Card reader or download from camera

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by brian_hooks, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. I recently replaced my D90 with a new to me D300s. Hooray for me! I know... Only a fool would get a D300(s) now that the D7000 is available, but it works better for me because I often shoot sports and need a body with a bigger buffer and better autofocus. The image quality I get from the D90/D300 sensor is fine for me I just need more in-focus shots.
    Anyway, I have a SD slot reader in my computer that I had used to download my pictures from my camera along with plugging the camera itself into the computer to download. Now that I have the D300s I cannot directly plug the CF card into the computer to download pictures and would either have to rely on purchasing a card reader or only connecting the camera to the computer. I did not want to rely solely on the SD slot to manage my pictures.
    I have seen several posts regarding the potental hazards of bending the pins when inserting/removing the CF card and I'd also seen posts suggesting not to download pictures from the camera itself. I've never really seen any posts that say exactly what the actual reason for not pluging the camera into the computer is. If it is just an issue of the speed required to download the images then that is not really a problem for me. However if there is some type of issue where people have had their camera's fried by plugging into the computer then I guess it's time to buy a card reader.
    FWIW I always have the camera off when plugging in/unplugging and only turn it on after the cord has been connected and I always remove it immediatly after downloading to avoid any power surges.
  2. I did the camera based download stuff for a while, but found it awkward because of the size of the camera versus the size of a CF card reader. I was more worried about knocking the camera off the desk than anything else. The other issue is that the camera battery is used when transferring pictures from the camera and when I started doing that with a D200 I did notice rapid battery drain. With the D700 not so much.
    So far I have done on the average of 3 CF card swaps a day in the camera for 2 years without committing a "bent pin" faux pas.
    With 4 and 8 GB CF cards I fill up 3 or 4 on a normal day of shooting because I shoot RAW + Fine JPEG
  3. Higher-cost CF card reading units from vendors like Lexar usually have guiding channels that are as good in preventing bent pins as the camera is.
    On the other hand, I have bent the pins once in a USB multiple format card reader, where you do need to exercise more caution in getting the card straight before pushing.
    However, buy two or three if you get one of these kind. They range from US $2 to $4 apiece on eBay, for USB2 readers, post paid from China.
  4. I'm using multiple cards (usually a card per day of per shoot), so I'm changing them in & out of the camera anyway. therefore I use a cardreader; usually they're faster than the camera's connection and I'm not depend on / depleting the camera's battery. Plus I can use the camera while transferring (although that has not been an issue for me so far).
    On top of that I find it difficult to properly close the door to the usbconnector on my D300, whereas the door to the cards works easily...
  5. I use a dedicated CF card reader made by SanDisk rather than connect my D300 to my MacBook Pro. My boyfriend likewise uses such a card reader instead of directly connecting his 7d. Our reasons for doing so are the same as others': conserve battery camera power, working with multiple cards, wanting to keep the camera out of the way and/or available for use during a download. Neither of us has ever had any issue with bent pins, and he shoots a lot.
  6. I use a card reader that I can leave more or less permanently attached to my computer(s). ( I haven't found the internal readers effective - slow or nonfunctional, etc.) It seems more convenient to carry cards to the reader than to carry the camera to the computer.
    In the past (especially in my digicam using days) there was a lot of discussion about battery drain and possible file corruption if the battery ran down before the transfers were complete. Dslr batteries are higher capacity than the typical P&S battery but then, card capacity is stunningly higher than the cards used in years past as well.
    I happen to think the card connections are "safer" than cable connections but don't know if that's true or not. All are rated supposedly for more cycles than I think most of us would actually make/break so to speak. I've never had a card related failure (like bent pins) but have had some mechanical connector failures where a connector has broken loose in a device. By leaving the reader connected that reduces an already minimal risk.
  7. There is always a chance of damaging the pins either in camera or the CF card but downloading from camera is cumbersome and consuming battery power for the camera.
  8. And: any time you electrically teather your camera to another device, you risk damaging your camera. A failing power supply in a cheap computer can easily roast things connected to USB ports. I'd rather sacrifice a card reader than a camera.
  9. If I had to, I don't think I know where to connect the USB cord to anyone of my digital cameras...I would have to look. I did that but maybe twice, ever...
  10. I use a card reader, because of what others are saying: you have to keep your camera on, and it's bulky. Much easier for me to just plug a card into a reader. I don't think you have to worry about anything bad happening to you if you go straight from camera to computer, as long as your camera doesn't die in the middle of transport; you could potentially get corrupted files.
    We have just discussed in a recent thread:
    You shouldn't worry about bending pins. While it CAN happen, it's not like you are playing Russian roulette. I have been shooting for years with CF, no issue. Inserting into your camera is no issue, because of the long guides. Inserting into a card reader is a little more iffy because it's usually just a short guide, but make sure to insert the card straight in and you'll be golden.
    Also, don't apologize for getting the D300! The D7000 has a better sensor, but go read any professional photographer's website, or go talk to someone that works in the field, and most all of them will tell you that controls and features are more important than sensor. I am still using my D200, but if I had to upgrade today, it would be to a D300, no questions asked. The D7000 is "almost" there, and it has some nice features that the D400 should have (like the autofocus arrows that I haven't seen since my 1980's Nikon 2020!), but it still falls short for my use.
  11. Only a fool would get a D300(s) now that the D7000 is available...​
    OK, I am a fool then - purchased a used D300 earlier this year. And just recently a D200 - guess that makes me fool squared? Actually, I would be a fool purchasing a D7000, seeing that I don't like the ergonomics of it (as well as some technical aspects that are of importance to me).
    I have a dedicated Lexar card reader (UDMA enabled) permanently attached to my computer. Wouldn't dream of attaching the camera directly because (a) it's bulky and in the way, (b) I am afraid I might pull it down accidentally, (c) don't like to drain the battery in the camera, (d) don't want to swap cards into the camera in case I shot more than one (that would be no different from using a card reader anyways), (e) when using different camera models, I would have to keep track of which card came from which model as, for example, a D200 can't read a card from a D300 and a D300 can't read one from a D200, (f) transfer IS slower when the camera is directly connected.
  12. Definitely use a reader. The D300s allows you to use UDMA cards which are much faster than the older format.
    You need a reader that is compatible with the UDMA format. I use the Lexar reader, it is very fast, close to ten times faster than a conventional reader.
  13. I also have a D300S, and always use a card reader.
    Don't worry about bending pins. Just use light pressure; don't force anything.
    The slots for CF cards are held to pretty tight dimensional tolerance.
    As long as it goes in straight you won't have any problems.
    - Leigh
  14. Card reader better
    One of the reason I use card reader is because I do not want to open and close the rubber that use to protect the USB port
    When you open the rubber very frequent, up to one stage, you will not be able to close it properly.
  15. If you have any doubt how to do it, or what Nikon figured is the best, consult Nikon's user's manual for your camera.
    Most problems with memories occur when they are outside of camera, e.g. mishandling, lost, bent, damaged by static electricity, damaged by faulty card reader or contaminated software on compouter, etc. The safest place for your camera memory card is inside the camera.
    As to opening the camera doors... most Nikon cameras that have weather sealing have 2 doors. One is made of rubber, and one is made of hard plastic. Both need to have tight closure to retain weather sealing.
    The rubber pug-in type door seems to fit better and seal the camera even after multiple use. The hard plastic door, if used very often, is more prone to wear out, and loose the weather tight sealing ability. Hard plastic door will not expand and will not fit tightly into camera, once it is worn out a bit, while the usually a bit oversized rubber door will do well, with your finger strong push-in action, if necessary.
  16. I only use a card reader, UDMA Firewire 800 to my MacBook Pro, fast as can be. For almost two years I had been contemplating trading in my two D70s bodies for D300s. Shortly after the Japan earthquake and tsunami, figured I better grab them before supplies run out and prices rise, figuring a replacement version would also be delayed. I looked at the D7000 momentarily, but quickly decided against it because I didn't want to contend with the pre-set dial that I always nudged inadvertently, wanted a faster frame rate and auto focus, and the ergonomics of the D300s. I grabbed two factory refurbs from Adorama for $1249US each just before the price went up to $1379.
  17. The Lexar UDMA card reader already mentioned. It's fast, not that expensive and small enough to carry around with a notebook as well.
  18. Use a card reader, downloading from a camera has no redeeming features other than wasting your time and battery life.
  19. Against the obvious stream in this discussion.. :
    I connect my camera's straight to my PC, they sit firmly on a tripod so no falling from the desk, they are connected to a power-supply , so no loss of power, Nikon Transfer starts automatically when switching on the camera's becausse windows recognises them, capture NX starts when the downloads have completed, It just takes a bit longer sometimes to download , that's all
    Higher-cost CF card reading units from vendors like Lexar usually have guiding channels that are as good in preventing bent pins as the camera is.​
    This is not realy reassuring to me :) , just a few days after one year owning my D300, ( so out of warranty in our country by a week or so..) , pins came loose from the connector for the CF card in the camera, this resulted in a bill of EUR 300 to get it repaired .....
  20. One additional point of view: my computer has only usb2 connections. I bought usb3 multi card reader. Now files download 5x faster via the card reader compared to PC-camera connection.
    With usb3 PC connections it should be still a bit faster. The card speed may cause transfer speed limitations in this case.
  21. Well, I have never used a card reader and been shooting nikon digital for about 6 years...Don't see the purpose of getting a card reader! The D70, D200,D300 and D700 all have one so I never bothered buying one....
  22. For me the simple answer is card reader, it's faster and easier.
  23. I work within a design studio that uses 3 Nikon DSLRs (D200, D300 & D700) that are exchanged between probably 10 of us. Some of us use card readers and a few of us prefer camera transfer (which I practice.) Earlier this year I went to grab the D300 and noticed images I shot were not being recorded... upon further investigation I found out that whoever had been using the camera had bent the pins by inserting the card forcibly. With a flashlight I could not even recognize the connections, as a few pins were buried and pushed back. This is understandable, as a lot of our shoots are spur of the moment, we end up grabbing equipment and just go. Has anyone ever looked into the cost of sending in for repair? We contacted the closest Nikon service facility. It was almost half of what the camera cost us. Not an easy repair as these parts require the camera to be taken apart almost completely. Lesson learned, we now require everyone here to use camera transfer. If you’re the only person using your camera I figure it would not matter, but I feel the cost alone of having to repair bent pins isn’t worth the convenience.
  24. downloading from a camera has no redeeming features other than wasting your time and battery life.
    I disagree. I am one of the few who still downloads straight from the camera. My two main reasons for doing it this way are:
    1. No risk of bending the CF pins in the camera
    2. I don't forget to put the CF card back in the camera.
    Twice I have driven all the way to a shoot, lifted the camera to my eye and then realised the camera wouldn't take pictures because the CF card was still in the card reader on my desk. Believe me, when you have done this you become seriously annoyed.
    I now have a 32GB card and leave it permanently in the camera. It means I never have to change cards in the field, I can never bend a CF pin in the camera, and I can never leave home without the CF card (unless I forget the camera!)
    The only price I have to pay is having to wait an extra minute when downloading files to my computer and losing a tiny bit of juice from the battery... big deal!
  25. Rafael, that is incredibly unfortunate. Being able to bend a card in-camera, with those long CompactFlash guides, takes special skill and a specific lack of patience or feeling! As mentioned, while this can happen, it is not very common. I'd rank it almost up there with hitting the mirror while changing lenses. I'm sorry to hear that your co-workers are so wild with the equipment. I used to work at a newspaper, and because of other photographers like that, with no respect for equipment that isn't theirs, we had many repairs, used cheap filters for lens protection, etc. It's quite a shame.
    Jack, I could use the counter argument that using camera-based tranfers, one may drive to a shoot, put the camera up to their eye, and see the battery symbol blinking in the viewfinder! You aren't reducing the number of things that can go wrong, just changing what they are. Everything is a trade-off here; there is no right answer, only the right answer for one's specific situation, needs, and workflow. With camera-based transfer, you have to leave the camera on, and depending on the length of time, you may want to walk away and do other things, without having to come back and remember to turn the camera off.
    OP, as I think you've seen, there are many valid ways to do it, and neither is wrong. You have to balance what you think is best for your own shooting style. Have fun shooting, and good luck!
  26. Thank you all for the different opinions and options. At this point I think I may continue downloading from camera as I am not really needing them downloaded that fast and I have extra batteries. What I was really fishing for was a few people to state that by doing so the electronics in their camera were damaged. That way I would learn from their mistakes.
    Thanks much for the help.
  27. I have been using a multi-card reader for three years. I leave it connected to my computer for convenience, and have never had a problem with bending pins etc. I find the transfers are very fast and I am shooting full frame with large files.
  28. I just don't understand this hype about battery drain or frying the camera by downloading directly from the camera. I've done it that way forever. It never takes more than 1-1.5 minutes to download and the battery drain is miniscule at most, almost immeasurable. If you remember to have the camera turned off when you plug in and unplug the USB cable there will be no damage. Once or twice I've done it with the camera on and there were no consequences. It seems to me that the wear and tear on the card using a reader exceeds any minor inconvenience using a USB connection to do the job. I guess the only thing to remember is to use the "format memory card" feature to delete the photos rather than clicking on the 'erase after download' box.
  29. Stan, you should always format the memory card in-camera, regardless of whether you use the computer to delete the images or not.
  30. D700 + 8G Sandisc Extreme, nef 14 bit + medium jpg takes only 5-6 sec/photo. For 200 photos it makes 1200 seconds. That is 20 minutes via the camera.
    With a card reader I get 5x the speed. Takes then 4 minutes. This is with usb2 in the PC and usb3 compatible card reader.
    With this setup I can gain a lead worth 15 minutes, at least. I have a L-bracket to mess with when loading via the camera :)

    Formatting the memory card: I believe that it may matter if you use the same card in many different cameras. I have not formatted my memory cards after the day one.
  31. Ariel: I do format in the camera. That's what I was saying. I don't click on the box that asks if I want to erase after the photos are downloaded. I delete and reformat in the camera.
    Kari: I have never taken even near that long to download from the camera. Even 300+ photos take not more than a couple to maybe three minutes. The 1 - 1.5 I cited is about average.
  32. Stan: Nikon transfer makes the backups at the same time. So besides the transfer it is copying the files in two separete places. Also I have medium quality jpgs. One picture is about 27M (NEF+JPG) together.
    The file opening and closing is supposedly a "slow" process. Actually I get 4x the amount of file open and close per one photo. Maybe this explains.
    My copying rate is close to 25MB/sec using Nikon Transfer from the card reader that is connected to usb2. I think this is close to the level usb2 does. My next PC will have usb3, that is said to be about 10x faster in practise than usb2.
  33. Bent a pin first week in digital. USB only now. I put the camera in the desk drawer so it cannot fall while connected.
  34. I use the D7000 as the main camera. better features than the D300. U1, U2 alone are great. Just wish the mode dial locked.
    The D300 is now second camera with portrait lens.

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