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Formatting a camera flash card
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barbarian
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Jul 13, 2004, 04:08 AM
 
Is there a simple way to format a camera's flash card as a PC disk so I can move it between macs and PCs.?

I formatted it as a Mac disk and now disk utility only gives me mac/unix erase options.

I also have a flash thumb drive with the same problem.
( Last edited by barbarian; Jul 13, 2004 at 04:56 PM. )
     
philzilla
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Jul 13, 2004, 10:16 AM
 
mine only reads as an MS-DOS disk. i got sick of the STUPID FREAKIN' CAPS ON ALL THE FILENAMES, so i formatted it as Mac OS Extended, using Disk Utility. the camera (Sony P10) refused to recognise it, so i reformatted it by using the option on the camera. it worked fine then. i guess i'll have to live with those STUPID DOS CAPS. grr.
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Old Toad
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:20 PM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
Is there a simple way to format a camera's flash card as a PC disk so I can move it between macs and PCs.?

I formatted it as a Mac disk and now disk utility only gives me mac/unix erase options.
You might try MediaRECOVER , but not sure what format it uses, maybe FAT. The demo version may allow a reformat.
     
xMetal
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Jul 13, 2004, 01:55 PM
 
most digital cameras are going to need to format the card themselves, and will probably use a PC format, which is perfectly readable on the mac. I'd just use the camera to format. Never ran into a camera that made the card unreadable on my macs.
     
barbarian  (op)
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Jul 13, 2004, 06:07 PM
 
Ah but here's the thing. I don't have the camera any more. I have a card reader which I switch between macs and PCs and I want to format it for PC so I can use it on both sides (the PC side simply doesn't recognize Mac OS formatted cards when they are plugged in).
     
tooki
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Jul 14, 2004, 12:02 AM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
Is there a simple way to format a camera's flash card as a PC disk so I can move it between macs and PCs.?

I formatted it as a Mac disk and now disk utility only gives me mac/unix erase options.

I also have a flash thumb drive with the same problem.
Method 1: format in the camera.

Method 2: Disk Utility.

But, you say, "I already tried that!"

Well, you did, but you clicked on the wrong thing: instead of clicking on the volume name (e.g. "My Memory Card"), click on the name just above it (e.g. "SanDisk 6-in-1 reader" or whatever). Then FAT should become an option.

Why is this? Well, HFS and UFS partitions can be mixed on a disk, so if you select a Mac partition, Disk Utility lets you obliterate that partition and replace it with any combination of HFS/UFS partitions. Disk Utility does not, however, allow you to partition a FAT disk -- the only way it will let you format as FAT is to format the whole disk, not just a partition. That is why you must select the parent item of the volume in order to see FAT as an option.

tooki
     
chasg
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Jul 14, 2004, 05:20 AM
 
tooki,

I know a few hundred Mac digital SLR users who will be more than happy that you've posted this tip.

Thanks! (darn, why didn't I think of that??)
     
bmhome1
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Jul 14, 2004, 12:03 PM
 
Compact Flash cards should ONLY be formatted in the camera they are to be used with, besides FAT (which in a camera could be FAT12, 16 or 32) the correct sector and cluster sizes are also created, which using a Mac can't do.
     
tooki
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Jul 14, 2004, 12:22 PM
 
Originally posted by bmhome1:
Compact Flash cards should ONLY be formatted in the camera they are to be used with, besides FAT (which in a camera could be FAT12, 16 or 32) the correct sector and cluster sizes are also created, which using a Mac can't do.
Balderdash.

I, and many others, routinely format CompactFlash other flash media as FAT on our Macs. It works fine.

Maybe there are some cameras that use oddball sizes, and are simultaneously too dumb to adapt to anything else. A properly designed system (such as a camera) should be compatible with any disk formatted using any "legal" combination of settings for the filesystem in question.

Also, you say that in a camera, the variety of FAT used should be either FAT12, FAT16, or FAT32. Well, ummm... those are all the varieties of FAT that exist. (VFAT was a sort of layer atop FAT16.)

tooki
     
absmiths
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Jul 14, 2004, 04:34 PM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
Ah but here's the thing. I don't have the camera any more. I have a card reader which I switch between macs and PCs and I want to format it for PC so I can use it on both sides (the PC side simply doesn't recognize Mac OS formatted cards when they are plugged in).
Then why not copy the files to the Mac, format the media on the PC, then copy the files back off the Mac? Are you just using this for portable storage?
     
barbarian  (op)
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Jul 14, 2004, 06:27 PM
 
Then why not copy the files to the Mac, format the media on the PC, then copy the files back off the Mac? Are you just using this for portable storage?

PC won't format it without special software which I don't have.

But I'm happy to say that the tip above about formatting the drive instead of the partition did the job.

Super easy and actually obvious.... But Disk Utility's UI was confusing enough to fool a bunch of Mac techs... I think the HI would be better if it did the following: if there is only one partition on the drive that when the partition is selected we should still have the windows option as it would simply replace the entire partition...
     
bmhome1
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Jul 15, 2004, 02:14 AM
 
A visit to the Storage and Media forums at dpreview.com and the pro's digital forums at robgalbraith.com forums will detail the problems Mac users can experience formatting or writing images back to media cards outside of the camera. The wrong cluster size written to the directory can render a card unusable with the latest large capacity cards in fast DSLR's. Over 75,000 digital exposures here without a single error or problem with card reading using that simple rule (long advocated originally by camera manufacturers).

Here's an example right here:

http://forums.macnn.com/showthread.p...hreadid=194528

Drag and drop should be seamless, but isn't.
( Last edited by bmhome1; Jul 15, 2004 at 02:20 AM. )
     
tooki
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Jul 15, 2004, 12:19 PM
 
Originally posted by bmhome1:
The wrong cluster size written to the directory can render a card unusable with the latest large capacity cards in fast DSLR's.
Then they're badly designed. A proper implementation of the filesystem should be able to use any disk formatted within the filesystem specification. Having incomplete support (which is what you are saying is common) is a crappy offering: that's bad design.

Regardless, you realize that, as far as I can tell, the whole point of this thread was not to use the card in a camera, but to transfer files between a Mac and PC? Once they get a camera, they can reformat the card in the camera.

tooki
     
tooki
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Jul 15, 2004, 12:26 PM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
Super easy and actually obvious.... But Disk Utility's UI was confusing enough to fool a bunch of Mac techs...
Yes and no... it makes sense if you understand how FAT differs from HFS/HFS+/UFS. Time to find better Mac techs?

It's also highly arguable that your solution offers the potential for more confusion, because it basically has two modes of operation (single-partition vs >1 partitions on disk modes) that behave differently. Also, would it be properly aware of you selecting multiple partitions? What about invisible partitions? (Reformatting the whole disk also removes the Mac partition map, which itself is a small partition.)

The current solution is consistent: when you click on a Mac or UFS partition, it won't give you the option to reformat the whole disk; when you click the whole disk, it does.

tooki
     
barbarian  (op)
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Jul 15, 2004, 02:09 PM
 
Yes and no... it makes sense if you understand how FAT differs from HFS/HFS+/UFS. Time to find better Mac techs?

My rule of HI: if you have 3 or 4 people who understand what is going on but can't figure something out because of screen layout or some tech reality that doesn't matter to the average person, it's probably bad HI.

The truth is nobody cares how FAT differs from HFS/HFS+/UFS. People just want a Mac formatted disk or a PC formatted disk. Ideally nobody would need a tech at all to get them figure anything out... you could just select a drive in the finder, select erase and get an option to format as PC or Mac (ideally they wouldn't even have to think about that either and there would just be a single open universal fs that worked anywhere).

But perhaps we are starting veer off topic.

I'd be willing to bet that more than 95% of all Macs only have one partition per drive. It's not that disk utility shouldn't handle advanced users, but I think it should handle the case that most users care about seamlessly and elegantly. That's what the macs all about. Hiding complexity and making things "just work".
( Last edited by barbarian; Jul 16, 2004 at 03:47 PM. )
     
absmiths
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Jul 16, 2004, 01:20 PM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
The truth is nobody cares how FAT differs from HFS/HFS+/UFS. People just want a Mac formatted disk or a PC formatted disk. Ideally nobody would need a tech at all to get them figure anything out... you could just select a drive in the finder, select erase and get an option to format as PC or Mac (ideally they wouldn't even have to think about that either and there would just be a single open universal fs that worked anywhere).

But perhaps we are starting veer off topic.
Here is more off-topic stuff. The whole concept of formatting a drive or partitioning a disk and creating filesystems is one of those things which doesn't translate well to the casual user. Probably whatever you provide will be confusing since they don't really have a grasp of what they are doing or why.

Techs can learn - that is what they get paid for. This isn't exactly Safari.
     
tooki
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Jul 16, 2004, 02:21 PM
 
That's my point. An AVERAGE user should not need to know the intricacies of filesystems. But technicians should. It's their job.

Is there probably some way to do this? Sure. But Disk Utility isn't something the casual user will be using every day, if ever. The casual user erases a disk by dragging its contents to the trash and then emptying it.

The "fix" to Disk Utility suggested above would introduce multiple modes of operation, which is a bad thing. (Yes, every OS I've ever seen has 'invisible' modes like that. But they're something to be avoided.)

Oh, by the way... this is straight out of Disk Utility's help:
Formatting a Windows (MS-DOS) disk

You can use Disk Utility to format an entire disk in Windows (MS-DOS) format, but you cannot format a single disk partition in Windows format.

WARNING: To prepare a disk in Windows format, you must erase the entire disk. Be sure to copy all the information on that disk before you erase it.
tooki
     
tooki
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Jul 16, 2004, 02:26 PM
 
Originally posted by barbarian:
[B]The truth is nobody cares how FAT differs from HFS/HFS+/UFS. People just want a Mac formatted disk or a PC formatted disk.
Not true. People may want a disk with multiple HFS or HFS+ or UFS partitions, or any combination thereof (totally OK). They may want a FAT disk with multiple partitions (kind of a hack, doable only on a PC). They may want to mix FAT and HFS/HFS+/UFS, which cannot be done.

A simpleton disk utility would not provide enough options. The most complex formatting utilities (like pdisk) are daunting even to experienced users. Disk Utility in Panther has taken a middle ground.

I maintain that if your techs couldn't figure it out (especially since it's documented right in Help!), you need to find some better techs who have more rounded technical knowledge.

tooki
     
   
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