Copying images from a digital camera

Submitted by Andy on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 19:55
Man holding photo above large camera

There are many way to backup /copy images from your digital camera. I will describe 3 possible methods. Later in this tutorial I will give instructions on backing up photos using a card reader.

Direct cable connection

Almost all digital cameras allow direct cable connection via USB to a computer. The cable required is normally supplied with the camera. Most modern cameras will operate as a removable drive. Sometimes software provided by the camera manufacturer will need to be installed before connecting the camera.

You will need to read the instructions supplied with the camera for details of how to connect and use the software.

For instructions on copying your photos using a direct cable connection please refer to your cameras user manual.


  • Normally no additional hardware is required
  • Detailed instructions supplied with camera
  • Some manufacturers provide simple software for beginners


  • Exact instructions vary between cameras
  • May require proprietary software to be installed
  • Connection speed normally limited to slow USB 2 speeds
  • You may not have complete control of where your pictures are placed
  • Requires the camera.
  • Camera normally needs to have sufficient charge to playback the images.

WIFI Connection

Many more recent cameras include WIFI. This allows the camera to connect to computers, smart TVs, or even directly to social media. This gives you the chance to backup your photos wirelessly.

The details of how to enable and use the WIFI connection will be in the camera manual.

For instructions on copying your photos using WIFI please refer to your cameras user manual.


  • No additional hardware is required
  • Detailed instructions supplied with camera
  • May be able to upload to online services
  • May be able to connect to other devices e.g. TV or printer
  • Potentially fast connection
  • Can upload directly compatible backup drives


  • Instructions vary between cameras
  • Can be difficult to set-up and use
  • Can limit where your photos are stored
  • Requires the camera
  • Camera need to have sufficient charge

Using a card reader

Most cameras now use standard memory cards like SD Cards. For these camera it's often easier

The most reliable and generic way to copy pictures off a camera is to use the memory card in a card reader. This method requires a card reader. Some computer include a built in card reader.

It is good practice to have multiple memory cards for your camera (see Backing up your photos) and to switch them regularly. This is the method I will cover in more detail later.

This is my preferred method. I have used this method for transferring photos and videos from my cameras


  • Can work at high speed with correct card reader
  • Only the removable memory card is required not the camera
  • Complete control of where images are stored
  • Works with most cameras
  • Encourages good working practice
  • Can work with compatible printers and TVs
  • Instructions are the similar with all cameras /computers


  • May require extra hardware
  • Instructions not included with the camera
  • Requires thought when backing-up
  • Some cameras have non-removable memory that can't be backed up this way.