SENDING DIGITAL PHOTOS FROM RUSSIA TO USA

While I am in Russia how do I get digital photos back to my friends, family or doctor for them to see?

There are many, many answers to this question and the solution will also depend on what computer equipment and rules for using it you will find where you are staying in Russia. The solution will also be different if you take your own laptop with you and how your laptop is set up hardware and software wise.

The problem with computers and digital cameras is that they are all different and don't have the same software and/or hardware. This is compounded in a foreign country where you don't know what they are going to have.

Ok, let's start at the beginning. You have a digital camera and you can take photos, so far so good. At home you hook up your camera to your computer with a USB cable and transfer the photos to the computer. The computer you use for this has software you installed that came with the camera that allows you to transfer the photos. You are happy, you can take photos, transfer them to your computer and you have even figured out how to send them as an attachment to email. Life is good : )

Now you go to Russia and take your digital camera and are going to takes lots of photos. For this first scenario let's say you are not taking a laptop with you. You are deep in the heart of Russia and have taken many great photos of the adorable addition(s) to your family and want to send those photos over the internet back to the good ole USA.

First step, locate computer. Ok, you locate a computer at a hotel business center that has internet access or at an internet café.

The problems you now face there are:

1/ Does that computer has a USB port?
It may be an older computer that does not have one. If no USB port then you won't be able to get your photos out of the camera.

2/ Say the computer at the business center or internet café has a USB port. Will they allow you to hook up your camera to it?
The answer to this is maybe or maybe not, so you may be out of luck there.

3/ Say the computer has a USB port and they allow you to hook your camera up, pretty good so far BUT you will need to install your software on their computer in order for your camera to transfer the photos to their computer. The chances of them allowing you to do this are slim, you might get lucky but if not, no photo transfer.

The exception to installing software would be if the computer is running Windows XP. If so, when you hook your camera up to the computer through the USB port you will be able to access your photos right from the camera without installing software. XP will make the camera appear as a separate drive where you can see your photos.

You may get lucky also and find a computer at a business center or internet café that has a card reader attached to it. You will be able to then take your media card out of your camera, plug it in the card reader and have access to your photos.

So far you see there are a lot of ifs, ands, maybes, buts and I don't knows in trying to get your photos from camera to the internet. You might get lucky, you might not.

Another option for you is to find a 1 hour photo shop. Many of these will have card readers and will be able to take the photos off your media card and burn them on a CD for you. You can then take the CD to your internet connected computer you found and (if allowed to put a CD in) have access to your photos.

You may be able to find a photo shop or internet café that might be able to do all the work for you and email the photos that they download from your media card to the email addresses you provide.

If in Moscow you may try here: Photocenter.ru   It looks like they are a full service shop that can even put your photos online for you!

You may even run across a place that has a scanner to scan your pictures you took with a regular film camera and had developed at a 1 hour photo shop to a disk or CD.

Now let's explore some options if you take your laptop with you.

You can install the camera software into your laptop (or no software needed if you are running Windows XP), hook your camera up to your laptop via USB cable and transfer the photos of your little Russian prince or princess to your laptop.

If you are lucky and are able to configure your computer you might be able to find an internet connection in your hotel room, business center or internet café where you can plug your computer into and have internet access. Now you will be able to access your photos right from your own computer.

If you are unable find an internet connection you can hook into or unable to configure your computer to do so you can transfer your photos to a floppy disk or burn them to a CD or DVD if your computer has a floppy drive or CD/DVD burner in it. You can then take your floppy or CD or DVD, find a computer at a business center or internet café, insert your media into the computer (if they will allow you to) and have access to your photos.

Wireless and high speed internet. These are becoming more and more popular as technology marches on in Russia. More and more hotels are offering one or both, especially in the larger cities. I believe all the Marriotts in Moscow offer in room wireless high speed internet service. With wired or wireless in your hotel room it makes it convenient to access the internet for sending pictures and email. High speed of course makes it much faster than dialup and you will be able to send larger files with a high speed connection.

Ok great, I got my photos onto a computer with internet access, I can't use my email because I am not calling into my regular ISP, what do I do?

Well, you can simply sign up for a free “internet based” email account such as:
Hotmail
Yahoo
Myway


You can just use one of these free services for your email. They all will allow attachments (your photos) to be sent with an email. There may be limits on the size of the file attachments and the total size of the email you may send, check the individual sites but all of these will work well for this purpose.

As an alternative you can upload your photos to an online photo storage and sharing service such as:
Kodak Gallery
Webshots
Sony Imagestation
Snapfish

Hpphoto


You can invite your friends, family or doctor to view your photos on these sites and they are fairly easy to use.

Well now it looks like most of your questions have been answered and all your problems solved : ) A few additional ideas and hints:

Keep your file size small! A digital camera set on a quality/large/fine setting can crank out a huge picture which will also be a huge file size. Adjust your camera to a lower setting. You will be able to get more photos on a floppy disk if using a disk. Also if the internet connection you will be using is dialup that 50kb file will be much easier to send than the large 500kb fine quality image.

Possibly your agency can help you send digital photos. They may be set up to do this or they may know of a local place where you can get this done.

An alternative would be to take a film camera and have the film developed overnight. Photo shops are common in most cities in Russia. You could fax these photos or FexEx them.

The Sony Mavica line of cameras will write directly to a floppy disk or some models a CD which you can then (if you have permission) put into the internet connected computer you found. Other models from other manufacturers may be able to write to a floppy, CD or DVD also.

DIGITAL VIDEO

Can I take digital camcorder video and transfer it from Russia to the US?

Possible, but a little more difficult and technologically involved and a high speed connection would be required. Let's explore this option briefly. A few things you face will be transferring the digital video to computer you will need the computer to have a “Firewire” (IEEE1394) port in it which may or may not be available on a computer in Russia. Then you will need video editing software on the computer. Windows XP comes with Windows Movie Maker which you can use.

Of course if you had your laptop with you that has a Firewire port and video editing software you will be ahead of the game. Then you face the problem of SIZE. Digital video is very large even when compressed. To get quality footage someone can see you will end up with a large file size which then you will require a high speed internet connection to send this video. Since high speed connections are becoming more popular in Russia it may be possible to do this.

There is a compromise between size and quality when you are editing your video, if you make the file size small thus easier to send the quality will suffer. If you make the file size large for quality (so a doctor may evaluate it closely) it will take longer to send. So you have to find a compromise in the middle somewhere. Remember also a high speed connection generally has a much faster download speed and slower upload speed.

Ok I video ready to send, where so I send it to? Video is a little different than photos due to the large size there aren't as many sites that allow you to share video. Most email has file size limits so depending on the email you probably won't be able to send the video that way. A few sites I have found that you can send and share video are:
Yousendit
Sony Imagestation

Neptune Mediashare

The above sites all work in slightly different ways but all allow you to share video you upload. File size limits vary and will apply. Neptune.com is an option found in Windows Movie Maker under uploading to the internet. Of course you could also get your own website since webspace is so cheap now and put your videos on your own site but that discussion is beyond the scope of this basic article.

Is there any other way to send my doctor a video so they can evaluate my referral?

You could take the video on a VHS camcorder and FedEx the tape to your doctor. If your camcorder is VHS-C you will need to send an adapter with the tape. If you have any other tape format (8mm, DV, etc.) you will have to transfer the video from your tape/camera to a standard VHS tape so your doctor can put it in his/her VCR. To do this you will have to hook your camera to a VCR to transfer the tape the only problem is the VCR's in Russia are a different format and this won't work unless you bring your own VCR. Or you could wait until you got home to do the transfer and send to your doctor, a late opinion is better than none at all.

An excellent link explaining the various video tape sizes and video standards is here:
Understanding Your Camcorder

If you have a DVD burner on your laptop or can locate a computer with one in Russia you could also burn a DVD with your video and send it to your doctor.

So sending video you took in Russia to the US is more challenging then sending photos but for the determined and tech savvy it may be able to be done.

It's impossible to cover every piece of hardware, option or solution, this is just a basic guide to a few commonly asked questions. Some things not gone into are internet access cards, wireless in detail, card readers, camera recommendations, Apple computers, etc. etc. The electronic age is advancing fast, things change on a daily basis and new solutions become available every day so this is in no way a complete know it all answer your questions just a helpful guide.

Any further questions feel free to email me: wayne@gabany.com I may be able to answer your PC/digital camera questions, I am pretty knowledgeable about both. If you find any errors in anything I have said or if you have found a really easy way to do anything covered here I haven't mentioned or if you have some helpful solutions on these topics please let me know and I will add to this document.

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Sending Digital Photos