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Old Aug 11, 2003, 3:52 PM   #1
MEP
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Default Card-reader advice needed

Hi!

I'm an experienced photographer, but still quite new to the digital domain. I've been using my Fuji Finepix 602 with good results for a couple of months now, but since purchasing and using a generic 6 way USB card-reader, I've experienced (and I see I'm not alone!) the dreaded 'Card Error' problem(s) with my Samsung 128mb SM cards.

Weirdly, the cards seem to work ok during photography, but when I review my pix, odd ones come up with 'Read Error' messages. Sometimes it's about 1 in 4 or 5 pix, sometimes more, sometimes less.

After downloading, using the card-reader / winXP / FinePix Viewer, I've tried (in the camera) deleting and re-formatting the cards. This seems to have worked...

My question - is there a specific procedure to follow using the card-reader? Should it be disconnected from the USB during insertion / removal of the SM card, or does this not matter? How do I avoid the card-reader messing with my cards?

All help gratefully received!!

.
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Old Aug 11, 2003, 5:35 PM   #2
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First you have to find out if the pic on the card is being corrupted, or is it a copy of the file saved to your HD?. If the image on the card is being corrupted this is more serious. With SM you can stop it by putting on the little tab, before putting it in the reader. Then you must only COPY from the card.

Nothing should get written to it. I only use Explorer (not the Fuji junk). I drag the images to my HD, making sure the icon has the little plus sign (That's a COPY and not a MOVE).

The next problem area might be deleting files off the card in the reader as tables on the card do get written to. Partial deletes are not healthy. The safe way is to put the card back in the camera and ERASE ALL or REFORMAT, if you have been erasing some but not all then you should REFORMAT in the camera more often. However, using Explorer I frequently 'SELECT ALL' and hit the delete key with no probs. There is always a possibility that the card is written to (i.e pics are being MOVED and DELETED without you knowing. The write protect tab will throw up a system warning if it is.

The less serious but equally annoying problem is the transfer of corrupted copies to your HD. I've had this problem when selecting large numbers of pics for transfer (now I only copy 10-15 pics at a time).

I think this is a USB speed/buffering problem which may be related to what programmes are running in the background, when you do the transfers. My advice here is to shut down big progs like PS, always open up each transfered pic. and check. I had some examples of transferred images with big black tears in the middle - obviously a serial transfer corruption. Too bad if you've MOVED pics and the card images have been deleted! Check the card reader manufacturer's web site, sometimes there are driver updates. If you've had problems with other USB devices - like a scanner, there may be a BIOS upgrade for your PC.

I would suspect your reader/PC configuration before the card. SM is generic memory, unlike CF. I use 2 or 3 oems in my 602 and as far as I'm concerned price and brand makes no difference.

If you want a hard test for your reader, shoot max AVI movie on your 602 and fill the card. Run the movie in your 602 and check it's ok. Then try transferring copies a few times. If your pc is low on resources (memory/processor power) the transfer may hang or the transferred AVI file will not run from your HD.
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Old Aug 11, 2003, 5:57 PM   #3
MEP
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Some useful stuff there - thanks! I shall try the AVI test. I hope any fault is with the card and not the camera!

I use the Fuji program to copy to the HD - it definitely leaves the originals on the card, but it seems my mistake is then using the reader to delete from the card. Sometimes pix that will not preview in the camera (or Finepix Viewer) will preview in Explorer, but will then hang when copying ("I/O error") to the HD. Very perplexing.

Can I insert a card into the reader while the reader is connected via USB? Or is it best to disconnect?
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Old Aug 11, 2003, 6:57 PM   #4
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The first thing a reader does is poll the slot looking for a card. In Explorer there is no remote drive recognised until the card is pushed in. That tells the pc there is a device to initialise. As the reader has been connected during the PC boot phase it will have been found and voltages will have settled.

Start by doing an in camera FORMAT on your cards, this will sort out some potential problems. Personally I wouldn't connect/disconnect a reader with a card plugged in. Here's my experience: The reader is powered from the USB socket. When devices are first connected, their voltages on buses may not have settled, there's a risk that voltages get to the card before the logic or internal regulators have initialised, random voltages could be wrong code. I am suspicious that my Dazzle green led glows twice as bright when power is first connected. I suspect that the reader has a 3.3 volt regulator, but sees 5 volt during power up. Must take it apart one day!

The I/O error is what I mentioned. If you're getting these on reads, then it doesn't give confidence for a delete, that the data re-written to the card is O.K.

After reformatting your cards, use the write protect tab until you find the problem. PS have you got a USB hub, or other USB devices running/connected at the same time? I actually removed the Finepix stuff and just installed the USB driver. I have no problems with Explorer, apart from trying to transfer too many files in one go.
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