How to Copy Digital Photos From a Laptop to a Camera's Memory Card

by Dan Stone

It's common to back up your digital camera's photos on a laptop, however the files can often be moved both ways. While some digital cameras may restrict computer photo transfers through a program and connection cable, you can copy photos to an unencrypted memory card. You may want to move photo copies to your camera's memory to use the device as a portable image gallery because it's easier to transport and show off than a laptop.

Reasons for Moving Photos

In addition to showing off your photographs, you may want to use the camera's memory card to help protect your photographs. Laptops rarely support adding a second hard drive so they have storage limitations: moving photos to the memory card can free hard drive space. Because laptops are more mobile than desktop computers, the devices are more prone to breaking and are easier to steal so backing up photos on a memory card can be a good a safeguard.

Supported File Types

Not all cameras can read all file image types. The JPEG file format is a safe bet for compatibility if you're moving photos from a computer to the memory card. However, some cameras can also support the TIFF, PNG and DNG file formats. Check the camera's existing photograph file types to ensure compatibility. There won't be compatibility issues if the photos are being returned to the camera that took them. However, if the photos were taken by a different camera, they might not work in high-quality professional formats like RAW. Convert the photos with a photo editing program if necessary.

Connecting the Camera Memory

Most digital cameras support the SD Card memory standard and most laptops have a built-in SD Card reader: just insert the memory card into the laptop reader to gain access. If the laptop doesn't have a SD memory card reader or the camera uses a different memory card type, you can use a USB adapter for the matching memory card type. Some cameras will let you use the camera itself as a memory card reader and connect to the computer via a USB cable adapter.

Navigating File Explorer

Digital cameras use a standardized file directory method: the camera will store photos in a folder called "DCIM" which stands for "Digital Camera Images." Depending on the camera, the DCIM folder may be the first thing you see when you open the memory card in File Explorer or may be within another folder. If you can't find the folder, search for "DCIM" when in the memory card root directory.

Adding the Files

In order to move the photos to the camera without overwriting existing photos, create a new folder, open the folder, and copy and paste the photos from the laptop's folder into the new folder. The camera may not recognize the photos unless the folders and file use the camera's naming conventions. The camera will break up the pictures into subfolders using a number naming convention for both folders and images: name the new folder and existing images using unused numbers following the naming convention. For example, if the camera's highest numbered folder is "003BRAND" name the new folder "004BRAND."

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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