My old camera was taking images that had blotches of the wrong colors when zoomed in, and I take a lot of macro pictures. I bought a new camera and put my old sd card into it and now it's doing the same thing. I can only imagine that it is the card, since that is the only thing these two cameras have in common.

I read somewhere that you should reformat SD cards ocassionally. I've never reformatted mine at all. Could this help my problems or do I need a new card?

Also, my daughter has my old camera and is using her memory card in it. She says there are no bad spots in her photos now.

  • 5
    We probably need to identify the problem before it becomes about reformatting an SD card, can you post some examples?
    – rfusca
    Apr 14 '11 at 21:12
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    I would agree with @rfusca here...some example images would be extremely helpful in narrowing down the cause of the problem.
    – jrista
    Apr 14 '11 at 21:22
  • See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1988/…
    – mattdm
    Apr 14 '11 at 21:43
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    The cameras also have you -- your technique and your picture preferences -- in common. Without seeing sample images (and knowing what sort of camera you are using) we can give no definitive diagnostics, but if you are doing macro work without a flash there's a reasonable chance that what you are seeing is chrominance noise, particularly if you are using a "compact" or "superzoom" type of camera (the macro mode usually increases the ISO setting to allow faster shutter speeds to minimize blurring). Your daughter, taking different pictures, would not see the same effect.
    – user2719
    Apr 15 '11 at 5:14
  • Wow, great stuff here! I put a new SDHC card in my camera, formatted it and the new images don't have the bad spots in them. To tell you the truth, I didn't know how easy it was to format a card. Later, when I have more time, I will take some shots with the old card after formatting it in the camera. I'm curious to know if formatting would fix the old card because I would like to store some photos on it. I tried to include an example of the problem I was having, but I am a new user and the system won't let me upload photos. I'll try again after I take more shots but since the new formatted car
    – user4762
    Apr 16 '11 at 3:44

From chuqui over at photos.stackexchange.com on How often should I format my memory card?:

I format my card every time I stick it in my camera and start a shoot.

I do this for a couple of reasons.

First, it means every time I start a shoot, I don't accidentally leave the previous shoot on it (and it also means I don't delete it until I start the next shoot, by which time those images are safely on various backup disks; gives me an emergency backup on the card until I'm sure I've got multiple copies elsewhere).

Second, I use multiple camera bodies, and I know people who've had corruption issues with cards formatted by the computer (which I never do) or by one body and used in another because the bodies interact with the card slightly differently. By formatting every time, I know the formatting is what the camera wants and is expecting.

Third, formatting at the start of the shoot will (or should!) catch a card that is starting to fail. At the least, it'll catch some early failure modes in the card -- and in two cases for me so far, it has. So if the card hits an error during format, I know to immediately retire it. I'd rather find out I have a card error at the START of the shoot that midway into it, or worse, when I'm trying to read the images out later.

Note: any time I get a card error, I retire that card. Cards are cheap. Dead cards that eat my only copy of an image is expensive. And formatting a card every time means that every time I shoot gives me a blank slate in a known state that hasn't reported an error. Which means many fewer potential problems later. And FWIW, I basically never run into corrupted cards, lost images or problems during a shoot or during a post-shoot import.

Even if it means the card will wear out sooner, I don't care. I want reliable cards, not ancient ones. I'll happily replace them rather than try to recover images from them....


To run counter to the questions here - there is NO WAY the quality of your card can affect image quality or content. All a bad card can do is not save images correctly (or at all).

The noise would very likely be from the camera itself.

  • 5
    Yeah. Although if certain bits of the jpeg data are messed up up, it could show as blocky artifacts which might be described as blotches of wrong color. A sample image will tell.
    – mattdm
    Apr 14 '11 at 23:07
  • I was wondering about that but it seems way more likely the whole file would get corrupted in that case. I agree a sample image is really necessary to tell what is going on. Apr 15 '11 at 2:34
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    "it seems way more likely" and "there is NO WAY" are kind of mutually exclusive btw
    – rfusca
    Apr 15 '11 at 14:45
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    Not rhetorically. Apr 15 '11 at 15:57
  • It is unlikely a randomly faulty card will cause such damages, to a compressed format like JPEG (which would just appear corrupt in that case). RAW files or uncompressed TIFF could theoretically show that kind of fault if you forcibly copied them off corrupt media. It would be possible to have that kind of effect with JPEG if somebody actually did some targeted sabotage to an SD card's internal firmware. Oct 9 '20 at 0:02

As far as I understand from your explanations, the SD card is probably the culprit here. If you are using Windows, you can format your SD card either by right-clicking on it and selecting Format or by using a 3rd party program like SD Formatter. In either case, use the normal format mode instead of quick format. If this does not solve your problem, try a new SD card (or your daughter's SD card as well) on your camera and tell us what happens.

  • 7
    It would be better to format it from the camera. Some cameras (though this is less common now) must format the card on-camera for it to work properly.
    – nhinkle
    Apr 12 '11 at 7:23

From my manual (Pentax) Be sure to use this camera to format (initialize) an SD Memory Card that is unused or has been used on other cameras or digital devices. So I can't see you can cause any harm by doing so occasionally.

  • every card has a cycle limit to the number of write operations. But it's high enough that formatting it before use shouldn't be a problem. You might have to replace it after 4 years instead of 5 (or more likely 9 years instead of 10).
    – jwenting
    Apr 19 '11 at 9:21

first of all if you want to format your SD card then you should always format it in the camera with which you will use it.

If you are unable to format your card in the camera then first try to format it in pc(do not quick format) and then try to format it in the camera again. Because only the camera interact with your card when you take picture. I am saying this because your camera may handle the file system a little different to your pc.

According to your problem first try to format it as i say above. And if problem persist then you are better of buying a new card because pictures are more precious then your card and these days cards are really very cheap.

you can reformat your card every time you make changes to your card with pc or every time you transfer your pictures to pc. when your card is full transfer all the pics to pc and format the card with your camera for a new session. it is completely on you when you want to reformat it. but i suggest that if you have delete a pic or write data to card with your pc you can consider to format it in your camera for the safest approach.

you can check your sd cards(and flash drives) for any defect by this freeware utility http://www.technibble.com/downloads/windows-tools/ChkFlsh.zip

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