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I recently bought a Canon 350D and a memory card that happened to be 16GB. When formatting in camera, I see 8GB and this works fine.

My question is: If I format the card with a computer so the camera will see all 16GB¹, do I risk losing pictures taken beyond the first 8GB after I've formatted it?

¹ There are reports the camera will see the additional space.

  • I have a 5DMkIII, and I still use 8GB cards. Good for about 300 or so RAW files, usually 24MB each. Even more JPG photos. In other words, use it as 8GB and don't sweat it. You have plenty of room, and cards are cheap. – cmason May 15 '18 at 21:11
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This should be fine. Since the camera supports cards larger than 4GB, the filesystem must be FAT32, which supports filesystems up to 2TB. It's possible that the camera has some bug in writing to filesystems larger than 8GB, but it's unlikely (and much more likely that that's just a limitation in the formatting algorithm).

That said,

A) eh, are you sure it's worth risking it? — you might just stick with 8GB cards and keep fewer eggs in each basket; and

B) wow, that's an old camera. I'm not an advocate of always chasing the newest tech, but there was a huge amount of innovation in DSLRs in the decade following 2005, the year this camera was released. And, perhaps more to the point: at that age, I'd be a lot more worried about the camera failing to actually take pictures at a critical juncture than I would be about 8GB vs. 16GB.

  • +1 waiting to see if more answers comes along before accepting. Regarding a) This is just a hobby for me, so while loosing pictures would be sad I do not have to answer to any clients and the 16GB card was the cheapest card from a known brand I could find locally. b) I'm just now starting to buy into the EOS system (coming from compact cameras) and bought this in a bundle with a Canon EF 55-200 that I intend to pair up with a 5D Mark II once I find a good deal on that camera. In the mean time I thought it was more fun to take pictures than not. – lijat May 15 '18 at 22:09
  • Yes to more fun taking pictures than not. Also, that will help you appreciate your upgrade more. :) – mattdm May 15 '18 at 22:18
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I am not sure if I fully understand your question. Are you asking about why your card is 8GB or about the consequences of formatting it?

If your question is the first one, you should be aware that if you format your card while having pictures stored in it, you are surely going to lose them, no matter whether you format it from the camera menu or outside the camera (from your PC, for example). Though you might be able to rescue them later, formatting erases all the information in a card. You should make sure you save your photos to another device before you format the card.

If your question is the latter, there exists the possibility that 350D only recognizes up to 8GB, I honestly do not know. But I found this thread in DP Review: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/1943885 where some people hint that the limitation on the camera exists only when formatting, and you should be able to use all of those 16GB if you format your card to a single partition from your PC and then insert it in your camera.

Again, remember to save your photos to a different place before formatting.

  • I am asking about the risk of loosing pictures of I put a card formated to 16gb and then shoot pictures. For example, will the filesystem on the card corupt itself when the card fills up past 8gb. Or other issues that might cause data loss when shooting with such a card in the camera. – lijat May 15 '18 at 15:43
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    As I understand it, for whatever reason, the firmware of this camera will not create a filesystem larger than 8GB, regardless of the size of the card. It should be able to use larger cards, though. It's worth noting that the 5D, a more expensive model camera that came out the same year, also initially had this limitation but support for formatting larger cards came in a firmware update. The lower-end model never got such an update (feature improvements are rare in Canon firmware updates, especially at the low end.) – mattdm May 15 '18 at 20:40
  • @lijat That information needs to be edited into the original question. Without it the question reads more like "Will the images currently on my card be lost if I reformat the card?" – Michael C May 16 '18 at 2:24
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When it comes to capturing memories...why risk it?

With older digital cameras, it is first and foremost a good thing to make sure you're on the most up to date firmware. Firmware updates usually involve updates to the communications with CF cards.

Secondly, you have to remember that the camera tech was built around the storage units of the era. For example, I still have a 20D - and I also still have a ton of 1gb, 2gb, and 4gb cards for it. It's almost like shooting film when I load up the 1gb card on my 5Dmk2 - but for the 20D, it's decent enough space.

If 8gb is the most that the 350D will recognize - then I would say your safest bet is to find an 8gb card and have the camera format it. Get 2 cards and use them instead of 1, 16gb card.

Note: My perspective is coming from working in a photo studio where the heavy use of our cards absolutely led to cards "going bad" and spitting out corrupted images. It is far better to shoot with a few, smaller cards and to have one go bad on you than it is to use a single card that flops.

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Page 118 of this camera’s manual tells you that when you format the card, the capacity may be far less than the card labeling states. I will speculate that the method used by the camera software is significantly different from the way other devices format. I am quite sure that if you format a card in the camera, it will be OK.

Factorial: Formatting a CF card in the camera structures the card to record data in a unique way. This method is likely different than the way other devices would store data. In other words, the software of the camera stores data in specific places within the card. The data is coded so that it can be easy retrieved, erased, or overwritten. Other data besides the digital image will also be stored. If the card is pre-formatted (most are), or if it was formatted on another device, it might somehow fail. Best advice is to always format CF card in the camera that will be using it.

  • sorry, but this is incorrect guesswork. the storage format is standardized and formating in camera will not be a jota different than in any other device, provided the devices can cope with the card. the capacity vs. labeling is just the usual binary 2^10 vs. decimal 10^3 unit confusion. – ths May 15 '18 at 20:51
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    the camera structures the card to record data in a unique way This is just wrong. The camera formats the card with a fairly common FAT file system, not some mysteriously "unique" scheme. That's why your computer has no problem reading files from the card if you use a CF card reader. – Caleb May 15 '18 at 20:53

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