July 1


Corrupt Memory Card: Recovery Caused Incorrect File Extensions

By Dan

July 1, 2010

When I went to download the images from my Denali shoot last week, one of my memory cards showed up empty. My first instinct was to make sure I hadn’t accidently grabbed the wrong one. I couldn’t see how that would have happened, though, because I have a very established system of storing and organizing my shot cards.

I use these Gepe Extreme Card Safe memory card cases, one red and one blue. I load empty cards into the cases with the Sandisk log facing out. Then, as I shoot images and fill up cards, I stick them face down in the cases, in this order: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom, right, red case first, then blue case. This system allows me to load images in the order in which they were shot and know with just a glance if a card has been shot or not.

So, if I didn’t misplace the card, it could only mean one thing- memory card error.

Since the first time I experienced memory card corruption a few years ago, I’ve learned to remain calm when this sort of thing happens (Read why it happens here). I just open up my Rescue Pro application and let it do it’s thing. It never lets me down.

The recovery program managed to find and recover all of my lost aerial images, but for some reason, the process had caused many of the images to show up with different file extensions. They should have all been Nikon .NEF files, but some of the extensions had been changed to either .TIFF or .DNG.

The odd thing was that even though the files with the wrong extensions showed up only as small preview sized images in the Finder as well as in Photo Mechanic, they still opened up as full sized RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW. This indicated to me that they were all still RAW files with incorrect extsions, and so I simply went in and manually changed the file extensions on the TIFF and the DNG files back to .NEF.

It worked. All files were now fully recovered with the correct filename extensions and after doing a batch rename on all of the recovered files, I was back in business editing my Denali images.

As I found out, even though the recovery process may retrieve your images from a failed memory card, sometimes the metadata tags can get messed up or become corrupted, which causes errors when you try to open or preview the images. If that happens, simply change the file extensions back to what you think they should be, and this will probably fix the problem.

If anyone has any other tips for image recovery, or if you’ve experienced other types of memory card errors, leave a comment here and let me know how you fixed the problem.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.

As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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  • Dan, we’re so much alike it scary. I do the same with my cards, however the only difference is that I use those Thinktank Pocket pixel CF card holders. And I too also use Photo Rescue Pro.

  • Jim, I suppose that I could say something about how brilliant photographic minds think alike, but it’s probably closer to the fact that as scatterbrained, ADD artistic types, we probably devise these systems so that we don’t screw things up and confuse ourself. Oh, and lately, I’ve been using a Think Tank Pocket Rocket CF card holder as well- the one I got at The Flash Bus workshop. Thanks for the comment and keep up the good work! -DB

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