Tips for Getting Pictures from Your Camera to Your Computer

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Since i do a bit of real estate photography on my free time, i got a new camera to get the job done. I asked a friend recently how he transfers pictures from his camera to his computer. He has traveled all over the world and I know he has taken a lot of digital pictures over the last 5 years. His answer “I don’t. I just buy a new camera storage card.” If this isn’t you – you’d like to transfer your pictures to your computer then this article is for you.

Most new users I’ve talked to assume that using the cable that came with the camera to hook up the camera and computer is the best way to move pictures from the camera to the computer. After all, the manual has instructions and they give you this cable, right? I don’t recommend it.

First of all it ties up the camera while you are doing it; you can’t go on shooting more pictures.

Secondly, you’re probably relying on camera battery power (unless you have an AC adapter). At best this means you’ll have to recharge before you shoot again.

At worst the battery will give out in the middle of your transfer. It’s also problematic in that something on your computer e.g. Windows, software supplied with the camera, an image editing program will need to “recognize” your camera in order to move the pictures to the computer.

If your camera is pretty common and your software is up to date you’ll be okay. If not you’ll have to mess around to get the computer to recognize your camera.

Even if all this is ready to go the software that actually moves your pictures may very well do some things with them that you don’t want it to do.

Examples are:

  1. Rename/renumber your files as they are brought across.
  2. Delete all of the files from the camera (I never do this right away – wait until you know the pictures are all okay on your computer).
  3. Remove red-eye from every picture that has a person in it. Sounds like a good idea but you can do this later more precisely. It also will make the transfer very slow.
  4. Transfer all of the files from the camera. I hate this “feature” since I usually only want to grab the most recent pictures from the camera.

So, take your storage card out of the camera. We’re going to ignore the camera and the camera software to copy those pictures onto your computer. There are three ways to let your computer “see” what’s on that card.

1.)Your desktop or laptop may have a slot that is designed for your storage card. If so you’re ready to go. Just slip your card into the appropriate slot in your computer.

2.) Buy a dedicated card reader for the type of card you have. For Compact Flash cards you can get either a PCMIA card which fits into the PCMIA slot on your laptop or you can get an adaptor that plugs into a USB port. For SD cards I’ve only seen the USB style adaptor. These are pretty cheap and are readily available.

3.) Buy an all-in-one reader. If you have several cameras with different types of cards or just want to be able to load pictures from a friend’s camera this may be your best bet. These devices plug into a USB port.

Once you have placed your camera card into the slot on your computer or into the slot in your card reader you will get a pop-up window (in Microsoft Windows) asking you what you want to do. Here’s where you want to be careful. Don’t just hit the Enter key to accept the default.

The is pop up may have lots of choices or only a few. Every program on your computer that has something to do with digital pictures has told Windows to list it in this box. Windows has a few of it’s own such as:

  • Import Pictures using Windows
  • View Pictures using Windows
  • Import Pictures using Windows Media Center

Many of these programs have, as mentioned earlier, a desire to “process” your pictures in ways you may not have anticipated.

Your printer might even get in the act. My list includes “One touch to your digital pictures using Kodak Easyshare software”.

Ignore all of these, scroll down to the general options and choose. “Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer”.

This will open up a regular Windows Explorer window with a folder in it probably named something like DCIM. Double click to open this folder.

There will be another folder named something like 100NIKON. Double click to open this folder.

Now you will see all of the pictures (files) on your camera card. Windows is treating this just like another hard drive or CD or floppy disk.

Now go to Start and choose Pictures or My Pictures (Vista and XP). The folder will open where you store all of your pictures.

Use this to create new folder e.g. Tom Birthday, Niagra Falls. Open this new folder. Now use your mouse to go back to the view of your camera card files.

Select all of the ones you want to transfer and drag them over to the new folder you have created. When all the files have been copied you can remove the camera card from your computer and put it back into your camera.

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