Thu 02-Feb-12 07:23 AM | edited Thu 02-Feb-12 07:24 AM by Coalsmoke
Hi everyone, just bought my first DSLR, found a new D90 with a 18-55mm kit lens for a good deal, so I will be showing my face here rather regularly.
One question I have lingering, I read that its a good idea to re-format the memory card each time its taken out of the camera and re-inserted. Why is this? Is it a good habit to reformat say once a month?
I always format my memory cards in the camera after downloading the images (via card reader) to my computer. Formatting deletes all of the images and configures the card to optimize it's performance in the camera. There is no reason or advantage to format the card once a month. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
Here's a point that may help Stephan and myself. I've had my D90 since last October and am working on my first format. If I format it, will it affect the automatic folder prefix that is created during a download to the computer? Will formatting the card start me over at folder one again? Thanks.
"The Nikon did the work; I just happened to be behind it at the time." TP
If you set File Number sequence to on, it will keep increasing the picture number. If you leave it off, you'll start from DSC_0001 every time you reformat a card. Over time you'll have hundreds of photos on your computer all called DSC_0001. Been there done that and that makes a mess of yer pic files.
For your info get to it by: Menu,Custom Setting Menu (pencil icon),Shooting/display (d),File Number Sequence (d7)Set to ON
I hope you enjoy you D90! I really like mine even if there is a lot to learn for an old guy.
Reformatting your card after downloading the images has an added benefit (at least for me). I start each trip/event with a empty card, so I don't get mixed up with pics from different trips/events on the card.
After I have transferred all images from a card onto my computer, and am satisfied that I have a suitable backup of anything valuable, I re-insert the memory card in the camera and format it by holding the two buttons in. This is fast and convenient and I know the card is ready to go from the camera's perspective.
If you don't format in the camera, and instead delete images and/or format the card using some other machine, there is a very small chance that the way the card is organized (file and directory structure) will in some way be incompatible with the camera. I suppose this could lead to a malfunction and perhaps even loss of images. I think the chances of all this are very small as the SD card standard is popular and common.
Joseph, <<If I format it, will it affect the automatic folder prefix that is created during a download to the computer? Will formatting the card start me over at folder one again? >> Actually, it is one question. I am using Nikon Transfer which came with the camera.
Peter, That is sound advice - well put and well said.
"The Nikon did the work; I just happened to be behind it at the time." TP
Thanks guys. I don't use a card reader but instead download using the cable that came with the camera and use iTunes which automatically downloads and categorizes and then erases the images on the card for me. Since the card doesn't leave the camera in this instance, is it still beneficial to reformat the card after downloading my images? This is what prompted the once a month or once a week thought. I was a lurker for a while before signing up. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of collaboration and brain power here on Nikonians.
>I don't use a card reader but instead download >using the cable that came with the camera and use iTunes which >automatically downloads and categorizes and then erases the >images on the card for me.
The idea of third party software erasing images on a memory card in the camera sounds dangerous to me. Card readers are quite inexpensive and most notebook computers and many desktop computers already have an SD Card Reader built into the machine. The wear and tear of attaching the camera to the computer every time you want to download images, added to the possibility of damaging the camera due to a shorted USB cable or a voltage spike is even less appealing.
>Since the card doesn't leave the >camera in this instance, is it still beneficial to reformat >the card after downloading my images?
Yes! Reformatting the card in the camera after the images are deleted using third party software would be a very good idea. It would be a better idea to skip deleting the images with i-tunes and delete them by fomatting the card. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
Good question! I was told by a couple of photographers in a camera club I'm in that you should reformat your card IN the camera using the camera's function to reformat the card. This gives the card the exact format settings that the camera likes to use.
Reformatting clears any photos and extraneous data left on the camera. Supposed to lead to less card corruption, too.
I never reformat my cards and consider the "requirement" a myth. I've lost track of how many photos I've taken but it's probably around 200,000 in the past 5 years with the D70, D200, and D300. Never lost an image. Never formatted any cards.
I've been following this topic with interest, so here are my thoughts, and please correct me on any points that may be incorrect: It seems to me that the "over-all general rule" for all applications of all electronic devices (cameras, in our case) using external solid state memory devices (SD cards in our specific case) is that it is the best (and safest) practice to ALWAYS format the card when it is FIRST used. AND always format it in the SPECIFIC device (camera) in which it will be used. So, we should NEVER format a card on one camera, and then use it on a different one without "re-formatting." Okay, so far, so good.
Now, about periodically reformatting the same card on the same camera: For me, I see a couple of reasons that I WOULD re-format a card. The first case would be if I have possibly "altered the data" in any way, when the card is not in the camera. -a specific example would be deleting a file (or files) while the card is plugged into my computer.
And the second case (and here is where I hope someone who is learned on the specifics of solid state memory will respond) is this: Isn't it true that the "formatting" process does a lot of "house-keeping" that we don't generally think about? -such as "marking out bad sectors" (or whatever the proper term is, -the equivalent to disk type memory), as well as "cleaning up the directory", and so forth.
I guess what makes me this seem obvious to me is that all memory devices will have "bad sectors" even when brand new, and the formatting process marks them out, to prevent them from being used, otherwise there would be a certain amount of "corrupted data." So, doesn't it make you wonder if other sectors may fail over time? -and if so, periodic re-formatting would be a good practice.
So now, with all that being said, I suspect that in the "real world" applications of most SD cards, the vast majority of us SD card users may in fact never follow any of the "general rules" and NEVER experience a single failure.
Four of my cameras use CF cards (and one uses SD). I rotate about a dozen cards so I have an additional backup on the card until it's turn comes up again. Then I just place the card in the camera and press the format buttons.
Thus the card I pick up may have been formatted by one of four cameras (all Nikons) and I just think its "safer" to simply Format...
Where cards are rotated, as I do above, and if I didn't want to Format then I would have to dive into menues to "delete all" rather a long way round...
Regards, Clive Liddell Pietermaritzburg South Africa
>Now, about periodically reformatting the same card on the same >camera: For me, I see a couple of reasons that I WOULD >re-format a card. The first case would be if I have possibly >"altered the data" in any way, when the card is not >in the camera. -a specific example would be deleting a file >(or files) while the card is plugged into my computer.
The card is just a file system object. Doing file system operations on it will not require special handling later. The advantage of doing a "quick format" in the camera is that it is much faster that way to remove all the old files.
>And the second case (and here is where I hope someone who is >learned on the specifics of solid state memory will respond) >is this: Isn't it true that the "formatting" process >does a lot of "house-keeping" that we don't >generally think about? -such as "marking out bad >sectors" (or whatever the proper term is, -the equivalent >to disk type memory), as well as "cleaning up the >directory", and so forth.
This is the difference between a "full format" and a "quick format". "Quick format" updates the file tables to an empty state and a few other minor things. "Full format" does the sector checks and other error correcting, along with the deep file system formatting. The camera only does a "quick format".
>I guess what makes me this seem obvious to me is that all >memory devices will have "bad sectors" even when >brand new, and the formatting process marks them out, to >prevent them from being used, otherwise there would be a >certain amount of "corrupted data." So, doesn't it >make you wonder if other sectors may fail over time? -and if >so, periodic re-formatting would be a good practice.
Every so often a "full format" by the computer using a card reader can be a good thing to get the error detection/correction. Afterwards, do a quick format in the camera.
>So now, with all that being said, I suspect that in the >"real world" applications of most SD cards, the vast >majority of us SD card users may in fact never follow any of >the "general rules" and NEVER experience a single >failure.
Sounds about right. The cards come from the factory already "full formated" with the file format expected by most cameras. Like hard drives do, cards can go bad. I have had two do that over the years. Lexar cards have a life-time warranty. I replaced one of the cards; a "full format" seem to make the second one usable again.
---------+---------+---------+---------+ Joseph K Seattle, WA, USA
There is certainly no harm to formatting the memory card each time before use. The debate is whether doing so is necessary.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that we use memory cards in our cameras as storage devices and so we confuse their "care and feeding" with the rotating magnetic memory (hard disks excluding SSDs) we commonly use in our computers.
A low-level format is performed on the hard disk once at the factory. At that time physical sectors are mapped to logical sectors. Defective physical sectors are excluded. The hard disk firmware tracks new errors and may add "grown defects" to the list of bad physical sectors and remap. At the BIOS level your computers does not know or care about physical sectors. The BIOS uses the mapped sectors in a scheme called Logical Block Addressing (LBA). Without special manufacturer software you cannot perform a low-level format on your hard disk. The process is similar for memory cards except I don't think grown defects are handled, your card simply can "go bad".
You do have access to the following, in Windows it would be in Disk Management.
Next, your hard disk get partitioned. Usually into one partition but sometime multiple partitions. You could partition a memory card into multiple partitions but it would serve you no purpose.
Next, the partition is formatted, and here is where it gets tricky.
First, you must choose the style of File Allocation Table (FAT) that will be written. Note that FAT "styles" are standardized, FAT32 is FAT32 regardless of computer or camera. For your cameras this is crucial because the camera firmware must be able to handle the FAT that you write. Certainly having the camera firmware write the FAT ensures that it will be able to read the FAT. One the other hand, if the camera supports that size of memory card and it is already formatted with a FAT that is appropriate for the memory card size, then you are almost certainly all set.
Next, with Windows, you choose whether to do a "Quick" format or a "Full" format. Camera firmware always does a quick format that simply writes an empty FAT. If the camera follows the Digital rule for Camera File system (DCF) then certain files and directories are recreated after the quick format.
BTW, it is DCF that allows you to move memory cards between cameras without having to reformat. I do this routinely.
I use a card reader. Pop the card into the reader, then into the USB port. Files are copied to my server, which is automatically backed up daily.
I reformat on camera every time I put it back in. I have no idea if doing so is necessary, but I can't see any reason to think its harmful, and it only takes a moment, and it makes it easier not having the previous images on the card anymore the next time I upload to the server.
So, I guess my opinion comes down to "Why not? Formatting is free and easy."
This might make you wince, but I move rather than copy my files, so there's no need to format since the card is "empty" after the move. And no, I have never lost a file by moving rather than copying
My move is done with a batch file that recurses through the directories so I get all the images regardless of how many cameras the card has been in. My procedures also renames the files as it moves them (off topic).
FWIW, in a pinch I'll use my card like a "flash drive" to carry non-photographic files around. If I were to format the card, I might lose something non-photographic that I care about!
>This might make you wince, but I move rather than copy my >files, so there's no need to format since the card is >"empty" after the move. >And no, I have never lost a file by moving rather than copying
That makes me wince! I prefer copying for the obvious reason that if something bad happens mid-transfer, or post-transfer, the memory card is my backup. I even have a preference for card readers and their software that permit reading cards with the write lock enabled. (The iPad2 doesn't permit this which is annoying).
It is reassuring however that you've never had loss of an image.
OUTSTANDING responses. -these Nikonians Forums are a great asset.
Speaking for myself, I now have a much better idea how and when to do a re-format, and at what level. I hope others will too. I now realize that there ARE times ti makes sense to use my computer to do a full format. And I think it makes totally good sense to use the "in camera" format option to delete all files, "clearing" the card for re-use.
One quick question for Bill, do our cameras use FAT32? (When using a Windows computer, I've never known which one is right for any particular digital device,,,,)
Wow this has been an excellent learning experience. Up above I mentioned that I use iTunes, that should have read iPhoto for photo handling. It has been an excellent photo management software for me, never had a problem of any kind, and saves the steps of having to copy or move and organize files.
I hadn't thought of the point of perhaps wearing out the camera's usb and am going to pick up a card reader as that does sound like it may be a better way to go.
perhaps wearing out the camera's usb and am going to pick up a card reader
I think you make the right decision, but for the wrong reason There is no "free lunch", you trade off wear and tear of the card slot against wear and tear of the USB connector. But for a number of other reasons, using a card reader is a better approach than using USB straight to the camera. It's usually less clumsy, you don't have to have the camera handy, with a good reader it's sometimes faster, you can handle multiple cards more easily, etc.
Are there classifications of card readers in terms of speed or classes like there are for SD cards?
Sure, the reader will support some version of USB, each version is faster than the previous. Of course the USB port on the computer must also support the higher USB version. The typical reader today will be USB 2.0, avoid 1.x. USB 3.0 is not helpful unless your computer supports it too.