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

Leading the way


Photographs are no good to anyone just sitting on a camera – they deserve to be seen properly or 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 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, they’re notoriously easy to lose and, if you do finally find them, tangled impossibly at the back of a drawer or complicated software puts you off.

We would suggest, if you’ve not tried to connect your camera in a while and just usually give it to a family member to email them to you, that if you’ve got a newer PC or Mac that you try the camera again – newer versions of Windows and Mac OS X are pretty good at sucking up all your pics these days.

But if not, check out our easy-to-use ways to get 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, mostly an SD card, which can be removed at will. It’s incredibly simple – the slot is clearly labelled on the camera, normally on the side of the device, sometimes behind a sliding cover. Press the card down 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 gap on the frame. Slide the card in and you should get an automatic pop-up 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, cut or copy the photos to your computer’s own storage, 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 ($12 / $13 / around AU$ 18) readers that will translate all your pictures into on-screen gold.

Remember to buy something with USB 3.0 like this Transcend model, as this will connect to most computers these days and be able to transfer the pics at a much higher rate than if you use an older one.

You’ll usually get a pop-up when you plug it 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’re always online: within seconds of snapping a selfie you can share it to social media. Connected cameras bring you that without sacrificing photo quality.

Wi-Fi cameras 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.

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The Canon 750D is a great example. The Nikon Coolpix S9900 also has GPS on board so 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, so the connectivity you’ll get is something to consider in the run up to 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, a much more widely-used option is to link them 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 makes you baulk, then there’s another option: microSD card adapters with built-in Wi-Fi (such as this one from Monoprice)

They’ll allow a microSD card 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 smart phone, 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, download them, and share.

They’re not as flexible as the Eye-Fis: you can’t have automatic photo upload, and you’ll need a microSD card 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, where they’ll create a wireless network – similar to those generated by the microSD adapters – which you can access from a phone, tablet, or laptop.

But unlike the 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 $300 (£200), while the HyperDrive iUSBportCAMERA2 is $270 (£180).

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

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