Acquiring Images - Importing Images from a Digital Camera

Quality of the Camera

  • With the explosion of digital cameras, there is a wide variety of quality and features available.
  • One of the main features that define the quality of a digital camera is how many pixels can be captured. A camera's ability to capture a certain quantity of pixels is defined as "Megapixels." 1 megapixel = 1 million pixels. The higher the number, the finer the resolution and the larger high quality print that can be made.
  • Images for the web require much less pixel information to look good on a monitor than images meant for print. You can get adequate images for web delivery from even a 1 or 2 megapixel camera.

Camera Settings Vary Quality

  • Most digital cameras will have a setting allowing you to vary the quality of the image captured.
  • Deciding what setting to use depends on the amount of storage space you have (size and quantity of your Smart Media, Compact Flash cards, etc.) and your usage of the photo. Using the photo for the web lessens your need for the higher settings. However, using a low setting not only affects how many pixels are captured, but also the quality of the image due to the amount of JPEG compression used.
  • With smaller megapixels, use highest setting.
    On the smaller megapixel cameras, if you have adequate storage capabilities, it is best to use the highest setting with the camera's highest resolution to avoid excessive JPEG compression that can cause a significant drop in the quality of the image.
  • TIFF or RAW settings not necessary.
    More expensive cameras meant for the professional or "prosumer" (avid hobbyist) offer TIFF or RAW settings. These settings will create the largest files and are not necessary for images used on the web. If you plan to also print out your images, you will want to use the higher settings and size the image down for web use.


  • Attach camera to computer with USB cable.
    Importing images from a digital camera can be as easy as attaching the camera to the computer with a USB cord and copying the images from the card to your hard drive.
  • Drivers
    Some cameras require special drivers in order for your computer's operating system to recognize them.
    • Try just plugging in your camera with a USB cable. If your camera appears as a removable drive, you don't need a driver. On a Windows machine, check for it in My Computer. On a Mac, look on your desktop for a drive icon.
    • If the computer does not recognize the camera, look for a driver on the CD that came with your camera or go to the Web site of the camera manufacturer to see if you can download a driver. It is always best to have the latest driver installed.
  • Dedicated card readers
    Dedicated card readers that can recognize your Smart Media cards, Compact Flash cards, Memory Sticks, etc. transfer images more quickly than the direct from the camera method.
    • Connect the card reader to your computer with a USB cable.
    • Look for the card reader as you would a removable drive. On a Windows machine, check for it in the My Computer. On a Mac, look on your desktop for a drive icon.
    • When transferring images by a card reader, there is an added advantage of not using up camera battery power.
    • Most card readers do not require drivers to be recognized by your computer's operating system.