How To Use A Digital Camera With Linux

How To Use A Digital Camera With Linux

digital cameras linuxThe days when working with digital cameras and other common consumer hardware on Linux was a chore that involved fiddling with terminal commands are over. Using a digital camera with modern Linux distributions like Ubuntu is an extremely simple process. In fact, the built-in software on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions is better than Windows for this, as it allows you to easily do basic photo-editing and upload your photos to web services.

The following instructions work on Ubuntu. Other Linux distributions may include a few different programs, but everything should work similarly and be very simple – assuming you’re not using a super geeky Linux distribution that disables this stuff, of course.

Getting Photos Off Your Digital Camera

When you connect your digital camera to Linux using its included USB cable – just like you would on Windows – you’ll see a prompt asking you what you want to do. You can open a photo management program like Shotwell (included by default in Ubuntu and many other new Linux distributions) or open the digital camera’s storage in your file manager.

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You can browse the photos on your digital camera in Shotwell. To get all the photos off your digital camera and onto your Linux computer, right-click the camera in Shotwell’s sidebar and select Import All. To grab only some photos, select them and use the Import Selected option.

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You can also browse the photos on your digital camera from your Linux distribution’s file manager. It will work just like using a USB drive, so you can easily copy files off the camera and onto your computer.

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If you don’t have a USB cable that fits your digital camera, you can also eject your digital camera’s SD card and insert it into your computer’s SD card slot (assuming your computer has an SD card reader.) You’ll be able to grab photos off the SD card in the same ways.

Basic Photo Editing

You can do some basic photo editing right in Shotwell. Shotwell includes tools for rotating, cropping, and straightening images, as well as performing red-eye correction and color adjustment. There’s also a one-click Enhance button that tries to make the image more vivid.

To edit an image with Shotwell, locate it in in Shotwell’s library and double-click it.

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Shotwell’s tools are quick and easy to use. They’re ideal for basic photo touch-ups.

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Advanced Photo Editing

If you need to do more advanced photo editing, you’ll need another application. The most full-featured photo editor for Linux is the GIMP image editor. It may not be installed by default (it isn’t on Ubuntu), but you can install it from your Linux distribution’s software repositories – for example, in Ubuntu, open the Ubuntu Software Center application, search for GIMP, and click the install button.

After you have, you can locate your imported photos in the Pictures folder (or wherever else you stored them) in your file manager. Right-click a photo and use the Open With menu to open it in another installed photo editor, such as the GIMP.

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The GIMP provides many more photo editing tools, allowing you to apply all sorts of effects and perform other image-editing operations. It’s the closest thing to Photoshop on Linux.

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Uploading and Sharing Your Photos

Once you’ve grabbed your photos off your digital camera and edited them to your satisfaction, you’re ready to upload them to web services, email them, and share them with your friends. You can upload these photos to websites just as you would on Windows – just browse to the Pictures folder when uploading a file.

To easily upload photos to a variety of web services, you can also use Shotwell’s image uploader. Simply select some photos in your library and click the Publish button.


You’ll be able to upload them to a variety of services, including Facebook, Flickr, and Google’s Picasa Web Albums.

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These aren’t the only programs you can use on Linux – not by a long shot. You could use different applications to import and edit your photos. You could even do this all from the command line with terminal commands. But this should give you an idea of what you’re in for – Linux distributions include software to make working with digital cameras easy.

Want to take better photos? Download our free Essential Guide to Digital Photography. Or, to learn more about Linux, download Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide.

What programs do you use to import photos from your digital camera, edit them, and upload them to the web on Linux? Leave a comment and share your favorites!

Image Credit: Compact Digital Camera via Shutterstock