My T3i just stopped saving to the memory card and is saving to the internal memory. I have replaced the card in case it was corrupt and I have blown out the slot in the camera where it fits.

Is there a setting or something I have inadvertently changed directing the camera to save to internal memory?


I am sorry to tell you that the Canon T3i does not have any internal memory that stores photos. Any pictures you have taken that are not on a memory card are lost and in fact never existed.

I highly recommend you go into the settings and choose "Shooting 1 (the first red icon)" and set "Release shutter without card" to disabled. This will help keep you from thinking you have taken a picture when you really haven't.

After you have "Release shutter without card" disabled try taking a picture, if the camera won't take a picture then, it is because it does not recognize that there is a memory card in the camera. If it does take a picture then it should be available on the memory card, if it is not then you have a different issue.

| improve this answer | |
  • Most Canons will save one picture internally for demonstration purposes without a memory card if "release shutter without card" is enabled and a review time is selected. There is no way to retrieve the photo and it is lost once the review display times out. If "Hold" is selected for the review time it will remain on the display until any of the buttons that return the camera to shooting mode are pressed or until the camera is powered down or goes on standby. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 14:47

Your camera does not save any photos to internal memory. It will display a preview on the rear LCD under certain conditions, but that photo is gone once the display stops showing it.

If there is a card in your camera that the camera is not writing to, it means the camera is not recognizing the card. If only one card displays this behavior and other cards are recognized, then the card is probably defective. If the camera is not recognizing more than one particular card, your camera is probably at fault and will need to be repaired.

One thing you may try is to connect your card to a computer and format the card. Be sure that the FAT32 file system is selected when the card is formatted. Label the card 'EOS_DIGITAL'. Manually create a folder in the root of the card named 'DCIM'. Then insert the card into your T3i and see if it is recognized.

| improve this answer | |
  • I have never heard of a camera where those last steps — labeling the card and creating the DCIM structure — are needed. – Please Read My Profile Nov 23 '13 at 15:20
  • @Matt - Only if the card is corrupted in some way that prevents the camera from recognizing the card to begin with so it can be formatted in-camera. One case would be a card formatted with an incompatible file system. When the card is formatted in-camera in a Canon body, the camera names the volume and creates the 'DCIM' folder. If an empty card is formatted with the FAT32 file system by another device, the camera should be able to do the rest itself when powered on with the card inserted. Remember, Canon cameras are not enabled to act as generic drives when hooked to a computer. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 15:32
  • I'm having a hard time imagining the firmware being corrupted in a way that it can write files to the card but can't create the DCIM structure. I'm also not sure whether Canon relabels cards not formatted in camera, but I don't think the camera cares what the label is either way. I know this sounds a little pedantic, but I think you're over-complicating the instructions and possibly introducing some superstition. – Please Read My Profile Nov 23 '13 at 15:49
  • The method outlined in my answer is a known workaround for using CF cards larger than the firmware of some older Canon bodies is written to recognize (i.e a 16GB card in a camera that will only create an 8GB partition if the card is formatted by the camera). Since Canon uses the same file system even with cameras with an SD/SDHC/SDXC slot, by pre-formatting the card to include the files the camera will otherwise write on power up the camera doesn't repeat the operation. There is always a small chance that the only part of the firmware corrupted are the instructions for doing that... – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 17:15
  • ... But the greater benefit is if the card has somehow been formatted using a different file system, such as NTFS or even an old version of DOS. In that case the camera will likely not even recognize that a valid card is in the slot. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 17:17

If it isn't saving to the card when you put it in, either the card reader (in the camera) is dead, the card reader on your computer is dead, the memory card isn't formatted, or the memory card isn't compatible with your camera.

If you can view multiple photos on your camera, then it is recording to the card fine, your card reader on your computer is probably broken. If not, then it could be any of the 3. You would need to verify card compatibility and try formatting it. It might make sense to put a file on the card on a PC and see if the format by the camera wipes it out. If not, then you know the card reader in the camera is busted and you should send it in for service (or the card is incompatible).

| improve this answer | |

"If it isn't saving to the card when you put it in, either the card reader (in the camera) is dead, the card reader on your computer is dead, the memory card isn't formatted, or the memory card isn't compatible with your camera..."

Um, you left out some of the other causes... like bugs in the camera firmware that can be triggered by unhandled software errors... Someone once aimed the flash of their camera at my T3i while I was shooting a video about 12 feet away. It glitched my view screen during each flash. But what I didn't know is it put my camera in some kind of demo mode so that no image or video files were recorded until I removed the battery from the camera the next day. This weird mode was persistent across power-up/power-down cycles. It caused no noticeable changes in operation, just nothing was being saved to flash storage. After pulling the battery and then retesting the camera did it start working again. The camera could see the flash cards, display what was on them, and in all cases the cards were formatted by the camera AND were fully compatible... but once in this mode it wouldn't write files to anything, not even a newly formatted card. But it could read the cards while in this mode.

So add buggy camera software and modes to your list of reasons the camera will fail to record to flash.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.