20D: Why not simple drag-and-drop download?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Mack McKinnon, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. Recently got my new Canon 20D, which I am enjoying very much, but was
    surprised to discover that I had to use imaging software to download the 20D
    pictures to my computer.

    This is about my 5th digital camera. As I recall, with all the others, I
    just connected the USB cable, set the camera to its download setting, turned
    it on and the camera came up in "My Computer" as an external USB drive.
    Then, I could just drag and drop the picture files into a folder on my
    desktop. But when I tried that with my Canon 20D, it did not show up as a
    drive at all. Win XP, via the "New Hardware Found" program, said it needed
    a driver to work. Finally, I went to the 20D manual (last resort, of
    course) and installed their software and was able to download the pictures,
    although still not via drag-and-drop.

    Later, I found the other page in the manual (duh!) that showed me how to set
    the camera to "PTP" and use the Win XP wizard to download. I like that

    The odd thing was that, a few days ago -- before I got my new camera -- my
    son was here with his 20D and we downloaded some pictures he had taken to my
    computer, without installing the 20D software on it. I recall that there
    was some kind of minor hassle about recognizing new hardware but I also
    remember that I was able to see his camera as a drive and drag-and-drop the
    pictures to my desktop but I did not have to install any software to make
    that happen. That's another reason why I was surprised that I could not do
    that with my camera until I installed software. (Or did the "PTP" thing.)

    I am sure someone knows why Canon chose to make downloading 20D pix (maybe
    for other Canon cameras, too, I don't know) a more complicated deal than
    other manufacturers do. I'd be interested to know that. Also, if someone
    could pass along some understanding of how/why/when the 20D method of
    downloading works, that would be helpful to me and would help me understand
    what my choices are for downloading pictures.

    Mack McKinnon, Oct 3, 2005
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  2. Get a stick reader.
    Randall Ainsworth, Oct 3, 2005
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  3. I can't speak of the 20D as I have never used one. With my 10D I had
    used it for almost 2 years with no problem in downloading (I use the
    File Viewer rather than Zoom Browser, which I find awkward). Then for
    some reason a couple of months ago, on connecting the camera as usual,
    the computer failed to see the camera. Reloading the software did not
    cure this. It still worked fine on my daughter's PC - she also has the
    software for her 300D - so I downloaded there and moved across on the

    I soon got tired of this, though, and went out and got a card reader. I
    just remove the card, put it in the reader and drop and drag across.
    Works fine (as Randall suggested) and is actually quicker (using USB 2).

    I can still open the RAW files in File Viewer if I wish to use this to
    convert. However, at the same time, I upgraded to Photoshop CS2, which I
    find gives faster and more flexible conversion and a better work-flow

    David Littlewood, Oct 3, 2005
  4. It is the same with the 350D (Rebel XT), which I have. However, it does not
    seem difficult, it is easy to switch and the manuals describe the difference
    between the 2 methods. I suspect that 'PTP' is not the default setting
    because it only works with Windows XP. It does not work with older versions
    of Windows.

    I personally like the automatic Canon download system (PC driver and
    software mode). I have it set up to download into sub-directories by date of
    taking the picture. In this way, I already have some sorting applied, which
    can be a blessing when you have a couple of hundred pictures to download
    after a 2 week holiday.

    Mike Bernstein
    Mike Bernstein, Oct 3, 2005
  5. Mack McKinnon

    Fred Guest

    Yes IIRC there is a communication setting in the camera menu.
    PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) is something that XP recognises inherently.

    Communication - USB: Normal, PTP
    Fred, Oct 3, 2005
  6. Mack McKinnon

    Bill Guest

    Once the picture transfer protocol (PTP) is enabled, and Windows XP is
    restarted, Windows should find the camera as a simple storage device.
    By default the data mode is "PC Connection", which requires a USB driver
    to interface with the camera in Windows. This data mode is required for
    the Capture and other software to work.

    Note that previous versions of Windows, like Win 95 and 98 which are
    still very common at home, do not recognize the PTP format, so they
    would not be compatible. And since Canon expects most users to install
    the software, the default setting works best in most cases.
    Once PTP is properly enabled, it should detect the camera just fine.

    I have the Canon Rebel XT, and it works just like a removable drive when
    PTP is enabled. I just copy the image files over manually. My little
    Canon A75 also works this way.

    With the PC connection enabled, it needs the USB drivers and software
    which I don't use - I have other software for editing anyway. The only
    Canon software I use with my camera, is Digital Photo Professional.
    Bill, Oct 3, 2005
  7. Mack McKinnon

    Eugene Guest

    Yes I'll second that. If you buy a card reader you'll never want to go
    back. They're pretty cheap and it's just so much more convenient than
    having to plug in the camera. I generally don't even bother installing
    the WIA drivers now. The only situation where I would use the cameras
    USB cable is when I'm using a laptop and remote capture.
    Eugene, Oct 5, 2005
  8. Mack McKinnon

    G.T. Guest

    No kidding, the guy has had 5 digital cameras and he still doesn't have a
    card reader?

    G.T., Oct 8, 2005
  9. Mack McKinnon

    Bill Guest

    What's a card reader?

    Is that a psychic or something...?

    Bill, Oct 8, 2005
  10. The cost of a "stick reader" is so low as to be negligible. So, there is no
    reason for anyone not to have one if he wants one. In fact, I think I may
    have one somewhere around here.

    But personally, I have never seen the advantage of opening the camera,
    popping out the card, putting it into a reader, moving the pictures off, &
    putting the card back into the camera -- over just plugging in the camera
    and pulling the pictures off that way. If there IS a good reason -- if, for
    example, I am doing something terrible to the camera by doing it this way --
    then, please, enlighten me.

    Had I read the manual before I posted the question, I would have found that
    simply setting the 20D "Communications" menu setting to PTP would have
    allowed me to use XP PTP where I can then simply click on the "Advanced"
    link to get the same view of my camera card pictures I am used to from other

    So, please enlighten me as to the reason why popping out the card every time
    is SO much better than the way I have done it that its worth all your
    disdain over my sad methods. I'm happy to learn.

    Mack McKinnon, Oct 8, 2005
  11. On my dRebel, it was 2 orders of magnitude faster to make the copy
    using a card reader. I know the 20D is faster than the dRebel, but I
    doubt it's as fast as a card reader.

    David Geesaman, Oct 8, 2005
  12. Mack McKinnon

    Bill Guest

    The 20D and Rebel XT have a USB 2.0 high speed port, which means it can
    transfer about 10x faster than the original Digital Rebel.

    A card reader is designed to be as fast as possible, and the older Rebel
    and other models were slow transferring data. But with the newer cameras
    the speed difference between a reader and the camera is minimal.
    Bill, Oct 8, 2005
  13. Well, if you are fine with hooking up your camera, by all means
    continue to do so! All my cameras are older and slower then the 20D,
    so for me using a card reader also gives much better speed. A 20D
    is as fast as any card reader, but even without the increased speed,
    I would use a card reader for the following reasons:

    - When I work in the studio, I prefer to leave the camera on the
    tripod, rather than bring it over to the computer in order to
    unload the pictures.

    - When I work in the field, I usually fill up more than one card, so
    most of my cards are already out of the camera when I am back home.

    - Unloading from the camera is a quite heavy drain on the camera's

    - Finally, hooking the camera up to the computer with a wire always
    creates the risk of tripping over the wire and making the camera fall
    on the floor.
    Gisle Hannemyr, Oct 9, 2005
  14. Mack McKinnon

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    Well ... those which I have seen all require a USB port, so they
    can't be used with all of my computers -- but I do have a SCSI PCMCIA
    card reader, which will read the CF cards which I use with an adaptor,
    so no problem.

    This lack of a USB port also prevents me from transferring
    directly from the camera for most situations. And -- I've never
    actually done a transfer from the camera, because I'm usually working
    with the older Sun Unix systems with no USB support.
    Do you have only a single CF card (or whatever format your 20D
    uses)? Is it really that difficult to remove the card from the 20D?
    With my Nikon D70, the door is on the back, right under my thumb, so it
    is a simple matter of swinging the door open (with my thumb), pressing
    the eject button (with the same thumb), and then gripping the CF card
    with the same thumb and forefinger. I then put the card away until I
    can get to my computers, or if I am right there, I reach over and plug
    in the CF card to the adaptor. I then slip the spare CF card into the
    camera, (if I intend to take some more shots while those are
    downloading), and start up the script which copies the images from the
    CF card to one directory, and then copies those images to the other
    directory, thus making a backup before I format the CF card to clean it.

    I can also plug a second CF card into a second adaptor in the
    PCMICA reader, and it will copy images from both cards before I need to
    pay attention to it again.

    How difficult is it to remove the media from your 20D? If it is
    awkward, I can perhaps see your reason for not doing so -- but then it
    would also make it awkward to change CF cards in the field when one gets
    full. I can't picture Cannon making so simple an error in design.
    Well ... unless the USB port can provide enough power to run the
    camera, you are discharging the camera's battery more quickly while
    doing the transfers. Not exactly in the "terrible" category, but
    inconvenient if you have a bunch more shots to take. Or -- if you
    connect to an AC adaptor -- that is a second thing to connect. (And, I
    believe that if you are transferring under battery power and the battery
    reaches the end of its charge it can corrupt the data on the CF card.
    I don't know about *his* situation -- but it is a lot more
    convenient for me with my camera and my situation.

    DoN. Nichols, Oct 9, 2005
  15. Mack McKinnon

    Bill Guest

    That makes sense.
    That makes sense too.
    The battery drain is actually quite minimal. And the power down timer
    will kick in when connected to the computer anyway.
    That makes no sense...how many people have USB wires long enough to
    reach the floor, let alone get in the way and cause them to trip and
    damage their cameras.
    Bill, Oct 9, 2005
  16. Mack McKinnon

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    [ ... ]
    Are you sure about that last bit? I know that on some other
    cameras, when the camera is connected to a computer, the auto power-down
    is totally locked out -- to prevent a power-down in mid download.
    This is certainly true on the Kodak/Nikon NC2000e/c (Nikon N90s
    converted to digital by Kodak for the AP.)

    Looking at my manual for the D70, it does not explicitly say
    whether the power-down timer will kick in -- but it *does* warn the

    "To ensure that the data transfer is not interrupted, be sure
    that the camera body is fully charged. If in doubt, charge the
    battery before use, or use an EH-5 AC adaptor (available

    This at least suggests that the power down timer will *not*
    protect you.
    I have some that long -- and I don't even use USB with my
    camera. But different people have different layouts -- and toss a cat
    into the equation, and perhaps *you* might not trip on the cable, but
    the cat can certainly nudge it off a shelf.

    BTW One more reason to not make a practice of connecting your
    camera to your computer is that your computer is connected
    directly to the power line, and likely to a modem or a network
    line of some form or other, doubling the chances of it being
    struck by lighting badly enough to damage not only the computer,
    but also anything else connected to it.

    DoN. Nichols, Oct 9, 2005
  17. Mack McKinnon

    Bill Guest

    For my Canon Rebel XT, I'm positive. I would like to think others that
    have an auto power down mode will also do the same.
    The power down is AFTER any lack of activity. If the camera is idle, it
    will change to power saving mode. But if you're actively transferring
    images or doing anything else, the camera continues in normal mode, and
    the timer restarts.
    No, that means you don't want the BATTERY to fail during data transfer.
    It won't hurt anything of course, it merely means you need to attach an
    AC adaptor or recharge the battery to continue where you left off.
    So do I...for the printer which is on the other desk.

    But my camera didn't come with a 10 foot cord, nor would I buy one that
    long to connect it.
    That's why we invented rubber mallets...to beat stupid cats.

    If lightning hits your powerline...having the camera beside you but
    disconnected won't help.

    Why? Because you'll be dead.
    Bill, Oct 9, 2005
  18. My EOS 10D will not power down while actually transferring files, but
    will auto power off when the download is complete. The warning about
    battery exhaustion during transfer is of course valid, and IMO is
    another reason in favour of a card reader.

    David Littlewood, Oct 9, 2005
  19. I turned off that useless feature the day I got the camera.
    Randall Ainsworth, Oct 9, 2005
  20. Actually, I do just have one CF card right now, a 512 that I am using in the
    20D. I could buy more, of course, and would if I were going on a trip and
    planned to take a lot of pictures and not download them until I got back.
    Can't hurt to have a spare, of course, but just one card generally is all I

    No, it is not difficult at all to remove a card from the 20D. About the
    same amount of difficulty as plugging the camera into my desktop via USB, I

    Well, from the responses I have gotten to this question, I can see several
    situations where it would be preferable to use a card reader rather than
    download from the camera. Otherwise, sounds like just a matter of personal
    preference. I don't really have a reason to do it that way right now.

    Mack McKinnon, Oct 9, 2005
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