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Old Oct 23, 2006, 6:54 PM   #1
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Okay....so a really, really, really terrible thing happened to me a couple of days ago, and I was hoping the experts on Steve's could help me.

The day before my wife and I were coming back from our honeymoon, I wanted to check to see how much space I had left on my camera's Transcend 4GB SD Memory card after 9 days in Kauai for our honeymoon. (I'm using a Canon S3)

So the only place I could find to check the remaining capacity on the card was under the "Format" screen. (I know, really bad idea probably...but I couldn't find anywhere else where it gave that information on the camera). Well after seeing that I had used 3.5GB of my cards memory, I went to exit the screen. However, an accidental right click on the direction pad changed the cursor from "Cancel" to "OK", followed quickly by a press of the "Set" button (meant to cancel out of the screen). Well without any sort of confirmation message (How can they format an entire card without putting an "Are you sure?" idiot proof screen?????) the camera formatted my entire honeymoon photos!

After spending most of the day near tears (both my wife AND me), I held a sliver of hope that perhaps there might be a way to recover the photos. So I used my backup 1GB card for the last day to cram in as many pictures of what remained of our honeymoon and didn't touch the 4GB card again.

So here's the question....I know there's a way to recover deleted pictures, and even formatted cards on SOME camera's. But after researching on Steve's it sounds like the Canon S3 might be one of the camera's that overwrites the card when it formats making recovery impossible. I've tried the free recovery software (Digital Image Recovery), but that didn't work because I don't have a card reader, and when my camera is attached via a USB cable, it doesn't assign a drive letter to the camera.

Is there ANY course of action I can take to recover my honeymoon pictures? Or am I totally out of luck?

And while I'm at it, has anyone else done something similar with the S3? (Why oh why would they not put a confirmation screen on the format command???)

Thanks in advance for all the help.

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Old Oct 23, 2006, 7:36 PM   #2
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Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
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If your Canon is not showing up as a removable drive with a drive letter that Digital Image Recovery can see, just buy a card reader and run it.

It should be able to get them back for you with no problem.

Do not attempt to write to the card using any utilities of any kind, or you'll risk permanent damage (overwriting your images).

If all you've done so far is format the drive using the camera's menus for format, you should be OK. I have not seen any reports of a Canon model that actually overwrote images using the camera's menus for format yet. Usually, only the FAT (file allocation table) is overwritten.

You can buy a USB card reader for around $20 (or sometimes as low as $10) at most larger electronics stores now (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.). Office Supply stores usually carry them, too (Office Depot, Staples, OfficeMax, etc.).

So, don't worry about it.

Get a card reader and recover your images. As an added bonus, you'll have a faster way to transfer your images compared to a USB connection with your camera.

Let us know how it goes, or if you run into any issues.

Download link for it (and it sounds like you already got past that part):


Look under "My Computer" and make note ofthe drive letter for the reader. Then,run the Digital Image Recovery Program.

After loading the software, you then select English as the languge (when it starts it will ask), andselectthe source drive letter your want it to read from (the drive letter for your card).

You then browse for a folder for it to copy recovered images to on your hard disk drive and press the start button (just leave everything else at the defaults).

It will find your images and save them to the selected folder.

Problem solved.

If for any reason you run into an issue where it can't find them, just post a note in this thread (and I'll make sure to keep an eye on it). There are a number of other utilities available, including even more powerful utilities that are free (but, I doubt you'll have any problems using the free Digital Image Recovery in your case).

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 23, 2006, 11:58 PM   #3
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Thanks for the help Jim. I was actually able to use my printer as a card reader, and once the card showed up as a drive letter, I had no problem recovering the pictures!

What a relief!

Pretty impressive for free software. Unfortunately, none of the videos we took with the camera were able to be recovered using this software. But we really didn't take too many so it's not that big of a loss (607 pictures recovered vs. 4 short videos lost)

Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction. Cheers!
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Old Oct 24, 2006, 8:44 AM   #4
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Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
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BTW, you can probably get the videos back if you want them.

Digital Image Recovery doesn't look for video files. But, some of the other utilties around do.

Here is another free utility you can use that shows .avi in it's list of recoverable files:


If you find that it's too difficult to use (it's a command line utility, since it's designed to be cross platform), there are more recovery programs available.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote

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