Today’s Question: Is there a preferred method for downloading images to the computer, such as connecting the camera to the computer via a cable versus inserting the memory card into the computer’s card slot?
Tim’s Quick Answer: In terms of reliability, connecting a camera to your computer or using a card reader are generally about the same. However, I recommend using a card reader for better performance and less risk to your camera.
More Detail: Generally speaking you will get the same reliable transfer of data whether you’re using a card reader or a direct camera connection to download photos to your computer. That said, I do think there is a slightly higher risk of having problems with a direct camera connection, simply because a camera tends to get abused in the field a bit more than a card reader. But if there is a problem with the camera in terms of downloading photos, there may also be a problem capturing photos in the first place. In other words, I wouldn’t consider this to be a major cause for concern.
However, in most cases you will be able to download photos faster with a card reader than with a camera connected directly to your computer. More importantly from my perspective, I prefer using a card reader in order to avoid putting my camera at risk. I’m simply worried that with my camera directly connected to my computer with a cable, there’s too much risk that I’ll manage to snag the cable and knock my camera to the floor.
So, both for performance benefits and keeping your camera safe, I recommend keeping your camera in the camera bag, opting for a card reader to download photos to your computer.