A Saga of Lost Memories

On April 11, my family and I had a chance to see the Harlem Globetrotters in Minneapolis. During the game I managed to take 40-50 photos to remember the game, until I was asked not to by an overzealous usher and security guard. 

Initially the usher, whom I will call Zella since I don’t know her name,  thought I was shooting video because of the focus assist light on my camera, but with the help of the person sitting behind me, I was able to shut this light off. Turning off the focus assist light initially satisfied Zella. As the game progressed Zella began to get more and more obnoxious, staring at my camera. About halfway through the game,  Zella had security guard I will call Karl order me to stop taking any photos. Karl’s reason was that my camera, the Casio EX-F1, with its built-in lens was bigger than his security pass. Karl could not explain the logic  behind this rule. I, Karl felt threatened and that he needed to control the situation even though no signs prohibited photos.

Zella and Karl went on to harass other people, and I sat back and enjoyed the rest . I took a few more photos at the end of the game when the players signed autographs an posed for pictures. Overall, I was pleased that I had some photos to remember the day.

PromasterThe problem came the next day. I put my memory card into my computer planning to transfer the photographs onto the computer. I did not have time to transfer the photos and moved the card back into my camera so that I could take more photos. We were having lunch with some friends.

When I placed the card in my camera I received a card read error. I tried a numbver of other readers and I either received the same read error or the card reader did not recognize the card. At this point, I knew I had a problem. I contacted a consultant that I had worked with in the past and he suggested either using a data recovery program or contacting an outside recovery firm.

The simplest solution was a data recovery program. I tried Photo Rescue and Image Rescue 3 without success. Both of these programs have free trial versions so they do not cost anything unless they actually recover your photos.

The next step was to take the corrupt card to National Camera, where I purchased it and see if they could do anything. I brought my card in and they indicated that they would attempt to recover the data and the charge would be $20, if they were able to recover my photos. Unfortunately, they were no more able to recover my photos than I was.

At this point I called the card manufacturer, Promaster. Promaster told me that they would be happy to replace my card but that it was unlikely that they would be able to recover my photos. Here’ s the real question: after a memory card fails do you really want a card produced by the same manufacturer. I think not.

My final attempt was to send the card to rediskme. This company charges $125 for data recovery from camera cards. Rediskme was also unable to recover any images.

At this point I have two additional options, one that was recommended by rediskme and one recommended by Promaster. Unfortunately, DriveSavers at $490 and Ontrack at $1000 were more expensive than I was willing to pay.

The corrupt camera card is now sitting in my desk drawer awaiting a better recovery solution. Let me know if you have any ideas and remember to transfer and backup your digital photos.

About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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3 Responses to A Saga of Lost Memories

  1. Keith House says:

    Mark, in my experience the only times I have known people to lose digital photos is when the memory card has been removed from their camera. I know that thousands of people do it every day and they haven’t had any problems…..until the first time it happens. My policy is to never remove the memory card and tranfer photos to the computer via USB cable. Once the images are on the comuter I make a backup copy to an external USB drive and I let Time Machine make another backup to a second external hard drive…..then I dismount the camera. So before I even turn off the camera I have 3 additional copies of my images. After dismounting the camera I format the memory card. After formatting the card I unmount external hard drive #1 and lock it up in a safe.

    The absolute worst thing to do is remove your memory card and plug it into a photo printing kiosk at a large chain retail store….I know people do it all the time but it is just asking for troubles. With USB 2.0 speeds being so fast it just seems like a small price to pay for the additional security. All it takes to zap a memory card is an itty bitty little bit of static electricity.

    I have tried some of the same recovery programs that you tried in an effort to recover photos from memory cards and I have not been successful either.

  2. Lisa Youngblood says:

    I’ve just heard a similar story from a customer of mine. She took out her card while the camera was on. She found out later from the company that tried to get her images back that that is the number one cause for unrecoverable images.

    I agree with Keith on the transfer method. Keep it in the camera if possible. I taught high school yearbook for 7 years. I have to deal with all sorts of cameras and problems. We found that we minimized these by just plugging the camera into the Mac with its cord and transferring images that way. With Macs we never had to download the camera’s specific software.

    (Speaking of that: any news on the native Mac version of Memory Manager or Storybook Creator Plus?)

  3. Keith House says:

    Is there really talk of a native Mac version of MM and/or StoryBook? That would be so great…..

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