Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Here are two independent stories the only link is the cards they are using…

Vince using a Sony NX5… “Had A wee problem tonight while filming a local dance show. Using two NX5s to film,one on a wide shot plus one NX5 for close ups etc.

Without warning mid way through the first half, the close up Camera LCD screen went blank,a warning came up saying something about corupt media etc, then the camera shutdown by itself and then re-booted,another warning came up saying that recording or playback can not take place until the software has checked the card out for faults etc. I pressed enter to check the card for faults and within a few seconds was able to resume recording.

Unfortunately 20 odd minutes of footage was lost,7 dances to be exact,everything filmed up to the crash point was gone from the Transcend Card,the remaining dances up to the end of the first half were ok.Card was on its 3rd use with no problems before.

Fortunately the wide camera captured everything on a static wide shot so all is not lost but i must admit i am stuned to have lost the footage i did.Thank God it wasnt a wedding.
Have you heard anything like this from other camera operaters!!. This is the first time i have had any hicups with the NX5 using the Transcend Cards-Class 10, 16 GIG type.”

Today I get this Email…

Chris using a Sony MC50… “Had a major glitch last night while shooting a recce of “Bad Girls” for Saturday. Following your reports of problems with early shots, as at Jan’s party, I always shoot four short shots after formatting a memory card. They played back fine, as usual. Started recording the show and after about twenty minutes a data warning appeared on screen for a couple of seconds, then the whole camera shut down and restarted. I got going again and the problem did not recur, but ALL data recorded before the fault was missing – including those four test shots!

I managed to ingest the footage recorded after the fault and then decided to attempt a data recovery of the missing scenes by invoking the option to “Repair Image Database Files”. This reported no error, so I mounted the SD card on my Mac and used a utility to display hidden files…

You can see the clip info demonstrates that ten scenes were present – recorded AFTER the fault – but there are no .MTS files visible. Worse still, the footage no longer plays in the camcorder, yet the data is still there because the card registers as full.

I conclude the following, which, if you concur, you may wish to put out as a warning to other users:

1. If you encounter any recording fault, ingest all recorded footage prior to running any tests or search.
2. Unless ICONS are missing from your data display, do not run the ‘Repair Image Database’ utility.
3. Do not use a utility such as Cocktail in an attempt to retrieve lost data as this may further corrupt your files.

I still wonder whether this fault is memory card-related since the faults you experienced at Jan’s party and last night’s shoot were using the same (Transcend 16GB Class 10) card. I’ve not had any trouble with my other (Transcend 16GB Class 6) cards. That said, the suspect card was recently used to record a music concert and behaved perfectly. Have you ever had a problem recording to the internal memory?”

So you see these accounts are at least 3 months apart using different Sony camcorders the interesting factor that seems to run between them is the use of Transend Class 10 cards which would in my opinion be the number one suspect. To put it in perspective hundreds of people all over the world are using solid state day in day out with little to no problems. I myself on the whole use Transend SDHC class 10 cards and have also suffered lost footage twice but twice out of hours of successful filming with class 10 Transend SDHC cards leads me to one simple conclusion…

If you are filming an event like a wedding ceremony or a dance show where you are liable to have prolonged read/write sessions it would be prudent to use cards like SanDisk which are guaranteed to give you 30MB/s rather than depend on Transend cards that may be class 10 but only sustain 20MB/s and remember that speed is variable.

The one major problem with solid state is it’s unforgiving, if you are filming and for any reason the simplest being your battery runs out…you loose everything from the point you pressed the record button and that may be the whole of someones wedding ceremony and your reputation down the spout.

It is always advisable to loose 2-3 minutes of someones wedding in order to stop recording and power down your camcorder to change batteries than chance loosing everything and one other good bit of timley advice is do not span footage from one card to another, once again stop the recording and change card slots, spanning causes more misery than you can imagine.



Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

9 thoughts on “Is solid state all it’s cracked up to be ?

  1. The tech folks at GoPro said they use Patriot and Kingston 16gb cards without reservation. I found my SanDisk fail in the HD GoPro.

    Canon stills guys appear to prefer SanDisk, especially with the older 1D series cameras. Nikon shooters favor Lexar.

    I would suggest this is merely a card/camera compatibility issue. Buying off-brand cards IMHO is akin to buying off-brand film — risky.

  2. I feel sorry for the people who lost their files, but Transcend cards – and it seems the 16GB size in particular – have gained some kind of notoriety for being more unreliable than other SDHC cards for quite a long time now (a lot of complaints surfaced in European and American online forums since 2009), so I am really surprised to see that someone is still using them for professional work. As you suggested: Just switch to SanDisk, Samsung Plus (Class 6) or Panasonic and, if equipment allows, record to two cards or one card and one SSD simultaneously whenever possible.

  3. Interesting topic Philip.

    All media, analogue or digital, is liable to fail once in a while. I remember in the old days of Beta SP being advised to only use one brand of tape and then sticking to it for life. Mixing different tape compositions would, I was told, lead to more drop outs and oxide deposits in the camera. I’m sure there are good SD cards and not so good ones as with everything in life.

    SD is consumer grade media that has found its way into professional use. Unlike in the world of hard drives there is no agreed standard for something like ‘enterprise’ grade SD or CF cards. Of the two formats CF seems to be more reliable.

    The most reliable solid state media of all is P2 and SxS and there is a reason (other than the usual complaints that the manufacturers are ripping off the pros) why they are so expensive – in a word reliability. At the end of the day the recording media once it has footage on it becomes priceless so buy the best available for your particular camera and use nothing else. If you are a pro making your living from recording pictures for clients the extra cost is worth it.

    My top tips for shooting tapeless are:

    Do some research and buy the best media – even (or especially!) if it seems expensive compared to the cheapest.

    Follow some forums on the subject and benefit from the experience of others.

    Stop and start recording as often as possible. That way you stand a chance of recovering more footage should disaster strike.

    Never let the battery die on you whilst recording.

    Have enough cards so that you never need to re-format and dump the footage during a shoot. Unless that is you have a DIT with you who can take the blame for any calamities!

    Make a backup of the cards as early as possible so you have at least two copies before re-formatting.

    Always re-format the card in the camera just prior to shooting.

  4. Give me tape any day of the week. Had a complete disaster last month and lost a whole wedding day, luckily It was only the 2nd camera, but i still felt an idiot going up to my employer and telling him that he had no cutaway shots to use in the edit. There has to be a better solution to these cursed memory cards.

  5. Having problems with PNY and A Data 16gb class 10. All cards give me a bad frame after approx 21 min of continuous recording at PH mode(1920x1080i 24 mps) Panasonic says that that the bad frame is occuring when the 4gb clip size limitation is reached. Camera is the ag hmc 40. Have to stop/ restart the cameras before the 21 min mark.

  6. Given that the NX5 can parallel record to two cards I’m not sure why I would do anything else.

    In the IT World no critical data would be trusted to a single item of media and the use of arrays of inexpensive media is common place (RAID is Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk) as it’s long since been recognised that rather then trying to over engineer a single device to try and avoid data loss it’s better to duplicate the data across simply well engineered devices.

    Long term redundant media is the way to go. DSLRs are getting twin slots and the Sony NXCAM range seem to be getting them too (or at least internal/auxilary flash drives that offer the same facility).

    I wouldn’t myself regard any tapeless camera to be a pro model without this ability.

    And to be fair to Sony the NX5s also are dual slots in that they take Memory Stick media, I wonder how many of these issues crop up with that media that is generally made to more exacting criteria?

  7. I have a Sony AX-2000, the NX5 cousin. I have recorded more than 50 hours on a Kingston 32 Gigas Class 4. And now I have a 16 Gigas, also Kingston and Class 4, on the second slot for emergencies. No issue. I have read issues whith Class 10 cards, in all brands. And people who recommends Class 4, but I don’t know why. Transfer to the PC is more or less 20 MB/sc. Recording TO the PC, more or less, 7-8 MB/sc, double data rate that 24 Mb/sec AVCHD needs (highest quality).

  8. I had a similar problem with a Transcend 16 gig card on my NX5. Lucky I had the flash drive, otherwise I would have been in a terrible mess. The card is now totally unusable.

  9. My XD Card lost data fright episode

    Just thought I let you know I had an error on my Sony XD Card and I had reformat drive message, something told me not to format fortunately done some searching on the net and came across I told them that I was a photographer and need to get back my files.

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