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Old May 21, 2010, 7:48 PM   #1
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Default Formatting problem with Compact Flash cards

I'm new here, but seems like a knowledgeable place. Hope I can get some help with this problem.

A few weeks ago my Sony A100 started having formatting issues with Compact Flash cards. On hearing it's good to regularly clear flash memory, I have begun to format cards after unloading photos. I format the card to FAT32 using a Macbook Pro. Upon insertion into the camera, there's a message that it cannot read the card and needs to format it. That's no big deal, I say yes and start shooting.

Here's the problem: upon plugging the card back into the computer (via card reader), the computer says "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" and asks to format the card (I get a similar message on the Windows partition of my laptop). This started with just one card, so I figured the card was starting to go, but now it happens with all 3 of my CF cards. If I reinsert the card into the camera, sometimes I can review the images and take more. Other times it will ask to format the card.

So the camera is able to format cards to work with itself, but not with my computer. I've updated the A100 to firmware version 1.04, which I believe is the latest. No luck. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks.
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Old May 21, 2010, 9:06 PM   #2
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First, you should never format the cards in a computer; only format them in the camera.

Second, Now that you've got the problem, put one of the cards you're having troble with into a card reader attached to your PC. If anything comes up, close it. Right-click on My Computer, and select Manage. When the Computer Management utility appears, in the left pane, under Storage, click on Disk Management. In the right (or center) pane, in the bottom window, scroll down until you can see your CF Card. Right-click on its partition, and select Delete Volume.... When it has completed that, remove the CF Card, insert it into the camera, and format it.
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Old May 22, 2010, 10:58 AM   #3
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If you're not using the Safely remove or eject features, you may be corrupting the cards.

To safely remove a card with your Mac, click on the icon you should see on your desktop for the Card and press the Eject button on the Mac keyboard, then wait until the icon in your toolbar for it to go away.

With a PC, right click on the icon for the card under My Computer and select the Eject choice to do the same thing.

Depending on the Operating System and how it detected the card reader, writes can be cached in memory. So, if you remove the card before flushing those writes to it, you can corrupt your media.

I'd do as TCav suggested (remove any partitions on the card using Windows Disk Management).

But after removing any partitions on it, I'd also format it using Windows as FAT32 for cards larger than 2GB, or use the FAT versus FAT32 choice for cards 2GB or smaller.

Then, make sure to use the Eject choice you'll see if you right click on icon for the card under My Computer (to make sure all writes in memory have been flushed to it) before removing the card from your card reader.

Then, reformat it using your camera's menu choice for format before using it.
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Old May 22, 2010, 3:58 PM   #4
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When a camera formats a card it adds information such as camera /directory/directories etc;
a PC or MAC format does not write this information so the camera asks to format the card
if this information is found to be missing or incomplete.
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Old May 24, 2010, 7:07 PM   #5
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Thanks for everyone's advice. I followed TCav's instructions, but for whatever reason Windows 7 would not let me delete the volume on my CF cards (the option was greyed out) and even a full formatting (unchecking the "quick" option) was still not working. So I booted back into OS X and formatted the cards as "Free Space" partitions in Disk Utility, essentially deleting the volume and leaving no partition. But my camera didn't like taking a card with no partition, so again with Disk Utility I formatted them as FAT32. That still wasn't working, so I went back to Windows and formatted them as simply FAT, and that did it. The camera can now take pictures and afterward the computer can read the CF cards. So the solution seems to be to delete any volumes, however you can, followed by formatting as FAT.

Thanks again for the help. Guess I came to the right place. Hopefully this will help someone else in the future.
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Old May 24, 2010, 9:47 PM   #6
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Congratulations on your perseverance.
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