How To Control The Compatibility And Cable Chaos Of Digital Cameras

It’d be very easy for me to pick up a new (used) digital classic camera or two every week, such is their availability and appeal.

My recent experiments with three different 4MP cameras didn’t help, proving to me that they were ample for my kind of photography, so the potential wealth of cameras out there is expanding daily.

But I’ve managed to settle on a handful of digital cameras I love. 

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On the top row, left to right, Pentax Q with 8.5mm (47mm equiv) f/1.9 01 Standard Prime lens, Ricoh Caplio GX100. In the middle, Ricoh GRD III, Panasonic Lumix GF1 with 12-32mm (24-64mm equiv) lens. And on the bottom, Panasonic Lumix LX3 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1.

Something that’s helped me keep it this minimal and not have 66 cameras rather than six, is the associated paraphernalia with digital bodies. 

Each needs a memory card and a way to transfer the images from the memory card to a computer, plus a battery and a means of charging it.

Six cameras could mean six different memory cards (potentially different formats), six different cables to connect the camera to a computer, six different batteries, and six different battery chargers.

That’s a whole mess of stuff, which would drive my inner minimalist crazy!

Not to mention all those cables making my camera shelves look like a huge plate of spaghetti (or linguini!) hurled against a wall.

So as I’ve collected this core arsenal, I’ve managed to contain the associated extras to the following. 

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Top left is the mains lead I use for all battery chargers. I have a spare if this fails, but they’re universally available and cheap anyway.

Next along is the charger for the Sony. This plugs into the camera one end, and the mains charger lead the other end.

In the middle row, first is the battery charger for the Ricohs. They use the same battery as each other, and, branding aside, it’s exactly the same battery as for the Lumix LX3 too. I have five batteries altogether which came with the cameras.

In the middle is the Pentax Q battery charger. I have two batteries, though they are different to the Ricoh/LX3 ones. The Q charger uses the same mains cable though.

Middle right is the Lumix GF1 charger, a bigger battery, but again it uses the same mains cable.

So for all six cameras, I manage to use four charger units and one mains cable. 

On the memory card front, I’ve eschewed cameras with less common cards like Compact Flash (CF) and Smart Media.

The Sony is the odd one out, using a SanDisk M2 2GB card, with an adapter so it fits the Memory Stick Duo Pro slot.

All five of the other cameras use SD cards. I’ve picked up enough of these with cameras over the years that I have a card that lives in each, with a spare or two.

To upload photos, with the Sony I either plug the light grey USB cable pictured above into the camera one end and straight into my MacBook the other, or I remove the M2 card and slot it in the All to 1 card reader, and plug that in, with the same USB cable. The former option is quicker.

For all five of the other cameras, I just pop out the SD card, slot it into the All to 1 card reader and plug this into my MacBook.

Whichever card/camera is plugged in, the Apple Image Capture app pops open automatically, and I download the required photos into the current month’s folder on my MacBook.

This is synced to my Google Photos, so they upload there too, ready for any editing (if required) via my Xperia phone and Snapseed.

I could of course make this even simpler.

The obvious option would be ditching the odd cameras (the Sony, the Lumix GF1, and Pentax Q) and have just the one charger for the two Ricohs and Lumix LX3.

Or just use one camera, which I’ve pretty much been doing lately with the Sony anyway.

But having just one mains cable (which I just leave plugged into the wall and change the charger on the end) with four chargers is minimal enough for now, and avoids having six cables and chargers constantly tangled and swapped in and out.

On the upload front, as I have only one cable and reader, the only way I could be more minimal is having none at all.

I have looked at WiFi SD cards before, but I don’t think all (or perhaps any!) of my cameras would be compatible, and I’d be swapping the card in and out of different cameras all the time.

The other option is a WiFi enabled camera, but again none of mine have that capability, nor do I really need it. One cable and reader is perfectly fine.

So although, yes, I do still have six digital cameras, and this could mean six different batteries, chargers, memory cards and connecting cables, the way I’ve chosen and set my arsenal up means very few cables and plenty of cross compatibility. 

I remember going through a similar phase a couple of years ago with straps from SLRs and film compacts, and finding a satisfyingly minimal solution.

For these digital compacts I have two Footprint custom leather wrist straps, the same size, just one is darker brown the other.

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I love using these, and they can quickly and easily be swapped across cameras when the need arises.

Overall, this set up means I have the variety of six different cameras, but without the potential chaos of cables and compatibility that would likely frustrate and impact my pleasure in using them.

How about you? How do you manage the compatibility and cables of multiple digital cameras? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.

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