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Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 2) - Working with Scanners and Digital Cameras

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3/28/2011 9:33:18 PM

Working with Scanners and Digital Cameras

The ability to store, modify, and access digital content is one of the main features of Windows Vista. Scanners and digital cameras are two ways in which users can add digital images to their computer. A scanner is a device that is typically used for capturing physical content ranging from documents to photographs. Software and hardware work together to create digital picture files that are stored on computers. Digital cameras provide a similar function for taking photographs and then storing them on internal media, which can then be transferred to a computer.

Installing Scanners and Cameras

You typically install digital cameras and scanners by using a universal serial bus (USB) or FireWire connection. From a hardware standpoint, the computer must support the appropriate connection type, either internally or through an expansion card. In most cases, Windows Vista is able to detect automatically when you connect one of these devices to the computer. Windows automatically launches a process for detecting the hardware and attempting to install the appropriate drivers. This is the preferred method for configuring cameras and scanners.

In some cases, Windows Vista might not include the drivers that are required for a particular device. Sometimes, additional software is also required to provide the necessary functionality. For example, some scanner manufacturers use their own software for configuring capture settings. To view and configure these devices manually, click the Scanners And Cameras link in the Hardware And Sounds Control Panel window. Figure 7 shows the main dialog box.

Figure 7. Manually installing scanners and cameras

Click Add Device to start the process of finding the appropriate drivers. The first step in the process provides a list of manufacturers and models that are currently supported by the system. If the desired model is not listed, users can click Have Disk to provide the location of the drivers.

Using a Scanner

After the appropriate device drivers have been installed, users are able to use them to transfer data to the computer. The process can vary depending on the capabilities of the device. For scanners, the most common operation is to scan a new document using the Windows Fax and Scan application. Clicking the New Scan button displays a dialog box for specifying scan settings. More details about using this application are provided later in this lesson.

Using a Digital Camera

Because they are portable devices, digital cameras are configured most commonly with builtin internal memory, a removable media card, or both. There are two main ways in which pictures can be transferred from a digital camera to the computer. The first is by directly connecting the digital camera to the computer. As long as the camera device drivers are installed, it is automatically detected. Generally, users can access their pictures by opening the Computer item in the Start menu. The storage from the digital camera device appears as if it were a removable media device. Many cameras create some type of folder structure within which pictures are stored. They also use a unified format for the photo files themselves. You can move or copy the files from the device as if you are accessing a standard hard disk drive.

It is also possible to use the Windows Photo Gallery application to import pictures from a digital camera. To do this, open the application and, from the File menu, select Import From Camera Or Scanner. Figure 8 shows an example of the available options. When the files are being transferred, you also have the option of adding a tag, so you can identify the pictures easily later.

Figure 8. Importing pictures with Windows Photo Gallery


The other method of transferring pictures from a digital camera involves the use of a media card reader device. Media card readers are sometimes installed in desktop and laptop computers. They are also available as add-in devices for desktop computers (they often fit into an available drive bay) or as a USB-connected device. Most media card readers support a wide variety of media formats, such as Compact Flash, Secure Digital, and Smart Media.

Transferring data by using this method involves removing the storage card from the camera and placing it in the media reader. The media should then appear in Windows Explorer, enabling files to be moved and copied. The advantage of using a media card reader is that it is often more convenient to insert a storage card into a reader than it is to connect the camera physically to the computer, using a cable. Additionally, this method saves battery power on the camera because no additional power is required while files are being read and written.

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