Today’s Question: Why do you remove the card from the camera when downloading photos as opposed to leaving the card in the camera, connecting the camera to the computer and downloading and deleting the photos without ever touching the card?
Tim’s Answer: There are two key reasons I never connect my camera to my computer for purposes of downloading photos.
The first reason relates to download speed. In most cases connecting your camera directly to your computer will result in a slower download speed than if you use a good card reader with a high-speed connection. Your actual results vary, of course, based on the capabilities of your specific camera model (such as the type of connection available) and based on the type of card reader you might use. But in general, you can download more quickly with a card reader than you can with your camera connected to your computer.
The second reason is the “real” reason for my personal decision to never connect my camera to the computer for downloading. Put simply, I’m afraid I’ll end up knocking my camera onto the floor. I’ve been accused of being a little clumsy at times, and I’m pretty sure I would end up snagging the cable connecting the camera to the computer, sending the camera flying off the table to the floor.
I’ve heard photographers express concern about damaging their camera by repeatedly removing and inserting media cards, and this is certainly a valid concern. I have seen more than one camera with bent pins caused by a CompactFlash card that didn’t get inserted quite right, for example. But with proper care I don’t consider this to be a significant concern. At least for me personally, I think the bigger risk involves knocking the camera off the table.
So, that’s my reasoning. But ultimately I would say that there isn’t an especially strong argument either way, unless downloading as quickly as possible is the highest priority for you. If speed is critical, I recommend using the fastest cards and the fastest card reader available, instead of downloading directly from the camera. But otherwise, as far as I’m concerned this is really a matter of personal preference.