How to rescue images from a corrupted CF-card

Recently one of my CF-cards suddenly lost all images and movies from my Canon 5D MarkII. When inserting it in the camera it just said “no images” and when inserting it in my computer it displayed huge amounts of strange files with strange names.

A quick question on twitter ended with these recommendations:
DataRescue (Mac)
Camera Salvage (Mac)
Digital Photo Recovery (Windows, free)
Smart Recovery (Windows, free)
Photo Rescue (Mac and Windows)

Thanks to @moltke, @willytk, @rudolfsen, @magnusak, @mortend, @evensr. Now go follow them. They’re helpful people.


But before booting to Windows or buying one of the Mac apps I wanted to try a small free program called PhotoRec (Mac, Win, Linux). By the way also recommended by @willytk.

And it did the trick. People might be scared of the command line, but it was fairly simple to choose the card, select FAT as the file system, choose a location to store the rescued files and start the operation.

One of the images with some corruption.

PhotoRec is currently ticking away. And it seems to find all the files on the card. Both images and movies. Two of the images have some errors on them, but I can live with that. 8 gigs of movies and RAW images rescued…

So now you know. In case you experience something similar.

How to rescue images from a corrupted CF-card