Rescuing lost material

I’ve been pulling my hair out the last few days trying to figure out how to recover lost data from a couple of CF-cards.

Last week we spent in Oslo shooting a documentary film as part of our exam this semester. We shot it using two Canon XF105 cameras. Every night we sat down and copied the CF-cards and logged the material. It was going great until suddenly we plugged in one of the cards and nothing… Nothing at all. The card would not mount on Mac or PC. Different card reader, same story. Putting it back in the camera only resulted in an error message.

The problem seemed to be the card reader. One pin was broken and another bent and apparently this had somehow corrupted the card. We left the card untouched until we got back hoping a good recovery software would do the trick.

Now, that’s why I’ve been pulling my hair out the past few days. I ended up looking at, and trying out, a lot of recovery software. However, none of the recovery software seemed to work. If it had been a simple case of deleted files it would be easy match. Had it been still pictures it would probably also have been easier as more software a capable of recovering pictures and reconstructing them if they are corrupt. In my case it was MXF video files.

First I tried RescuePro Deluxe. I got a free license for this with a Sandisk Extreme card. Since the cards we used were Sandisk I figured this would be a good place to start. RescuePro Deluxe is a very simple and user-friendly software. It worked quite well too. It was the only software capable of retrieving any data of the card. Unfortunately the data it recovered seemed to be corrupted. The file endings were different (.ico and .cur as opposed to .mxf as it should be) and they would not open in any software. I ran it again later and then it found MXF files, but not all. Unfortunately,  none of the files were over 80MB in size so there was obviously some corruption still and far from all were playable.

Moving on I tried Recuva, a free software from Piri-form. I’m quite found of CCleaner, so I had high hopes for this one. It was easy-to-use and it has a preatty good wizard to get going. While this software seemed thorough, it did not find any usable data on the cards. It found some data, but no MXF files. One huge advantage of this software is that it’s up to date; It’s supports 64-bit and Windows 7 and comes in an installable and portable version.

Recuva Screenshot

Next I tried Data Rescue. While it found some data it was just a couple of megabytes. Not close to what I was missing, so nothing usable came out of it. This one was also easy to use, but had an annoying animation and did not have a good overview of what it had found during the scanning process.

Last one I tried was Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery. It did not just find data, but it found the complete MXF files! It recovered most of what was lost! The file sizes seemed to be correct as did the duration of the clips. They played nice in VLC, though we did have some problems converting them in other softwares. However, based on this experience I’d say Stellar Phoenix Windows/Mac Data Recovery is a slick looking, easy-to-use and good recovery software worth every penny! It had a lot more functions than the one I used, however did not test them and can not speak for the other recovery functions.

As one last note it’s worth to mention I did try others as well, however these were the ones I liked the best and the ones that gave the best results.

Free Digital Photography course?

If you would like to take a deeper dive into the world of digital photography this might be for you! Standford University have released all the material,from powerpoints to handed in assignments, for their course “Digital Photography” online.

Well, it’s a fairly technical course thought by Marc Levoy, with lots of scary formulas. However the assignments are practical and simple and there are a lot of easy-to-understand applets for different parts of photography for instance depth of field or exposure. The powerpoint slides seem pretty understandable as well. There’s some interesting reading there if you would like to get a better understanding of the technical aspects behind photography, but there’s also a lot of good stuff that’s not so technical, but rather basic photography.

Unfortunately the page seems a bit messy at first glance, but once you click around a bit you’ll find your way around. I strongly recommend you have a look!