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What causes corrupted files on compact flash cards

David Enzel , May 26, 2003; 04:01 p.m.

I am new to digital photography. I just bought a Canon S50 and am having a ball with it. The quality of the prints I am getting from my new Epson 960 far exceeds my expectations.

I have had three images so show up with corrupted data. I have taken hundreds of pictures with the camera so the percentage of corrupted files is modest but still troubling. I have two Compact Flash cards. One is Lexar Professional and the other is SanDisc. My Lexar card came with recovery software that I have yet to try.

What I would like to know is what causes files to become corrupted, how often does this generally happen and how do I prevent it. Is there a way to tell if my camera is the problem? In every other respect the camera works just fine.

Thank you for your help.

Responses

David Shaffer , May 26, 2003; 04:54 p.m.

I use a Canon G3 and have encountered this problem as well. As best I can figure, on each occasion when it happened, I had turned the camera off BEFORE the last picture had completed writing to the card. (I fail to pay attention to the flashing green light next to the viewfinder, indicating that the write is occurring.

Beau Hooker , May 26, 2003; 09:43 p.m.

Hi David, The "other" David is right - if you inadvertantly cut the camera off while it's writing to the card, then you'll get a partially written (and unreadable) file. I suppose it's also possible to corrupt data on a card while it's connected to your PC if you're doing more than just reading from the card. I find that formatting the card once you've copied your files from it (as opposed to just deleting them) helps keep the card "fresh". (Sounds like lettuce!) There is software out there that claims it can recover deleted and sometimes damaged files from CF cards, but I've never used it. Best wishes . . .

Per-Christian Nilssen , May 27, 2003; 01:57 a.m.

I have previously experienced the same problem if I put the camera a bit hard down on a table while it is still writing to the card (Kodak DC280)

David Enzel , May 28, 2003; 08:51 p.m.

I probably did shut the camera down while it was writing to memory. Thank you for the helpful responses! I would not have thought of this on my own.

Carl Smith , May 29, 2003; 12:04 p.m.

Generally, if you turn the camera off or in some cases change modes while it's writing it will cut the file short and will corrupt at the very least that file. In come cases the whole card can be corrupted.

Same problem with a dying battery, and who knows about hitting the camera.

Constant writes and rewrites to a card increases the chances that a misplaced 1 or 0 will end up somewhere important and can corrupt an image or the whole card. After every download its pretty much good practice to perform a format on the card.

George Themelis , Apr 19, 2004; 12:36 a.m.

I just photographed a wedding as an independant contractor with Lexar 1g cards provided by the company.

The camera was used in a normal fashion, Changing image quality and ASA to fit the scene. Batteries almost died and were changed. All the images right up to the very end were reviewed and everything seemed normal until I tried to look at the images again the next day in the camera. Guess what, the camera said no images, but the indicator showed the card as full. so the files are in there. The other card was ok, the problem card had about 600 hi and med quality jpegs recorded.

I've tried to replicate the damage on other media by doing stupid 'do nots" but nothing bad happened at all. and I've already shot about another 1,000 images since then with my d100.

The problem is when a card is being used alot and formated in different cameras and then erased by PC's you cannot be assured of the integrity of the card. . My guy at Belair camera tells me that photographers run in there all the time in a panic because their cards cannot be read (that does not include the ones accidentaly erased or formated). And the best thing to do he said, is every 6 months send them back to the manufacturer for a complete integrity check.

I've searched the internet for information and found that if you shoot alot sooner or later you'll get a bad card. So recovery programs are essential And just like hard drives, floppy drives and other storage media, there are controler cards in the CF card too, so there is more than enough things to go wrong.

I guess I got my rude awakening a couple of weeks ago.

Incidentaly I got corruopted files when using a usb 2 card reader on an older g3, The newer G3 had no problems with the same data and reader.

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