How to Automatically Upload Photos From Your Digital Camera

digital camera

Not all of us have switched to smartphone photography. Whether you use a DSLR or just a point-and-shoot camera, there are ways to automatically upload and sync photos like you would with a smartphone.

Some companies have tried to solve this problem by marketing “smart cameras,” but you don’t need a digital camera with touch-screen or even Wi-Fi built into do this.

Automatically Upload Photos via Your Computer

Your digital camera probably doesn’t have a built-in Wi-Fi or cellular data connection, so you can’t automatically upload photos directly from it without any additional hardware. However, when you connect your digital camera to your computer via a USB cable — or remove the SD card and insert it into your computer — you can have your computer immediately take over and automatically upload those photos.

Dropbox has this nicely integrated. If you use Dropbox on your computer, you’ll see a “Camera Upload” dialog when you connect a digital camera or SD card containing photos to your computer. You can have Dropbox automatically import the latest photos when you connect your camera or SD card so they’ll be stored along with the rest of your files and synced to a standard place on all your computers.

For Google Photos, you can install the Google Backup and Sync application for Windows or Mac. If you use Windows 8.1, OneDrive can automatically upload images you place in your Camera Roll folder. Import images to the Camera Roll folder when you connect them to your Windows PC and they’ll automatically stored in OneDrive. Apple’s new Photos app for Mac will allow you to import your photos into your iCloud Photo Library.

If you prefer another service, it may also have a similar feature. You can upload to any sort of cloud storage service or remote folder by configuring camera import software to automatically import the photos from your camera or SD card into a cloud storage folder — or a remote folder stored on a network-attached storage device.

Wi-Fi-enabled SD Cards

You can add wireless uploading and syncing features to a standard digital camera by buying a Wi-Fi enabled SD card. These are more expensive than the typical sorts of SD cards you’d buy for a camera, of course. They contain a standard SD card with storage, but also a Wi-Fi chip and some software. They essentially add Wi-Fi features to camreas that don’t ship with wireless, and that feature can automaticlaly upload your photos to a cloud service or just transfer them to a nearby computer without any cables.

The EyeFi is the most popular type of Wi-Fi-enabled SD card, so it’s the one you may have heard of. However, there are also many other options. Perform a search for Wi-Fi SD cards on Amazon, you’ll see options from other manufacturers like Toshiba and Transcend.

Do consider the software when you purchase such an SD card, though. Ensure it will actually do what you want it to do — unlike with standard SD cards, which don’t need any special software, getting your photos and videos off of a digital camera with a Wi-Fi-enabled SD card is all about the software it offers.

“Smart,” Wi-Fi-enabled Cameras

You can also buy digital cameras with Wi-Fi built in. You’ll find many for sale if you perform a search for Wi-Fi cameras on Amazon. This is just one option though — you don’t need to buy a fancy digital camera with a touch screen and apps, or even one that just has built-in Wi-Fi. You can get those sorts of features with a Wi-Fi-enabled SD card, assuming you’re happy with your current camera. Or, you can skip all that and just connect your digital camerat to your computer occasionally. It may even be able to upload those photos while it charges the camera via the USB port.


There’s not a lot else to it. Just pick a solution — software on your computer, a Wi-Fi-enabled SD card, or maybe even a Wi-Fi-enabled camera if you’re looking for a new one. Automatic photo uploads and syncing are a big perk of smartphone photography, but you can get similar features without ditching that dedicated camera with its optical zoom and other features smartphone cameras can’t match.

Image Credit: Eddie Yip on Flickr, Norio NAKAYAMA on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.