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Nikon CoolPix S550 Not a USB Mass-Storage Device?!


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March 1, 2009

Don't get me wrong, I love my Nikon CoolPix S550, except for one tiny little problem: Getting the images off the camera is an enormous pain in the ass. Yes, it is.

See, for some reason Nikon decided not to expose the camera as a mass storage device because … you know, … it would just make too much bloody sense to do that, right? Instead, the only way to access the camera is through special drivers that aren't available with Linux. F---ing brilliant, isn't it?

The system logs report a device failure and demonstrate no evidence that the camera identifies itself as anything whatsoever: no name, no device number, no device type, no purpose, no nothing. For all intents and purposes the Nikon S550 is not a USB device.

I have always been able to plug in USB mass-storage devices on my Linux system without any need to install drivers. They just work:

The only USB device I've ever encountered that simply doesn't work like other USB devices is the Nikon CoolPix S550. It's baffling, it's frustrating, it's a giant pile of "FAIL" on Nikon's part and that's really too bad because the S550 is a damn fine piece of engineering and I love it for virtually all other aspects of its design. I just hate its completely borked connectivity issues.

There are only two ways to get images off that camera: with my game machine (WinXP) at home (using that Frankensteinian USB cable joined at the hip to a video cable), and with a mini-SD card reader like the SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One that I ended up buying, just in case (and which, I hasted to say, is also recognized by my Linux system without any trouble).

The alternative is to carry along that Frankensteinian cable and the installation CD-ROM whenever I go out, just in case. That's Stoopid™!

Now, other than these completely idiotic design issues, I do have to say that the S550 is a damn fine camera. Even the lack of a flash shoe is no great detriment because the camera does rather well with its built-in flash and it's not aimed at the high-end market in any case.

I do miss my 990 and 5400's swiveling capability which allowed for some rather interesting(!) shots to be taken; the S550 won't let me do that; but it does power up a good bit faster than my old 5400 which is nice when I just want to snap a shot fast. Add to that vanishingly fast save speed (2 or 3 seconds in 10M RAW format, which took 10 to 15 seconds in 5M RAW on my 5400) and a lot of other good little features and … well, I admit that the camera is a fine, fine piece of engineering work.

My one wish is that the Nikon S550 will get a software ugprade that lets me configure it to expose itself as a standard USB mass storage device when connected. As much as I love Nikons, there is simply no excuse for sticking it to customers in such a dastardly manner.

And no, I will not accept as a solution some proprietary drivers to be installed or compiled into the Linux kernel: If I can't compile it from GPL'd source, I will not install it. Come on, Nikon, this isn't rocket science. My farking cell phone has the option to play USB mass storage device, why can't you get the S550 to do the same? Please? Pretty please, Nikon?

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