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Thread: Care for CF Cards

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    Care for CF Cards

    In the 101 tips there is the following advice :


    1. Memory cards:
      1. Don't touch the exposed gold contacts on the card
      2. Don't fill the card to full capacity, it may cause errors
      3. Keep spare cards in their protective cases, not loose in pockets etc
      4. ....
      5. NEVER EVER remove the card from a camera before turning off the camera! This is a great way to not only lose your images but to literally destroy the card
      6. .....
      7. Use a card reader to down load your photos to the computer, don't down load straight from your camera.
        (This one is debatable, but do ensure the battery on your camera is charged if you direct connect)

    Are these real or perceived issues - never heard of any problems in this regard ?
    Darren
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    Most seem like common sense to me but I've never had an issue, nor have I heard of too many from CF cards; I've heard of and had more issues with SD cards.
    Mic

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    Quote Originally Posted by etherial View Post
    Most seem like common sense to me but I've never had an issue, nor have I heard of too many from CF cards; I've heard of and had more issues with SD cards.
    nah mate! XD cards are universally the most problematic, dont know why Olympus/Fuji stuck with it for so long!

    I have had a few SD cards go through the washing machine in the past being left in pockets, always come out fine after.

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    Haven't had anything to do with XD (or Sony Memory stick either) so wouldn't know. Interesting though, I'll make sure I continue to steer clear of them!

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser DAdeGroot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    In the 101 tips there is the following advice :

    [*]Memory cards:[*]Don't touch the exposed gold contacts on the card
    I'm thinking this would be fairly difficult actually, given how recessed and small they are.

    [*]Don't fill the card to full capacity, it may cause errors
    This sounds like a furfy to me. What's the point in having a card of a certain capacity if you can't use it all. What makes the last couple of kb/mb more fragile than the rest of the card. No, not buying this one.

    [*]Keep spare cards in their protective cases, not loose in pockets etc
    Ok, that one's common sense. Pockets are full of dust, dirt and other stuff, some particles of which are probably small enough to block the holes in the card's interface end.

    [*]....[*]NEVER EVER remove the card from a camera before turning off the camera! This is a great way to not only lose your images but to literally destroy the card[*].....
    Very debatable. While some older dSLRs could corrupt the card (or at least the file being written), if removed during a write, none I have heard of have ever caused damage to the card when the camera is on (but not writing). My cards regularly get pulled while the camera is on with no ill side effects.

    [*]Use a card reader to down load your photos to the computer, don't down load straight from your camera.
    (This one is debatable, but do ensure the battery on your camera is charged if you direct connect)


    Are these real or perceived issues - never heard of any problems in this regard ?

    The only reasons I can think of for using a card reader are speed and convenience. It's a lot easier to pull the card out and shove it in the reader than muck around with the little rubber doors over the USB interface on the camera, and most older dSLRs were absolute snails when it came to file transfers over the chord.
    Dave

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    NEVER EVER remove the card from a camera before turning off the camera! This is a great way to not only lose your images but to literally destroy the card
    I do this all the time (inadvertanly) and have never had any problems

    Cheers
    Leigh
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    I think the three most important things are:
    1. Don't remove/insert the card unless the camera is OFF
    2. Format the card in the camera
    3. Don't fill the card completely

    The file structure of the CF card just like a disk drive is fragmented and as it approaches 100% it has to look for open extents to write data blocks. At this point it becomes possible for data corruption to occur. This especially becomes potentially more problematic with deleted files on the card. This is something that is far better overcome with modern cards, hard drives and operating systems and so it is potentially less (or no longer) relevant.

    As a rule of thumb I always change a card when I have shot approximately 90% of the capacity. This works out at about 60 shots remaining on a 16GB CF card in the D3s shooting RAW. Perhaps I could push this to 95% or better but the 10% margin is an easy one to remember (especially if you round it to the nearest 10 shots)

    As for downloading off a card reader or from the camera...

    I remember reading somewhere once where the opposite was the recommendation so that you never opened the camera's card door or removed the card and therefore potentially damaged things, got dirt on contacts etc. Go figure??

    Frankly the only thing I see wrong is you use up camera battery life doing it.
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    I'll go with dmdigital.
    The 100% fill can be a problem and can lead to errors. A basic rule of thumb I have stuck to in all my computing life is never fill storage devices above 90%.
    Peter.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I'm with Dave on this one.

    exposed contacts?

    I regularly fill my cards to capacity, especially the 8g CF card that has become the default on my D300.
    Never had any issues with losing data, slow transfer rates, corruption, explosions.. nuthin!
    This is an el'cheapo CF card to(A-Data).. not your supposedly top quality SanDisk brand.

    maybe the issues are with the name brand cards?

    Common sense should be adhered too tho. I always have them in their plastic cases, never touch the exposed gold contact pins on SD cards!! always try to be careful when inserting the CF card into it's recess, even though it's guided by a slot on either side of the card, pins can still bend.

    I only ever use a card reader, as I felt the camera was a little slower in transferring data.... approx 10Mb's cf 15Mb's via the card reader.

    I both format the card in the PC and via the camera(whichever method I can be bothered to remember to do)... either way it makes no difference to the card itself, but a card formatted via the PC will not have the folder/directory structure that the camera uses.. makes no difference as the camera will automagically create the directories it needs anyhow!

    I've never lost any of my 4 or 5 cards due to removal whilst files were being written to by the camera.... or PC!

    Removal of the card during a write sequence was a recommended procedure by some enthusiasts in Astro-capture circles when using certain Nikon bodies of yesteryear. The camera would process long exposure files regardless of whether the operator wanted them to be or not, and the processing involved some noise reduction. When stacking images, apparently you want the actual raw capture prior to the addition of noise reduction, when doing image stacking procedures. Removing the card immediately after the shutter closed was recommended so as to avoid the NR processing.. go figure!

    Of course there's nothing to say that a card of any kind won't fail, and the sheer volume of the amount of the devices out there is user land, basically dictate that one is going to fail...

    I have approximately 10(or more cards of various types, mainly SD and CF, one MMC, and some old 256M and 8Mb CF cards from just before the last Ice Age, or something(it still works too.. on something... useless on the D300 where the minimum file size is 20Mb or so!

    Only card I've ever known to fail(in my circle of family/friends) is one of my brothers Sandisk SD cards.
    I have more generic no-name brand cards than name brand cards(Sandisk/Toshiba).. more for their capacity value. My brothers card started to fail, he retrieved the data off it via a Linux based EEEPC, reformatted it, and it worked again for a few more writes and then died totally.
    Never had any of my cards fail, and my kids don't give them the 'white glove' treatment either!
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    I'm always filling my cards to capacity with no ill effects. Keeping in case is common sense. I'm always removing the card without turning off but both my 400D and 7D disconnect the power when you open the card door anyway. I always use the card reader and it is set to delete images from card after downloading. I almost always forget to format the card and have never had any problems with either my brand name cards or the generic ones.
    Keith

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmdigital View Post
    1. Don't remove/insert the card unless the camera is OFF
    Compact Flash is designed to be hot-pluggable. Same for SD. There is no need to switch the camera off, provided it has finished writing. If there's data left unwritten, it could result in data corruption, but the card should not physically be damaged.

    3. Don't fill the card completely
    A full card can result in a file that doesn't fit, but the filesystem should not get corrupted due to a full card.

    The file structure of the CF card just like a disk drive is fragmented and as it approaches 100% it has to look for open extents to write data blocks. At this point it becomes possible for data corruption to occur.
    It is possible to corrupt data only for the file being written. If the filesystem becomes corrupt due to this fact, you found a huge bug in the filesystem implementation. But rest assured this usually is tested thoroughly, it is one of the best tested parts of the software.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

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    I think CF cards are bullet-proof, certainly the Sandisk Extreme range

    I take zero care of them, even carry them around in my mouth at times if im busy swapping

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    I've never had an issue with CF cards. I don't follow all the recommendations but I do try and take care of them when possible. I always reformat the card before a shoot (and after i've got at least another 2 copies of the images) and I generally don't pop the cards out when the camera is on.

    I had a Lexar Pro SD die on me and lost 200 images (thank god they were holiday snaps). Lexar replaced it with a SD card that didn't have the "pro" label and within a few weeks the replacement had died. Considering the expense I'd gone through to ship overseas with insurance (was a valuable card at the time) in the hope i may recover some of the images (no luck unfortunately) I just decided to throw the card away and go back to my 100% reliable record with Sandisk.

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    I have a 2GB SanDisk Extreme III, a 2GB Extreme IV CF card and two 1GB Extreme III CF's that are all dead.

    All of them where fine until at different times I went to stick them in the camera and they failed to be recognised. After that, nothing else would recognise them either. In one case I'd just read the photo's off one of them, returned it to the camera to format and found it was stuffed.

    They aren't worth replacing as I'm now shooting a minimum 4GB card.

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    I think the only golden rule is to format in the camera.
    I also tend to format rather than just bulk deleting files, deleting just removes the file name and space allocation which leaves data on the disk and can lead to corruption.

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    I've been using a 2GB SanDisk Extreme III, 3x 4 GB Transcend 133x, 1x 8GB Transcend 200x and a 8GB Silicon Power 200x for well on three years without any issues, filling up the CF to the full and sometimes flouting some of the 101s listed.

    SanDisk provides a useful zip pouch for their CF which I've used to hold the spare CFs and that stays in the Lowepro backpack in my photo outings. And the only other procedure I adopt (as with others here) is to always format the card in camera.
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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lanegd01 View Post
    I think the only golden rule is to format in the camera.
    I also tend to format rather than just bulk deleting files, deleting just removes the file name and space allocation which leaves data on the disk and can lead to corruption.
    Formatting also leaves data on card as you can still recover images from a formatted card the only thing that removes data is overwriting it with new images or using a program to overwrite the data making it impossible to recover.

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    I have always used a reader, and touch wood I havent had any problems.
    When using XD cards in my C8080, I just followed the same simple methods.
    The main problem I find; manufacturers keep chngeing the type of card, and good readers are not inexpensive.

    The attached picture is my first succesfull attempt at posting on this site, even though it wasn't meant to happen on this thread.
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    Last edited by Blueywa; 07-05-2010 at 11:48pm. Reason: .

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    Member CapnBloodbeard's Avatar
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    I would suggest one very important thing is to format whenever you clear the card, instead of just pressing 'delete all'.

    I used to work in a Kodak store, and we'd often get people coming into the store with cards of all type displaying errors. More often than not a reformat would get the card going again - usually the customer hasn't even heard of 'format'. Without doing this, the card can develop errors in the file structure over time.

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    I used to use a card reader until one day one of the pins from inside the camera broke off and stuck in the card $400 in out of warranty repairs later i just use the usb cable.
    I just dont trust the pins now

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