PhotographyTips.com - the #1 guide to better conventional and digital photography Become a Member iPhone Posing GuideGuide to Posing the Female Model BookGuide to Posing the Model CD
Search
Login

Member Login

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Flickr
Connect with us on LinkedIn

SPONSORS

Sell Photos Online

FEATURED SITES


Downloading images to your computer

Transferring pictures from your camera to your computer


A USB cable has two distinct plugs. The left one fits your camera, while the plug on the right connects to your computer's USB port.
A USB cable has two distinct plugs. The left one fits your camera, while the plug on the right connects to your computer's USB port.

Software to download (transfer) pictures from your digital camera to your computer's hard drive generally comes supplied when you purchase the camera. So does the cable that connects the camera to the computer. In all but older cameras, the cable is likely a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable. But, it might also be a FireWire connector, especially in some high end cameras.

USB, the most common type today, can be plugged into the camera or computer without having to turn either one off. (Older serial cables required the power to be shut off when connecting them.) A USB cable has two different-looking connectors at either end, one of which fits snugly into your computer's USB port, a slim, rectangular socket usually located on the back of your computer case, but found on the front of some units. The other connector fits into a socket in your digital camera. (Note that USB cables fit a number of different devices to enable them to connect to computers - not just digital cameras.)

FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394, is a type of connector originally intended for high speed transfer of digital video. Some digital still cameras can connect to a computer via a speedy FireWire connection. Not all computers have FireWire capability, though. Mcintosh computers have FireWire and USB connection and transfer capabilities, but most PCs require the installation of an optional card for FireWire connectivity.


DOWNLOADING PICTURES

Normally we would say that the software needed for the downloading process must first be installed in your computer, but (strange to say) it may already be there if you have a fairly new computer. Windows and Mcintosh computers are designed to recognize most new digital cameras and already have USB drivers that can usually handle the transfer of images without the need for additional software.

  • First, make sure the computer is on, and that you have prepared a destination file folder into which the pictures will be transferred.
  • Connect the camera to it using a USB cable. If your camera has an electrical adapter, you should connect it to household current to conserve battery power and probably speed up the process.
  • Switch the camera on.
  • Windows will probably automatically notify you that it has found your camera and can transfer pictures from it. If so, just follow the instructions provided, and download the images to the proper folder.
  • If not, you may need to select a transfer or computer mode for your camera. Check its manual for instructions.
  • If that doesn't work, then you should install the software that came with the camera, and follow the instructions provided with it.
  • You will probably find that the actual download procedure is straightforward. If you think you have a choice whether to "copy" or to "cut" files when transferring them, be sure to copy them over.
  • Whatever you do, don't attempt to edit the pictures that are stored on your memory card. Be sure to copy them first to your computer to avoid damaging the card.

Once your pictures have been downloaded to your hard drive, you can use software like Adobe PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements or several other applications to edit them. An image-editing program may even have been supplied with your camera. But first, be sure they are organized. Check out our Digital pictures management section.

Downloading from your digital camera is like bringing film in for processing. Once the images are on the computer, they can be edited for the best possible results.
Downloading from your digital camera is like bringing film in for processing. Once the images are on the computer, they can be edited for the best possible results.

A memory card reader can remain connected to your computer so your camera won't get tied up downloading pictures.
A memory card reader can remain connected to your computer so your camera won't get tied up downloading pictures.

USE A MEMORY CARD READER INSTEAD OF YOUR CAMERA TO DOWNLOAD

Odds are that your digital camera has a removable memory card on which it stores the digital images that you take. When you connect your camera to your computer and transfer pictures from your camera to a folder on your computer's hard drive, you are downloading the image files that were stored on the memory card inside the camera.

You can remove the card from the camera, insert it into a memory card reader that can be permanently hooked up to your computer via a USB cable, and quickly download the pictures on the card without having to connect your camera itself to the computer. Click here to learn more.

LAPTOPS USUALLY HAVE A BUILT-IN MEMORY CARD READER

Most laptop computers have a built-in card reader, called a PC card slot. Place your memory card into the PC card adapter, then plug the adapter into the PC card slot (if an adapter is necessary), and download your images just the same is if you were using an external card reader.


A PORTABLE MEDIA VIEWER CAN ALSO TRANSFER YOUR IMAGES TO YOUR COMPUTER

Another useful device that can be connected to your computer to download your digital images is a portable digital storage and image viewing unit, also known as a Media Viewer or a Multimedia Storage Viewer. Insert a memory card from your digital camera into a card slot in the device (or an optional adapter for your type of memory card that fits into the card slot), then download your images from the card into the unit's built-in storage. It is fast and highly practical, allowing you to transfer your images from it to your computer at a more convenient time.

The good news is that the media storage viewer is completely portable. It operates on rechargeable batteries or, using an adapter, you can hook it up to ordinary household current. When operating on battery power, you can use it to transfer and store images from your memory card while you are sitting on a bus, in an airplane or a restaurant.

Once your pictures are stored on a media storage viewer, you can safely erase your memory card and start taking pictures with it all over again. If the viewer has a larger display than your digital camera's display (as they often do), that is a bonus; it can be used to view and compare your images, delete those that you don't wish to download later to your computer and help you determine whether you have gotten just the shots you were seeking.

This Nikon Coolwalker multimedia storage viewer allows you to download your images to it for later transfer to your computer.
This Nikon Coolwalker multimedia storage viewer allows you to download your images to it for later transfer to your computer.

The P-2000 has a 40GB hard drive and runs on either Lithium-ion batteries or AC (household current).
The P-2000 has a 40GB hard drive and runs on either Lithium-ion batteries or AC (household current).

Because a media storage viewer connects via a USB cable to a computer, just like your camera or a memory card reader, you can use the viewer to download to your computer all the pictures you stored in it when you get back from a photo safari, a photo-filled vacation or a business trip that you recorded with your digital camera.

OUR FAVORITE

The Epson P-2000 is one such viewer, with a large 3.8" liquid crystal display that shows sharp, clear detail, and a rugged 40GB hard drive that can hold thousands of digital images (and also music files or even a video.) We have used the P-2000 in the jungles and beaches of Costa Rica and in the wilds and crowded cities of the Philippines, in Cuba and across North America in all seasons. It has never let us down and is a joy to work with. Locals love to look at its big screen over your shoulder as you view images you have just taken and stored. The P-2000 has card slots for CompactFlash cards and SD (Secure Digital) cards, but you can also buy optional adapters for other cards. The P-2000 connects via high-speed USB 2.0 cable to a PC or a Macintosh computer.


PROTECT YOUR DOWNLOADED PICTURES

Since computers are prone to crashing and hard drives can fail, causing loss of data, it is a wise idea to back up the pictures you download as insurance against a computer disaster.

We strongly recommend that you create back-ups of your digital photography files. There are many ways to do this, including burning the picture files onto CD or DVD, storing them on-line through one of the many sites that provides this service, copying them onto a second hard drive or even onto another computer's hard drive, or copying them onto a detachable or external drive that can be securely stored off-site in the event that something cataclysmic happens to your computer.

Programs such as Norton Ghost are available to automatically back up an entire drive to another hard drive, ensuring that you not only protect your image files by duplicating them, but also all of the program files, upgrades, patches and fixes that you are accustomed to working with. Don't get caught short. Be sure to regularly back up your image files.

It would be a shame if a computer failure caused the irretrievable loss of your digital pictures. Be sure to back up your image files.
It would be a shame if a computer failure caused the irretrievable loss of your digital pictures. Be sure to back up your image files.
Related topics...

Digital pictures management

Memory card readers