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Old Jan 17, 2003, 7:25 PM   #1
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Default Smartmedia, CompactFlash, and Microdrives for pc cam freaks!

A number of posters have complained about media problems. So here's some info from some experiments I did. I have a 16Mb SM card, a 16Mb CF card, a sparkly new IBM Microdrive and a 602z.

The SM and CF are sacrificial, the microdrive is not! The purpose of this exercise was not to recover images, but to get a broken card to work. Image recovery just follows, if you understand FAT formats.

Download WinHex from here, it's worth the cash:
http://www.winhex.com/
With this proggie you can read all the above media via a usb reader and edit sectors.

So, I deleted the Fuji directories on the CF and SM leaving the 12bit FAT tables and header structure intact. Then backed up the first 50 sectors on each card to my HD. With no file directories the 602 likes the cards and there are no error mesages from the cam. The cam adds the directory structure when the first shot is taken.

I took a shot with each card, then looked at the card structure, which now contained the directories in the FAT. I did a second backup of the first 50 sectors.

Then, big plunge. I wrote zero's into every sector on both cards (including the boot and FAT sectors). When returned to the cam the error message 'card not initialised' is given. BUT, put the cam into replay, reformat and the card comes back to life. Did a 3rd backup and checked that the card structure had been re-built by the cam.

Next the microdrive. It's actually formatted as 16BIT FAT. The first sector tables have more info in them, including a reference to msdos. I wasn't going to mess with this - in case the cam hadn't built the table in the first place! wish I'd looked at its format before using it in the cam. BUT I did a backup of the first 50 sectors for future insurance.

So, for those that have a 602 (those cams with pano format bits might be trickier) you can fill your card sectors with zero's and reformat. Now this isn't addressing a low level format problem, but it does show how you can clean a suspect card of everything on it which could cause the cam to think it was faulty, and the cam will still reformat it.

The great thing about Winhex, if you have a cam that might use a manufacturer's initialisation on their cards, is you can easily clone the data structure on to OEM cards. Hope this info might help you one day! VOX
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Old Jan 18, 2003, 7:21 AM   #2
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The cam adds the directory structure when the first shot is taken.
Isn't it how all cameras work and not just the s602? I have used the same CF flash on a CP990, S2 and D7 without reformatting, and ended up with 3 separate directories with their respectives pictures, ie 100NIKON, 101_FUJI, 100MLT14 directories...

BTW the camera DCF is also compatible with other devices since you can create an additional directory for MP3 music and the same memory card (or microdrive) will work interchangeably on any camera as well as any MP3 player as long as it's FAT-16...

http://www.exif.org/specifications.html
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Old Jan 18, 2003, 12:13 PM   #3
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NHL....Safer not to generalise for all cams and then find a member screws up his cards.

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will work interchangeably on any camera as well as any MP3 player as long as it's FAT-16...
According to my tests, smaller cards are formatted FAT12, and bigger one's FAT16. Don't know where the boundary size is where it changes, or whether the cam or card manufacturer fixes it.

Have you successfully moved a card backwards and forwards from a Rio MP3 player then?
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Old Jan 18, 2003, 9:56 PM   #4
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Have you successfully moved a card backwards and forwards from a Rio MP3 player then?
My Rio uses SM cards and is the same vintage as my Agfa 1680. The MP3 player that I now have is the eDigital and it uses the microdrive as well! I can uploaded or downloaded pictures and musics from the microdrives to the MindStor with no problem. The MindStor is my regular storage for week long vacation trip when I don't bring the laptop...

Like I said different camera directories, and music files can co-exist on the same CF card (or microdrive). The device can then be used interchangeably on any equipments (cameras, MP3 players, or MindStor/Laptop through a PCMCIA adapter) without reformatting in FAT-16.

I didn't realize about FAT-12, is FAT-16 backward compatible to FAT-12? Is FAT-12 in the Digital Camera File system specs or is it only vendor specific?
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Old Jan 20, 2003, 5:11 PM   #5
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NHL...

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I didn't realize about FAT-12, is FAT-16 backward compatible to FAT-12? Is FAT-12 in the Digital Camera File system specs or is it only vendor specific?
I don't know yet. I'd have to play with my sacrificial card. I don't mind trying to make the 16Mb FAT-16, but I'm not messing with the 128, till the price comes down! Have heard though, some users format the bigger cards as FAT-12 as it suits cams, 'cos files are small. It's too late to work out how many files that will address!
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Old Feb 27, 2003, 5:47 PM   #6
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re:

Download WinHex from here, it's worth the cash:
http://www.winhex.com/
With this proggie you can read all the above media via a usb reader and edit sectors.

---

Have you tried to do it via the camera with the chip in ? I dont have a CF USB reader.
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Old Feb 28, 2003, 8:33 AM   #7
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No I haven't. I think it should be Ok as the cam is just seen as a remote drive. Why don't you download the trial from the link (self help!) and try it out with your cam (if they've switched off editing (can't remember) I'll come back with an answer.?

One bit of useful info: There are a number of different card readers out there. I started with a cheap Taiwan job. Works fine. Then I found out about SM and CF prep which are progs to re-format your card clean and back to the empty new stage.

These progs are written by SCM Microsystems and only work with their readers. Dazzle brand is one range which gives you these fix utilities AND a burn dvd slideshow utility. Worth the extra cash for these. My only gripe with my 6-in-1 reader is no card eject button (so really fails the pcmcia spec!)

More useful info: bought a cheap CF card from a respectable UK firm. Card was in unbroken heat sealed package. When I read the card image with WinHex, one was full of data (even though the cat was empty). So they must have been re-supplying returned cards as new, but only doing quick format. There's a reason why people might buy new cards and find they don't work!

Using Winhex, I'm now building a small collection of media images for each card size and type, one when it first arrives in the box and a copy when my cam or MP3 player succesfully formats and saves files to it. Handy if you're trying different formats out, putting back an image which works again, is magic. My MP3 player seems tolerant to most card format options, it works with an MSDOS MBR in dos NT 4 or 5.0, I can reformat a 64 Meg card as 1024Kb cluster size down from 2K. BUT my cam always needs pretty much a clean card with media type bytes on it and standard cluster sizes.
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Old Feb 28, 2003, 12:57 PM   #8
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Rikki...
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No I haven't. I think it should be Ok as the cam is just seen as a remote drive.
Yes it works.
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Old Mar 1, 2003, 3:22 PM   #9
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Damn! Just bought a card reader LOL.

My thoughts were that once the Fuji stops liking the card by mucking up the FAT on it or whatever I can bung it into the card reader and reformat it on the PC and bung all the sectors back onto it.

Just found that Winhex wont write anything to the disk without me coughing up a registration fee LOL. So just spent 29 on a card reader/writer and now look likely to spend another 25 on registering a program that I will use a tiny function of all for the sake of a 50 CF chip.

Damn!
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Old Mar 2, 2003, 3:59 AM   #10
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But, when you learn how to use it, you'll be able to recover those lost or accidentally deleted files as well, so that'll save you on the recovery software!

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Dazzle brand is one range which gives you these fix utilities AND a burn dvd slideshow utility. Worth the extra cash for these
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