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I've been unable to shoot in raw on my camera for some time because the .nef files are corrupted. The corruption is consistent: the bottom half of the image is garbled, replaced by white static and colorful lines:

enter image description here

I understand that SD card faults are usually to blame for .nef corruption, but the problem is consistent across multiple cards, card readers, and computers, so I believe I've narrowed the problem down to a fault within the camera itself.

(Additional notes: shooting in any format other than raw does not result in this problem, and the embedded preview .jpgs within the .nef are also uncorrupted.)

The question is: before I send this off for a $200 repair, is there anything else I should check? Has anyone else had a problem like this, and were you able to fix it?

UPDATE: Thanks to Chris's suggestion below, I tested the "RAW + JPG" option, and it works. I'm leaving the question open for the time being, though, because that's a workaround, not a solution.

I also attempted a hard reset on the camera (as described here) and it... made the problem worse! Now when I try to open the .nefs in Photoshop, instead of getting a garbled image, I get an error saying "Could not complete your request because an unexpected end-of-file was encountered."

No idea what these pieces of new information point to as a culprit, but maybe someone else does.

UPDATE: I tested the files in ViewNX (previously I had only been opening them in Photoshop) and there are a few things to report: first, ViewNX can open the files that Photoshop spits out an error for, though they still have the garbling/static corruption. Second, the garbling is different between ViewNX and Photoshop. Here's the same image as above, but converted to .jpg by ViewNX instead of PS:

enter image description here

Again, no idea what this means, except that there's possibly missing data that different programs fill in/account for in different ways. Thanks for your help so far; still hoping for a solid answer and maybe even a fix if I'm really lucky.

  • If it is consistent across all cards and always in the same place, I'd say the camera is to blame. What happens when you shoot both JPEG and RAW at the same time? – Chris Stillwell Jan 22 '16 at 20:21
  • I'm sitting here openmouthed, both because I somehow didn't think to test that, and because when I did, the .nefs are totally uncorrupted. I'm baffled at what the problem could be, but at least I have a workaround. Thanks, Chris. – dina_fire Jan 22 '16 at 20:44
  • That's very odd - there's no reason why that should work. I wonder if the problem was not the NEFs at all but something else. Did you format the cards you tested on, as I'm wondering if re-copying those files might resolve the problem too... – James Snell Jan 22 '16 at 20:49
  • I agree, there's no reason I can think of! I did test re-copying the corrupt files and switching back to just RAW after RAW + JPG worked, but the problems persist. Baffling. – dina_fire Jan 22 '16 at 20:52
  • @dina_fire I wonder if the camera's cache is failing. Shoot in RAW and burst mode until you fill up the image cache. See if the images all have the same issue. – Chris Stillwell Jan 22 '16 at 22:03
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You've tested with multiple cards/readers. That's definitely indicative of a problem with the camera itself. Some additional tests are:-

  • plug a cable into the camera directly.
  • copy the files to a different machine. You might have a USB problem there that you didn't know about.
  • view the nef using different software (for example ViewNX.)
  • copy the same file multiple times. Compare carefully to find out if the corruption is in the same place each time (it may not be, which would show that the camera may not be the problem.)

If the camera definitely is the problem, you should consider that you can replace the body with another D60 for about the same price as the repair cost quoted - it's worth remembering that and you may get an extra lens or at very least a spare battery out of the process.

You may have a local repairer who might be a good deal cheaper than Nikon's service centre if that's where you planned to send it.

  • Good tips, thank you. I've tried all those tests except using something like ViewNX, I'll test that out and report back. And yeah, I found some used D60s on Amazon for cheaper, though I'll probably just deal with the workaround mentioned above instead of shelling out for a replacement or a repair. At least until the problem gets worse or the workaround stops working! – dina_fire Jan 22 '16 at 20:57
  • @dina_fire adding to what James said about transfer issues, what are the file sizes of the RAW files on your computer after you transfer? If they aren't the same size as the files on your camera then I'd say there is an issue with the transfer. – Chris Stillwell Jan 22 '16 at 21:04
  • Good question, Chris. The garbled photos shot before the hard reset are ~10mb; the corrupt photos shot after the hard reset (the ones that won't open at all) are ~7-8mb; and the working photos (shot with the RAW + JPG setting) are between ~7-9mb. – dina_fire Jan 22 '16 at 21:35
  • @dina_fire Ok, I think James is right then, there is some kind of transfer error happening. What happens when you plug the card directly into a card reader and try to open them? – Chris Stillwell Jan 22 '16 at 21:41
  • Same thing. I've tested using a cable and a card reader and the results are consistent between them. – dina_fire Jan 22 '16 at 21:45

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