Downloading from camera to Mac, best way.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by trjwv, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. trjwv macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2010
    kentucky...Go Cats
    Should I download from my camera via plugging the cable into the camera or pulling the card from the camera and inserting into a card reader? Any difference, I have always heard to pull card and use card reader but not sure why and if this is right. FYI...I take raw and jpeg.
  2. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    whichever you want, the import process on the machine does not know the difference. Generally it is faster through the card reader than through the camera.
  3. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Don't go directly from the camera.

    Use a card reader.
  4. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    Card reader is normally much faster and doesn't use camera batteries.

    I have never downloaded a card directly from my DSLR. P&S I generally download using the camera as the files are small and there normally aren't many, so it works quickly.
  5. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Feb 10, 2009
    I accept the others' comments regarding (lack of) likely speed differences etc.

    Personally (and I realise this is probably a rare viewpoint!) I look at it from a diferent view and I've judged which part of the camera is more robust for repeated use. In my case I think the flap covering the USB socket is much more flimsy that the one covering the SD card, so I use the latter and drop the card into a reader. It also gives me an excuse to keep rotating my SD cards.
  6. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    Can you expand with a reason? Such a matter of fact statement, is it just personal preference?

    Jampat expressed the only benefits as far as I know, possible speed and batteries. For now I do use several cards, but never larger than 2 gb, if I had a 8 gig or larger card it would likely matter to me but for now 2 gig UDMA cards do not take that long, and I always have a mostly full battery.

    I've wondered many times because it would seem in some circles it is expected standard practice to use a card reader. But why if USB cable to the camera works? Is there some possible corruption risk or electronic damage risk that isn't widely known?
  7. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Two reasons I use a card reader:
    1. Transfers are faster. (YMMV)
    2. If I mangle a connector, it won't be an expensive camera repair, it will only be a card reader replacement.
  8. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Can you expand with a reason? Such a matter of fact statement, is it just personal preference?

    It's just common knowledge. The most basic reason can be summed up in one word: Corruption.
  9. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    Ok, so i've been using exclusively Camera to computer USB cable for the last several cameras and few computers. I had a PCI-slot card reader many generations ago (both computer and camera) that I used for a card reader but stopped using it after moving to several computers in quick succession without a PCI slot... and finally an iMac.

    This subject is something i've quietly wondered about for a long time but never really looked into. Normally the responses to the question are exactly as we've seen in this thread.

    I started really looking into this a bunch more today. I really do want to know is there a real significant reason NOT to use camera to computer cable.

    I still don't see it. There are a lot of personal reasons, many irrational on both sides of the argument, but I still find the only true factual arguments to be: A *good* card reader will be faster.
  10. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    Suit yourself. If your files ever get corrupted, you'll know the reason why.
  11. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    This is really a matter of personal preference. The main advantage of using a reader has been mentioned already, but at the risk of being repetitive... card readers are cheap, especially for the SD usb2.0 ones, and quite small - get a few, throw one in your laptop bag, camera bag, and one in your desk drawer. They keep you from wearing out the port on your camera (probably a fairly moot point, actually) and save wear and tear on the little rubber cover flap on most cameras just to get to the port. You don't have to power up the camera to download your images.

    The thing is, you either can carry a little plug-in card reader, or carry a usb cable... you still have to carry something. It's much faster to just pop the card out, stick it in the reader, and done. If your camera battery goes down on you while you're downloading photos from the camera, you could lose them. No problem with the reader. Only thing to keep in mind, it's generally advised to not delete the photos from your memory card via the computer, but to put it back in the camera and reformat it each time. Supposedly, this will minimize the risk of file/card corruption.

    In the end, it's not a major issue which way you choose to go. I use card readers because of the reasons I mentioned above. You can do the opposite if that's more comfortable to you.

    Mostly it's about habits. Whatever makes you comfortable, just do it. There's no "right" way, but keep in mind that they don't sell millions of those little card readers for no reason--they're useful.
  12. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    It makes no difference, really. While a card reader may be slightly faster, downloading from the camera does not put stress on the card's electrical contacts from removing and reinstalling it.
  13. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Jan 17, 2008
    Solon, OH
    I only use a card reader. It's just easier and faster to pop out the card. Also, it takes up a lot less real estate on my desk.
  14. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2008
    I just got my first dslr, a Canon Rebel XT (350D). It uses CF cards. In my quest for a low priced entry dslr I saw several cameras on eBay with bent pins for the CF card. Is this a real risk to worry about with removing the card to use a card reader every time?
  15. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    As I said earlier I spent a good amount of time looking into this today trying to find a reason other than speed to use a card reader since I am used to the cable method, I'm comfortable and don't feel like switching.
    What I found is many who have made their decision based on the fear of a potential problem which would/should only occur if you are doing something wrong. With care and some choices you should be fine either way.

    Many who chose camera cable did so because they were worried about:
    damaging the card through handling
    static discharge damaging the card while handling
    bending contact pins in the camera or reader or loosing a pin into the card
    wearing out the card slot on the camera
    cheap readers corrupting their cards
    wearing out the card door on the camera

    Many who chose card reader did so because they were worried about:
    damaging the camera while hooked to the computer either through falling off of their desk or from power spikes/surges through the USB cord
    damaging the USB port on the camera, or wearing it out through repeated use
    using up the batteries
    mysterious corruption of the card by this method
    wearing out the flap/door to the USB port on the camera

    Now of all the fears seem to have some basis in fact, however most of the fears can be alleviated by simply doing things the right way.

    Don't force the card in a slot. It should slide smooth and snug, if it takes effort you are potentially damaging something.
    Eject the card properly from the computer after copying files, no matter the method. Never unhook the USB cable from a reader or camera while the files are being copied or any folders or pictures on the card are open. Copy the files however you do by whatever means, but don't read/edit/look at the photos while they are on the card, from a reader or camera, big potential for corruption ESPECIALLY while they are still being copied to the computer.
    Jury seems to be out on cheap card readers, lots of anecdotal stuff about them going bad and destroying a card.
    LOTS of anecdotal stuff about USB hubs going bad and destroying whatever they were hooked to, be it camera or card reader and the card.
    Don't use questionable memory cards.
    This last point could have a lot to do with the question of bent pins and EBAY. I read lots of stories about cheap cards that didn't fit right and bent pins in the camera or on the reader. Also the cheap cards seemed to be responsible for a lot of corruption of individual files. Some that were say 8 gig when purchased and initially formated became 6 gig cards after being used one time. Memory is cheap, buying cards from a reputable source seems like the best bet to prevent issues, then just take care to copy the files correctly and all should be good.
    As an aside to the point about wearing out USB or Card slot on the camera, I don't recall which site I saw it on, and i'm paraphrasing the numbers but the USB port on most DSLR or newer P&S cameras should be good to ~10,000 cycles plugging and unplugging, and the card slot to 50,000. If you are doing it right you should not have an issue, the card is meant and designed to be removed and installed a lot... likely the shutter will die long before either the usb port or card slot on the camera.

    sorry for the ramble, but it has been my pet project for today.
  16. joemod macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2010
    Athens, Greece

    I have a Canon 1000D and an old Canon PowerShot A95. I am using the camera to pc(now Mac :) ) approach since I like the way Canon Software organizes the images in date named folders. It saves me a lot of time and effort.
  17. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    If you are shooting on UDMA CF then a card reader can be 2-3x as fast as the camera. Transferring from a Sandisk 60MB/s UDMA card via my 7D I see about 18-19MB/s. Via a Lexar Professional Firewire 800 reader I see 44-46MB/s. When you are transferring a few hundred RAW images that are 25MB each the additional speed is noticeable.
  18. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    I used to use my old Nikon L11 to download my images mostly because it could read both regular SD and SDHC cards. I worked just fine until the camera recently took a tumble off of a bed and now is no longer working. I am now looking around for a dedicated card reader because my Nikon D50 doesn't read HC cards.
  19. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    I did buy a used Sony digital 8 camcorder primarily so I could transfer older 8mm video tapes into digital files through the camera's firewire port directly to my Mac (iMovie.) Problem is... the firewire port no longer worked, it was a bit loose and had obviously been used quite often, or the cable had been tugged on while attached to the camera. Camera ports are not as physically strong as you think, and accidents can happen whenever you have a cable attached to your camera as mentioned above.
  20. iggypod macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2010
    Yes, this.

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