Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 11, 2017.

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The 3-2-1 Photo Backup Plan

Seagate External Hard Drives

Seagate External Hard Drives

I read about a professional photographer who lost a bunch of photos because they were all on just one external hard drive with no backups. The cost of recovering the photos, if they can be recovered, will run between $500 and $5000 depending on the number of photos and the complications involved in the recovery process.

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The Best of the Best: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

It’s the time of year that the number of photo questions I receive increases dramatically. Many of them have to do with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from someone shopping for a photographer, or photographers shopping for themselves.

So once again here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. I will revise some of these articles in November and December, but most of the advice is good as it stands. The best books on photographic composition or the best photo labs haven’t changed in the last 12 months. As I rewrite articles I will update the links below. You can check the date at the top of each article.

Originally posted Nov. 21, 2015. Updated December 11, 2015.

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VERIFY or ELSE!

Brainard Lake, damaged file. Photo copyright Jim Doty Jr.

Brainard Lake, Damaged File

After I work on a group of photos,  I back them up by burning them to DVDs and transfer them to external hard drives.  I always set the DVD burning software (by NERO) to “verify” the contents of the DVD.  It takes more time but it is well worth it.

After burning some photos to a DVD today, NERO told me the verification process had failed because some of the files were “different” from the originals, and provided a list.  I opened the photo folder on the DVD and all of the thumbnails looked fine.  So I tried to open one of the “different” files in Photoshop and received this ominous message.

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MEMORY CARDS PART 1 – THE BEST WAY TO USE MEMORY CARDS TO AVOID LOST IMAGES

Since downloading problems and lost photos are such common problems (based on the emails I receive) I am writing two articles about memory cards and lost photos. In the first article I dealt with the recovery of lost photos.  In this article I will deal with the best ways to use memory cards to minimize the chances of lost images.

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MEMORY CARDS PART 2 – LOST PHOTOS

AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WITH REVISED LINKS IS HERE .
I received a question today from a person who is having problems downloading photos from his camera body (a Canon 5D Mark II) directly to his computer and using Canon software.

Since downloading problems and lost photos are such a common problem (based on the emails I receive) I am writing two articles about memory cards and lost images. I will deal with lost photos in the article, and how to use memory cards to minimize the chances of lost images in the second article.

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RAW FILES – A DIGITAL “TOWER OF BABEL”

Eye surgery
Eye surgery. Canon 10D “RAW” file converted with Photoshop.
Photo copyright (c) Jim Doty, Jr.

I have a love-hate relationship with “RAW” digital camera files. I love the capabilities inherent in RAW capture, but processing the files is such a pain. Several things have happened, no thanks to the camera manufacturers, to improve the situation.

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PHOTOS FADING FROM CD-R Discs

The digital photos stored on your CD-R discs may be fading away even as you read this.

Are you backing up your photos on CD-R discs? You should since every hard drive will eventually crash. BUT those photos on CD’s may not last as long as you think. In recent tests (see the links below), some brands of CD-R discs lose their data in as little as 2 years. Whatever you do, don’t buy cheap discs. And you should store your data on at least two CD-R discs which are stored under the right conditions (coll, dark, dry) in at least two separate locations.

Other options are to store your photos on multiple internal and/or external hard drives. DVD’s are an option too but some DVD’s may not be much better than the cheap CD-R discs. Again, buy good quality. One of the best currently available options are the Mitsui Gold CD-R discs which you can get from InkjetArt. Paying more for top quality discs is better than discovering your digital photos have faded away to nothing. Don’t assume your data is safe for anywhere near as long as the claims you read. Go back periodically and check your discs.

Another option is turn your best digital photos into prints and copy the prints onto high quality slide film. Recent Kodak or Fuji slide film, if stored in a cool (70 degrees or less), dark, low humidity (40% or less) place will outlast the vast majority of digital storage media now available.

You can read some recent research at news.independent.co.uk. They have links to two other articles here and here.

You should also read the article on storing photos on CD-R discs at my website.