Can I just copy stuff from my digital camera to a hard drive?

Without using the software that came with it, that is. Or to reword it, can I just use my camera as an external drive for copying purposes?

The reason for this ridiculous question: Let’s say I’m somewhere elsewhere and I want to copy some pictures. The computer I’m using might not (and probably will not) have the software installed to do the automatic copying. I might not (and probably will not) have the installation disk with me, and the other person might not want (or trust) me to install software on their computer. So, it would be convenient just to hook up the camera to the computer (USB), then drag the images from this external “drive” as it were. (I don’t have an external SD card reader/adapter.)

And the reason I don’t know this answer from trying it is because I’ve never had my camera anyone else’s computer.

If it matter, it’s a Canon A620.

As long as it pops up as a drive then it is perfectly fine and probably preferred to just drag and drop the files. I have never used the software that came with either of my two digital cameras. Even if you blow away the whole directory structure on the camera somehow (not likely), it will recreate it the next time you take a picture.

That works for me. My camera’s an Olympus, so YMMV.

it works fine for me.
I use an external card reader. (a little square gadget that you insert your camera’s memory card into on one end, and the other end is a standard USB plug that fits into any computer.)
But you should be able to do it with the cable that connects your camera to the computer No software needed.

Then just copy and paste from one folder to another. Use “my computer” or the Windows Explorer , to drag and drop from , say E: (the card reader), to C: (the main disc in the computer.

You should still be able to import your photos from the camera to a computer without any problem. The software CD that came with the computer is very helpful, but not essential. But you should have some kind of photo management software on the computer to make your life easier.

IIRC, you just need to plug the camera into the computer with the USB cable and then put the camera into playback mode. On a PC a Windows Photo Wizard should pop up and ask you what you want to do. On a Mac you can use the iPhoto software that comes with OSX.

ETA: As the post above me, I also use an external card reader.

I have 3 digitals cameras and I never use the software. I hookup the cameras by USB and just use Windows Explorer to build the photo folders I want. I find it is actually faster this way. I do a cut rather then a copy to speed up the process. I have also used my smaller camera and its high speed 1 gig card to transfer files from one PC to another.

So yes, you should be able to use your camera as an external hard drive.


You can write fills onto most cameras that way also. You may want to take a card to the photo place and you need a couple pictures that weren’t on the camera. :smiley:

I used my camera for file transfers, before USB key chain drives go cheep and abundant.

Be advised that not all cameras will show up as a drive. Mine, also a Canon (though I can’t remember the model number) does not, so there’s nothing to drag and drop from. I have to use photo software (either what came with the camera, or iPhoto) to get the pictures.

That said, all Macs now come with iPhoto, and I imagine that PCs come with something similar, so you should still be OK.

I use two Olympus and one Kodak cameras and with XP and Vista there is no need at all for the camera’s software to be installed.
I also use 2 versions of Ubuntu and the same applies there only more so - the supplied software won’t run in Ubuntu anyway.

Although you can use the camera to transport other files around, a more elegant and far cheaper way is with a flash drive as they now cost next to nothing and are easier to slip into a shirt pocket - I got a couple of 1Gig Sandisc Cruisers for £15 last week. - for both, not each!

WIndows 98 users will have problems though.

This depends critically on the camera hardware!
I regularly use one camera that this will work for: it shows up as a removable drive to Windows, and any kinds of files can be transferred either way.
Another camera I use regularly does not, and to transfer directly from the camera I would need to install the proprietary software that came with the camera.
However, as you seem to understand, bringing along a $10 USB card reader would allow you to move images to pretty much any modern (USB-aware) computer. That’s what I do.

Another vote for the $10 USB card reader. It’s faster, simpler, and less prone to problems.

Keep in mind that images you copy back onto the card may not be displayable on the camera. You may have to set up the folders and file naming properly for that to happen, and even then it might not work.

Finally, never format the card in your computer. Always format it in the camera.

I have a camera that can (and does) use 4 gig cards, if you get over 1000 pics and a gig of video on a card (as I did at a Star Trek convention last week), it is much, much, much, much, much faster to use a card reader than read from the camera.

This is a great question. My dad has a Sony camera that’s a couple years old. When you plug it in via USB, it comes up as a a regular drive. You can copy from it and write to it.

My Canon SD800 IS is under a year old but when plugged in via USB, it shows up as a camera. You can only copy to ‘My photos’ in ‘My Documents’ and is a general PITA.

What the dill is? Please tell me this can be turned off.

Probably not. This capability is set by the manufacturer in the camera’s firmware. Go to Canon’s website and see if there’s a firmware update that allows you to do this (doubtful).

See if your camera has an option for PICT usb. This switches the camera to a mode that uses a standard set of operations (for direct connection to a printer etc).

XP should support PICT-Bridge commands with no additional software. This is only needed if the camera does not support the Mass Storage system (mounting the memory as a flash drive).


Another possability, depending on the kind of card your camera uses, is a memory card with a built in USB adaptor. One of my cameras uses a SD card, and I have what looks like a flash drive with a slot on the back. Pull the card out of the camera and slip it into the slot, then plug into the USB port.

I guess it’s technically a card reader, but no bigger than a regular flash drive. No cord or anything. I don’t see the one I have, but here are two others that are similar.

Here’s one: Flash Drive

And another: Flash Drive