So you've bought your digital camera, you've taken some great photos and you want to view them on your computer. Well, most digital cameras can be plugged directly into a computer via USB cable. However, there is an alternative method which many photographers use which is an external card reader/writer.
These also plug into your computer and are available in a wide variety of types, sizes and colours. Unlike a digital camera, they can be left permanently plugged into your computer if you wish.
Benefits of a card reader
- Convenience, no more reaching behind your computer to fiddle with cables.
- Speed, available in Firewire and USB 2.0 types, high transfer speeds can be achieved.
- Compatibility, most cameras only take one kind of card, some readers can take all different types of memory card.
- Power, using a card reader saves your camera's power for taking photographs.
- Can be used to transfer small files between computers faster than with floppy disk.
The different types of card reader
With such a wide range of card readers available, it can be confusing deciding which to buy. The main types are outlined below.
Single card readers
These are the most basic of all, allowing you only to use one type of card in them.
They are fine if you can never imagine needing to read any other type of card.
Able to read from two to as many as six different types of card, these can be very convenient.
If you don't think you'll use anymore than two of the card types offered by the reader, try find a dual reader and save some money.
With the files digital cameras produce becoming larger and larger, the time taken to transfer images to your PC is increasing.
If your computer has a Firewire or USB 2.0 port, there are card readers that will take advantage of the extra speed these connections allow. They are particularly effective with fast memory cards or IBM microdrives.
If you travel a lot, and need a reader to take with you, these offer the perfect solution. Though on a normal desktop computer they aren't as convenient as the other readers mentioned.
Prices for all these different types of card reader can vary a lot. Multi-card and High-speed readers tend to cost the most. Once you've set your budget, all you need to do is decide which type of reader described here best suits your needs. Good luck with your card reader buying!