Compact Flash reliability

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Compact Flash reliability

Postby hunter » May 1, 2007 6:53 pm

Hi all you digital types, now that I'm starting to shoot raws my two 1Gb cards are seeming a bit small for longer trips. I went online and realized that 8 and 16Gb cards are really coming down in price. This got me thinking, the larger cards are convenient but they also create somewhat of an all your eggs in one basket scenario.
Anyway, after the long intro, has anyone had CF flash cards fail? If so, what were the conditions?

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Re: Compact Flash reliability

Postby tallgirl » May 1, 2007 7:33 pm

hunter wrote:This got me thinking, the larger cards are convenient but they also create somewhat of an all your eggs in one basket scenario.


You should get a bigger card and think of it as more of a backup photo memory for your computer. While the card is in your camera it is probably safer than the camera lens. And depending on how you upload your pics it may never leave the safety of your camera. Just make sure you continue to upload your photos fairly often because your biggest danger is probably still camera theft.
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Postby Bobatnathrop » May 1, 2007 7:36 pm

Hey Hunter!

I have actually had 2 CF card fail on me. Though they were pretty extreme conditions. I was working at a whitewater photography company, the cards were written and deleted probably 10-15 times a day. They were also setting in the hot sun for 8 hours a day for over 5 month, sometimes they were to hot to even hold. They were also used during ski season on the slopes in just about the same manner, cept this time it was cold instead of hot.
The two cards that failed my boss had bought from NewEgg and they were the cheapest he could buy, I dont even remember the brand now, but it was probably 2 years from the time he bought them to the time they went bad. But I also used over 50 different cards a day, so 2 cheap cards failing out of 50 isnt too bad.

If you bought some really high-quality cards from a reconizable company I dont think you would have any problems with them for years and years. It is allways a good idea to back your cards up to CD or hard drive after each trip though, just incase.

And remeber that with flash memory that even if you cant access the pictures, they are still probably there, just as long as you didnt write over them. When the CF cards failed on me I got on Google and just found a program that would recover lost flash files. I think it cost about $10 but it was able to recover every single file off the card, even some files that had been written over 4 months earlier.
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Re: Compact Flash reliability

Postby Bobatnathrop » May 1, 2007 7:43 pm

tallgirl wrote:
hunter wrote:This got me thinking, the larger cards are convenient but they also create somewhat of an all your eggs in one basket scenario.


You should get a bigger card and think of it as more of a backup photo memory for your computer. While the card is in your camera it is probably safer than the camera lens. And depending on how you upload your pics it may never leave the safety of your camera. Just make sure you continue to upload your photos fairly often because your biggest danger is probably still camera theft.


Good point.
But haveing more than 1 or 2 copies allways makes me feel better. When ever I get home I just copy all of my pictures onto an internal (not main) hard-drive. Then I copy straight from the camera again to a CD. Then I just leave the pictures on the card and they might stay there for a few weeks.
And whenever I get a wierd feeling about my PC I copy the entire harddrive with all the pictures to a CD. Call me wierd, but I would prefer haveing 10 coppies of the same picture over not having the picture at all cus my PC crashed.

But you dont have to listen to any of my rants, It is all personal preference I guess.
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Postby tallgirl » May 1, 2007 7:48 pm

yeah well I'm lazy so I just count it as #1 computer #2 photo card and to me those 2 are enough
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » May 1, 2007 7:56 pm

When I was looking at cameras prior to buying mine some of the more serious photographers were using small portable harddrive based devices to slurp down and/or backup thier photos while they were in the field.

I'm wondering if I could do a similar thing with a mp3 player if and when I get one.
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Postby tallgirl » May 1, 2007 8:00 pm

fuzzy-hair-man wrote:I'm wondering if I could do a similar thing with a mp3 player if and when I get one.


Probably but I'm gonna guess you would have to buy a special cord.
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Postby barcelonacvr » May 1, 2007 8:12 pm

fuzzy-hair-man wrote:When I was looking at cameras prior to buying mine some of the more serious photographers were using small portable harddrive based devices to slurp down and/or backup thier photos while they were in the field.

I'm wondering if I could do a similar thing with a mp3 player if and when I get one.


Thats why I bought a 30 gb Ipod and camera adapter for traveling storage and such.Belkin makes adapters to a few mp3 players/
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Postby tropicalbats » May 2, 2007 12:12 am

I've come up with a bit so that I don't have to burn CDs, because I switched to 8mp several years ago and there was too much burning going on. Instead of switching to a writable DVD, which would have solved things as well, I bought an external hard drive. This drive saves everything on my computer in a restorable manner with the push of a button (and some hours of time), or just is a second place to dump important files quickly whenever I want. But to make it all somewhat more redundant, now that the cost of a 1Gb CF card is down to $14.95 on sale, I just save the cards as well. I get about 250 shots on a card. Back when using slides I used to get 36 slides for a film/processing cost of $16. Seems like a bargain to just label and store the original files on the CF card, which can be tossed off to a safe deposit box or whatever one finds to be the ultimate in protection.

So the pics are on the original card, my active computer, and my separate external hard drive that I only plug into the computer when exchanging files. If you are really paranoid, just toss the external drive in the fireproof safe as well when not needed.

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Postby Dave Bunnell » May 2, 2007 12:20 am

Interesting about the cards failures and good to know there is probably a way to recover files if one does fail.

But I agree one problem with using a larger capacity card is indeed all your eggs in one basket. Your camera could get flooded, dropped into a crack, or stolen. So, when out on multi-day caving excursions or expeditions, being able to back up to another device is good. I've recently been using one called a Zen, made by Creative. It has a 4-inch, high-res screen which makes a pretty good display, and a 30-GB hard drive. The display allows zooming in, so you could catch something like focusing issues or sensor dust problems. It also has a built-in reader for a Compact Flash card. Being able to show your pictures to a landowner right away and being able to review your day's efforts with your caving buddies is another plus..

These things dropped in price about 50% over the year or so they've been out. Currently the Zens go for about $280, or more for one with a higher capacity drive.

Another much cheaper device is called a Photo Chute, just a small hard drive you can copy pix to. However, this one doesn't display the images, which is half the fun, so if you can afford it go for a media player with a big drive.

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Postby hunter » May 2, 2007 10:40 am

Thanks for the input everyone! Bobatnathrop, thanks for the description. My cards don't get anywhere near that kind of use but they do see some fairly extreme temperatures. It's great to know there is a recovery option as well! Given the way prices are going I may just replace my 1G at some point.

Right now I have my photos on an external harddrive and CD at a minimum but the 8mp means I'm heading away from CDs as well. For long trips I drive on I take a laptop but flying I'm reluctant to take the weight and it's another thing to break/loose. Anyone know of a small CF copier? Seems like it would be easy to just back each card up to another one every day but searching I just found copiers for 20 or so cards.

But to make it all somewhat more redundant, now that the cost of a 1Gb CF card is down to $14.95 on sale, I just save the cards as well. I get about 250 shots on a card. Back when using slides I used to get 36 slides for a film/processing cost of $16. Seems like a bargain to just label and store the original files on the CF card, which can be tossed off to a safe deposit box or whatever one finds to be the ultimate in protection.

tropical, I've got to admit, I'd never thought of doing this. Since I tend to delete a good number of photos this could be pretty cost effective (not to mention saving space over CDs). Have you looked into the longevity of data stored on CF? I know it's good but I wonder about leaving it for years.

And depending on how you upload your pics it may never leave the safety of your camera.

Good point tallgirl, I don't really worry about uploading but a large card negates the need to change cards in cave which is a big plus for me.

Anyone had a card from Qmemory? I'm looking at this one:
http://www.flash-memory-store.com/qmemo ... -16gb.html
which is the same price as other 16Gb cards but has faster read/write.

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Postby hunter » May 2, 2007 10:53 am

Have you looked into the longevity of data stored on CF?

Forget that question, I looked at the Compact Flash association website and this is there statement:
Shock – CF cards have an operating shock rating of 2,000 Gs, which is equivalent to a 10-foot drop. With typical usage, a CF card can be used for more than 100 years with no loss or deterioration of data.


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