The best way to download photos from your digital camera to computer

The best way to download photos from your digital camera to computer

Summary: With multiple generations of digital cameras in use in my household, memory card readers are our method of choice for downloading photos. I find it much easier to pop the memory card out of a camera and into a card reader than keeping track of all those camera cables. Of course, not all card readers (or memory cards for that matter) are created equal, but with so many on the market it's hard to tell which one is best.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Processors
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The best way to download photos from your digital camera to computerWith multiple generations of digital cameras in use in my household, memory card readers are our method of choice for downloading photos.  I find it much easier to pop the memory card out of a camera and into a card reader than keeping track of all those camera cables. Plus, a card reader makes it easy to drag and drop photos off the memory card and onto any of our computers, Mac or PC.

Of course, not all card readers (or memory cards for that matter) are created equal, but with so many on the market it's hard to tell which one is best. Fortunately, Canadian photojournalist Rob Galbraith has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation by testing the transfer speeds of a number of memory card readers using a slew of memory cards. Check out his database of performance results for SD card readers, which he has tested with 47 different SD cards so far. (He also has a CompactFlash reader database here.)

Based on his benchmark testing, unless you use a 4GB or 8GB SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s Edition card, you'll get the fastest transfers with the Lexar Professional UDMA Dual-Slot USB Reader, which will set you back about $50 and includes both an SD card slot and a CompactFlash slot. If you do have one of the 30MB/s SanDisk Extreme III cards, you'll get the best performance from the SanDisk ImageMate Multi-Card USB 2.0  that's slated to ship for just $19.99 in November 2008 and was designed for faster throughput with SanDisk's Extreme III 30MB/s Edition SDHC cards.

Of course, speed isn't everything. Though it consistently performs slower in Galbraith's tests, I like the Kingston 19-in-1 Media Reader because it supports--you guessed it--19 different card formats (you can get it for just $13 after a $4 instant rebate from Kingston's online shop. I also like the short USB cable that tucks away neatly when not in use (and is not detachable and therefore can't be misplaced) as well as the sliding design that lets you tuck the card slots safely away for storage or travel.

Also check out Galbraith's excellent CompactFlash/SD Performance Database to find out how fast various memory cards perform using Canon, Nikon and recently-added Sony digital SLRs.

Topics: Hardware, Processors

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  • All our cameras use the same cable...

    ...and all of them look like a flash drive when plugged in, even the five year old one. That one cable sits by the computer ready for use at all times. The simplest way to get photos off any camera we own is PLUG IN THE CABLE, then drag and drop. It's a no-brainer and takes zero additional hardware, as the cameras came with cables. We only need one cable but we have several, one from each camera. They're not hard to find.
    - In fact EVERY digicam I've ever seen uses the EXACT same cable. I don't see how anyone would have to "hunt for the right cable" when there's only one right cable for all cameras. Even the camcorder uses the exact same cable as the still camera, to pull off stills. Sheesh. This is such a non-issue that complaining about "finding the right cable" is whining, at best.
    - In my experience card readers are significantly more FINICKY with insertion and proper reading than any cable plugged into any camera. I've had so much trouble using card readers (at least four different ones on as many computers) that I now explicitly AVOID card readers at all cost. Since all the cameras use the same cable I simple plug in the camera and I'm done.
    - So what's the point of this article? Kickback from the card reader manufacturer? (smirk) Use the cable you already have and you won't be sorry.
    knowbody
    • Different Cables

      My wife's Kodak uses a different cable than my Canon. I also have a couple of pretty old Kodaks that use a 3rd cable.

      I use a card reader because the transfer rate is generally faster and easier when dealing with CFs and SDs anyway.

      Never had a problem with it either.
      fxstb2002
  • RE: The best way to download photos from your digital camera to computer

    Card reader is the way to go, transferring photos from the camera is not only slow but also drains the camera's battery(ies) and you have to contend with having the bulk of the camera too. I have a winky dink 5 dollar card reader and it's plenty fast for me; 200 photos from my Nikon D40 in less than half a minute.
    nothingness
  • External card reader clutters your workspace ...

    I have a 7-in-1 card reader with a 3 1/2 floppy drive, same as this one:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1187054&CatId=942

    This way I don't have a cable or the reader hanging off the computer cluttering up my desktop workspace. You can also get the reader sans the floppy drive. :)
    MisterMiester
  • computer come with the readers

    Most have the 7~9-in-1 readers. Laptops have the 5-in-1 which read the most popular.

    This all comes down to taste. Whatever you buy for a camera will determine which card you use.

    The fastest card is the CompactFlash card because it has the most pins and are used in the fastest camers and the dominate card for SLR cameras.

    the most common is SD, which is in most cameras and the cheapest on the market.

    All others are brand name cards specified to work in particular hardware like the Sony Memory stick which has had many changes.
    Maarek