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Problem Downloading from Card

I’m having a bit of a problem downloading from a card. If anybody has any ideas, I’d love to have them.

I have a SanDisk 32G SDHC card in my D800 camera. I filled the card shooting the interview of Josef Koudelka at LOOK3. I reloaded the camera and put the full card in my card case.

When later I tried to download the card into Bridge’s Photodownloader via the built-in card reader in my MBP Retina, the only thing it would show was a DCIM folder.

I can put the card in question back into the camera and it will read the images onto the camera screen without problem. So I think this shows that the files are not themselves corrupted.

Has anyone experienced this or have any ideas how to overcome this problem before I bring in the big guns?

by Neal Jackson at 2013-06-17 13:27:11 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

I would purchase a card reader with USB wire——-it could be that your built in card reader is tracking without downloading. I don’t use bridge to download, but if you name the file before you download it and you have used a symbol itself or the symbol in the wrong spot it could make the file invisible even though it is still there (Photo Mechanic will read images as invisible if you have a period in front of the file name——usually happens when you are cutting and pasting from one assignment to another.

The last thing I would do, would be to download the card onto another computer and see if works——good luck——


by David Bro | 17 Jun 2013 13:06 | Orange County-Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks, David. Some good thoughts.

I forgot to mention that I had also tried downloading with my USB multicard reader, and I got the same result. I also could not get Finder to show anything from the card other than the DCIM folder.

by Neal Jackson | 17 Jun 2013 14:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Hello Neal,

I think, you have a problem with your software or settings.

What informations can you get about the DCIM-folder? Is it empty oder are data in it?

Are there any settings to hide or show folders or subfolders, that were changed? I would have a look on the disk permissions too.

Hope, I can help you.


by Franz Hollweck | 17 Jun 2013 19:06 | | Report spam→
Thanks, all. I have dealt with it successfully but I am not sure why. Bottom line is that I downloaded the images through the camera, and they were all right. I haven’t done that since about 2004, and won’t do it again.

BTW what Franz says seems to make sense. I am now having trouble erasing the card so I think there are some common issues between the two problems that might originate in settings/permissions. I’ll follow up if I can find the problems.

by Neal Jackson | 17 Jun 2013 22:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Hi Neal. If you have rescued the images format the card with the disk utility in the mac (choose what you want, windows or mac) and then format it again in the camera. What you had appears like a problem caused because you erased the card in other place and not in the camera you was using or your software altered the root or some files that are causing the problem. Another problem could be caused by share the card with another camera and then erase the images but not format for the last camera you were using the card. The most safe practice I learned the hard way is not use erase the files with the browser or edition software. Instead, format the card in camera each time you load it again for fresh shots.

by Hernan Zenteno | 18 Jun 2013 00:06 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Hi Hernan! Lovely blue water on your profile picture. Where were you on holidays? ;)

I have a Nikon D800 E and a D3 and erase my SANDISK memory cards in my MacBookPro (2009) all the time. —> after erasing the card I empty the trash in the computer before I eject the card —> then I format the card in the camera before new use. Never had a problem.

Memory cards are usually formatted in FAT32, so you can read and write on them with both systems, Mac and Windows. However, the maximum file size, a FAT32 formatted disk or card can handle, is 4 GB. Perhaps the file in the DCIM-folder is bigger than 4 GB.

I did a quick test with my D800 E: File size of a 20-minute high quality HD-video (maximum length) is about 3 GB. I don’t know, wether video files of a D800 can be bigger than 4 GB.


by Franz Hollweck | 18 Jun 2013 16:06 | | Report spam→
yes Franz. You are right that usually you don´t get problems but the method you described need more steps and is more pronounced to do some mistake, more when you work in a hurry. That is why I prefer copy the folder directly and format the card in the camera. Except when I need to transmit from a football match or some spot news. But include in this cases I don´t rename the photos of the card folders, I use Photo Mechanic and check the option to rename the photos that I am trasmitting, not the originals in the card. About formatting cards in a computer, I refer that option cause is the solution I adopted when I have a problem with a card. But after that I always formatted again the card in camera. I never use in a camera a card formated fat 32 or other system to take photos. Just to be clear.
I am curious about what happened with Neal´s card so we can avoid that fail.
About the photo was took by Perez Re, a colleague working during a riot in the Constitucion station. Saludos

by Hernan Zenteno | 18 Jun 2013 22:06 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
In my experience, the question is not if a card will fail, but when. I would also have suggested connect teh camera directly through USB, and afterwards format the card in the camera. Also leave the card in for a bit, the take it out and feel if it’s hot. I had a card with internal, physical damage that got very hot to the touch and then returned an error message.

by BignoseTW | 19 Jun 2013 07:06 | Taipei, Taiwan | | Report spam→
Sounds sorted. I usually do the reformat in camera thing before every reuse of a card. The only time I had a similar problem was when I filled a card (camera display said full), tried to download the card, and it only displayed the folder. Images still played on camera display, though. I wound up erasing a few images, then it worked in the computer with cardreader. Never really figured it out, but I tossed the card for good measure. It’s all voodoo to me.

In any case, Neal, what are you going to do with the Koudelka interview? I always admired his work, and would be curious as to what he has to say these days. Glad it all worked out.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 19 Jun 2013 16:06 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
Hernan, I believe, we think in a similar way. I copy all the files on the memory card via cardreader into a new folder on my computer. There I rename the pictures and copy them onto another harddrive, when I import the pictures in Lightroom. So I have two copies on different harddrives. Was the transfer successful, I erase the memory card and empty the trash of the card before I eject it for reuse. Before reusing the card, I format it in the camera.

I do it this way, because it is the quickest way and transferring the files directly from the camera to the computer „eats up“ my batteries and I have to recharge them permanently.

So I transfer my pictures from the camera directly only when absolutely necessary.

All memorycards are formatted as FAT32, Hernan. Look at the disk utility: Even cards, that are reformatted and used in the camera (in my case Nikon) appear there as FAT32-formatted disk. What the camera does when it reformats the card – I don‘t know.

I looked into the manual of the D800 E. Nikon writes here on page 34: „ Do not format memory cards in a computer.“ However, I don‘t know, wether this is valid for erasing the card in the computer, too. So I have asked the German Nikon representation for general recommendations and will post the answer here.

Tobie, you are right, but not only memory cards fail. Unfortunatelly all technic products will fail one day. Nothing lasts forever. So, to minimize at least the risks with our cards, we always should use the second slot in the camera as a backup instead of enlarging the storage capacity.


P.S. Are there news from Neal‘s voodoo card?

by Franz Hollweck | 20 Jun 2013 14:06 | | Report spam→
I am using the exactly the same setup. Just go inside the DCIM folder, you will find another folder(s) with the format 10xD800.
Inside are your pics…
You do not have faulty hardware. If you want to erase the card just do it in your camera…

by Felix Martin | 20 Jun 2013 18:06 | Portland OR, United States | | Report spam→
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I proudly present – the answer from Nikon Germany:

I have asked the customer service, how to handle memory cards and whether their advice, not to format the card in the computer has also to be extended on the process of erasing the card.

Mr Sebastian Rasch from Nikon customer service says, this recommendation concerns only the process of formatting the card, what should be done in the camera. Under normal circumstances, formatting the card in the computer also causes no problems.
The camera can handle the filesystem of the computer as well.

Erasing the card in the cardreader is possible. It has no effect on the filesystem. Formatting the card every time after erasing is not necessary.

Mr. Rasch points out, that memory cards are wearing parts, that can produce errors or fail completely. The pictures, we can see on the monitor of our cameras are only previews and thus no guarantee, that the files themselves are ok.

Here is the complete text (in German):

„Sehr geehrter Herr Hollweck,

vielen Dank für Ihre Anfrage.

Es geht nur um das Formatieren der Speicherkarte. Beim Formatieren wird nach dem vollständigen Löschen der Daten auf der Karte das Dateisystem neu angelegt. Dies sollte in der Kamera geschehen. Wenn Sie die Kamera im Rechner formatieren, gibt es aber normalerweise auch keine Probleme, die Kamera kann mit diesem Dateisystem ebenfalls umgehen.
Sie können die Bilder ruhig im Kartenleser löschen, dies hat keinen Einfluss auf das Dateisystem. Sie müssen die Karte nicht zwangsweise jedes Mal erneut formatieren nach dem Löschen der Bilder. Es kann allerdings auch nicht schaden.

Grundsätzlich muss man bedenken, dass Speicherkarten Verschleißteile sind und leider irgendwann zwangsweise Fehler produzieren werden oder ganz den Dienst verweigern.
In der Kamera werden nur Vorschau-Dateien angezeigt, nicht die eigentlichen Bilddateien. Daher kann man nicht ausschließen, dass die Bilder defekt sind, auch wenn Sie in der Kamera korrekt angezeigt werden.

Wussten Sie übrigens, dass es zum Akku EN-EL15 für Ihre Kamera eine wichtige Mitteilung gibt? Klicken Sie hier für weitere Informationen:

Titel: Hinweis für Benutzer des Lithium-Ionen-Akkus EN-EL15 – Aktualisierung Mai 2013
Adresse: https://nikoneurope-de.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/52338

Sollten Sie noch weitere Fragen haben, zögern Sie bitte nicht, uns erneut zu kontaktieren.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Sebastian Rasch
Nikon Kundenberatung Europa“

Greetings from Bavaria


by Franz Hollweck | 20 Jun 2013 22:06 | | Report spam→
Dear Neal, use SanDisk RescuePRO to recover your files.

by Patrick Haar | 21 Jun 2013 00:06 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Well I have prevailed, finally. I think that I even figured out the problem of why the SD card would not download, but I was still able to get the images from the camera. For those who are interested, here’s what happened.

I had to go to the Apple Store yesterday on something else, and in the process of talking with the Apple “Genius,” I determined part of the erasure problem….and I feel a bit stupid about it.

During the shoot the SD card had shown “Full,” and the Camera had begun to fill the second card (a CF, set to take overflow). After downloading through the camera, I dragged the old files from the SD card into the Trash, and put the card back in the camera, and formatted it. But the camera screen still showed images. I assumed they were from the SD card. Wrong! They were from the overflow on the CF card. The Apple Genius (named Fanny), faced with a real Dummy, politely suggested that I might want to erase the images from the CF card and see if that solved it. Bingo! SC card clear, CF card clear, Neal felling pretty stupid…

But in the process of this I think I solved the original download problem. I’ll bet a pint that the following is what happened:

1. The SD card “jammed” when I started the shoot, and the images were pushed over onto the CF card. When the CF card showed “Full” I thought it was the SD, and I replaced the SD with a new one.

2. When I tried to download the first SD card, it only showed the DCIM folder because no files had been loaded to it (instead they went directly to the CF card).

3. When I downloaded images through the camera I was downloading, but not erasing, the CF card. Hence the images kept reappearing when I put the SD card back into the camera, and I was wrongly assuming that it had not been erased, despite reformatting it in the camera and erasing it in Disk Utility. I was just reading the CF card.

So here is the lesson I learned…pay attention to that second card. With the new large-file cameras like the D800 and the 5DMk3, the likelihood of an overrun is much greater. In solving camera flow issues, don’t forget to consider the second card, even if you are running a large primary card (32GB in my case).

I think the problem is with one of my SD cards. I had a problem with one showing full in January in India, I used another (borrowed from my fixer), reformatted the problematic in Disk Utility, and the next day it worked, and has worked fine since then (until perhaps this instance; though it is working fine again after the Disk Utility format). So I think I have a bad card, and will see if I can get SanDisk to replace it.

Thanks all of you for your ideas, and especially Franz, for putting the issue to Nikon Germany. I certainly learned something from this exercise…I hope others have as well. Now the camera is working just fine, constrained only by the skill level of the guy pushing the button!

by Neal Jackson | 28 Jun 2013 11:06 (ed. Jun 28 2013) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Ah, we don´t knew this part of the information, you had another card in your camera. Interesting. Good to know. Many thanks for share it in case will happen. You burned 32 Gb, wow, this is a lot.

by Hernan Zenteno | 28 Jun 2013 12:06 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
Well, Hernan, I didn’t burn that much, only something over 8 GB. The 32 GB SD card apparently never loaded anything, and sent it all to the CF. The CF card was only 8 GB, so it showed full (curse those massive D800 files!). I then reloaded a new SD card, and that one worked. But it was the original empty, blocked, SD card that I was trying to download when I wrote this post.

by Neal Jackson | 28 Jun 2013 13:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Well I currently have my D800 set differently; with a 32gb CF (RAW) primary, and 16gb SD secondary for JPG/video which – depending on the format I shoot would normally fill quicker. I don’t have the camera set to overflow the cards because as you note when that happens it is too confusing to track where the files are sequenced.

With that setup I’ve managed to easily record an hour’s worth of video on the SD card with room to spare.

To solve the issue needing file renaming on import, I find Nikon’s Transfer / View NX2 to work well for me from both cards using card readers. Since I have not had a problem with that, I doubt I would ever use any other software for this, other than a straight OS copy directly from the card.

I always use the camera to format (i.e. erase) the cards AFTER I have checked on, and created multiple backups of the images I just downloaded. Otherwise there is no guarantee that one or more of the images didn’t transfer or record properly on one of the cards (the jpg files are only a backup strategy). Of course if you catch a corrupted file problem quick enough, you might more painfully recover the image file from a camera formatted card before it is used again.

I always like to have empty cards when I start, since it makes organizing and filing the images easier to manage on import. While I can workaround that using the Nikon software import settings if I just keep using the cards without reformatting between projects, my preference is not to because I like things to be simple.

by henley | 28 Jun 2013 16:06 | | Report spam→
I once such a problem. I think the best way to deal with it is by downloading the images to a folder on the computer, as opposed to downloading the DCIM folder from the camera. This means that you have to open the DCIM folder and copy the images themselves. Once you are successful, you need to format the card on your computer, then format again in the camera before the next usage. Keep shooting!

by STEPHEN MUDIARI | 29 Jun 2013 18:06 | Nairobi, Kenya | | Report spam→
I’m going to block any more response on this, since the issue has been solved and we’ve gotten a lot of good ideas out. Thanks again to all who contributed!

by Neal Jackson | 04 Jul 2013 01:07 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→

More about sponsorship→


Neal Jackson, Neal Jackson
(Flaneur, Savant and Scapegrace)
Washington, Dc , United States ( IAD )
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Franz Hollweck, photographer Franz Hollweck
[undisclosed location].
Hernan Zenteno, Photographer Hernan Zenteno
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )
BignoseTW, Videographer/Photographer BignoseTW
(Tobie Openshaw)
Taipei , Taiwan
John Louis Lassen Perry, Photoanthropologist John Louis Lassen Perry
Califon, New Jersey , United States
Felix Martin, Felix Martin
[location unknown]
Patrick Haar, Photographer Patrick Haar
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )
henley, Photographer henley
[undisclosed location].
Nairobi , Kenya


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