I have a new toy: a Nikon D5100 DSLR, and am eager to share a tiny tip. I’ll save the rationalizing and editorializing for a later post :-)
My previous camera (an Olympus C-8080) supported the USB mass storage protocol, which means that, as soon as you connected it to a Mac or PC and turned it on, it would show up as a new drive on the desktop. From there, you could simply drag and drop files into your favorite location on your HD. Of course, on the Mac, you could also set iPhoto or Image Capture to launch upon connection and take care of transferring files, but this was strictly optional. My Macbook Pro is configured to not open any application when a camera is connected, and I want it to stay that way!
Well, the D5100 does not support the USB mass storage protocol. However, this does not seem to be explicitly documented. The manual simply states that, in order to transfer pictures, you “need to” install the software that comes with the camera. Once you do that, as soon as you plug in the D5100 and turn it on, something called “Nikon Transfer 2” is launched, and you can use its ominously gray and most unMaclike UI to transfer photos and movies.
Besides offending my aesthetic sensibility, this is inconvenient: what if you need to transfer photos from your camera to a friend’s computer, but do not have the install disk with you?
Well, not to worry. The D5100 supports the so-called PTP protocol. Nikon Transfer 2 merely talks to the D5100 using PTP. However, you can use any PTP-speaking software instead! In particular, iPhoto and Image Capture on the Mac work just fine!
Bottom line: you do not need to install any Nikon software, unless of course you require it for other reasons. Connect the camera and turn it on. If you have iPhoto configured to launch whenever a camera is plugged in, iPhoto will in fact launch and will transfer your files as usual. If your Mac is configured so nothing launches when you plug in a camera, then manually launch either iPhoto or Image Capture, and again they will work just fine.
Incidentally, to choose which app to launch when a camera is plugged in (or, to ensure that no app is launched at all), you can use either iPhoto (look in Preferences) or Image Capture (look at the drop-down menu in the bottom left corner of the main window). This may be handy if, for instance, you installed the Nikon Transfer 2 software as I did, but no longer want to see it when you plug in your camera. As far as I can tell, there is no “centralized” way to change this setting (e.g., in System Preferences).