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7D Video Disaster

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Chris Nelson
7D Video Disaster
on Nov 28, 2010 at 2:30:21 am

This is my Canon 7D drama:

I was using my Canon 7D to shoot video of an interview. I use a SanDisk Extreme III 32GB 60MB/sec flash card. Not that it probably matters but I was using a Canon 28-135 F3.5 lens. I’ve been using this combination almost daily the past month. I formatted the SD card this morning in the camera as I always do before every time I use it.

I typically shoot quick little video interviews with it, one at a time, for 4 or 5 minutes each. Today though I shot several long movies back to back to back. Essentially as I would ask a question I would push the START/STOP button once to stop the current movie (which generally I was trying to end around 9 min each) and then again to start the next one. I’ve done this before, without any trouble.
I was shooting 1920 x 1080 HD 30fps.

I shot a series of very short (10 second of less) movies just to make sure everything was working and looking as it should. Those files wrote to the card correctly and were named:

MVI_1110.MOV / MVI_1110.THM through MVI_1116.MOV / MVI_1116.THM

When the interview actually began I started a new file, presumably it would have been named MVI_1117.MOV. For the next 45 minutes I stopped/started the camera 6 or 7 times. Each time I saw the counter incrementing and the light on the back indicating it was recording video. Each video was less than 12 minutes in length. I believe at the end of the interview I didn’t stop the last video file, so it probably ran and ended at the 12 minute and max size.

When I came back to the camera it was unresponsive. It had a flashing “BUSY” light on the top screen, and all of the buttons were unresponsive. I packed up, drove home for about 15 minutes, but left the camera on. Got home – it was still blinking BUSY and unresponsive. Another 45 minutes or so went by, my heart beat is racing at this point, and I eventually remove the battery because it seems like the camera is completely frozen. (And the battery is about to die anyhow!)

I turned the camera back on and it only recognized the short little movies I had recorded (1110.MOV – 1116.MOV). My heart sank! I put the flash card in my USB card reader and connected to my Mac Book Pro. The finder shows the short test files, but the rest is bad news:

Instead of showing something like this: MVI_1117.MOV and a file size that makes sense, instead it reads:

“MVI_117.MoV”(notice a 3 digit number, not 4 as it should have been, and also notice that the .MOV is not all capitalized as usual, but rather the “o” is lower case. It shows the file size as 0KB and kind as “Alias,” not Quicktime movie file.

The card, which was formatted right before the session, shows 13.76 GB available, so clearly the movie data was written because the card is over half full.

I have not written or erased anything on to the card since this episode started.

For some unknown reason, one of the quick time movies (not the first, not the last, but a random one in the middle) was recovered and reconstructed using Data Rescue 3. It was MVI_1122.MOV – a 3.18 GB file that was recorded about 2/3rds of the way through the interview. This .MOV was not readable by the camera, but did at least show a file size (unlike the other “.MoV” s with the strange capitalization.

It should go without saying that the contents of this video are not replacable – so I’m looking for any advice for file recovery or reconstruction. Stellar Phoenix, Data Rescue 3, Photo Rescue, R3cover do not detect the 0KB alias files. I’ve been working to recover these files all day with NO real luck, and would appreciate the advise of anyone who has been in a similar boat and has something to contribute or suggest.

I’m new to the Canon 7D – I’ve only owned it for a couple of months – so I’m quite upset by this.

I haven’t checked to see if the camera is shooting normally or not… for fear that perhaps those files might live in some sort of buffer , but I know in reality that’s probably not possible.

Looking for any thoughts / suggestions / help / the talented folks in this forum might have.


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Brian Louis
Re: 7D Video Disaster
on Nov 28, 2010 at 9:34:33 am

Your Cam may have hit a bad cell, glitch, or other corruption when it was trying to end the file when it ran out of space, if the data is good you can use recovery software to locate the files and transfer them to disk, just do a search for "CF recovery software + Video" you will find a bunch, just make a selection, they usually run $25-$60

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Bob Dix
Re: 7D Video Disaster
on Nov 28, 2010 at 12:43:19 pm

We use San Disk Extreme III UDMA 8GB only or 4GB CF cards on a Canon 5D mark II, the 7 may be different ? and a recovery disk came with the CF card. Or see their web site for a free download, you realise of course that the camera will stop after 12 minutes and you must restart and it will run for another 12 minutes (approx)and stop again depending on the size of your card

Freelance Imaging & Video

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Alf Hanna
Re: 7D Video Disaster
on Nov 28, 2010 at 6:34:42 pm

I've had a card failure also, on a T2i. I lost half a days' shoot (!).The dirty little secret to these cameras is that the pro versions ought to have a dual card setup, for redundant recording. The smaller SD cards are certainly small enough to put it in the camera, and there should be a cheap outboard firewire, USB or plug in hard drive adapter to run it to for the 7d. (any enterprising engineers out there?). It should not be a $700 version of what should cost about $75.00 (how about a hard drive with CF and SD adapter slots that automatically download the files when you plug in the card? How hard would that be?

By the way, while my T2i card had files that *should* have been recoverable (i think the last file didn't close properly), all I could recover on it were jpegs. I tried a number of supposed recovery packages and none of them worked on video, though they *claimed* to be able to do so.

I have sold the T2i and upgraded to the 7D, mainly due to environmental sealing. I'll certainly be dumping card data to my laptop much more frequently, given your post!

Interestingly I've never had a card failure (knock on wood) with my SD cards (same cards as the T2i used), on my Panasonic HMC150. I don't know whether there is something more "robust" about the way that
'real' video cameras are engineered, and maybe I'm just lucky, but that's been my take.

I would also recommend never opening the door while the light is still on (shooting). That may have been what happened to me with the T2i. I'm not sure but it's the only thing I could figure.


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