General Question

jlm11f's avatar

When moving pictures from a camera's SD card what is the difference between importing from a software as opposed to simple copy-paste?

Asked by jlm11f (12358points) May 26th, 2009

Is there a quality difference? Do I need to go through a software or can I just open up Explorer and cut-paste from the pictures folder in the SD card? I have both options available, I am just curious about the difference. Thanks!

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11 Answers

robmandu's avatar

There’s no difference.

Just what you’d expect. Some people don’t care enough to learn about how to actually use their computers. So some software will allow you to “import” photos from a “device” and then, per your request, delete the photos from the device once the import to your computer is complete.

If you’re on a PC and using Google’s Picasa, your cut-and-paste technique works fine as Picasa usually will just index photos wherever they land.

If you’re on a Mac and using iPhoto, on the other hand, the default behavior is to physically copy the photos to iPhoto’s specially managed directories, in which case using the builtin import function makes more sense.

Ivan's avatar

Nothing. It just adds a pretty interface for people who don’t really know what they’re doing. I just use it so that I don’t have to remove the SD card from my camera. Also, the software can usually be used to organize your photos a little more easily.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Functionally there is no difference. All it is, is an interface for the non technical. Most of these software products are not written very well and are of low quality. All you need is to plug in your camera through your usb port and your PC will recognize the device as though it were any other removable media.

DarkScribe's avatar

I don’t know of any Pro or experienced amateur who uses anything but a card reader and drags the directory onto their Hard drive for work. It is faster and simpler. They only thing that you need to cautious about is putting anything back onto the card or formatting it in the computer.

netspencer's avatar

Copy and paste will simply take the files off of the camera and add them to your hard drive where ever you paste them.

Software, on the other hand, is free to do whatever it wants. Most software will import the picture as it is, however, it does have the capability to downsize the image.

If you are using a digital camera that supports the RAW format (mostly SLR cameras) you need to be sure that the software that you are using supports RAW. Many times, software may ignore the files/render them unreadable or convert them to a more familiar format (like JPEG) which will decrease the quality.

jlm11f's avatar

@everyone – Thanks guys! Amazing and informative answers, every single one of them. Lurve to all.

Jack79's avatar

copy-pasting is probably faster.

dynamicduo's avatar

Nope, there’s no quality difference. The only advantage to using any import software is that it puts it in a special folder, or creates folders for the date of the shot, etc.

Though, I will note that cut-paste is risky and I don’t recommend it – what happens if your computer crashes before you’ve pasted, or if you get up for a second and your kid/partner goes on and fills the clipboard with something else? Your pictures could be gone. Thus I recommend copying and pasting or control-dragging then deleting the originals over the cut-paste approach.

robmandu's avatar

“Cut”-ting a file does not remove it at the time.

The paste action (i.e. file copy) must complete successfully before the source file is removed.

In short, if you select files, hit Ctrl-X (cut), and then unplug your computer (or otherwise crash it), there will be no damage done to the selected files.

The next scenario would be if you select files, hit Ctrl-X (cut), then hit Ctrl-V (paste), wait a tick, and then unplug your computer (or otherwise crash it). The particular file being copied at that precise moment will likely be incomplete/corrupt at the destination, but the source file will still be intact.

(Unexpected powering off your computer can possibly wreak havoc with other apps or jobs in-process. But there won’t be any damage just because you had selected some files and their info copied to the system clipboard by hitting Ctrl-X.)

To @dynamicduo‘s point, if you Cut some text or graphic object or something ephemeral like that, then yes, it could be accidentally lost in a crash (or by a subsequent copy/cut operation). But files are treated differently, as I explain above.

dynamicduo's avatar

I see, thanks for the clarification Rob. As I say, I don’t use this method, but I have observed others using it. I was mislead by the fact that the icon changes to the translucent one, and since this is mostly used for temp files and other “invisible” ones to the normal user, I figured it had already stored the files in memory and thus the file was a leftover bit.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

There can be a difference, depending on what you’re using to do the import. I think the Microsoft Picture Editor that came with Office 2000 would gratuitously change the names of the files as they came off the card, e.g., instead of something like DCP_1234.JPG, you would get something like Picture 001.JPG, or some such thing.

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