Downloading Pictures from Your Camera
Once you have taken your pictures, you will need to transfer them to a computer or other storage medium or even the Internet. As long as they remain in the camera, you cannot do very much with them, except scroll through them and view them on the LCD monitor on the camera.
There are a variety of ways to move your pictures from your camera to other destinations, but the most common is via the USB cable. For very fast transfers, professionals prefer a technology called FireWire (an Apple brand name), also known as IEEE 1394, which is another serial bus interface standard via cable.
Most people will transfer their pictures using a cable. This chapter details how to transfer via USB cable, since that is the most common and the steps involved are substantially the same for any type of cable.
Hot swapping generally only works with USB and FireWire serial connections. It often does not work with older serial configurations. With older connections of this type, you may have to turn off your computer and your camera, connect the two devices, and then turn both devices on. Read the manual for instructions.
USB was designed by computer manufacturers to enable simple high-speed connections between devices. In particular, USB allows hot swapping, which means that the cable can be plugged into a computer without having to turn the computer off and then back on or without having to reboot the computer.
USB was also designed to allow plug-and-play capability. This means that the computer, when connected via USB, automatically recognizes many external devices with little input from the user. This book covers a number of other USB devices such as external hard drives, memory card readers, scanners, and printers.
If you are shopping for a new computer, buy one that has many USB ports. With so many devices using this input, more is always better. Connecting gizmos using a USB port is the most convenient way to attach external hardware, and since it allows hot-swapping, you can plug and unplug as needed.
While USB works very well and is generally backward-compatible, meaning that old computers work with new standards, there are some problems. Here are the main ones:
If you are running Windows 95, you may have trouble with a USB connection. Most cameras will require Windows 98SE or higher for the USB to work properly.
There are two USB standards — USB 1.
Since most people will be transferring their pictures via USB, here are the steps involved. In the world of digital photography, there are more problems with this crucial step than with any other. Don't try to wing it. Later in this chapter you will find a detailed step-by-step description.
Read the manual: This can't be said enough! Install the software exactly as required by the manual before connecting your camera.
Connect the camera: Again, follow the instructions exactly according to the manual. Generally, you will connect a manufacturer-supplied cable to the camera and then plug it into a USB on the computer.
Once you are properly connected, there are usually two ways that the computer can recognize the camera:
Software supplied by the manufacturer will launch automatically.
Typically, you will see thumbnails of your pictures on the camera. At this point you can decide what you want to move or copy. The computer will see the camera as another drive. For example, if you have only a C: drive, you will now also have a D: drive, which will list the picture files on the camera. At this point you can move, copy, and manage your files with a file manager such as Windows Explorer or with a picture file management program (see Chapter 14).
No matter which software comes up, you will need to decide where you want your pictures to go on your computer. You can choose an existing folder or create a new one. Read this book's suggestions about keeping track of your photos in Chapter 14.