I had email this morning that asked what should be a simple question: how do I put pictures back onto my digital camera? Apparently she had copied the pictures up to her computer and then erased them, but now wanted them back on the camera.. simple enough request.
With a Mac and a USB camera, that's trivial. When you connect the camera, your Mac mounts it as a USB drive.. you may never have noticed this if you aren't the curious type, but you don't need iPhoto or Image Capture to get your photos: just drill into the mounted drive and copy them off. For example, my Sony camera gets mounted at /Volumes/Untitled and my pictures are at /Volumes/Untitled/DCIM/101MSDCF ; I can drag and drop pictures both into and out of that folder with Finder and the command line.
Oh sure, there may be a few rules you have to follow. Your camera may only understand specific image formats like JPEG or something of its own concoction and it may impose a specific naming structure. Then again, it may not: my camera wants to see "DSCNNNNN.JPG" (where N is 0 to 9) but a digital picture frame that uses the same memory sticks doesn't care what file names I use. Other than that, it's easy: drag and drop or command line copy, back it goes to the camera. But what about Windows?
Ah, yes, what about Windows? I hooked up my camera to my wife's XP machine. A "Found New Hardware" balloon popped up down in the system tray area but it didn't respond to any cicking. Moments later, it informed me that my device was installed and ready to use. Ready to use? OK, but how? It hasn't been mounted as a drive..
Now to be fair, maybe it should have. When I connected it under Parallels, that XP did mount it as a local drive. But it had help from the Mac side, didn't it? So, not knowing whether this was just a problem with my wife's computer or typical of Windows, I went looking on the net, searching for "put pictures back on camera".
The first page I looked at was Microsoft. At Working with Digital Photos they say:
One of the easier ways to copy digital photos to your storage card for your digital camera is to insert the storage card into a card reader.
Oh come on, Microsoft: it has to be easier than that! What if I don't own a reader?
The next page I looked at went into great lengths describing the standards cameras use (and don't use) and ends up implying that the camera is attached as a drive you just copy to (How to put edited pictures back into your Digital Camera). Note that one commentor there insists that copying pictures back destroyed his memory card (probably not, though his camera may have been impotent to deal with this external imposition).
So the camera should be automatically mounted? Apparently yes, but How can I load photos back into the camera? at PC User warns:
Unfortunately, it's not easy to do by yourself. In some cases it's not easy to get the computer to recognise the camera as an external drive so you can upload the photos to it. In almost every other case, notwithstanding that you can get the photos onto your card, chances are that you can't actually see them in the camera when you do. However, you might be able to see the photos on, say, the preview screen of a photo printer or your TV.
I suspect this person is talking about cameras that only recognize certain formats or file names, but he does also imply that although Windows should see it as a drive, it might not.. So I changed my search to "camera drive not found" and similar text and found people who said that it might matter which USB port you used.. and of course the usual advice about making sure you have the right drivers. Well, Device Manager said everything was just great as far as it knew and changing ports didn't help with my wife's box as she only has two and neither worked.. though Windows thought it had connected something as it objected if I unplugged the camera without clicking on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon. But if I did use that, Windows locked up immediately after "Stopping" the drive.. Windows "stopped" everything.
Isn't Windows fun?
I had noticed something odd though: when I did run that "Safely Remove Hardware" program, Windows seemed to think the Camera was at F:
F:? No, no, Mr. Bill, F: is where we have a network drive mapped. But F: would be the next logical pick, because she has two internal drives (C: and D:) and a DVD (E:). So it made sense for the camera to try to take F: if we assume that Windows is as moronic with cameras as it is with everything else. That did seem like a very reasonable assumption (the part about Windows being moronic), so I moved my current F: to H: and rebooted.. plugged in the camera and my goodness! There it was, happily sitting under F:!
So, basically XP is partially unaware of mapped network drives. Isn't that fun? I think so..
More on camera copying
Some camera don't seem to mind you copying anything to them. Others may insist that the file names match their nameing format (see the hint in the comments about snapping useless pictures and then overwriting from pictures you want but using the same names).
In the most stubborn cases, you might need both Exif tags AND copying back over existing file names.
For the sake of those to helpless to find things themselves, I'm going to repeat Christian's comment here:
>>I'd try this: snap a random picture and try overwriting it with what you really want. Maybe that would work. THIS WORKS! Thanks again for the idea! That's exactly what I did, one by one for 160 pictures, and now they're all back on the display. Took an hour or so. If you have the same problem, I did it this way: First took 160 random snaps of blue sky (avoid flashlight), then gave the file names of those snaps to the 160 good photos on my imac, then copied the whole buch into the camera, overwriting the random snaps. Problem solved. Before that, when I tried to simply upload the images with their original names, the display messages from the camera at one point mentioned an "image management file". Apparently images are only shown on the display when they are listed in that file. Sony's service denied that there is such a "catalog file" when I asked them. But it seems logical, that's why the fix with the random snaps works. Cheers Christian
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