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Old Jun 2, 2005, 7:25 AM   #1
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Hi! I've had my FZ10 for over a year now and I've blown up 3 SD cards in that time. I've looked all over the internet and here on Steve's forums for a solid answer to how long they should last and have no real answers. Now I'm asking directly.

When I say "blown up" I mean that the card failed to store a photograph. What happens is I'll be snapping away, and suddenly the screen will show "Write Error" and go blank. After a power cycle things are mostly OK but the last shot will be 0 bytes (and display as black). At this point, I put the card in my "dead" pocket and get out a new one. Yes, I've had to do several emergency SD card purchases while on vacation!

Two of the cards that failed are Sandisk Ultra II 256MB cards, and one is a plain Sandisk 256MB card. Each card lasted a few thousand shots (maybe as many as 5000).

I've not been game to use them after they failed, so I have no idea if it's a FZ10 glitch that happens every 5000 shots (or so), or if SD cards just wear out quickly.

Just for contrast, most memory life discussions in internet forums say "lasts the life of the camera" or "will outlive you" or "at least 100 years". Well, I've had 3 die in 1 year, so what's up with that? If it's a FZ10 flaw will Panasonic ever release a firmware update?

It's a sad thing to end up in a small town in the middle of nowhere having to buy a teeny 128MB card for the price of a 512MB one because the cards you brought from home are dead. :-(
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Old Jun 2, 2005, 10:57 AM   #2
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I've had the "Write Error" message come up on ocassion on my FZ20. I turn off the camera, wait a second and turn it back on. The last image I shot does not appear upon review, but otherwise everything else looks and operates as normal. The SD card maintains all previous images and continues to save anything else I shoot afterwards. Anyone else experience this?
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 5:26 AM   #3
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How many pictures on average do you take between "write error" episodes? And what sort of card are you using?

I'm also very interested to hear from others who take a lot of photos on their FZ10/FZ20. Has anyone here taken, say, 10000 or more photos without seeing a write error?
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 9:19 AM   #4
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I've had a card give me a 'format not readable' error when trying to get images processed at a Sam's Club kiosk. I was given an 'adapter' and used a diffeent kind of slot (they have slots for CF, SD, etc.). That worked fine. Nothin's easy :roll:
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 12:35 PM   #5
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I have two Sandisk Ultra II cards and have taken between 2-3 thousand pictures on each card. I have never had any error messages come up on either card. Interesting that you have gone through 3 cards. What brand? I tend to stick with the name brands like Sandisk or Lexar. They seem to be the most recommended by the manufactures as well.

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Old Jun 3, 2005, 1:17 PM   #6
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I would think that the lifespan of the memory card would far exceed that of any member of this forum, as long as it is treated properly and not submerged in water.

Even in water, the card will probably survive and allow it's contents to be viewed again.

I wonder if you have a problem with your card reader? Maybe it is delivering too much voltage to the card itself, or has some other electrical problem?
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 8:41 PM   #7
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Have you tried reformatting the cards in the camera? You can also put the card in the camera, hook up to your computer with the USB cable and defragment it. (it comes up as another drive in Windows XP)Since you see the card as a loss anyway, worth trying. Then try it on some unimportant shots.
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Old Jun 3, 2005, 9:16 PM   #8
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KateRK wrote:
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Have you tried reformatting the cards in the camera? You can also put the card in the camera, hook up to your computer with the USB cable and defragment it. (it comes up as another drive in Windows XP)Since you see the card as a loss anyway, worth trying. Then try it on some unimportant shots.
When formatting a card from your PC, make sure to choose FAT as the File System Type (Windows defaults to FAT32 which is not compatible with most cameras).

I don't know if your Panasonic supports FAT32 or not (and a 2GB or smaller card is going to come formatted as FAT, which is really FAT16from the manufacturer).

BTW, Panasonic also has a Secure Digital Format Utility called SD Formatter you can download from here:


http://panasonic.jp/support/audio/sd/download/ftp/sdfv1114b.exe

Here is a FAQ page about it in English:

http://panasonic.jp/support/audio/sd/faq/sd_formatter/faq_e.

It's more likely you're just seeing a corrupted FAT when the card fails (so formatting it will probably correct the problem).

Are you using a card reader to transfer your images? Do you copy and paste or cut and paste?

If you're using "cut and paste" (which deletes the files after it moves them), you may be corrupting the media when the PC deletes files. Some readers default to where writes are being cached from the operating system (and a delete is a write). I've seen this cause problems before. Even though you can setup the reader's properties to not cache writes (versus using the safely remove hardware icon), I make a rule never to perform writes to the media with anything but the camera I'm using.

I also make sure I format my media before every use via the camera menus. This insures that I always start out with a fresh File Allocation Table.

There is always a first time.... But, I'm on my 7th Digital Camera and I've never had a problem with corrupted media by following this practice (always formatting media prior to every use with the camera's menus). Formatting via the camera's menus is just as fast as deleting the images anyway in most cases.

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Old Jun 4, 2005, 12:15 AM   #9
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I'll try to answer all those questions in one lump.

I use Mac OS X and Unix, not Windows. The iPhoto package that comes for free with Mac OS X blows away the software that came with my FZ10 and my Canon A75. There is just no contest. When reading the photos using iPhoto I do not use the "delete after reading option". I use the camera for all deletions.

I read my SD cards using a Lexar JumpDrive Trio reader. I don't write to the cards using the reader. All photo deletion and card formatting happens in the camera. (OK, I lied a little: I use the reader with my small 16MB and 64MB cards to transfer photos when going to the photo lab, but I don't do this with my main cards.)

All the cards that failed were made by Sandisk. Most failures were on ordinary sunny days (about 25 degrees C, give or take a few degrees), though one was on a cold damp day. I don't recall any static zaps occurring on these days.

I keep the cards in their little plastic cases. They never get wet. They are never dropped, scratched or dirtied.

For a long time I used to delete pictures from the cards by using the "delete all" facility of the camera. This is slow and I believe that it does many unnecessary writes to the card. I've been using "format" instead (on the camera) for the last 6 or so months.

Doing 2 to 3 thousand photos per card may not be enough to have experienced the problem. I don't have precise stats, but going on my total (19000) and the number of cards and failures involved, I think it's roughly 5000 photos per "incident".

I don't suspect my card reader as the failures occur when the card is in the camera. I know that's not 100% proof, but that's how I see it. This may be a general FZ10 fault, or perhaps a few FZ10's are marginally out of spec. Since there is a report here of a FZ20 doing the same thing, it may be a FZ series fault. I know that SD cards have internal error correcting codes and bad block forwarding, so perhaps there is some sort of signal given in these circumstances that the FZ series mishandles. Pure speculation, of course. I wish Panasonic Bob were here to answer this.

I haven't tried to reuse any cards after they fail. If the fault lies in the camera then perhaps the cards are fine and can be reused (with the same approximately 1 in 5000 chance of failure). I'm not sure I'll ever really test this. I find that I'm not in the habit of taking "unimportant" shots as even though none of my photos are earth-shatteringly good I keep them all. I would hate for a dubious card to completely fail and lose 100 shots. I also can't imagine setting up and deliberately taking thousands of test photos, even though this is what I'd have to do in order to test a card. Colour me lazy I suppose.

Hmm. I think that's all. To summarise: I think I'm doing everything right and being as kind as possible to my SD cards. Still, they fail after roughly 5000 shots, which is far below expectations. At this point I don't know whether to blame the camera or the cards. Or even evil goblins living in my camera bag.
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