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I own a Nikon D300 and I usually use the provided USB cable to transfer my pictures on my computer (Windows 7).

Sometimes, when I am travelling, I use the cable I have for my Garmin device which have exactly the same connector (USB Mini-B) and this works very well.

Recently I was not with my Garmin cable nor my official Nikon one and I tried another cable with the same connector but this time my camera was not properly recognized by the computer saying there was a USB device connected but cannot determine which driver to use.

I tried to use the Windows 7 built-in help (from the error tooltip) but was not able to find anything.

I am quite sure my D300 is properly working as I was able to transfer pictures few days ago.

After I use another alternative: take the CF card and put it in a separate flash reader (USB) and this way works as well.

My question refers only to the USB cables to use for transferring picture straight from the camera.

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Usb is a standard, so in theory all usb to usb mini cables should be the same. In reality tho some are different. Some are built only to charge and therefore wont transfer data, and it wouldnt surprise me if some manufacturers use the usb mini plug but wire it specifically for their device.

If you go to a store and buy a usb mini cable it should work fine though. It might be worth buying another one and keeping it with your camera so you're never caught without one.

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The USB mini-B connector is standardised. Any cable following the standard would be usable with the camera.

It's possible that the cable that you tried doesn't follow the standard, but is only intended for charging. Another possibility is that the cable is broken, or that it doesn't follow the standard properly.

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