Card Read Error!

These are not the words I want to see at the back of my camera screen.

Let’s back up:

Yesterday, after traveling to the top of New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain via the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway with my friends, I made a series of cosmic photos of the surrounding scenery.

However, during my photography all of a sudden as I was reviewing photos the words ‘Card Read Error!’ came up on my camera screen.

This is bad news: it means that the recording media has been damaged or corrupted. 

When this happens to you, don’t panic, but follow these instructions:

1) DO NOT attempt to expose more photos using the damaged card. Doing so can greatly complicate your future ability to retrieve the images that you’ve already exposed.

2) Turn your camera off.

3) Take the card out of the camera.

4) Replace the card with a fresh spare. (I always carry two or three spares with me).

5) Test the camera using the spare card. If it seems to work as normal, you can probably resume photography. If it doesn’t, there may be a more complicated problem.

6) Before downloading, do not ‘format’, ‘erase’ or take any action that will add/subtract information / data to or from the card.

7) Later, when you are home, attempt to download your card using an external device. In my case I have a card reader that inserts into my MacBook using a USB port.

8) After you successfully download the card, put it aside and mark it ‘defective’. Once recording media goes bad it is unwise to continue to use it. Buy a new card.

In my situation, I waited until evening, I first downloaded the new card that I’d inserted into my after the first card went bad. Only after all the photos from the new card were successfully downloaded and backed up on an external hard drive, did I began downloading the images from the damaged card.

I was lucky and all my images were downloaded with relative ease. I marked the suspect card ‘BAD’ and put it away. I will not use the card again. If I could not download the card using my normal software, I’d have to go through a more complicated procedure to attempt to retrieve missing photos.

Incidentally, camera-recording cards are only designed for short-term storage. I routinely download my cards nightly. While, I hold on to the cards for future re-use, I do not use them for long-term storage.

I suggest that all digital and digitized images be stored in triplicate and in different places. Further, since all hard drives will eventually go bad, it is wise to periodically re-backup data on new media. At least once a year I back up older files on new hard drives and check to make sure that files transfer successfully.

This is among the images that was recorded on the defective card in my FujiFIlm XT1. I was able to retrieve it without too much difficulty, but I was careful not to interfere with the storage media in the field in a panicked attempt to search for photos or continue my photography with the defective media.

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3 thoughts on “Card Read Error!”

  1. You might mention that you are an inventor of a process — Write Once, Read Forever (WORF) — that will make it possible to store photographs on a media which will not disappear for centuries or more. WORF is in prototype stage right now and is being tested by NASA on the International Space Station. You could reference your previous Tracking that discusses the NASA experiment.

  2. All good advice! The American Inst. for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, which has an active photography group, went through many changes of recommendations about how to preserve photographs and, I believe, finally came down with almost exactly what you stated in your post, i.e. live storage in multiple places.

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