OK, last summer I was traveling and we decided to go on a cycle and I thought that would be a great opportunity to play around with some timelapse stuff. I've got a Nikon D70 so I had to tape down the shutter release to get a 'timelapse-like' function... but anyway

Specifics are: 800ish JPEGs which view fine on the camera, I can play the timelapse by holding down on the D-Pad Camera was running low on battery at the time (at the point where at the end the camera was locking the shutter for a few seconds) When loaded onto computer they are un-openable, when I'm a bit more aggressive they will open but only less than the top third of the image is viewable. My OS is Mac and that won't copy the files off the card. Tried the various generic photo recovery software with no luck.

Card has had no write operations since photos were taken.

I'd love to be able to get these photos off, there is the glimmer of hope that the camera can read the files??? (Full quality, can zoom in etc, ie these aren't thumbs)

Update Did try just now to load them onto my computer, the photos showed fully for 20-30 seconds, the few I tried opened individually. I tried to copy them over but it came back with "the data in 'blah' cant be read or written error -36" and now were back to the majority of each frame being grey.

  • If you are using a CF card reader in your computer, make sure you have not bent any of the interface pins. Not long ago I bent one of the pins on my computer's CF card reader, and I experienced some very odd behavior, such as images appearing as I listed them in windows explorer or Lightroom, then either disappearing at random or randomly reordering. At first I thought I had fried the card, and was afraid to put it into my camera. Tried another CF card in the computer, same behavior. Finally I checked the reader, and it had the bent pin. Fixing the pin fixed the problem.
    – jrista
    May 3, 2012 at 21:49
  • This is really the same as this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1125/…
    – dpollitt
    May 4, 2012 at 18:15
  • @jrista thanks for the idea, camera is being used as the reader and no bent pins :(
    – wjdp
    May 4, 2012 at 22:51
  • @dpollitt not really, the photos haven't been deleted, they display sometimes (always on the camera) but can't be copied
    – wjdp
    May 4, 2012 at 22:52
  • 2
    When photos display on the camera they MAY be thumbnails sized to the camera display resolution. It would be possible for thumbnails to be intact and main files corrupted. May 5, 2012 at 15:06

7 Answers 7


Short: Free & marvellous Recuva - File Recovery software from Piriform worked for me when a substantial number of other free and for-$ programs failed to.

The program is currently Windows-only but even a hardcore Mac man can probably stoop to using a Windows machine in such dire circumstances :-).

Some notes at end or see their website as above.

Fully free (as in beer) - free to download and no $payable to access results.


I recently rescued a large number of holiday photos from a friends SD card after an unknown cause crash.

I tried a range of free and paid software (many allow a free analysis and they then charge you to unlock the recovery if successful). None worked - some would locate a small handful of files and then declare the card empty or corrupt or whatever.

When all seemed lost I tried the unencouragingly named "Recuva" software from Piriform an achieved complete success. Initially it reported similarly to others but it had an "I'll try harder option" (they call it "Deep Scan") which produced several thousands of files ranging from full recent images to thumbnails going back many many prior photograph-download cycles by the user.

They say:

Recuva brings lost files on your computer, USB drive, camera or iPod. More...

Recovery from damaged or formatted disks:
Even if you've formatted a drive so that it looks blank, Recuva can still find your files on it.

Recover deleted emails:
Emptied your email trash and need it back? Recuva's got you covered with full support for Microsoft Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Windows Live Mail.

Recover deleted iPod music:
Deleted music from your iPod or MP3 player? No problem, Recuva will get this back for you along with any additional track data.

Restore unsaved Word documents:
Did Microsoft Word crash or did you forget to save that important Word document. No problem with Recuva! As it can intelligently rebuild Word documents from their temporary files.

Quick-Start Wizard: If you need your files back right away without fiddling with options, Recuva's Quick-Start Wizard is the answer.

Deep Scan: Recuva can find most files within a minute. Or, set the Deep Scan to look for more deeply-buried results.

Securely delete files you want to erase forever Want to protect your deleted files? Recuva also allows you to permanently erase any traces of deleted files.

Portable version Take Recuva with you wherever you go with the portable version.

Full Windows OS support and many languages Recuva has support for every modern version of Windows and 37+ languages.

  • thanks Russell, I'll give that a go tonight, and this is a triple-boot machine along with VMware so I can definitely give windows software a go!
    – wjdp
    May 4, 2012 at 16:40
  • @will - did it work ? May 11, 2012 at 11:26
  • I tried to recover a video on a memstick duo pro with recuva and it didnt work. Also treid it on my SSD HD where it recovered the files - names and size was right, but the content was corrupt. Dec 12, 2012 at 10:57

I had a damaged SD card, was working on minute, next time I turned on the camera, card no longer recognized and prompt to format. It had a good number of photos and videos on it. I tried it in a mac, a PC, multiple cameras. Cameras wanted to format it as it couldn't read it and computers simply did not recognize it at all (so all those posts about software to recover files, no luck as those all need the computer to at least recognize something is in the drive. I tried a local place in NYC that gets great reviews for recovering electronic data - no luck. I then got in touch with Transcend, the vendor, and I shipped it to the US base in California where they had no luck. Then they shipped it Taiwan (yes this SD card has been all over the world!) for the real makers to work their magic. NO LUCK. I asked them to ship the damaged one back instead of replacing it with a new one which they said they would do as I knew I had one last option left that I was a bit skeptical about.

I then shipped it to Dresden, Germany to a place called RecoverFab: http://recoverfab.com/ 1-2 days after they received the damaged SD card, they have uploaded 100 thumbnails to show proof they've recovered photos, and they have emailed me they recovered 370+ photos and 90 videos. Once I pay (not a small amount) they will give me an FTP site to download from so I don't need to wait for more shipping overseas of a DVD or something to get my data. SUCCESS!

The makers of my SD card could not recover data off of it, RecoverFab did.

I'm sold.


Before resorting to software try using a POWERED USB hub. The additional amperage (I know that sounds like an overstatement) or stronger (not higher) voltage makes the images easier to read. I discovered this effect making repeated copies (or attempts to make copies) of an 18 Gb set of jpg.s on a 32Gb compact flash. The card is a new Sandisk Extreme. It seemed to be getting worse each time I tried to copy the photos off to a hard drive. Then as it became impossible almost all files were reporting system errors stating the files were in use (etc.) The flash drive could not even be dismounted. I started thinking recovery software. As I gathered up the hub and cables I realized the hub was not plugged into the power and I was sharing the usb power among the devices. After plugging in the power supply for the hub I seem to be on the way with 2.6 gb of 18.4 already copied. This should work for you too.


It sounds like your photos may be fragmented, hence the grey areas making the images appear corrupted. Try Adroit Photo Recovery, which can take fragmented photos and stitch them back together.

It's not free, though it is free to try to see if it works (and something like 20 bucks for a 7 day use, which is actually pretty cheap compared to some of the others out there).

Good luck!


I have had success with this... Download Asoftech Data Recovery program.

You have to use a card reader either on your computer or an external USB card reader. Put the card in the card reader, open the recovery program, then select the drive where files are deleted, then press “Next” and wait for it to do its magic.


I've used SanDisk 'Rescue Disk' software succesfully a couple of times. This is included when you buy SanDisk memory cards (at least the high-end ones). They also have a Pro version which can be bought here: http://www.sandisk.com/products/software-and-services/data-recovery


PhotoRec is free and it works like a charm, I hope it helps. It helped me many times.

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