A "Full" CF card is actually empty

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Mel Comisarow, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. I just developed a strange problem with my Nikon D70s. The Nikon shows
    FULL in the control panel but the Monitor LCD says FOLDER CONTAINS NO
    IMAGES when I hit the button that normally displays the memory images.
    Formatting the SanDisk Ultra II 1.0 GB compact flash card has no effect
    on the above symptoms. I'll purchase a new CF card tomorrow to localize
    the problem to either the card or the camera, but in the mean time has
    anyone seen this "reads FULL but is empty" symptom. Thanks.
    Mel Comisarow, Dec 23, 2008
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  2. Mel Comisarow

    Mark Thomas Guest

    Do you mean you formatted it in camera and got this? Have you tried
    formatting it on a PC instead, were the results identical, and does the
    card read/write ok on the PC?
    Mark Thomas, Dec 23, 2008
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  3. Possible reason: Your CF card directory is corrupt. That is why the
    camera says the card is full but it cannot locate any images.

    Possible solution: Use a card reader to format you CF card in a
    computer to FAT or FAT32. Do not format to NTFS.

    I hope it helps.
    wannabesomeonecares, Dec 23, 2008
  4. I did the following:

    1) Using a SanDisk ImageMate CF Reader I attached the CF card to my
    PowerMac running Mac OS 10.5.6.
    2) I Ran Sandisk RescuePRO on the CF card, which extracted all my recent
    jpg images as well as some four-year old jpg images and some "MP3" files
    which just had static and some other files of indeterminate format.
    RescuePRO found 71 errors".
    3) I then ran the Macintosh Disk Utility Program on the CF card and Disk
    Utility reported that the card was MS DOS (FAT16) formated.
    4) I then used Disk Utility to erase the card.
    5) I formatted the card in the Nikon.
    6) I can now take pictures, store the jpg file and erase the jpg file at

    Two final items--
    1) Thanks for suggesting formatting/erasing with a computer.
    2) What happened here? Is my CF card failing and should be discarded?

    Thanks again.
    Mel Comisarow, Dec 23, 2008
  5. Had you formatted in camera, it'd have worked, but you'd have lost the
    files you recovered. Henceforth, just format in camera.
    John McWilliams, Dec 23, 2008
  6. Mel Comisarow

    Mark Thomas Guest

    Item 2 obviously pointed out your problem - the card had at some
    point(s) been corrupted (usually by removal/insertion while a device was
    still writing/booting, or possibly a flaky connection).

    Your camera is not a very sophisticated beast when it comes to knowing
    what to do with a corrupt card, so it choked on it, and also failed to
    format it properly until the directory structure on the card was
    rewritten - presumably your Mac did that in step 4.

    The card is probably fine and it was mishandling that caused the error,
    but watch it closely, check there is no debris in the contacts area, and
    preferably ensure the camera is OFF when you remove/insert it. I would
    suggest that your camera card be only used in your camera, but that is
    your choice.
    Mark Thomas, Dec 23, 2008
  7. This part is easy to explain. There can be all sorts of files besides
    images on the card, taking up space. And images could be in a directory
    where the limited camera software is not looking for images.
    This on the other hand is rather strange. Formatting a card should
    recreate the file system and thus restoring the available size to full
    capacity (except for overhead, of course).

    Jürgen Exner, Dec 23, 2008
  8. Mel Comisarow

    Jimmy Guest

    Corrupt card files normally come from turning the camera off before the
    write was finished, bad connection, removing the card before the write was
    complete. As you had some old pictures still recoverable on the card, it
    appears you may want to reformat the card in the camera a bit more often. I
    have been in the habit of only deleting pictures on the card in the camera
    and not in a card reader. There were similar corruption problems with SD
    cards a few years ago, delete and reformatting methods was the fix.
    Jimmy, Dec 23, 2008
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