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Photography Question 
Patricia Marroquin
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member since: 2/3/2002
 

How Does a CF Card Get Corrupted?


Does anybody know what would make a Compact Flash card get corrupted? I was going through all my CF cards from my Alaska trip and was burning the photos onto a CD so I could clear the cards. I couldn't view the contents of one card; I got a prompt saying that the card was corrupted. I'm not sure at what point the card got corrupted -- at home after my trip or while I was on vacation. When I went through the security screening process at the airport, I asked that all my 800 exposed film be hand-inspected, which they did. I also tried to give the woman my CF cards to hand-inspect, but she said there was no need to hand-inspect them, so she gave them back to me and they went through the X-ray machine. No problems with any of the other cards, though. Just wondering if anyone knows what sorts of things could corrupt a card? Thanks, and my apologies if this has been asked.

6/14/2003 10:29:38 AM

 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Patricia, here's some info I received the other day from a friend:

Feature: Vacation With a Digital Camera

Now that both school and the sun are out, our thoughts invariably turn to summer vacation. With luck, you've scheduled a week or two of downtime, which means you can hop on a plane and jet off somewhere for some well-deserved leisure. No matter where you go, though, be sure to pack your digital camera.

If you've ever traveled with a 35mm camera, you know about some of the hassles of traveling with photo gear. The prognosis for digital is mixed: It's better, and it's worse.

Radiation Woes

Digital cameras tend to be smaller and more rugged, so they pack more easily. You don't have to worry about damage from X-rays, either.

Since September 11, security systems at airports have been upgraded, and that means higher doses of radiation for baggage. That's bad news for 35mm film, which can cloud over when hit by X-rays. The Transportation Security Administration's official position is that the radiation exposures are not harmful to film below ISO 800. Some trips involve repeated exposures at multiple airports, however, which could add up to ruined vacation photos. It's your right to ask for a hand check; but good luck with that one! In my experience, many security guards are unwilling to perform hand checks, and some screeners--such as at airports overseas--don't speak English. Hand checks there are virtually impossible.

But if you've got a digital camera, you're in luck. Digital cameras and memory cards are unaffected by the metal detectors and X-rays used at airports. You can pack memory cards in your carry-on or your checked baggage and not worry about damage in transit. That's quite a relief when you're traveling with 100 once-in-a-lifetime images.

One caveat: Think twice before you send CompactFlash media by mail. The CompactFlash Association warns that that mailing the cards can result in permanent damage from the irradiation process used by the U.S. Postal Service to sanitize the mail. You can find the CFA's alert at:
http://www.compactflash.org/pr/020107b.pdf

Security Concerns

But just because you don't have to worry about X-rays doesn't mean you're out of the woods. Not yet. When you travel with a digital camera, be prepared to demonstrate that it works. The more exotic and less camera-like it is in appearance, the more likely a security guard may ask you to turn it on and take a picture with it.

It's a good idea to take your camera's batteries out when you pack it, especially if you place it in checked luggage--otherwise, jostling in transit can accidentally turn on your camera, draining its batteries. It's okay to put the batteries nearby; I pack batteries in plastic bags near the camera so they're easy to access.

Finally, remember that security screeners now have authority to open your luggage behind closed doors, even when you're not present. These examinations may eventually be videotaped; for now, however, such invasions of privacy are not monitored. Be sure you write down the serial number of your digital camera and know exactly what you put in checked luggage--camera, accessories, memory cards, and so on. As a diver, I've already heard stories about expensive gear disappearing on some international flights, so it pays to be careful with your camera as well.

6/14/2003 2:51:23 PM

 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Let me add the source of this information:

------ Forwarded Message
From: PC World
Reply-To: tips@listproc.pcworld.com
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 09:49:42 PDT
To: DIGITAL_FOCUS-HTML@listproc.pcworld.com
Subject: PC World's Digital Focus [Traveling With Your Digital Camera; Viewing Digital Camera Movies - 06/10/2003]

6/14/2003 2:56:11 PM

 
Patricia Marroquin
BetterPhoto Member
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member since: 2/3/2002
  Damian, thanks so much for this helpful information. I think I'm safe in assuming now that the security process didn't corrupt my card. But I'm still wondering what did. If anybody has any other ideas as to how my card could have gotten corrupted, please let me know. Thanks much!

6/15/2003 8:56:56 AM

 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Did you check the card in the camera or a different card reader (I'm assuming you're downloading from a card reader) to see if you can view any of the images/data?

It's rare, but the card could have gone bad.... good luck!

DPG

6/15/2003 9:13:07 AM

 
Patricia Marroquin
BetterPhoto Member
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member since: 2/3/2002
  Hi Damian, Yes I tried viewing the card while in the camera but it says "error." Guess I just had a card go bad. Oh well, I'm not sure but I think I hadn't used that card while on vacation. Appreciate your help and suggestions.

6/15/2003 9:16:36 AM

 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Before you toss the card, you may want to format it with your camera and see if you can get some images from it...

I get error messages from time to time with my smart media cards, and format them again with the camera and they seem to work fine after that.

I've also noticed and the amount of storage seems to go down after moving images from the card and that I need to reformat them with the camera to regain this space...

6/15/2003 8:50:23 PM

 
Patricia Marroquin
BetterPhoto Member
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member since: 2/3/2002
  Damian, a belated thank you for this suggestion. It worked! Before you suggested this, I had tried to reformat my card on the computer while it sat in my card reader. It didn't work. But when you suggested I reformat it in the camera, I tried that and it worked! Thanks for helping me save my card from the trash. :-)

6/20/2003 8:47:12 AM

 
Tim Devick

member since: 11/28/2000
  I can't explain how your CF card got corrupted, it does seem to happen occasionally. I rented a digital SLR one weekend and while I was taking pictures it simply decided the card was corrupt. I couldn't take any more pictures to the card, so I loaded a different card and went on. I took the corrupt card home and ran a file recovery program on it (I've been using a program called Digital Picture Recovery I bought over the internet) and it was able to read the card and recover the images. I highly recommend getting some sort of digital picture recovery software (they're pretty inexpensive) so you can retrieve your images from a corrupt card if it happens again. Next time I go on a big vacation and take the digital camera, I plan to take a laptop and the digital picture recovery software.

6/24/2003 9:01:36 PM

 
Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Some possible reasons why cards get corrupted:

- pulling card out while write still in progress
- batteries running low while card being accessed(read or write)
- software "hiccup" while in camera or computer
- fat16 and fat32 issues(only affects cards larger than 2GB)
- some cards behave slightly differently(different timings) and depending on the camera and the reader, the card may not be readable in some cases or may be corrupted in others.

There are card reading software like imagerescue or image doctor. Lexar pro cards come with a copy of image rescue on it and can be used to recovery corrupt card data.

2/8/2004 11:12:20 PM

 

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