Thank you JimC for that wonderful explaination.
You get up very early in the morning
as do I. You replied just a couple minutes before I had finished an edit on the post with the following although I suspect it doesn't anything.
-PMB, Picture Motion Browser, is described as Sony's image management software and there was the odd message "Recovering image management file" as described in the original post but I think WITH SOME DOUBT these are unrelated as PMB is referring to the desktop software only.
-although gray bottom is the most common. THIS PATTERN NO DOUBT PROVIDES CLUE TO THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM.
-I tried PC Inspector as well per that sticky about Reovering Images or Videos from Memory Cards. May I don't know how to use it but without going into details, it doesn't do anything apparent.
Originally Posted by JimC
Drive letters being assigned by Windows may not have anything to do with the actual storage device being seen by applications like Photorec.
But, do make sure you check any USB related menu choices to make *sure* the camera is set to USB Mass Storage (in case that's an erroneous message and it's really using PTP instead). Also, note the section about using the whole disk options in that sticky. I suspect you may be seeing some interference from Sony's PMB software, too. In that case, using Photorec under Linux would be another way to approach it (or just making a disk image copy of your camera's internal storage and running Photorec against it).
Yes, I did ensure the setting on the camera for USB connection option was set to USB Mass Storage only rather than Automatic. This had no effect on Photorec. Speaking of which, if you look at that screenshot above, there is suppose to be an E drive which is on the same physical drive as D. Photorec seems to be seeing only the first partition of each physical drive. In that command line interface, I can't see the option to set Photorec to use the "whole disk" as you recommend. I also read the step by step and other pages at cgsecurity.org - nothing there about whole disk aside from recovering a hard drive using Linux.
Originally Posted by JimC
Are the photos really important to you? If so, I could try to talk you through downloading a Live Linux distro
They're probably already corrupted on your internal memory. But, in some cases, you can have photos that are continguous and show up as corrupted because of File System Problems. Realistically, they're probably already corrupted and you'd be wasting your time trying to retrieve any of them intact. The only way to know would be to try using tools that can ignore the underlying file system entirely (as photorec can do) to see if any of them may be OK.
Not that important to set up a Linux environment from scratch although I'm technically competent to do so provided with instructions.
I'll try to make a disk image of the camera internal storage and run Photorec on it as you suggest as the last course. The closest I've done like this is using Virtual CloneDrive. Do you suggest any particular disk image making software(s)?