Saving clear photographs

edited February 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
How do you save shots from your camera on your PC without affecting the image quality?


  • edited February 2015
    I would do it in the simplest possible way, which is to use a card reader and transfer the files from the card directly to a folder in the PC. You can have subfolders showing the date of the transfer, and keep track of files that way. Every few days, dump the contents of your card into a new, dated subfolder. Delete only in the camera, or in the subfolder. Don't do any manipulating of files or card contents on the card when it's in the computer. I've had a few instances where writing back to the card has clobbered the whole thing and rendered my files unreadable. Transfer even the junk to the computer, and cull it there, then reformat the card in the camera when you're sure you have saved all you want.

    I use View NX2 or Capture NXD to read raw files and convert them to JPG. You can also get free programs such as Irfanview or Faststone that can read a raw file and convert it, but they cannot process it at the raw level. Irfanview is very smooth operating and makes resizing and resampling easy.

    I have heard that some programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop, although they can read and process a raw file, do not interpret some Nikon specific settings such as Active D-lighting, correctly. If you have D-lighting on and are using a post processing program like these, you may get a more accurate copy if you first run it through View NX2 and save it as a TIFF file. You can do a bulk conversion and end up with TIFF copies which will leave the originals untouched.

    In any case, if you transfer a file directly from the card to the computer's hard drive, either with a card reader or a camera connection, that will be exactly what is in the camera, copied with no change to the image quality.
  • edited February 2015
    Hmm, this is an odd question if you want to know how to transfer photos from the camera to the PC without affecting image quality, because I can’t really think of a way to transfer the images that would affect image quality. We’re dealing with digital files so it’s all-or-none. Copying files from source to destination doesn’t change the actual files.

    So perhaps the question is how to archive photos on the PC without degrading image quality?
    Easiest way is to shoot RAW and archive those.
    If you shoot JPG or just want to archive JPG, then shoot and save at the highest quality with the least amount of compression. If you make any edits to your photos in post-processing, always choose to “Save as” to create a new file rather than to overwrite the existing file with “Save”. Always start your edits with your source file.

    Oh, and back-up your stuff. When your hard drives inevitably fail, you don’t lose file integrity or image quality, you lose everything. Have at least 2 backups; one local and one off-site.
  • edited February 2015
    I would second the idea of a backup drive. Nowadays you can get a USB drive of a terabyte for under a hundred bucks, and more for little more. You can also get USB powered cases for conventional hard drives. \A drive of that sort can be run independently of any computer. If you refresh it periodically and unplug it when not used, nothing that happens to your computer will affect it; malware, viruses, crashes, accidental commands. About the only hazard will be if your house burns down.

    For image integrity, the main thing to avoid is successive resaves of a JPG file. When you save a JPG file over an existing one, it probably applies the compression algorithm anew. It's not much harm the first couple of times, but eventually it shows. Always keep an un-touched original, and do not overwrite it with your edits.

    If you shoot raw, most of the edits made can be reversed. Save JPG copies for distribution and resizing. If you shoot JPG, save the originals and whenever you edit, "save as" a new copy.
Sign In or Register to comment.