CompactFlash Cards Frequently Asked Questions

 

Updated 6/8/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff

CompactFlash (CF) cards have become a standard digital storage technology. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about CompactFlash cards.

 

1. What is the difference between CompactFlash Type I and CompactFlash Type II?
The only difference between CF Type I and CF Type II is the size. Type I is smaller (43mm x 36mm x 3.3mm) than Type II (43mm x 36mm x 5mm). Type II has the same thickness as the current standard PCMCIA Type II card - the standard expansion card for notebook computers. With an adapter, the Type I Compact Flash card will plug into a PCMCIA Type II slot. A Type II Compact Flash card, however, can only be used in PCMCIA Type II slots.

 

2. What devices use CompactFlash?
Since they are small, light, and can hold a large amount of data, CompactFlash cards are suited for a variety of applications. CompactFlash cards are used in digital cameras, MP3 players, PDAs, and computers. As the price of CompactFlash cards continue to fall, using a high storage capacity CF card is also very cost effective.

 

3. Why is CompactFlash still used but Smart Media is no longer produced?

The most likely reason was capacity. Smart Media was only capable of storing 128 Mbytes. That was plenty of memory in the early stages of digital photography when cameras were rated at 1 to 2 Mega pixels. As camera capability grew and 5-10 Mega pixels became common and they included the ability to record video, 128 Mbytes was no longer adequate. CompactFlash quickly grew to accommodate 1 Gbytes and now 32 Gbyte CompactFlash cards are common. Future versions could have over 100 Gbytes.

 

4. What is the advantage of flash memory?

The greatest advantages of all types of flash memory, including CompactFlash cards, is their reliability, their durability, and their cost. Unlike hard disc drives that are common in computing, flash memory is completely solid state. It has no mechanical moving parts and no delicate read/write head. CompactFlash cards can withstand shocks, temperature extremes, and vibration. They also have very low power requirements, they reliably hold data, and they can be erased and re-written virtually countless times.

 

5. Why is the Format option on my camera grayed out and I am unable to access the drive?

This usually indicates that the CompactFlash card is corrupt or broken. It needs to be reformatted or replaced.

 

6. Why does my camera not indicate how many pictures are remaining even though I just installed a new CompactFlash card?

If you install a new higher capacity CompactFlash card into an older camera, it may not recognize the higher capacity for pictures and will not start counting the number of pictures remaining until it is in the default range of the camera. For example, if you insert a 256 MB card in the Kodak DC240 Zoom Digital Camera, it will display "--" for Good / Standard until the Pictures Remaining reaches 1999, and then the countdown proceeds normally. The pictures are stored properly and can be retrieved from the card at any time.

 

7. Can the CompactFlash card keep my camera from turning on?

A corrupt picture file on the CompactFlash card can affect camera operation. To determine if the CF card is causing the problem, remove the card and try to turn on the camera. If the camera powers on properly without the card then reformat the CF card, reinstall it, and turn the camera on. If the CF Card still causes problems it may be defective.

 

8. Why does my camera sometimes take longer to be ready to take pictures than other times?

When a CompactFlash card starts to get full of pictures the access time can be noticeably slower than when it is empty.

 

9. Why can't I see the pictures on my camera after I renamed them on my computer?

Depending on the type of camera, if you use Windows Explorer to change image file names on a CompactFlash card while it is plugged into your PC the images may not be readable by a camera.

 

10. Why does the CompactFlash card have less image capacity when I use it in a different camera?

When you use the same CF card in different cameras, undeleted image files and templates on the card take up space. To regain the image capacity, copy all pictures and files onto a computer and then reformat the card. When you reinsert the card into the camera it should have the full capacity available.

 

11. How did I get a corrupted image or file on my CompactFlash card?

This usually happens due to some interruption during the process of converting the image into a digitally stored file on the CF card. Typical causes include:

  •  Turning off the camera before the image is completely written to the CF card.
  • A very low battery not supplying reliable power at the proper voltage.
  • Removing the CF card before the image has been completely written.
  • Attempting to take a second picture before the camera has finished processing the previous one.

 

12. I have a corrupt image on my CompactFlash card or it doesn't work. What should I do?

If you can't access the CF card in the camera or in the PC card reader, or you think it is preventing the camera from working, you can try reformatting the CF card. Remember, however, that reformatting the card erases all of the pictures, borders, templates and any other information on the card. You may want to try the CF card in another camera or computer before deciding to reformat.

You can reformat the CF card in some camera models. You can reformat the CF card with a computer by:

  • Installing the card into a computer
  • Go to My Computer
  • Go to the drive that is specified as the card reader
  • Right-click on the drive letter
  • Go to Format
  • Select Full Format

Formatting the card will eliminate corrupt pictures or other file and formatting problems. After formatting the card, try using it again. If the problem persists, try it again in another camera or card reader. If reformatting does not solve the problem, you will probably need to replace the card.