ontario, we went into the local Carmen's Photo to get the contents transferred to disk. This was a big mistake.

Taking an hour and costing about $6 per disk, what we got was not a copy of the memory contents, but some type of strange inferior version. First, the movie files were not transferred. The store clerk, who acted sluggish enough to perhaps be the manager, seemed surprised this would even be an issue. The implication seemed to be that because they are a photo store I should expect them to transfer only the photos.

In fact it was only a stray question which revealed this limitation. But there is a very big difference between having all of the contents of a disk transferred and having some of them copied. In the former case one can erase the entire contents of the memory card and start shooting again. In the latter case one has to go, step-by-step, through every single file. With a 1 GB card that's a time-consuming nightmare.

Not having any movies, my partner deleted the entire disk for her camera. Having movies (an otter being fed at the zoo -- cool!) I started deleting my photos one at a time, but only got so far.

And just as well.

Because on returning home I discovered that the images the store had saved were a fraction of the size of the originals (about 57%). Not only does the redimensioning lose data, but the subsequent recompression into JPG reduces the original information further.

On top of all of this, most of the EXIF data (everything except the date-time stamp) was lost.

In short, I paid to have my images trashed.

Having used similar services from Boots in the UK without these issues (actually, they also lost EXIF data), I do not know why this company could not get a simple copy operation correct. I do not know if this behaviour is typical of vendors in North America.

But what I do know is that next time I will wait until I can find an internet cafe and burn the files to a disk myself. If I carry an xD card reader around with me the process should be hitch-free. Not to mention cheaper and faster.

Let this be a warning to my readers to do the same.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It beggars belief, doesn't it. Makes my experience in a Kodak Express shop in China sound very lucky. I had a load of raw files as well as ordinary jpegs and it took a whole bunch of charades to convince them that I just wanted to copy the files, that I didn't mind not being able to see them on screen (and that no, they weren't video or sound recordings). At least they did eventually just copy the files unharmed (and for very little money in Western terms, of course).

It never even occured to me that the concept of just copying all of the files from a memory card onto a CD or DVD would be hard for anyone to grasp... but clearly it is.

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