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09 September 2009

Ask Mecha Are transfer cables between digital cameras and computers universal? I've left mine at home while traveling. Just want to save myself a trip to the store if it's futile.
All of the major brands have their own standard cable that only their cameras use, but you're unlikely to find one in a store. Cheap off-brand cameras may use a standard mini-USB cable (which look like this), which are relatively easy to find, as do some DSLRs.

USB memory card readers are cheap and standard though.
posted by cillit bang 09 September | 02:18
Kind of repeating cillit bang, but I was getting flustered trying to replace my cable, when someone asked "why don't you just put the card in your PC card reader slot?" Problem solved.

Duh. Me old, me no know new tech.
posted by Meatbomb 09 September | 08:41
Drives me nuts that these aren't standards-based.
posted by Miko 09 September | 09:23
Nope. Each brand seems to have its own cable. Drives me crazy also.

For some reason I have held on to a cable from a long-dead Kodak, and it has no chance of working in any other camera.
posted by danf 09 September | 09:58
If it's a relatively recent purchase, it's highly likely that the connector is mini-USB, which any corner camera or electronics store will have in stock. Mini-USB looks like this.
posted by eamondaly 09 September | 11:26
If it's a mini-USB to USB cable, these a generic (the U stands for universal).
posted by matthewr 09 September | 14:19
There's a 50% chance (wild-ass guess) or so that it'll be a Mini or Micro-USB connector. More likely to be mini than Micro, unless it's very new, and more likely to be Mini if it's been made in the last few years than if it's old.

Older than a few years or just unlucky, and it'll probably be a proprietary cable specific to the manufacturer of the camera. A lot of mfrs did this because they wanted one socket on the camera to do *everything*: USB, analog video out, power, you name it. So they just used some weird multi-pin connector and then had various breakout cables for different functions. Cheap, lazy design = inconvenience for you.

The bright side is that in most cameras (except the Kodaks with internal memory) you can just pop the card out and put it in a standard card reader. So rather than fuss with the cables I'd just buy a USB card reader for whatever memory format your camera takes. Or get a multi-format card reader, they're not that much more expensive. You can find them at drugstores now. That will prevent you from ever having to care about the camera's interface cord again.

To be honest I don't know where the supplied USB cords are to most of the cameras I own. I never use them; I just pop out the SD or CF cards and put them into a reader, and download that way.
posted by Kadin2048 09 September | 14:24
My Canon camera uses a standard usb to usb. My Kodak uses some bizarre proprietary cable that I can never find when I need it. Hate that!

Still, if there's a Radio Shack near where you are, they may have whatever cable you need. Just take the camera with you.
posted by Dejah 09 September | 14:45
My Nikon DSLR's (D40 & D50) both take a standard mini-USB, as does my really old Canon Powershot. My daughter's Olympus point & shoot takes an Olympus-only cable. When she lost hers, as children are wont to do, I bought her a card reader instead because I was too cheesed at Olympus to want to give them another $35.00 (!) to support their non-standard plug. Plus, the card reader was actually cheaper.
posted by Devils Rancher 09 September | 15:12
My Canon uses a standard mini-USB. My old Nikon uses some kind of goofy third-string pseudo-standard one that also appears in Fuji cameras or Rio mp3 players or something.
posted by box 09 September | 16:11
Thanks all. Going to just wait until I get home to upload photos. I have something like 900 photos left on the card until I need to dump some, so I should be OK.
posted by mdonley 11 September | 02:24
Does anyone know || So, I have these noodles, and don't know what to do with them.