DIY: How to upload your RAW/JPG files to the Internet without a computer (guest post)

Today's guest post by GfK from Patras, Greece will show you how to share RAW/JPG files with an Android phone:

Except the Nikon D4 that has Ethernet connection and Nikon D3200 that is compatible with a WiFi transmitter, I am not aware of a DSLR that can share images directly on the Net. Here's a description on how one can download the images to the mobile phone and share them instantly (or later) on the Internet.

All you need is a card readerAndroid phoneUSB On-the-Go cable (the black cable in the images), USB Y-splitter cable (those that come with some external hard drives so they provide more amperes at their input) and USB battery charger.


Most smartphones and tablets have microUSB port for connecting peripherals. By using a USB-OtG cable and if a suitable drivers exist (Android OS is based on Linux, it has embedded drivers for USB storage devices and for other peripherals as well) one can read the contents of a flash drive or a SD/CF/MS card.

The problem is that mobile phones don't provide current at their microUSB port. With Y-splitter or other ways (check here) we can provide +5V simultaneous power to the flash drive and to the microUSB port of the phone. To check if everything is connected, make sure the phone is charging and the lamp of the flash drive/card reader is on. In my setup the current is provided by USB solar battery charger (around $15 on eBay), but if you're in the office you can use a PC USB port.

Using the mobile phone's file manager, navigate to the flash drive (usually at /mnt/usb, if you need to mount it read this link). Convert the RAW into JPG in the camera or in the phone and share the image on the Internet via 3G:

That's all. Now if somebody ask you to instantly upload a photo, you have a solution. Of course there are also the Eye-Fi memory cards, but they are expensive and it's rather unlikely that all of our cards are of that kind. Eye-Fi cards are however tested and reliable.

Update: here are some additional Wi-Fi solutions:

  • Airstash: it's a flash drive that allows you to transfer media on an SD card back and forth via Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Tp-Link Wireless 150N 3G Prtbl router: it's battery powered wireless router - you can just plugin in the D4 and connect to the wireless network with your smartphone.
  • Sanho CloudFTP is a mifi device which allows USB storage to be plugged in. The storage can then be accessed from the phone via browser or an FTP client then uploaded to the internet. Since the device is self-powered it, only two items are required - the card reader and the device itself. It has the added benefit of supporting DLNA and participate in other wifi networks.
  • Check also this CameraMator kickstarter project: it allows you to tether your camera to any iOS or Android phone/tablet.

Check also those related posts on DIY Wi-Fi solutions:

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  • WoutK89

    Not to be a nitpicker, but isn’t an Android smartphone a mini-computer? So, isn’t it still uploading files by using a computer?

    • MegaMo

      It will be a lot easier to just connect a card reader to your PC
      This is a solution for photographers that need to send photo’s to other computers asap and it’s better than not having at all.

    • syd

      Apple iPad read SD cards with a $5 (aftermarket) adapter. Mine has a sim card so I upload RAWs straight to my Dropbox. Been doing it for almost a year.

      The above Greek solution is great too, just more gear required. But it is not revolutionary.

      • Agreed – the first time I used the iPad connection kit I was stunned. Saved my when an editor called me mid-assignment and asked if they could get an image to display at a conference they were having in real-time – combo of the $5 connector and a nearby coffee shop (for free WiFi) was brilliant.

        The Eye-fi card does this too, but not as quickly.

        • Bob

          Even more brilliant, iPad with 3G-Upload to server on the spot. Or even more brilliant, D4 and upload to server, no need to carry iPad. Or on remote areas, even more brilliant… Upload via satellite. Or even more brilliant…

          • syd

            Are you bored? You must be. I am to be responding to such a stupid comment.

      • Sem

        Got Samsung Galaxy S2, have read USB flash drives via USB-OTG adapter no problemo. Does SD draw more power than an USB flash drive?
        I’m aware USB-OTG is not supported on all Androids.

    • GfK

      Android OS should be OK for use in computers.
      But in terms of hardware, smartphones don’t have fully-Sized fully-powered USB ports.
      That’s the post about

  • Thank you for this cool guide! It might be a reason for some photographers to switch to Android… 🙂

    Now we only have to wait for a company to build a card reader with integrated solar cells (or another reliable power source).

    • Stepan

      Even better would be an Android device with integrated full-size SD card reader. I am looking for something like that for making photo backups on the go.

      • WoutK89

        I think there are already a lot of back-up systems available that take full size SD-cards. Epson makes or made some for instance.

      • shigzeo

        SD cards draw too much power to be used by any phone (or tablet) for that matter. That is why you must have an external battery, or use a USB hub between your device and the reader.

        Having an internal SD reader won’t mean anything unless the card reader has a separate battery, or MUCH more power is diverted from the main battery to the reader.

        And I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

        • mthd

          sd cards draw too much power for a a tablet? what?!

          you can read SD cards on an iPad with the aforementioned camera connection kit or a number of unpowered adapters. and upload via 3g or wifi in a few taps.

  • Joe

    This is an ok way to create a backup if you have no other option. Personally, I wouldn’t really consider uploading to the net using the 3G/4G connection based on the actual transfer time and especially if you are on a capped data plan.

  • Mustafa Yalcin

    You don’t need this kind of process. Don’t worry about photo transfer to some Android phone. It is very easy, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S3. Because it has already support USB host. So you just need a card reader. That’s it. Before D3s some Nikon model has USB Mass storage. For example I’m just connecting D3 to S G3, than my phone see all the photos from camera.

  • Hahaha,

    I would love to see you uploading 14-bit RAW files from a D800! Just seems a bit O.T.T…


    • Zaphod

      I don’t see the problem. Images are 45 MB. I usually get 2 Mbit/s uplink on my 3G android phone (Sony Xperia/telenor in sweden) About 3 minutes. On average there is a lot more than 3 minutes between my photos worth publish on the net.

      • We are just spoiled in Sweden with good network speeds and pretty much no limitations 🙂

        OT: This is cool… wonder if it works on iPhone…

  • I may be wrong, but couldn’t this be done by having an Eye-Fi card and sending your files to a phone or tablet?

    • WoutK89

      “Of course there are also the Eye-Fi memory cards, but they are expensive and it’s rather unlikely that all of our cards are of that kind. Eye-Fi cards are however tested and reliable.”

      It is on the bottom of the article.

      • I am sorry, you’re right, my mistake. I didn’t notice that.

    • Georg Panzer

      Yes, an Eye-Fi SD card can create an ad hoc network for your iPhone and transfer pictures to it, even in RAW. I do that all the time.

      But of course, some may prefer elaborate to simple.
      -Georg Panzer

  • For my trip in Iceland, I bought a Samsung Galaxy mp3 player. I shot raw files to the first card in my D7000. The second card was a microSD card in an adapter, so whenever I had the chance to upload photos I processed the raw files to the second slot, and uploaded through the microSD in the mp3 player. Not too fast, but worked well for uploading a few photos at the end of every day.

    • jonnyapple

      This is what I was going to say, EP. I guess not all phones have a micro SD card slot, though.

  • Zaphod

    At least D800 has support for Eyefi, and android phones are linux machines so you can run the open-source version of eyefi server on your phone.

  • Anton

    Just with an iPad and the camera connection kit. My iPad 2 pulls in Nikon RAWs just fine. Edit in Snapseed, save out the jpegs and upload anywhere.

  • Mustafa Yalcin

    Of course you need a OTG cable too which is a converter micro USB port to female USB host. But you don’t need an extra power for Samsung Galaxy S3

  • why so hard, this does the job right?

  • It’s much easier, and I have done it many times, to shoot back-up low-res jpgs to a micro SD in a SD card adapter. Then all you have to do is mount the micro sd in your phone and send…

    • TS

      That’s exactly what i’m doing and I don’t need all this hocus pocus to transfer images over the air. I’ve got a 16Gb Transcend microSD adapter permanently in my camera and put the little card in the phone when I want instantaneous transfer.

      • GfK

        obviously you forget that many smartphones (even top of the tops) don’t have microSD slot.
        Also you forget that you may run many apps in that microSD and switching cards may leave you with the wrong card when wanting the other one.
        Lastly you forget that many phones require battery removal before reaching the microSD

        • Tyler Evert

          I think it’s far more likely that the individual phone doesn’t support USB OTG. And I would hope that the phones that don’t have microSD card slot would support it.

          p.s. I am not forgetting anything, b/c I know everything…

          • GfK

            My phone (motorola Atrix) doesn’t have USB OtG.
            If you give +5V to USB port with a battery
            and then mount the connected device (perhaps you need another ROM) then you’re ready.
            Android already has drivers for USB mass storage devices.

            • Tyler Evert

              Trying it tonight, if it works, I stand corrected…

  • Dragon2020

    The easiest way I think is to use microSD card inside SD card to take pictures. Then just put the card into your android phone to upload.

  • Stefan

    Am i missing something? .. A USB On-The-Go cable should be all that is needed to plug your camera “directly” into your phone/tablet. No need to complicate things with additional powersupplies and card readers.

    • GfK

      most common problem is phone doesn’t provide power to the microUSB port, so you have to overcome this as well

  • abhay

    If you have any Nokia Symbian device like N8, E7, Pureview 808, you can transfer your photos using the sd card reader and USB on the go cable….Nokia has being providing this feature for last several years…you dont need by other device…much better option than Android phones….

  • I wonder if it would be possible to plug a cable to the camera directly instead of card reader ?

    • GfK

      hmm, that’s a good one
      Let’s test that

    • Rob

      That’s what I came to suggest. Why complicate things by taking the card out of the camera, putting it in a reader, then connecting three devices when you can ditch the reader and the power supply and just connect the camera directly to the phone?

      • Rob

        Plus you already always have your camera and phone with you, and most people carry the usb cable for charging their phone, so nothing has to be added to your kit. With the USB 3.0 on the D800 I imagine some people have ditched the card reader when they’re out anyways.

  • Does the phone have to be rooted?

    • UncleDusty

      Androids do not.

  • Anders Larsson

    I use a Galaxy Tab 7.7 with a Nikon D700 and Samsung USB adapter.
    And it works without any extra y-splitter.
    Motorola Razr Droid does not work due to the power issue :-/
    But some Samsung phones have been reported to work…be carefull and google it good before you try yourself…

    Photo editing software is still abit crappy, most dont support Exif or IPTC tags :-/
    But it works great to send pictures direct from the “action” to a newsagency within minutes…

  • shigzeo

    Photogene supports all of that plus Whois for photographer. Manages files just like lightroom, but does not work in XML tables for RAW photos. First it converts files to jpeg, then goes to typical adjustments.

    The only true raw editor I know of for tablets is PiRAWhna, an iPad/iPhone app that tends to freeze mid process. I think there will be a host of stabler options in the future, but first people have to see the tablet computer for what it is: a truly mobile workstation.

    • I wanted to add that my reply was in response to the post above me, written by Mr. Larsson.

  • Mustafa Yalcin

    Hi Anders Larsson;
    Don’t worry about Photo editing software for Exif and IPTC. MoPhotos ( of Android works great for EXIF and IPTC. And it works perfect with 4 cores and USB host support Android devices. It support also XMP files. I use Samsung Galaxy S3 and very good combination. I can say; you really don’t need computer for that. And MoPhotos prices are less than 9 Euros.

  • tengris

    I always envy these guys whos pictures are fit for the web out of the cam without expensive post processing …

    • Tyler Evert

      Practice, practice, practice…

  • Gard

    I have heard that the Android device must support host mode for something like this to work, and that only 2.3 and above supports it. I have an old 2.2 phone that I’d like to use for something like this, but I take it that I’d need to install some kind of unofficial OS update on it?

  • Rob. S.

    My Android phone can’t act as USB host, meaning it doesn’t offer USB-OtG and your solution won’t work for me. What I’d be needing is a device that connects two USB slave devices by offering host mode for one of them.While there do seem to exist such beasts out in the wild in very small numbers, I haven’t been able to actually lay my hands on one.

  • I can confirm that with the Samsung Galaxy S3, it is possible to connect to a camera, using a micro USB cable connected to a USB OTG cable, and download images directly to the phone.

    With my Nikon D40, the phone sees the card in the camera as a mass storage device and launches a file manager app.

    With my Canon Powershot s70, the phone detects that it is attached to a camera, and launches the gallary app to import photos.

    Either way, you can then backup photos to internal storage or an micro sdcard, tweak using an app or transmit using mobile data or a wifi connection.

    I assume that the cameras provide power for the connection but I can’t check this, because the S3 provides a powered connection itself and of course, your mileage may vary using other android devices and cameras.

  • Andreas

    Maybe you take a look at this App:

    All you need is an android phone with USB host mode and an cable!

  • Any recommendations on a Solar Power Dual USB External Battery Pack?
    I see different sizes from 2600 -7000 -5000mAh ? any one have one they don’t recommend.

    • GfK

      7000 is the best.
      With microUSB for charging itself
      So you carry just a single cable for charging your phone AND charging the battery.
      check the link some lines above

  • Neat article, nice problem solving.

  • This is funny because I make a blog posting about this today. I had an assignment last week where I was going to be essentially constantly shooting and on the move for three days. But the client wanted in some cases up to the minute updates of the coverage that they were going to post online. I got a USB-OTG cable to connect my CF card reader to my Galaxy SII phone and transmitted JPGs on the fly. Worked great. The card readers out there with a built in OTG only support SD type cards and all the pro cameras essentially use CF.

  • Mary

    Shuttersnitch on an iPhone will do the same thing, at a lower cost and with fewer parts needed.

    • GfK

      ofcourse not!
      that’s just an app for controlling the ALREADY CONNECTED camera

  • kenneth

    That is a great idea but uploading raw file to internet with your phone will kill your bandwidth. Most carrier is limited to 2gb a month. T-Mobile is limited to 2gb a month after you pass the 2gb it speed will go down to 2g or edge speed. After 2gb for other carrier will charge you extra ontop of your monthly bills over over usage.

    • Kenneth;
      I have Sprint and have unlimited gb per month for $70, but don’t have free hotspots.

  • Patryk

    There is better way but works only on phones and tablets that fully supports USB host
    (Samsung SGS II, SGS III, Galaxy Tab 2, Asus tablest with Android 3.1 or later).
    There are few applications that allows downloading photos straight from camera through USB.
    Also there is application: “DSLR Dashboard” that allows full control over camera on Android device that supports USB host. Just like Nikon Camera Control.

    • GfK

      IMHO, the only difference from the rest android phones
      is those tablets already give +5V to USB port.
      Rest devices don’t.
      So if you solve that with a battery and then mount the connected device (Perhaps you need another ROM) you ‘re ready to go.
      Android already includes drivers for USB mass storage devices.

      My Motorola Atrix doesn’t officially provide USB OtG support

  • Alex

    I wish the camera connector kit would work on the iphone. Works beautifully with the iPad though. There was a book from peachpit on digital ipad workflows!

  • Worminator

    “but if you’re in the office you can use a PC USB port”

    So, you are in the office and next to a PC, uh, trying to upload photos using your smartphone. Okay…

    • GfK

      You’ve never seen a PC without internet, right ?

  • Using a micro sd adapter in my second sd slot on the d7000, backing up all my shots to jpege to the slot. Uploading easy by just removing the micro sd and plugging it into my phone…

  • Bjørn Erik Øvrelid

    I’ve worked in situations where I need to send pictures from my camera ASAP. I did use microSD-cards at one point, which worked fine. But most new phones have got the microSD-slot under the battery, so its a bit to much hastle. The other alternative, which is by far the easyest is Eye-Fi-cards. Wifi transfer to any Android, Iphone, or whatever. Once you learn to configure those cards properly, they work brilliantly. The only thing that would be better is the WT5 or WT4.. If you use it twice every year, thats not going to be worth it. Eye-Fi cards should be no more then 40 dollars or something..

  • Thomas

    There is an easy solution I have been using for a while.
    Which is use a micro sd card plug it into a micro sd/sd card adapter and put that into the camera to take pictures.
    Then once the pictures are taken, plug the micro sd card into your mobile and upload to Internet via the phone/tablet.
    It works for me. 🙂

  • Thomas

    Sorry bjorn, didn’t see your ealier post.
    For samsung mobile and tablets are easy to change the micro sd.
    Which is what I have been doing, and my d90 Nikon slr can take 16Gb micro sds. Which is good.

  • GfK

    Both mentioned solutions (microSD adapter in camera and EyeFi card) require that you shoot with that specific card.
    What if a friend gives you his card with his photos
    What if a friend gives you his USB stick with his mp3s

    • Thomas

      Well your idea is good. Not that I say it isn’t. Haha.
      Good work.

    • Rob

      I still don’t understand why your method is in any way better than plugging your camera into your phone with a USB cable. Does that not work on Android phones?

  • jacob

    What’s the best android app to display raw nef files on my tablet/phone?

  • I think it’s far more likely that the individual phone doesn’t support USB OTG. And I would hope that the phones that don’t have microSD card slot would support it.


  • MSZ

    I like such posts like “I have a SIM card and upload my raw files directly..” bla bla..
    Ever tried this with ~45MB large NEF files ? Not even 3G/HSDPA/HSUPA is able to handle this in the time I would need that.. so this is completely nonsense.

    For raw, still Eye-Fi is the best and for upload – a pretty fast internet connection.

    But you know what ? My D800 JPEG-s in “large” size and “fine” quality still consume 16MB each 🙂 -> again, nonsense to do the online-trick via mobile phones. Maybe LTE/4G will make this faster, but usually on the field there’s not even 3G just EDGE – you’re stuck.

    (Sorry I didn’t want to be too negative but at today’s picture size I really see direct sharing from the DSLR to the internet simply too slow).

    It would be better to connect a USB3 portable storage with around 500GB-1TB to my D800 and then make backups on the field this way. Of course this is not about online sharing, but a different topic..

    Nevertheless, I’m open to new ideas or geek tricks 😉 so pls don’t flame, just be realistic.

    • GfK

      I see you focus on upload speed of big files.
      As mentioned in the article, in-camera or in-phone develop & resize would produce small files ready to fly.

      • MSZ

        Alright, this sounds better. (Not much though) 😉 However, the article’s title saying RAW as well, so maybe that was confusing. I would never ever upload a NEF via mobile network. Okay, 1 NEF for saying that I’ve achieved, yesss ! But a bunch of them – never.

        Smaller jpegs are okay, around 1024×768 or even iPad3 retina native size..

  • TGM

    Plugging my Nikon D200 directly via the camera connector kit (USB cord) to my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 works great. However I prefer using a card reader simply because I don’t want to drain my camera battery.

  • Jay

    what do they call it or how do you take pics and they straight to a computer while you are shooting?

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