Today’s Question: Is there any harm in removing the card after each shoot in order to download photos using a card reader, rather than connecting my camera to the computer via USB?
Tim’s Quick Answer: As far as I’m concerned it is actually much better to remove the media card from the camera and use a card reader to download photos, rather than connecting the camera to the computer for this purpose.
More Detail: There is certainly some degree of risk involved in removing a media card from the camera to download photos with a card reader. You might inadvertently lose the card, or potentially damage it if you’re not careful. But with reasonable care I don’t consider this to be a significant risk.
More to the point, there are advantages to using a card reader rather than connecting your camera to the computer. In most cases the download will be faster (in some cases much faster) using a card reader rather than connecting the camera to the computer. In other words, most cameras aren’t the best card readers available, and are often among the slowest at transferring photos to your computer.
I also prefer not to connect the camera to the computer because in my view it puts the camera at greater risk. I’m sure this is biased a little by the fact that I can be a little clumsy at times. But I don’t like the idea of the camera sitting on my desk connected via cable to my computer, where I might accidentally snag the cable or otherwise knock the camera to the floor. I’d rather keep my camera safely in my camera bag, while I use the media cards in a card reader to download photos to my computer.
It is worth noting that some cameras do support transferring photos via a Wi-Fi connection. This would generally be slower than using a card reader, but it does to some degree reduce the risk of damage to the camera or memory card during the download process.