Three Ways to Transfer your Video to your Computer

The three most common ways to transfer video are:

  • Using removable media, such as a memory card from your device, and inserting it into a card reader.
  • Using a cable to connect the recording device to the computer so you can browse and transfer the files
  • Wirelessly, especially from mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Removable Media

There are many kinds, and sizes, of removable media, and if you want to transfer media from removable media, you will need an appropriate "card reader". The most common removable media for digital cameras is SD Cards. SD Cards also come in smaller versions (mini-SD and micro-SD) that are compatible via adapters:

SD Card family

Another common card type (though not as common as SD) is Compact Flash. These are significantly larger than SD Cards. Here is a Compact Flash card being inserted into a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera:

Compact Flash Card being inserted into a DSLR

Some brands of camera require special memory cards, such as Sony's "MemoryStick", or Panasonic's P2 cards found in some of their most expensive professional cameras. These cards are rarely cross-compatible with other kinds of memory card, so it is very important to check what kind of media your camera needs if you are buying extra cards or a card reader to suit the cards you are using.

Cable Transfer

Some cameras do not have removable media, but instead record video to internal memory. To get footage off these cameras may require you to connect your camera to a computer using a data cable - usually a USB cable with a mini or micro USB plug.

Cable plugged into camera

Once the cable is connected to both computer and camera, you may need to turn your camera's power on before it is recognised by the computer. Once it is recognised, you should be able to use your computer to "browse" the contents of the camera, and transfer the files you need.

Wireless Transfer

Many cameras these days are equipped with wireless data capabilities - especially devices such as smartphones and tablets. If you are connected to a home or work wireless network, you might be able to transfer your files to a computer wirelessly and free of charge.

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It is also possible to buy "add on" wireless memory cards and adapters for many cameras, which not only store a local copy of each video file on the card, but can automatically transmit a copy to a nearby device:

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Be careful though - if you are using your phone carrier's mobile data rather than a local wireless network, the size of the video files (which are often very large indeed) could be extremely expensive.


Where is video stored on your camera? Which method of transferring your files best suits your camera and computer setup, and why? Provide your answer in the "Comments" section below.


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