Recovering Corrupted Raw Captures


Today’s Question: In a recent vacation one of my cards got corrupted and wouldn’t be recognized by my camera or computer. I had to buy recovery software and was able to recover the files. However, for 25% of my RAW files Photoshop indicates it can’t recognize the file format. Is there something I can do to open these files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While it is possible that some of the raw capture files were damaged beyond repair due to the problem with your memory card, there are software tools that can sometimes salvage corrupted raw captures, enabling you to recover the original image.

More Detail: There are two basic types of recovery software that may help you salvage lost images. The first type is software that can recovered files that seem to have been lost due to deletion, formatting of the media, or damage to the media. The second type is software that can actually repair damaged files, provided the damage is not too severe.

If you have accidentally deleted photos from a media card, even by formatting the card in your camera in most cases, the files can still be recovered using special software. If a media card is damaged to some extent, it is still possible that this type of software may be able to recover files that can’t be accessed from the card using normal means.

When this type of recovery fails, it is quite possible that the source files have been corrupted to such an extent that they can’t be recovered. For example, some of the core image data could be missing altogether. In other words, this is a more challenging type of recovery, which can translate into lower success rates.

One software tool that may be able to salvage damaged raw capture files is Stellar Repair for Photos, which you can learn more about on the Stellar website here: