Taking the lead: how to transfer your camera snaps without a cable

Cut the cable


Photographs are no good to anyone sitting on a camera – they deserve to be seen and shared. Whether you’re a casual snapper on the hunt for a new Facebook profile picture, or an enthusiast with a DSLR and a tripod waiting all day for the perfect portfolio shot, you want to get your photos onto your laptop, phone, or tablet as soon as possible.

Normally you’d transfer them by connecting your camera to a PC or Mac with a cable. Trouble is, these cables are notoriously easy to lose and, when you do find them, they’re tangled impossibly at the back of a drawer. Complicated file-transfer software can also put you off.

If you haven’t tried connecting your camera in a while and you’ve got a newer PC or Mac, it’s probably worth trying the direct cable connection again – newer versions of Windows and Mac OS X are pretty good at sucking up all your pics.

For a slicker and cable-free experience, however, check out these simple options for getting all your precious snaps onto the big screen…

Use the SD card


Photos you take are stored on a small memory card in your camera, normally an SD card. Removing this card is simple – the slot is clearly labelled on the camera, normally on the side of the device, sometimes behind a sliding cover. Press the card in gently until you feel a click, and it will pop out.

Most PCs or Macs have an SD card slot – look for a letterbox-style slot in the casing. Slide the card in and you should see a pop-up window on screen, from which you can browse all the files (if it doesn’t show, look for the card in your file directory).

From there, copy the photos to your computer’s own storage. You can then edit them, upload them to Facebook, or send them to a friend.

Use a card reader


If your laptop doesn’t have an SD slot (or you have another kind of memory card that doesn’t fit in), then all is not lost – you can just do what the professionals do!

Rather than use camera leads, most just pop out the memory card and place it into one of these affordable readers that will translate all your pictures into on-screen gold.

Buy something with USB 3.0 like this Transcend model, as this will connect to most new computers and is able to transfer images at a much faster rate than if you use an older standard.

You’ll usually see a pop-up dialog when you plug a reader in for the first time to start copying your pics across – the only thing you need to do is decide where to put them.

Connected cameras


People love smartphone cameras because they can be always online: within seconds of snapping a selfie you can share it to social media. Connected cameras bring you that flexibility without sacrificing photo quality.

Wi-Fi cameras will have internet access whenever they’re in range of a router or a Wi-Fi hot spot, so you can transfer photos straight to your phone or laptop with no fuss.

The Canon 750D is one such camera, while the Nikon Coolpix S9900 also has GPS on board so that you can location-tag photos – a neat touch.

The Samsung Galaxy Camera goes one stage further: it runs Android, so you can use apps like Facebook or Instagram direct from the camera; 3G or 4G versions are also available.

The downside is that you’ll have to buy a new camera – the connectivity you’ll get is something to consider when you’re thinking about a new purchase.

SD cards with Wi-Fi


If you’re keeping your current (non-connected) camera but still want to do things wirelessly, buying an SD card with a built in Wi-Fi radio could be an option.

It will both store your photos and share them automatically as you snap away, syncing them to your computer, uploading shots to social media, or sending them to your phone.

The biggest player here is Eye-Fi, which produces a range of cards. You’ll just need to pair your new storage with an existing Wi-Fi network (choose your home one) and away you go.

However, another option is to link the card to a tablet or laptop through the Wi-Fi connection and transfer them that way – you can then upload them however you fancy.

A 32GB Eye-Fi costs a princely £60/$100 – around six times as much as a standard 32GB card – and will drain your battery more quickly, but it’s a good trade-off for connectivity.

Toshiba’s Flash Air is cheaper, but be warned: it won’t transfer your photos automatically to another device. You’ll have to do that manually.

MicroSD Wi-Fi adapters


If the price of an Eye-Fi card makes you baulk, there’s another option: microSD card adapters with built-in Wi-Fi (such as this one from Monoprice). These enable a microSD card to work in your camera’s SD card slot, and also give you internet access on the go.

They create a specific Wi-Fi network that you’ll be able to see on other devices such as your smartphone, tablet or laptop, in the same way you would your Wi-Fi network at home. Connect to the network from those devices and you can view any pictures on the card in a browser, and download and share them.

They’re not as flexible as Eye-Fi cards – you can’t have automatic photo upload, and you’ll need a microSD card in order for them to work – but you can pick one up for next to nothing.

Wi-Fi camera adapters


These adapters plug into the USB port on your DSLR, and create a wireless network – similar to those generated by the microSD adapters – which you can access from a phone, tablet, or laptop.

But unlike microSD adapters, you can set them up to automatically sync pictures, as they’re taken, with any devices in range of the Wi-Fi network.

Unfortunately, they only work with Nikon and Canon DSLRs. They’re expensive, too: the Camranger is around $300/£200/AU$400, while the HyperDrive iUSBportCAMERA2 is $270 (around £180/AU$385).

Nikon has had its own stab at this market: it’s £65 dongle (around $95/AU$135) is more affordable, but it only works with mobile phones, and not with tablets, laptops, PCs or Macs.

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1 Comment
  1. Reply Teresa Franecki DDS January 30, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Here's one very easy way. Take the SD card out the camera, put it in your computer's SD card reader, open up Explorer/Finder, copy/Paste. Job done.

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