How to Play Media Files on your Digital Camera: Step-by-Step Instructions

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Today’s digital cameras are much evolved instruments than the cameras of just a few years ago. Back then, the ability to record even a 30 second clip was admirable, whereas today’s mid-range digital cameras can pull off full HD videos at 30 fps without a hiccup. The screen sizes and resolutions of the cameras have also tremendously improved and using them to shoot and view videos has become very common. It’s very easy to record videos too, with most cameras having dedicated video modes and/or video buttons. But what do you do if you want to watch a collection of clips your friend has shot, on your camera? Or if you’ve downloaded a few clips off the net on your memory card and want to check them out, and don’t have a bigger screen at hand apart from your camera? Learn exactly how you can play various media files from external sources, on your digital camera.

Understanding the Format

The trickiest part about learning how to play media files on a digital camera is understanding the various formats.

  • Most media files are encoded in specific formats. You can recognize them by the three letter extension following the file name. e.g., ‘song.mp3’ is in the ‘mp3’ format. Audio files are usually available encoded as MP3 files, though other popular formats include ogg and wma. Similarly, video is available encoded in various formats, common amongst which are mp4, wmv, divx, mov, mpeg, mkv or avi. Technically, mkv and avi come under the heading of ‘containers’ and not formats per se, but for the scope of this article, one may consider them as ‘formats’.

  • Various camera models have the ability to support various formats. So, the first thing you should do is consult your camera user guide, or the internet, and find out what formats your digital camera supports. Formats like avi, mpeg, mov for video and MP3 for audio are widely supported.

  • Next check the format of the media you’d like to play in your camera. If it’s one supported by your camera, you’re in luck and may skip directly to the next section; otherwise, read on.

  • If your media is in a format not supported by your camera, you’ll have to convert its format to one your camera supports. I’d recommend software like ffmpeg (Win/Mac/Linux) or the Pazera series of converters (Windows), as they’re powerful and simple to use, but you may use any that you’re familiar with.

Transferring Media Files to the Memory Card

Once you’ve got the media in the right format, which your digital camera can read, you’re done with the difficult part. Now you simply have to transfer the media files to a compatible memory card. Use the one you usually use in your digital camera.

  • To facilitate the transfer, you’ll need a computer and a memory card reader. Learn how to use a memory card reader in this article.

  • Nowadays, there’s a new series of SD cards available which support wireless transfer of images. You may directly transfer images to such card using Wi-Fi and without the need of a card reader.

Play Media Files on the Digital Camera

Now that you have your media files transferred onto the memory card your camera accepts, simply plug the card in the slot and power up your camera.

  1. Go to the ‘Play’ (or ‘Playback’ or similar) mode of your camera, usually represented by a forward facing triangle.
  2. Browse using the multi-direction (or ‘Arrow’ or similar) keys on the camera till you locate the media files.
  3. Press the ‘Play’ or ‘Select’ button (depending on the camera model) to start playing the media files on your digital camera.