© Anthony Lawrence, aplawrence.com
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
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
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
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).
Still others may insist that Exif data be present. In that case, you may need an Exif tool like this one.
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.
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2007-12-01 Anthony Lawrence