Hello potential Digital Bird Photographers,
This is Part 8 of my notes and comments on Digital Photography for birdwatchers.
In this part I will discuss Storage Card Readers.
A very practical and desirable way of copying image files from the camera
storage card to the hard drive on your computer is to use a Card Reader.
The storage card is removed from the camera and inserted into the card reader.
(Note: The camera will probably now not work without the card inserted so that
is another good reason for having more than one card.)
Card readers are connected to the computer via a USB port (you really do need a
computer with USB ports!) and are powered by the computer.
(Note: I would avoid, if possible, the use of external USB Hubs for the
connection of USB devices. USB Hubs are a method of adding more
USB ports by connecting the Hub to an existing USB port;
there can be problems with the power to the USB device,
i.e., the card reader, using this method.)
Card readers are usually much smaller than your camera and it will be easier to
find space for one on your computer desk.
The reader can be left permanently attached to the computer; it will appear
and act as another 'drive' complete with a drive letter.
You use them the same way you use a floppy disc drive.
You have the choice of a reader that caters for one type of card only or
anything up to 6 different card types with a separate slot for each type of
Usually each 'slot' will appear as a separate 'drive' with a separate drive
There is a very slight possibility that some computer systems may have trouble
handling the provision of these extra drive letters.
The driver software that comes with the card reader unit should handle this ok
but it is possible that the particular computer system may have the
'configuration data' locked at a particular letter thus preventing the addition
of further drives.
If you install a card reader according to the instructions supplied and a new
drive letter does not appear in 'Explorer' or 'My Computer' (on a PC for
example) that may be the cause.
You will need to find someone who knows something about 'Configuration' settings
to help solve that problem.
However, it is unlikely this problem will arise unless you have been doing a bit
of DIY playing with the config and ini files of your computer.
Once you have a multicard reader up and running on your computer you will be
able to 'read' the cards from your camera and the cameras, including digital
video cameras, belonging to your friends without installing any more software.
Just be VERY careful when selecting a card reader; make sure that it does handle
the correct cards.
The card combinations can be confusing and sometimes the labels on the boxes are
not very explicit!!
There is a variety of card readers, brands and styles, on the market and prices
vary considerably. Compared to the cost of the camera, card readers are
I make no recommendations for brands or types because you will have to choose
from the range available in your area.
Also, be warned that there is no guarantee that a particular card reader WILL
work on your particular computer!!
As with most things to do with computers, it is always advisable to check the
manufacture's web-site for any updated software/drivers.
Using a card reader instead of connecting the camera to the computer does not
mean the image files will be 'downloaded' to the computer any faster.
But it does mean you won't be constantly connecting and disconnecting the
camera; the cable connection sockets on the camera are quite small and probably
Also, when the camera is connected it has to be switched on meaning that you
will be using the internal batteries or a mains operated power supply.
These power-supply/battery-charger devices are not always included as standard
equipment with the camera; I will be discussing power issues later.
If you decided to 'review' your images as you download them you could be there
for quite a while and the camera batteries could go flat.
That can be very embarrassing apart from being damaging to any file that is
being copied to the computer at the time.
Using a card reader means that you only have to worry about the Mains Power
failing during the process which is a constant worry anyway!
Card readers (usually) are bi-directional devices; they can transfer data to as
well as from the storage card.
This means that you can copy image files (or any other data if you are that way
inclined) from your computer to the storage card.
But, unless the image file was one that was originally created by your camera,
you probably won't be able to view the image on that camera even though you
would be able to view it with your computer.
Of course, it should go without saying that all care should be taken when
handling storage cards.
Try not to bend them, don't touch the edge connectors, keep them free from
moisture and dust and protect them from the elements.
I think that's enough about Card Readers for now......if you have a digital
camera you need get one......they are great.
In the next part of these notes I will discuss POWER.....(about time, Bob!!)
I will come back to things you "SHOuld and can do with your image files" later.
Also yet to come:
- Flash: (not good news, I'm afraid)
.....2/ Wide-angle converters:
.....3/ Close-up filters:
.....4/ Lens filters:
Please note that these are my personal opinions gained from personal experience
and observation; other people may have other opinions and different experiences.
What I have written below is not intended to be absolute.
Anyone contemplating purchasing a digital camera for any reason or purpose would
be advised to seek advice from other sources as well.
Note that, except where a particular model of digital camera is mentioned, these
comments and notes are meant to be general by nature.
These comments and notes are not intended to be an endorsement for or a
statement against any particular brand or model of digital camera; they are
intended only to be a point of discussion for those people who may be
considering purchasing and/or using digital cameras for bird photography.
It should be realized that changes are occurring seemingly daily in this field
and therefore features and usability of digital cameras are changing also.
The types of digital cameras will change regularly as will the quality of image
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