Three Reasons to Use a Memory Card Reader

Guest Post by Jason Anderson

Lexar Card ReaderOne of the most surprising things I hear from photographers is that many still tether their cameras to their computers for transferring photos over for processing.  While tethering via cable is always an option, there are many risks to doing so.  Whenever I hear this, I take a few minutes and share some of the reasons on why it is better to use a card reader than to import from your camera.  Since there were so many people that seemed to appreciate the insights, I thought I’d take some time to share some of those insights here:

  1. Speed – Card readers have nothing else to do other than transfer data onto and off of a card to a computer.  No camera firmware is required, no menus need to be loaded, and no power is needed.  It’s a simple plug-and-play process for practically any computer and you can increase your transfer speeds significantly by taking this route over camera direct transfers.  Seriously…with the super-fast UDMA cards out there today, you can really see a decrease in transfer times, which gets you on with other things even that much quicker.
  2. Reliability – Because cameras are such advanced devices that have so many working parts and components, the process of connecting them to a computer does take a certain toll and if the cable is frayed, or a connection is lost, or even power is lost, you can risk losing and/or corrupting your images during the transfer process.  Eliminate the risk of losing those precious memories you’ve created and use a card reader!
  3. Conserving Battery drain – In the summer, this is less of an issue, but in winter it can get cold! With lower temps comes decreased battery time.  If we have to deal with draining our camera batteries to transfer images to a laptop or desktop computer, they likely would not last very long.  It’s important here to remember that plugging a camera into a USB port isn’t like plugging in a phone or other devices.  Plugging in doesn’t charge the battery, it discharges the battery!  Something to keep in mind when conserving your battery life.

So, what kind should you get?  The answer here (as always) starts with “It depends…”  What kind of camera and card are you using? Do you have multiple cameras and multiple card format types?  Cards range in size and format from SD, CF, to Memory Sticks, and other proprietary sizes and shares.  Formats also include the new UDMA which increases write/read transfer rates, and varying capacities from extended capacity (XC) and other older ones which may require specific types of readers.  Check these considerations before making a purchase.  My suggestion though is to get a reader that can read both standard capacity cards as well as the XC formatted ones.  These can be found for as little as $5 through sites like and Amazon, but the better quality ones are available through camera retailers like B&H Photo, Adorama, and Sammy’s.

Like these tips?  Visit Jason over at his website for more useful tips, tricks, articles, insights and more on how to make and take better photographs!

Author: Joe Farace

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