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Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Do I Download or Upload Pictures or Videos from my Camera?

This question comes up a lot. A new or used camera owner may run into camera software issues. They'll plug in their camera, but for some reason their computer fails to see or recognize the camera. Another problem is they may lose or may never have had the USB cable or needed software that came with the camera. Is there any other way to get the photos or videos off the camera and onto their computer?

First of all keep in mind IMO the only reason that the camera companies include a capability for cable download is to get you accustomed to using their bundled software that came with the camera. In most cases this software is rather pitiful, again IMO. If you absolutely must use photo organizing or editing software, there are much better freeware options available than what came with your camera (a future blog post is brewing).

But as a solution to downloading your photos, I highly recommend that you instead consider using a card reader to move the photos or videos to your computer. Card reader's do not require software (although Windows 98 and earlier may require drivers), are very inexpensive, are much faster downloading files from the camera, do not use the camera's batteries during the download, and are much less prone to file corruption of the photos during the download. Really, it would be better for the camera user if one of these was included with the camera instead of the cable and bundled software.

Portable SD Card Reader/Writer

"All in One" Multi-Card Reader/Writer

You place the camera's card in the reader, plug the reader into the USB port, and your computer sees it as a hard drive. You simply copy/paste or drag/drop your photos onto your hard drive. For this simplicity, most professional photographers utilize card readers exclusively. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache if you convert to using one of these.

Here are examples from Amazon. Don't be fooled by the cost. Some of the most inexpensive ones work just fine. But make sure that you do read the reviews first before purchasing. Also make sure that you get a reader that is clearly stated capable of reading your card, particularly if you use SDHC, XD, CF, or MS cards.

For international readers of this blog, and even those in the US, here's another source for card readers (free international shipping too :-). I use the $1.95 portable SD/SDHC card model (SKU7230), and it works great. Note that the free shipping can take up to three weeks though as they're located in Hong Kong.

Now go throw away that cable and go download your photos.


Camera Repair said...

eye-fi is neat ... but ... there is software involved, and it costs significantly more than the couple bucks a card reader would cost.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help. Im defenetly throwing my cable out i never knew any other way to get my pictures off my camera. Headed to amazon to get a card reader now

Márcio said...

I spilled my digital camera, now it starts and off alone without collecting the objective. How can I
disassemble my camera? Is there any caution to remove the screws and the back piece?

deadmind said...

"You place the camera's card in the reader, plug the reader into the USB port, and your computer sees it as a hard drive. You simply copy/paste or drag/drop your photos onto your hard drive. For this simplicity, most professional photographers utilize card readers exclusively."

That procedure is several times more complex than what I do: plug the camera in, wait for Windows to copy my pictures onto the pc (into a separate folder based on date), then click "yes" when it asks whether I want to delete the pics off the camera. I believe this is a bit simpler :p This is a standard feature of Windows XP and will work with all cameras that XP recognises (it will show up in My Computer as a digital camera). Do NOT install any software. Just plug the camera in, right click on the camera icon in my computer and from then on it's fairly obvious how to set it up. :)
Thanks for this site, and greetings from Hungary!

Anonymous said...


i was wondering if you know how to fix a jammed digital lens (not the cover). The 2nd layer is twisted and will not go back into the camera. The camera turns on, click, then turns off. please help! this happened from a small 6 inch drop of the kodak cam.

Camera Repair said...

Of course. Please see the following article on this blog:


Anonymous said...

After an hour of searching for solutions to uploading pics/videos I just took underwater (in a bag), I suppose I'll be headed to Best Buy today to find a CF reader. I didn't want to risk using my other cameras underwater to I pulled out my old Powershot s330, which I used several computers ago.

What a joy to find out that yet another manufacturer considers their products so disposable that they stop offering updated software. Gives me even more reassurance for making the switch to Nikon.

I am wondering though, if I'm about to be even more frustrated as I read some folks say they have the same upload issues when they use the cable OR the card reader. I'm using Windows Vista.

Doubting I'll get a response before I head to Best Buy, so I supposed I'll post again when I find out.

Unknown said...

Thank you sharing you idea with us , i also tell you about the camera problem
Try forcing the camera lens. Turn off the camera. Place it on the back with the lens facing up and take a look at the spacing between the lens and the lens housing. If you notice that the gap is not even all the way around the lens, the problem should be easy to fix.
Photo ID Cameras

fabulouspetite said...

thanks a lot for sharing this to us. I am having problem downloading my pictures from my camera to my mac. The cable that goes to the camera(Interface cable hfc 400 pcu)does not go all the way to camera therefore I cannot download my pictures now. I do not want to force it because it might break my camera. What should I do?Do you think this card reader might help me. I cannot afford a new camera right now and I need my camera on a daily basis. Thank you.

Camera Repair said...

Yes, I highly recommend purchasing a card reader. They're only a few dollars on Amazon. An excellent reader for about $7 is the Transcend P5. Just type that in the Amazon search bar.