Memory Card Worries

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Today’s Question: While using my wireless remote with my Nikon D7100, I suddenly received a message that my file “may be corrupt”. I had taken about 28 shots in close proximity upon which the camera stalled about 15 seconds, and then proceeded normally again. I am not sure at this point if I need to discard the memory card, or, keep using it? It is a rather new card, and never had a problem with it. What to do?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In a situation like this my approach is to test the entire camera configuration thoroughly, including steps to isolate the true source of the issue. If the problem can’t be repeated, I would feel comfortable continuing to use the memory card (and other components) as long as the problem wasn’t repeated. If the problem ever does occur again, I would absolutely want a solution, which could mean replacing the memory card or having the camera repaired.

More Detail: More than likely this problem had nothing to do with capturing a burst of photos in a relatively short time. Instead, it was likely either a temporary issue with the camera, or a more serious issue with the camera or the memory card.

The camera was very likely “stalled” because the buffer became full. This is not a cause for any real concern. It simply means the camera ran out of internal memory for capturing photos, and so you needed to wait until the images that were already in that internal memory were written to the media card.

To isolate the problem, I would want to capture a somewhat significant number of photos using both the card you were using when the error occurred, and another card to help isolate the issue. Since the problem occurred when you captured a relatively large burst of photos, I would repeat that process in your testing.

If after capturing at least dozens of photos on two (or more) memory cards, if the problem isn’t repeated I would feel reasonably comfortable using the camera and memory cards without replacing them. If the problem occurs with more than one memory card, I would send the camera in to the manufacturer for testing and possible repair. If any card has an error more than once, I would absolutely replace it.

It is a good idea to mark your memory cards in some way, to indicate which one had a problem recently. That way, if this card is in use if the error message is repeated, you’ll know that the card is problematic, and should be replaced immediately.