By Noah | October 25, 2009
(I’ve been intending for some time to start posting more photo-related items. I just happened to stumble on this surprising tidbit last week.)
I’ve come to depend on the fact that pretty much every digital camera I’ve ever used, from small point-n-shoots to high end DSLRs, has allowed me to see the camera’s memory card as an ordinary filesystem drive when connected through USB. This is handy for a variety of reasons. First of all, it lets me use a very wide range of software tools to directly access the images and other files on the memory card. Also, when visiting with friends, it’s an easy way to hook the camera up to their computers, to leave them copies of pictures (being careful of viruses, of course.) Unfortunately, this option seems to be disappearing, at least from some high end Nikons.
Specifically, Nikon recently announced the D300s. It’s mostly a modest upgrade to the quite wonderful D300, but it includes some new features like video capture. I was very surprised to find that there’s also one D300 feature that’s gone missing: the so-called USB mass storage option, which is used to expose the camera’s memory card as a USB drive. On the D300, you can choose mass storage (to mount as a drive) or PTP, which is a special protocol used specifically for digital cameras; on the D300s you don’t get the choice. It’s PTP only. Maybe Nikon did this because the D300s supports two memory cards, which means they’d have to write code to expose both of them through a single USB connection.
Anyway, if you want to copy files directly to or from the filesystem on your D300s memory cards, you have to take the cards out of the camera and use a card reader reader. For those who do that anyway, it’s of course no problem; for people like me who often don’t, carrying a memory card reader everywhere is a big nuisance. I hope this isn’t a trend.