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Archive 2013 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

Hoping someone could help here. I recently purchased a Compact Flash card for my Nikon camera. The pictures seem to be fine when writing to the card, but when viewing them the card seems to freeze up the camera on occasion. In this one instance it froze the camera for quite a while to a point where it didnít look like it would ever correct itself. So, in my stupidity and my impatience I decided to remove the battery.

Now when I try to off load the pictures onto my hard drive on my Mac, I get an error message that says ďCannot complete the operation because some of the data in "DSC_2669.NEF" could not be read or written (Error code - 36)Ē The message pop ups after about a minute of trying to transfer the images.

I came across a fix using terminal (dot_clean) but that didnít work, I also tried a card recovery software and that didnít do anything either.

Has anyone ever had this problem and managed to fix it. I have a 142 pictures on this card that I really need.

Thanks in advance

Feb 14, 2013 at 03:38 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

Usually the major manufacturers have recovery software that works well. You don't state the card manufacturer. Most here on FM tend to use Sansdisk or Lexar or Transcend. In the past their cards came loaded with their recovery software. Or you can purchase separately:


If you're not using a major brand CF, then you might want to consider it.

Feb 14, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Rodney O
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash


as mentioned above, you didn't give us many details. Are you using a card reader to get images into your MAC? Does that card reader still work with your other CF cards?

If you are trying to transfer from the camera, then go out and buy a card reader for use instead. Simplify the issue by getting the camera body out of the loop.

If you are using a card reader now, what program are you using to transfer the files? If you are not using a file handler, then you need to use one to deal with this problem. And to move files one at a time to your MAC.

Can you see the files with a file handler? That is can you see a list of the files on this card when the card is in the card reader? If so, then just copy the files that you can see and skip the one you list above. When you have the others "captured", then go back ad see if your system will read that file that the computer said had problems. .

Basically treat this as a computer task rather than a photography task. If the files are unreadable, then look for recovery software. And if none of the files show in the file handler list, you will need the file recovery software for sure. Photo recovery software is available on the net, some free some cost a small amount. But I am not sure what ones will work with a MAC.

When you've gotten what you can from the card. Then format it on your MAC to help clear any issues with what looks to be a file problem. Then format the card in the camera before using it again.


Feb 14, 2013 at 04:28 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

Thanks guys, I do use a card reader all the time. The card I have issues with is a Kingston compact flash which received good reviews so I thought I would give it a try. The other card I use is the Sandisk Extreme and never had issues with it.

The way I would copy files is inserting the card in the card reader, opening the file folder and copying the files to my picture folder on my MAC. I can view the pictures in my camera, but when I try viewing them off the card reader, it gives me the Error-36 message.

I have tried several different card recovery software (free version) on both the MAC and PC but it doesn't seem to do anything.

My guess is that I'm out of luck.

Feb 15, 2013 at 01:31 PM

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Rodney O
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash


Sounds like recovery may not be possible. But the direction I was trying to steer you in is not exactly what you describe doing.

Have you looked at the card with a file handler? I am not a MAC user, though I do understand that Apple product "try to help users" often by making the actual functions of a computer more "transparent" for users (actually hidden from). That is not what you want when you're trying to do a recovery.

So do you have a file manipulator? A program that will let you look at any directory on your computer and see a list of the files there and their specific details? For Windows machines examples of file manipulators would be Windows Explorer or
Total Commander site
While Total commander is a Windows product, it can be run on a MAC thru CrossOver. But I would expect that ther are also dual pane file manipulators somewhere for MACs.

The "trick" for that card is to be able to get it recognized and to use the lowest level (most powerful) program to grab what ever you can from the card. AND you MUST NOT write anything to that card. I hope you have not tried to do that during your recovery efforts.

Figure to post this for you even though you may have run out of options with that particular card. It might be useful to you in the future. And yes trying the process on a PC was a good move. I was going to suggest trying the "recovery" on a PC since that is what Total Commander runs on.

So can you see a list of files that are on the card? If not, then yep it sounds like it's over. But if you can see a list of files in a file manipulator, then recovery may still be possible.

Send me a PM for more details, if you wish to pursue this.


Feb 15, 2013 at 04:18 PM

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

Thanks Rodney O for your time and patiences. I will look into Total Commander tonight and let you know how things go.

Feb 15, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Rodney O
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash


Happy to help with this. And note that these file manipulators are also dangerous tools. So you need to be careful what you do with it. Basically mistakes with tools like these can be devastating to your entire system. But these programs can do things that other more "user safe programs" can not do. Which also exactly why we need them, of course.

Also when you tried using recovery programs, what ones did you try? And how long did they each take to explore the card when you tried to get them to do recovery? Did the program actually "give up"? Or did it just not produce the result you wanted. I have found that even my best recovery program can sometimes fail to find photos, but find files. What it actually finds is the photos, but just does not recognize them as photos. A good recovery programs is actually recovering data onto your hard drive without writing anything to the card, btw. And you can further inspect what it finds, thus allowing you to investigate whether what it found is actually an image. To offer some encouragement, sometimes all it takes is to rename the "found files'" filename extension to jpg or raw. And you have your images back.

It also might be useful to only use a very simple photo-image display program to look at what you get back. An example of one of these would be IrfanView. That is a free download. Again not sure they have a MAC version. And ONLY get the download directly from the developer's Russian web site. There are malware fakes if IrfanView on the loose.

As you are discovering there is a fair amount of hardware in a CF card that does the actual data handling and storage. This internal electronics is just one of the reasons why it is so dangerous to "just turn the power off" like you did when you pulled the camera battery. All your photo information may be there, but the card's file handling information may be what's been lost.

To solve that you would need a really low level card handler program that could access the card and read out the data in hexadecimal form. But even that depends on some of the card's file handling info and electronics to be functional.


Feb 15, 2013 at 06:06 PM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Can't copy pictures from Compact Flash

A couple of things to try.

1. Copy just a few files at a time, the card may have a bad sector and only one or two images may be the hang up. This way you may be able to get most of the files off the card.

2. Hook up the camera via USB to the Mac and copy the files from the camera. It may be that the card is not fully compatible with the card reader. I had a transfer via card reader throw errors and corrupt a few images. It turned out to be the card reader.

Feb 15, 2013 at 06:23 PM

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