When I do an in-camera format of a memory chip by pressing Mode & Trash, the formatting seems to never end. The “For” indicator will stay on for hours if I let it. If I turn the camera off and back on the “For” goes away and the camera works correctly saving to the CF chip. If I do a memory format via the menu command it formats quickly.
Has anyone else experienced this? Or is there something I don’t understand?
#2. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 0slothead Nikonian since 11th Aug 2009Wed 27-Nov-13 01:30 PM
I don't format my cards often, but I think I have experienced this in the past. My reaction was to turn the camera off, pull the card. Reinsert it and start format again (whatever those steps are) and it worked fine. I may have checked the card between formats (not sure) but if I did, I don't recall the results. Had I done so and seen that the card was empty, I would have reformatted it anyway. There is a chance that I got an "err" when checking it between formats, but if I did, it didn't remain after reformatting.
I have never had a card that did not appear to be "resurrected" from whatever its malady. I have had cards that have done other questionable things and they have gone back to the manufacturer and they have been replaced free of charge (except for my shipping cost of the card to the manuf).
D810, D750, N1-J5, N1-V3 (and a few other cameras) and a BIG handful of lenses.
#3. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 2Wed 27-Nov-13 06:47 PM
You always should format your cards once you've transferred their contents to your computer and made a backup of the transfer. If you don't format, things can become pretty scrambled on the card after a while. The format on the cards in our cameras is FAT -- file allocation table formatting. If you delete an individual picture from a card the system puts the sectors from the picture you're deleting back on the allocation table. Each free sector in the allocation table points to the next free sector. Next, you shoot another picture, but the new picture is a bit larger than the one you just deleted. The system stores the new picture using the sequence of sectors in the allocation table. Once it's used all the sectors you turned back when you deleted the smaller picture, it'll jump over all the sectors in use by the other pictures on the camera until it finds the next unused sector. You end up with that larger picture requiring a huge jump during display before it can come up on the LCD, and a huge jump when it's copied to your computer. As you delete pictures and replace them with new pictures, things slow down more and more. Just deleting pictures leaves the scramble in place, but when you format, the system puts the allocation table back into physically sequential order. It's not a big deal on a flash card -- nothing like the slowdown you'll get on a hard drive when the FAT gets scrambled and requires a lot of extra physical movement to retrieve an object, but it only takes a couple seconds to format your card, and then, everything's back in order.
#4. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 3ajdooley Nikonian since 25th May 2006Thu 28-Nov-13 01:17 PM
Amen Russ! Those who don't date back to DOS will probably not grasp what you are telling them. But suffice to say -- everyone -- format your memory cards once you have downloaded and backed up their contents. Take it on faith if you don't understand why.
Waterloo, IL, USA
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#5. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 4Thu 28-Nov-13 07:22 PM
Brain – you presume wrong! “I presume you are pressing MODE and TRASH a second time, after "For" appears - as explained on pages 32-33 of the D800 manual?” Who knew! Well I guess I did because I have formatted in camera before. Thanks for the gentle reminder.
Russ / Alan – I do go back to DOS days. Although my memory may at times be in doubt – see above.
Re: FAT - file allocation table formatting or deleting all photos. I do not delete individual photos in the camera. When I download my photos, the program I use has the option of deleting all images from the card when the download is completed, which I have it do. Two questions:
Does deleting all images and not formatting release the sector allocations to be reused in sequence or are the sectors still scrambled?
How does a quick format in Windows 7 differ from an in camera format? Or does it?
#6. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 5billg71 Nikonian since 14th Aug 2006Fri 29-Nov-13 01:27 AM | edited Fri 29-Nov-13 01:29 AM by billg71
To answer your questions:
Does deleting all images and not formatting release the sector allocations to be reused in sequence or are the sectors still scrambled? Yes. Deleting a file simply removes its location data from the FAT and makes that location in the FAT available for use. Deleting all files from a drive removes all entries from the FAT and any new files written start at the beginning of the FAT and proceed sequentially.
How does a quick format in Windows 7 differ from an in camera format? Or does it? I don't think it does. A quick format in Windows deletes all entries from the FAT. The difference in a quick format and a full format is that the full format scans the drive for bad sectors in addition to resetting the FAT. Given the short time it takes to perform an in-camera format I can't see how the camera would have time to scan the entire card. Also, in solid-state memory, there are no physical sectors to scan anyway.
Operating systems were and still are designed to work with spinning disc media where there are actual physical locations for every bit of data on the drive. When you write a file to a drive the OS makes an entry in the FAT describing file size, type and the location(s) in terms of cylinder, track and sector where that data can be retrieved from. Fragmentation(as Russ describes) can occur and if allowed to continue can become a real problem in accessing files in a timely manner. For all practical concerns, an individual magnetic location on the drive can be polarized and reversed any number of times without damage, so running a defrag routine that places all file data in physically contiguous locations beginning at the outer(fastest) section of the disc has real advantages and doesn't harm the drive.
Solid-state memory, on the other hand, has a definite lifetime for any individual memory location. Once data has been written to that location X number of times the cell dies and cannot be used again. So all SSD devices have an internal controller that spreads data throughout the entire device(called wear leveling), there is no analogy to spinning disc media where data resides in physically contiguous locations. The FAT in a SSD is there for interface with the operating system, all real data handling is done internally by the controller.
So what does this all mean for us end-users? Not much. We don't have to worry about fragmentation since the file data is scattered all through the device by the internal wear-leveling anyway and the retrieve time is so fast. Formatting erases the FAT just like it always has. Deleting a file removes it's location from the FAT as it always has. Speed of the device is so fast that we don't have to worry about multiple FAT entries for a single file as we would in a disc drive if the file was fragmented to the point that all the locations of the bits and pieces were too large to fit into a single FAT entry.
Do you need to format a card every time you put it into the camera? Maybe, maybe not. Camera manufacturers recommend you do but I suspect that dates back to the days of the micro-drive when we had actual spinning-disc media in the camera. It also saves them having to explain to customers how to erase all the files from their cards.
Personally, I format cards in-camera after I download, it's a quick way to erase data(not really, you just clear the FAT but for all practical purposes it's the same thing) and it doesn't hurt anything. I also delete images in-camera and have been doing it for years with no ill effects. I have friends that shoot professionally and they all review images when they get a break and delete the obvious rejects and I've never heard one of them complain about problems with the cards. I realize this is anecdotal evidence but it works for me, YMMV.
My take on the subject, apologies for the long post but I really tried to keep it simple
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#7. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 6Fri 29-Nov-13 03:09 AM
Thanks Bill. Not too long at all. I very much appreciate the information.
I've been formatting my memory cards while they are still conveniently in the computer; when I remember, of course. I have had no problems with any of my SD or CF chips for 5 years and it was only forgetting the need to press the “Mode & Trash” buttons a second time to format in-camera that got this thread started. The responses triggered my follow-up questions. That seems to be the way of things at Nikonians.
#9. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 5ajdooley Nikonian since 25th May 2006Fri 29-Nov-13 12:00 PM
Cal -- I cannot authoritatively answer the question of formatting in the computer versus in the camera, but many times, I have seen the latter recommended -- either formatting in the camera with the two button system or the menu.
Ah DOS! I was thrilled when DOS1 was replaced by DOS2 and we could store 360k of data versus 320K on a floppy disk! That would have been able to hold 0.5% of a single RAW NEF from the D800! My first hard drive held I think, 40mb -- 2/3's of a single NEF.
Waterloo, IL, USA
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#10. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 8Fri 29-Nov-13 12:46 PM
Bill, Thanks for the complete rundown. Of course, you're right. FAT on a solid-state device isn't really analogous to Fat on a spinning disk. You're also right that we're talking about delays so infinitesimal that nobody's going to notice the difference. But I notice that you, along with me, and with everybody else who's ever worked with devices dependent on a FAT always reformats after a shoot -- hopefully always on the camera, not the computer. That simple act makes sure everything's back in order before you venture forth again on something you may not be able to re-shoot if something gets scrambled. Weddings come to mind.
Tom, If you're actually wearing out CF cards you must be a very high-volume pro. Your profile says you do landscapes, so you must be on the road constantly. I can't even imagine leaving stuff on a CF card after a shoot is finished and I've transferred the data to my computer and to a DVD. Things would get far too messy far too quickly, and I'd probably lose track of what's current and what's not. I've been using CF cards on digital cameras since 2000 and I have yet to experience a failure caused by the card becoming exhausted. Let's see -- if my card has a life of 50,000 write cycles and I go through 3 a day, that comes out to a life of about 46 years for the card. What that tells me is that the card is going to see me out.
And Alan, I remember when I bought my first hard drive too. It was a 10 megabyte drive. I bought it from Apparat in Denver, I paid $1,200 for it on sale, and I was convinced I had enough storage for the rest of my life. That was in early 1978, and in those days the usual (and expensive) hard drive was 2 meg.
#11. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 10briantilley Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Fri 29-Nov-13 01:22 PM
>Tom, If you're actually wearing out CF cards you must be a
>very high-volume pro.
I agree. I would certainly not forego formatting a card (in-camera) because I was afraid of wearing the card out
#12. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 11Fri 29-Nov-13 05:39 PM
Ah yes, computing in the 1970s. My first (we talk about them like we talk about our first child or, in my case, my practice wife ) was a “System X” made by Honeywell. It was an 8-bit Zylog (sp?) CPM c/w an amber monitor, 400K 5.25” floppies, and later I added a huge, as in door stop, 5MG hard drive. The metal key board was customized for WordStar and the system disk came with WordStar, SuperCalc and an early pre MS version of Basic. The key board had a special function. If you walked across the carpet and touched it, the static would automatically reboot the computer.
But I digress.
As a solely academic question, is there any difference between in camera formatting and doing so via the computer while the card is plugged into the card reader? Could Nikon or Canon etc. be doing something particular in relationship to their product?
#13. "RE: Format never stops" | In response to Reply # 12Fri 29-Nov-13 06:22 PM
Cal, I doubt any of us will ever know the answer to that question unless we go to work for Nikon or Canon. But every camera maker out there seems strongly to emphasize that the card should be formatted on the camera. I'll take their advice. You're going to put the card back in the camera anyway, and formatting takes just a couple seconds, so why run a chance by formatting on the computer?