Coping with CEV Syndrome with Memory Cards

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Back in the film days, photofinishers would often receive a roll of 36-exposure film from customers for processing and when the prints rolled off their FujiFilm Frontier it would contain photographs made during Christmas, Easter and vacation—all on the same roll. It happened so often that it eventually got a name: CEV Syndrome.  Don’t let that happen to you.

These days memory cards may be cheap and fast but they’re not perfect. When the card is in their camera, photographers may think the card’s speed and performance are the only important aspects for digital capture but  also affects the overall impact on workflow, such as reading and copying files with a card reader. And problems can occur. Flash memory has a limited number of write/erase cycles and electrons sometime get trapped where they’re not wanted and voltage can levels shift, eventually causing failure. And sometimes the cards just wear out

In my post on my car photography blog called Avoiding Memory Card Problems, I wrote about a memory card problem that was solved by using the camera itself as a card reader, connecting it to my computer and copying the files onto my hard drive. Card failures occur but this time it was caused by the camera itself, a Leica Q. Click the link above to learn more.

There was another problem with card failure that I wrote about in Tips from the Goodguys 20th Colorado Nationals. I had so many problems with Lexar cards that I finally quarantined them. Since I wrote this post, Micron discontinued Lexar’s product portfolio, including memory cards. Coincidence? The brand was then acquired by Chinese company Longsys and a group of former executives teamed up to produce new Lexar memory cards. If I get a chance to test one of the new cards, I’ll write a review. So far, I’m still waiting.

Here’s a few tips to avoid the kinds of problems I encountered:

  • Don’t remove the card when saving or viewing images. This seems as obvious as not sticking wet fingers in a light bulb socket but more than once I’ve had salvage images for a neighbor who had a bad habit of doing this.
  • Don’t remove a memory card when turning your camera on or off.
  • Don’t change your memory card when the camera is on.
  • From time to time, take the time to reformat which can prevent a card from becoming corrupted.
  • Don’t purchase off-brand memory cards. Really good cards from really good companies are worth the pain and misery they avoid.
  • When buying new cards, place them along with others in a sturdy card holder. I use the indestructible Pelican Memory Card Case. It costs less than $20 and is cheap insurance.

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