7D in the wild and a cautionary tale at DVinfo.net

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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old December 4th, 2009, 08:02 PM   #1
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7D in the wild and a cautionary tale

So I am overseas on vacation with the 7D. I brought 2 16GB CF Cards, a pair of batteries, a 500GB HDD, lenses, netbook and assorted paraphernalia (tripod, slider, monopod, waterproof bags, etc). I've found that a day of shooting easily uses up the pair of 16GB cards I had when mixing stills and video. I would have to swap out cards and extract what was already taken. Needless to say there was no place to get spare CF cards where I was. So there came the 500GB WD HDD for moving off the content from the cards. It had me nervous as I did not store a second copy of the 61GB of data taken so far. It took two hours (that's what windows initially read) to copy off a 16GB CF (120x) so there was no time to make a second copy in the field (running off battery on a netbook). As soon as I returned to the city I thought my footage was safe. The HDD was about to be copied when it slipped off the table and took a nasty fall.

It read for a while after the fall but then failed entirely before anything could be copied off it. I was only able to salvage a few images by undeleting the 16GB cards. I'm leaving the HDD alone until I get back home for another recovery attempt. If that doesn't work then I'm making a call to a data recovery service. There goes my budget for a 70-200 if I have to go that route (posts on the net point to 900-sub-2000USD).

This made me think about the things I could have done. Should have I gotten the Photofast 533x cards (2x cost of a 500GB HDD) so copies could have been faster? Would one of those Lacie rugged drives survived the fall? Should I have had a stack of the cheaper 16GB cards so I didn't reuse the same card AND still backed up to disk. Makes me miss the "instant archival" of minidv but that wasn't perfect either.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 08:18 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear things did not go well. Two hours to copy a 16 gig card, that seems really slow. I had a similar experience with a cheap multi-card reader. Picked up a Lexar usb reader:

Lexar - Flash memory card readers - Pro CF Reader

and now it takes about 10 minutes to transfer 8 gigs.

here is my workflow:

Netbook and external usb harddrive, usually just pick up whats on sale at Frys. I transfer the video to the netbook and the hardrive at the same time. It takes about 15 minutes for a full card but I really like having the media backed up in two places if I'm going to be nuking it off the card. The other option is to buy a bunch of cards - it all depends on how much shooting is going to happen - but i do like backing that stuff up as quick as possible.

Good luck on recovery.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #3
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I agree, two hours seems way long to copy to HDD.
Were it me I'd probably copy to internal and external HDD.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #4
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I'd get a bunch of Kingston 32GB 133x cards for $75 each, and if you needed to archive onto hard drive, copy them with a faster reader or a faster hard drive. Should copy at about 10-20MB/second or even more if you have a UDMA card and reader (with firewire). If you are anal about the backup, you could get a RAID 1 "mirrored" external drive, there are some small ones that use 2.5" drives, Caldigit. RAID 1 is 'redundant' if one drive fails the data is still available on the other drive.

I've never had quite that bad of a physical hard drive disaster, but I've had my share. That's why I back everything up to my fast 'online' RAID 0, then every night back that up to a Drobo (a type of redundant RAID 5), which is a bit slow but I could edit from in a pinch if my fast RAID broke. In addition I have a fast internet connection and back everything up to the 'cloud' with an internet backup service (there are many and they are a good deal) in case there is a disaster where my data is stored, such as a fire or flood. Everything can be replaced, equipment, etc, but the work, that cannot be replaced in case of a disaster.

I feel for you and good luck in recovering the data and pursing a successful archive strategy.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 02:21 AM   #5
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About a year ago, I had a 640 gig LaCie that failed to boot. I wasn't sure when exactly it decided to fail because I always had about 7 or 8 drives attached and wasn't using it regularly. Once I discovered the problem, I took it into my local computer store where I'd purchased it from, but they too could not coax it back to life. Rather than throwing it away, I put it in the closet. Six months later, I realize that a video project (unpaid, for a friend) might just be on that drive. So, with nothing to lose, I hooked it to my computer and... voila! It worked. And it still is. From now on, I'll try and keep extra backups of everything... but I'll also not give an "unbootable" drive the heave-ho too quickly.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 02:25 PM   #6
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Backing up to two separate drives is a really good idea. I've been doing this with client EX1 SxS card data for almost 2 years now with no problems. I usually use the internal laptop/netbook drive and an external USB drive by using either Sony ClipBrowser for a one-at-a-time transfer or better yet, Shotput Pro to double-clone simultaneously. Both programs employ data verification routines for perfect data transfers. Drag and drop is something I try to avoid unless there is no alternative.

I think perhaps that a rugged external case like the LaCie used would have been of good value to you for your drive-trauma accident, but as others say - a raid1 redundant drive is best when possible.

I got tired of dragging my MacBook Pro into the field and found a small netbook (Lenovo S10) which has an ExpressCard34 slot(for SxS) and an SDHC card slot and switched to that to make field transfers. It was pretty slow running Windows XP so I wiped it and put Windows 7 and now it transfers and runs much faster. I think the latest Lenovo models dropped the ExpressCard34 option, but you can still find them at Amazon, etc. for around $300. Small and clean in the field - clients are pretty impressed with it's footprint. When I have some spare time I'm going to Hackintosh it and see if it improves performance even more. . .
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Old December 6th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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Faster cards won't really help, since it's your netbook that's the bottle neck.

The newer UDMA Hyperdrives can copy 2gigs per min.

The good part is that you can use your 500gig drive with the Hyperdrive and it can backup to a secondary USB drive as well (make sure you get the OTG adapter).

The Hyperdrives are designed to be user upgradeable, so when 1TB 2.5" drives are available, you only need a screw-driver.
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Old December 6th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Dulay View Post
So I am overseas on vacation with the 7D. I brought 2 16GB CF Cards, a pair of batteries, a 500GB HDD, lenses, netbook and assorted paraphernalia (tripod, slider, monopod, waterproof bags, etc). I've found that a day of shooting easily uses up the pair of 16GB cards I had when mixing stills and video. I would have to swap out cards and extract what was already taken. Needless to say there was no place to get spare CF cards where I was. So there came the 500GB WD HDD for moving off the content from the cards. It had me nervous as I did not store a second copy of the 61GB of data taken so far. It took two hours (that's what windows initially read) to copy off a 16GB CF (120x) so there was no time to make a second copy in the field (running off battery on a netbook). As soon as I returned to the city I thought my footage was safe. The HDD was about to be copied when it slipped off the table and took a nasty fall.

It read for a while after the fall but then failed entirely before anything could be copied off it. I was only able to salvage a few images by undeleting the 16GB cards. I'm leaving the HDD alone until I get back home for another recovery attempt. If that doesn't work then I'm making a call to a data recovery service. There goes my budget for a 70-200 if I have to go that route (posts on the net point to 900-sub-2000USD).

This made me think about the things I could have done. Should have I gotten the Photofast 533x cards (2x cost of a 500GB HDD) so copies could have been faster? Would one of those Lacie rugged drives survived the fall? Should I have had a stack of the cheaper 16GB cards so I didn't reuse the same card AND still backed up to disk. Makes me miss the "instant archival" of minidv but that wasn't perfect either.
The Lacie Rugged drive will handle up to a one meter fall. I purchased (3) 32 gig Kingston Pro 133x cards for $75 each. I use (2) 500 gig Lacie Rugged Drives and make an extra copy each night. I also use FW 800 on my Mac Pro so the copy time is pretty fast.

The Lacie drives are about $150 or so on Amazon.

Sorry about the loss of your data.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kin Lau View Post
Faster cards won't really help, since it's your netbook that's the bottle neck.

The newer UDMA Hyperdrives can copy 2gigs per min.

The good part is that you can use your 500gig drive with the Hyperdrive and it can backup to a secondary USB drive as well (make sure you get the OTG adapter).

The Hyperdrives are designed to be user upgradeable, so when 1TB 2.5" drives are available, you only need a screw-driver.
I found this intriguing. Do you have one? I'm curious if there's any shock mounting. The pictures on the net seems to have the drive flush on the case. My external drive+netbook approach was foiled by the slow CF reader->USB drive (2MB/s). Netbooks have SD card readers but never CF so its a shame.


My recovery attempt was unsuccessful so far. And I checked around with the three platinum (according to WD) data recovery services and they are all indeed steep (700-2500USD range on my situation). So if anyone else has any doubts about how much to spend on redundancy, here's your sign.

I'm considering forgetting about the lost video/photos/audio and investing the money on data redundancy. I still have the UW footage from my two other cameras (hurray HV30 and cassettes!) so its not a total loss.
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Old December 9th, 2009, 02:08 AM   #10
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Hi Mike,

Sorry to hear about your plight - bummer! While I'm unclear of several aspects of your OS and hardware (HDD) configuration, here's a few things I'd consider in your situation:

1. If you're running Windows and this is an external HDD, I'd first attempt to resurrect the drive using Gibson's SpinRite.

2. I'd put the drive in the freezer an hour or two, then try reading the drive and if it worked I'm be madly transferring data ASAP.

3. Assuming you're capable, I'd buy a disk recovery program like those used by many of the average data recovery guys use, like: Data Recovery Software, Data Recovery Tools - Stellar Data Recovery

4. I'd contact a leading company like DataSavers to get their quote under various scenarios (software fix, damaged controller board, physical HDD repair, etc) Welcome to Data Savers, LLC - Data Recovery Experts

Incidentally, I assume you've overwritten the CF cards and can't use a software recovery program: RescuePRO File Recovery Software - Data Recovery Software

Otherwise, as Keith pointed out if your laptop you really want faster CF upload transfers than USB. SanDisk makes an CF Express card that's really fast and their firewire-based CF reader is nice although its a passive device and requires computer power (not available on a 4 pin firewire nor my 6 pin Express firewire board it seems).

Forgive me for sharing something I read on a bumper sticker 10 years ago:

BACKUPS ARE FOR SISSIES!

Happy Trails, Michael
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Old December 9th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Dulay View Post
I found this intriguing. Do you have one? I'm curious if there's any shock mounting. The pictures on the net seems to have the drive flush on the case. My external drive+netbook approach was foiled by the slow CF reader->USB drive (2MB/s). Netbooks have SD card readers but never CF so its a shame.


My recovery attempt was unsuccessful so far. And I checked around with the three platinum (according to WD) data recovery services and they are all indeed steep (700-2500USD range on my situation). So if anyone else has any doubts about how much to spend on redundancy, here's your sign.

I'm considering forgetting about the lost video/photos/audio and investing the money on data redundancy. I still have the UW footage from my two other cameras (hurray HV30 and cassettes!) so its not a total loss.
I have the older Hyperdrive HD80, but the newer one looks very similar in drive mounting, and I'd doubt that it would survive such a fall. But I have dropped my drive before, enough to bust the battery door, but no data loss.

The nice part about the newer Hyperdrive is the ability to backup to an external HD like a rugged LaCie.

As for netbooks, I know of only 2 models with an Expresscard interface, HP makes one, and the older Lenovo S10 (not the newer S10-2). Then you can use a Expresscard CF reader, I use a cheapy $20- one from HK, and I can do 30MB/s transfers on my laptop.

You might also consider a 3rd option. I've just picked up some Patriot 266x UDMA 32gig CF's for under CDN$100- each. They're only a bit slower than my 30MB/s Extreme III's.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #12
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There's something weird going on there if it takes 2 hours to copy an 8 gig card. I do that on an old 12" iBook in just a few minutes. I agree with an above post that the best way is to copy to the computer's internal drive, then back up to the external HD, then you're reasonably safe. It might be possible that your card reader is the culprit for the slow copy times. When I got my 7D I had an old reader I had bought with my 20D when they first came out, and it would not move the data at all from the UDMA card. A $25 reader (that I paid about $50 for at Best Buy) took care of the problem. H

Here's hoping you can find a way to resurrect that drive. I had a dead internal drive on this ancient iBook, took it to our friendly local Apple place (NOT the Apple store), and they put in a new drive and were able to save everything on the old drive and move it over to the new one. Reasonably cost too. I didn't ask what they did, just gladly, with relief, accepted it.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #13
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Remember that there are two components to an external harddrive; the outer plastic enclosure and its electronics which are much more vulnerable than the more rugged metal HDD itself (as long as the drive wasn't running).
Have you tried transplanting the actual disc drive into a new external enclosure? Over the years I've transplanted 4 drives either to or from an external enclosure for various reasons (including enclosure interface failure). It was always successful, so I've never lost any data but I've never had a drive take an actual fall. It's worth a try though and external enclosures are inexpensive and readily available.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #14
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I've never tried this but I've been told that putting a HD in the freezer while wrapped in a freezer bag can sometimes work afterwards. You may want to research that before giving up.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 12:56 PM   #15
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I've done the "freezer" trick on other hdds before. It's supposed to be a myth but coincidentally it has worked before. In this case it didn't. I even tried different orientations to see if it would help (vertical, on the side, upside down). As soon as I could get a hold of an office machine we tried Spinrite on it and it says it won't read the area where the NTFS volume should be. It gave me a bit of hope when the performance meter responded. But all that tells me is the drive electronics are still responding. Ubuntu gives it a DRDY ERR (bad block) so it sounds like the head is failing to seek or is stuck on a bad block.

BTW, my cards copy at 12MB/s from an internal card reader. But USB limits it to 2-5MBs when more than one device is attached. Too bad I didn't ask to copy the media to the internal HDD (I copied off a borrowed netbook to save weight) for a while.
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