Gadgets & Gizmos

ARE YOU RUNNING out of storage space on location with lots of video files and high resolution raws? Or do you just want a fast way to store and then quickly access your images. If so, LaCie’s latest Rugged drive could be of interest.The stylish, orange-rubber shelled, portable drives from LaCie have been on film and stills sets for many years and they’re called ‘rugged’ because they’re designed to take the rough and tumble of a working production environment – wherever that might be!

The latest Rugged drive is the RAID Pro 4TB, designed by Neil Poulton (although to be honest, it looks very similar to preceding Rugged drives!). It offers up to 240 MB/s in RAID 0, the configuration designed for speed as it is writing to two drives simultaneously. However, for photographers and video producers who are concerned about having a digital backup, the RAID 1 configuration can be used instead. This halves the capacity of the drive down to around 2TB, but now you have two copies of your files so if one of the drives were to fail, all your work is safe and sound on the second drive.

Of course, both drives are in the one case, so if you lose the case, that’s a problem. Perhaps a second Rugged drive as a separate backup is an even better solution?

The Rugged RAID Pro 4TB has an integrated SD Card Reader, so you can quickly offload content using LaCie’s quick import toolkit. The portable drive also sports the latest USB-C connector and is compatible with both next-generation Thunderbolt 3 computers and backward compatible with USB 3.0.

Of course, the reason the Rugged drives are so popular is because they are shock, dust, crush and water resistant. And to put its money where its mouth is, LaCie includes a 3-Year Limited Warranty with Rescue Data Recovery Services.

For more information and pricing, visit

I realise this will be a little out of left field for many readers, but for those who are dabbling in the world of video, one of the biggest struggles we have is with audio. Many of my productions (such as they are) ignore location sound and I add music or narration later during post-production.

My approach works just fine for doing little arty pieces (like the recent one in Svalbard – you can see it on Youtube here:, but if I wanted to include people talking, or indeed me interviewing people, how do I do it? I have a wireless lavalier system, but I never seem to take it and setting the levels correctly is not something I’m yet good at!

One solution I’ve just been sent to review is the RØDE Mobile Interview Kit. It includes two smartLav+ lavalier microphones and an SC6-L connector for an iPhone or iPad. To use, plug one or both lavalier mics into the iPhone via the connector, attach the lavalier mics to the people you are filming, and launch the Rode Reporter app. Your iPhone or iPad records the sound and then you simply export it and drop it into your video editing software.

The smartLav+ is a 4.5mm miniature mic made with omni-directional condenser capsules and Kevlar reinforced cable, making it suitable for a wide range of film, television and broadcast applications. The SC6-L is a simple input/output breakout box with a Lightning connector to connect directly to iOS devices. With two TRRS inputs and one stereo headphone output, the SC6-L connects to any TRRS device, including the two supplied smartLav+ microphones. And with the Rode Reporter app, you can alter boost gain and choose between summed stereo and dual mono.

Rode is an impressive company, producing a range of products that are useful for photographers dabbling in the world of audio visuals and video productions. They also have a range of camera mounted mics that do a stellar job – and an even better job if you learn a little about sound recording before you use them! If only I took my own advice!

We’ll post a more detailed review on the DJI Copilot in the next few weeks when the magazine comes out with a more comprehensive story, but I thought I’d like to mention LaCie’s latest on-location device – because it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Years ago, Epson used to make a great little device that was a combination viewer and hard drive. I think the one I still have in the bottom of a desk drawer stores 80 GB, the screen is pretty basic by today’s standards, and it isn’t particularly fast.

These days, when I travel I usually take a laptop, but there are times and occasions when it’s not practical. A recent 6 day walk in the Western Arthurs comes to mind, but just being able to back up your work on the go without using a laptop would be incredibly useful for wedding photographers, for instance.

The DJI Copilot is currently a 2TB hard drive, wrapped in a grey plastic survival suit (a bit like LaCie’s orange Rugged range) so it can take the bumps and knocks of life in a professional photographer’s camera bag. And although it doesn’t have an LCD screen like the Epson, it tethers to your smartphone – so you can see the file structure and the thumbnails on a screen! And that’s very useful.

The unit comes with three different connectors, depending on what type of phone or tablet you’re using, and your connector of choice can remain in position permanently – indeed, the tether cable wraps around the unit into a purpose-built slot. In terms of input and output, you have an SD card slot (and LaCie provides a MicroSD adaptor for drone and GoPro users), plus USB and TB connectors, so it’s really easy to get data into and out of the DJI Copilot.

And we’re giving away two of these drives in our Better Photography Photo of the Year competition which will be announced mid-September. Details to come!

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