You have your new digital camera; what d'you do with the pictures? You have numerous options. Here, I'll tell you how I've been dealing with JPG-glut.
Getting Photos Out of the Camera
My preferred method is using a PC Card (aka PCMCIA) adapter card, because this copies the JPG (photos) and AVI (movies) files most quickly. Here's how:
1. Remove memory card from camera, and then insert into PC Card adapter.
(You can purchase PC Card adapters from stores that carry digital cameras. The ones for CompactFlash cards are the cheapest, because CompactFlash cards contain the electronics needed to make them look like a hard drive to the computer; other memory cards, such as Secure Digital, don't, so those electronics have to be added to the PC Card adapter.)
2. Slide PC Card adapter into the notebook computer's slot, and then wait for the operating system to recognize the insertion of the "removable drive."
3. Usually, a File Explorer window opens for the newly inserted drive. Notice that digital cameras use the following folder structure in their memory cards:
DCIM -- all digital cameras have this "Digital Camera IMages" folder.
Below this folder are folders with names specific to camera brands. Examples I have come across include:
The first three digits are an incrememnt counter (100, 101, 102, and so on). The final five characters identify the brand of camera. Canon's cameras store 100 photos in a folder before creating a new folder, and then storing the next 100. Why? I haven't a clue. Other cameras store all photos in their 100xxxss folder.
(The folder names are limited to 8 characters for two reasons: (1) the DOS operating system's FAT [file allocation tables], which digital cameras use for their memory cards, was limited to eight characters in its filenames; and (2) reverse compatibility, which means that digital camera memory cards can be read by just about any computer, whether running Windows, DR-DOS, Linux, OS X, or etc.)
There may be other folders used by the camera for housekeeping purposes. Canon uses folder "CanonMSC" to store settings and preferences; ignore it.
4. Drag the 100xxxxx folder to your computer's hard drive, and then wait while images files are copied.
5. Rename the folder to something more useful, such as "July 1, 2004 - Dominion Day Parade."
6. Remove the PC Card from the computer, and remove the memory card. It is important to remove the memory card from the computer, because computers are hot, and heat reduces the life of flash memory cards.
I use the above system, because it's the fastest for me. But it has its problems: I need a computer with a PC Card slot; I need to understand how to drag files from one drive to another; I need to re-rotate photos taken at 90 degrees.
The system the camera manfuacturers want you to use is: employ the software they include on the CD-ROM provided with the camera. If the software is good (ie, you like it), then by all means do it. I don't like Canon's ZoomBrowser software - yuck!
(I do like the ImageExpert software included with my 5-year-old Canon PC800, and continue to use for previewing and rotating images. It rotates JPG file without changing their date-and-time stamp, a valuable feature.)
Instead of the PC Card adapter, you can get USB adapters. Canon included one with the digital movie camera I bought some years back, this one of the ZIO brand name, and works with Secure Digital and MMC memory cards. (For Windows 98 and 2000, you have to install drivers for it to work.)
Another alternative is to use any image software, such as Pacasa or PaintShop Pro, and then use the TWAIN driver included with the camera's CD-ROM. This copies the pictures, selectively, into the imaging software, and then saved to the hard disk. I have found the TWAIN drivers to have two problems: (1) they frequently forget that the camera is attached; and (2) they are slow, because they attach to the camera's USB v1.x port. If your camera has USB v2, then lack-of-speed is no longer an issue.
Yet another alternative works if your camera is recognized as an external drive by your computer's operating system. In my experience, Canon cameras aren't, but I may be doing something wrong. My daughter's new Pentex camera does; she is an experienced computer user, so she plugs the camera into the computer's a USB port, and then drags the files from camera to computer hard drive.
Make Multiple Backups
You have your photos on your computer. But you cannot enjoy them yet, because hard drives fail (among our five computers here, we have one hard drive fail every year). It is important to make 2 backups so that you have 3 copies. Here's how:
1. I keep the original JPG files on an 120GB external Maxtor drive. I use the external drive, because (1) it's easy to move to another computer, for any reason; and (2) I could, if necessary, grab the drive and exit my house.
2. I store the folders of camera pictures in a folder called "ToBeCDed". Once the folder reaches 500-600MB, I copy it to a CD. (Click the figure at left to see it clearly.)
3. I make two copies of the CD. One stays here; the other goes to my parent's house. If one burns, the other's still there.
4. After making the two CDs, I move the pictures from the "ToBeCDed" folder to a folder named after the current year, such as "2004". In this way, I know which photos are backed up, and which are not.