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Importing Digital Camera Pictures

The first step in digital photography is the act of importing photos from a memory card into the computer. There are countless ways to do this, but there are some important things to consider. In choosing a suitable import methodology, there are a few key features to look for:

  • Automatic registration with the operating system's "card insert event". The workflow is much more efficient when the computer is configured so that the act of inserting a memory card with photos automatically starts the transfer process.
  • Renaming of digital image files in a flexible, consistent manner, supporting various string replacements and macros (such as current date, EXIF data, etc.). The camera's built-in naming scheme will always be too limiting for your collection's scalability and uniqueness.
  • Creation of directory hierarchy, preferrably based on EXIF capture date. A directory hierarchy is an absolute necessity to allow thousands of photos to coexist without clutter.
  • Lossless rotation of JPEGs if EXIF orientation flag is set
  • Automatic write-protection of files after download. By setting the read-only bit of all files during download, one reduces the risk of accidentally modifying an original.
  • Automatic deletion of images from the card. Leaving photos on the card after import only creates confusion with duplicate imports at a later date.

There are various software applications available today that accomplish these simple tasks, and I have reviewed my favorite pick, Downloader Pro. Other tools will be reviewed here soon. If you find other tools that perform this task well, please mention it in the comment form below.

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Review: DownloaderPro
Importing photos with Windows XP
Importing digital photos with automated software


Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
 Have you checked out Adobe Lightroom 1 or Bridge CS3 for this task? They're more than "Downloaders" but still... I also think you could think about adding "keywording" and "other metadata" to the list of good features. I love Lightroom's ability to tag a selected bunch of the day's shooting with my name, tags, location, etc at the moment of import. Just my 0.02$
 Great point. Tagging on import is a great feature to use as it can really expedite the cataloging process.
2006-05-17Edwin Rolley
 Just found the new software named CamReader to automate the process of importing images from cameras. Except of many useful features I have discovered that CamReader supports my Canon 30D! I am testing this program now...
2005-09-01Marc V

Have you tried cam2pc? I've read your downloader pro review and cam2pc has most of it features. It's free too. (no, I'm not related in any way to the cam2pc people)


I wasn't aware of cam2pc. Taking a brief look at the cam2pc freeware version, it looks very reasonable. Thanks for offering an alternative. I will add it to my list of items to review at some stage. Thanks.


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