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Memory card readers

Great for transferring digital pictures to your computer


A memory card reader allows you to continue using your camera while images are being downloaded.
A memory card reader allows you to continue using your camera while images are being downloaded.

Using the software that came with your digital camera, you can connect your camera directly to your computer to transfer pictures from it to your hard drive.

However, if you happen to need your camera just then to continue picture-taking, you will be better off to purchase a memory card reader (sometimes called a "memory adapter" or just a "card reader") that can be permanently attached to your computer and frees up your camera.

Having a memory card reader allows you to remove a memory card that is full of pictures from your camera and place it into the reader to download its images while you continue shooting with a second fresh memory card in the camera. You won't know how truly convenient this until you need it, then you'll be grateful that you don't have to tie up your camera to download its pictures.


A memory card reader is a handy, practical device. You will probably consider it indispensable after using it only a few times. And the good news is that memory card readers are relatively inexpensive. (If you know a digital photographer who doesn't have one, it makes a great gift that won't cost you an arm and a leg.)

You can purchase a dedicated memory card reader designed specifically for your camera's type of memory card (also sometimes called a "single-format card reader"), or you can buy a reader that accepts a variety of different memory cards including those that won't work with your camera (sometimes called an "all-in-one reader" or a "universal memory card reader"). Transcend Information, Inc., for example, offers a 7-in-1 card reader that you can use with:

  • CompactFlash
  • IBM Microdrive
  • SmartMedia
  • MultiMediaCard
  • Secure Digital
  • Memory Stick (Duo), and
  • Memory Stick Pro (Duo)

Fujifilm's memory card reader shown on top is a
Fujifilm's memory card reader shown on top is a "dedicated" reader in that it only accepts SmartMedia cards. Other readers such as media Gear's (bottom) accept a variety of memory cards.

Treat your memory card reader properly, and it will reward you with years of faithful service.
Treat your memory card reader properly, and it will reward you with years of faithful service.

NOT ANOTHER DRIVE

Don't treat a memory card reader like a normal hard drive, because it is not. For example:

  • Don't use the card reader to format the memory card unless your camera's manual specifically permits it. If you do, you may find that the card no longer works in your camera.
  • When downloading, be sure to copy (not "cut") images from the card reader to your hard drive. The memory card should retain all of its data intact after you have downloaded its pictures.
  • When you want to erase the memory card so you can use it over again, be sure to do so in the camera, not in the memory card reader.
  • And don't try to save data from the computer onto the card.

  • You shouldn't just remove a memory card from a memory card reader any old time you feel like it. Doing so might damage the card or even the reader, and might affect - even destroy - the images, too.

    You must be sure that the card is not being accessed by the computer when you remove it. A flashing light on the reader or some other device will tell you that the memory card is being "read."

    Most card readers require you to use a computer command to "eject" the card before you can physically remove it from the reader. This is a good safeguard that protects hardware and data.

    You must be careful to follow instructions when removing an image memory card from a card reader to avoid damaging the equipment and the data.
    You must be careful to follow instructions when removing an image memory card from a card reader to avoid damaging the equipment and the data.