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I have a Nikon D90 camera body and today I started getting a CHA error on the display on the top of the body that shows f-stop and other settings. Looking around, I do not find a definition for exactly what this means, only suggestions like remove the battery and memory card and reseat them to make it go away, but many say it returns later. What exactly does CHA mean and how should one resolve it more definitively?

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4 Answers

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The D90 uses CHA as a generic 'card error' condition if a problem occurs while the card is in use. If the card works at all or has been working then it's unlikely to be a formatting issue.

This could just be a case of a poor connection and cleaning the contacts on the card and reseating everything may solve it.

If it has been working then there could be a problem with the card in which case you should be able to test it in a desktop machine and retire/replace it if necessary.

There is also an issue I've had with the D90 and larger memory cards (over 8gb) where it incorrectly calculates 'checksums' used to determine if there is a problem (although it writes them correctly) when the value isn't what it expects then you'll get a CHA message. As a temporary resolution you can access the card in a reader and copy & remove the last written file but if this is your issue then the problem will return at some point.

I've been in touch with Nikon about it but without being able to reproduce the issue at will Nikon have not been helpful. The solution I ended up with was just to use multiple cards, which is no great hardship.

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According to Nikon:

When a CF card is inserted into a Nikon Digital Camera the camera checks the card for compatibility and usability. There are three possible results of the test:

Camera displays “CHA” in top LCD. The camera has detected an invalid partition type or is not working properly. Reformatting the card may allow it to be used. If an approved card gives the "CHA" indicator contact the cards manufacturer for assistance.

Please note that the default disk format used in Windows XP is FAT32 and if a card is formatted with this setting on an XP system the D1 will report CHA. Reformat the card as "FAT" to use in the D1 series camera.

Source: https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25/~/what-are-cha-and-for-codes%3F

Sounds like you should try a different SD card, or attempt to repair/format the one you have.

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These answers were very helpful in helping me find the problem on my Nikon D90, but in my case it was much more simple. The write lock tab had slid to lock mode when inserting the card. This may be one of the first things to check, pull the card, make sure the tab is in the writeable position, and reinsert it carefully into the camera to avoid brushing it back during the insert. If that doesn't work, I've found placing a small bit of clear transparent tape over the switch helps to keep it from sliding on insert.

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  • Try formatting the card with the camera. Most PCs now use either FAT32 or the NTFS file system rather than the older FAT (file allocation table) system that your Nikon D90 uses.

  • If you can't format the card in camera, try to use your computer to format it in "FAT" format.

  • If that doesn't work it is probably time to try another card. Be sure the new card is formated to the "FAT" system.

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The D90 does support FAT32 and it is the recommended format. FAT (or FAT16 to use it's proper name) only supports volumes up to 4gb and is not recommended for volumes over 2gb. –  James Snell Oct 2 '13 at 11:49
    
@JamesSnell Not according to Nikon: support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25/~/… –  Michael Clark Oct 2 '13 at 12:38
    
@JamesSnell The original FAT was 8-bit. Then there was FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table. In the above article Nikon says FAT32 gets the error message 'cHa'. I assume what they mean by 'FAT' is FAT16. –  Michael Clark Oct 2 '13 at 12:45
    
The Nikon article refers to the D1 and is not correct for the D90 listed by the OP. See Nikon support: FAT32 or FAT16 –  James Snell Oct 5 '13 at 9:07
    
The article is the only one that results from a search for "CHA" on Nikon's knowledge base. The reference to the D1 in the last line is obscure enough that many might make a mistake and understand the information in the article applies to more than just the D1. Nikon could certainly made that clearer, especially since the CHA code is possible on many other models. –  Michael Clark Oct 5 '13 at 10:36
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