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Digital Photography Tips
Never connect your camera to the computer
Read this recent forum post in the box below

The biggest and most time wasteful problem facing the digital camera user is the connection between the camera and the computer. If you've been following my forum posts, you've read that I recommend NOT connecting the camera to the computer and NOT installing software with the camera manufacturers name on it. People have sometimes wasted days trying to figure out how to transfer their images. My recommendation is to get a USB card reader (cost about $30) and transfer the images through Windows Explorer. Another advantage not usually mentioned, is that the camera is powered by it's rechargeable battery and the transferring of images can run down that battery turning the camera off during transfer and cause you to loose images. Are your images worth the cost of a $30 card reader?
Hewlett Packard digital camera software is installed and was operating correctly using USB cable to camera connection to download. I added the Olympus software plus the SanDisk drive (connects using USB port) software for the second camera. Images were able to be transferred from the Olympus camera. Now comes the problem. The computer is no longer able to download pictures from the HP camera. I am not using the HP compact flash in the SanDisk. I am trying to directly download from the camera. Here are the problems: 1. When I open up the camera to activate download of the pictures the HP software partially opens up and the computer freezes with the hour glass on the curser. 2. When I hit CTL+ALT+DEL it says the Msgsrv32 is not responding. 3. I then hit end task. 4. The program then fully opens up but when I try to download the camera I get the error message "the camera does not contain any files". This is what I've done to try to correct this problem without success. I have verified the flash card contains images. Reformated the card and took new pictures, still won't work. Uninstalled the HP software, Olympus and SanDisk software, then reinstalled only the HP software. The same errors still exist. Does anyone have experience with this type of mess up? Or know where I can go for help?

First of all, I recommend never installing software with the camera manufacturers name on it. Second, I recommend not connecting your camera directly to the computer to transfer the images but you can (read the end of this paragraph). This can cause a few problems, least of which is that you'll waste days trying to get it working and your time is much too valuable. Pick up a USB card reader for about $30 and use that to transfer the images using Windows Explorer. If your batteries should run down during transfer, you stand a chance of loosing all your images. Then use a thumbnail viewing program like ACDSee to sort through the images. It lets you see thumbnails and then enlarged images when clicking on them. If you're using different cameras with different types of media cards, get one of the card readers that support multiple kinds of cards. After confirming that your images have transferred properly, delete or reformat the existing images on the card IN THE CAMERA, never through the computer. Computers use a different FAT system than the cameras do and you could cause the card not to work until reformatting again in the camera. If you do want to connect directly to the computer, DO NOT install the software. The newer operating systems will recognize the camera as a hard drive and let you transfer the images (through Windows Explorer) without extra unnecessary software. Iíve used eight different digital cameras in the past year and never had a problem transferring the images through a card reader, and have never installed camera manufacturers software.

Larry, I hope your explanation helps others with this problem. You are right on the money! Your way took a trip to Circuit City for the USB dual card reader and about 2 minutes to install the driver and follow your instructions. This is one very, very happy occasion. To not install manufacturers software would have never been a consideration. Thank you for your detailed explanation. I am using the ACDSee thumbnails to sort through the images and reformatting existing images on the card in the cameras. Off with an operational system and thrilled!

Recover lost images
If you've lost your images on your memory card, try PhotoRescue to recover them. It's worked for us. Free to test, and if it sees thumbnails, paying the $29 registration fee will enable you to capture and save them. There's now a Mac OSX version.
When asked, my top three tips are:
1 - Always archive the original out of camera files.
2 - Never work on a Jpeg. Always convert it into an uncompressed format before starting so you donít make the mistake of overwriting the original or lessen the quality by the continual saving in a compressed form.
3 - Donít be afraid to experiment. Digital can offer you more creative freedom at less cost than film ever did.
Things to think about
Think about what the camera is doing when you point it at a subject. Think about how the light is hitting the subject. What's attracting you to that subject? Photography, whether with film, or digital, is not a brainless process. There are always decisions that can be made to create your personal vision or style. In creating an efficient workflow, concentrate on taking the variables out of the equation. That's really the key to successful photography. Luck favors the person who is prepared. Always shoot with the camera supported. I just shot over 1800 pictures with two digital cameras on a three week trip and only 3 were not sharp. The LCD screen on digital cameras is both a blessing and a curse. If used, and you should be using it all the time for accurate composition and exposure verification, it forces you to hold the camera away from your body in an unsupported position to see it clearly and forces you to create pictures that aren't sharp. Holding your camera with two hands and resting it against your eye is putting three directional forces into play to steady the camera. What I recommend is using an LCD magnifying hood like the Xtend-a-View, for three reasons. It enables you to make accurate composition and exposure judgments. It allows you to shoot in bright sunlight. And it lets you hold your digital camera like a 35mm camera and rest it against your eye to steady it while composing and shooting.

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