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Lost Images Reflect Poorly on Canon and Lexar

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May 20, 2005 *- The apprehension that prompts many traditional photographers to stay with film and hold off in making the switch to the digital medium often stems from a fear of losing images. Bottom line – the camera must be reliable!

For several months now, dating back (at least) to last December, users of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II have cited problems with images getting lost in the camera flush and trapped in the buffer. Like a frustrating computer, the cameras have been known to freeze on transfer, with the images often lost.

These experiences at first seemed isolated, yet as time passed both 1D and 1Ds Mark II users slowly began to compile a series of legitimate observations and concerns that now appears to be validated.

An official statement was released today by Canon acknowledging the issue of images disappearing before they could be written to the memory card. According to a Canon press release, "Pressing the [DISPLAY] button immediately after shooting with the camera set to ‘RAW+JPEG (high image quality)’ causes the LCD monitor to become entirely white and the camera to lock up, losing all the images in the buffer. This problem is caused by the firmware for these models and sometimes occurs regardless of the recording media used."

It appears Canon’s fix lies within a firmware update that should be available at the end of this month.

The Canon 1D Mark II was announced on Jan 29th, 2004, while the 1Ds Mark II has been on the market since October, 2004. Searching through message boards and user feedback indicates these problems are long-standing.

Canon made their announcement the same day as Lexar revealed problems with Lexar Professional 80x-speed CompactFlash cards in four Canon cameras, including both Mark II models. The two cameras have been available to consumers for eight and sixteen months.

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"We are now making arrangements to release new camera firmware incorporating the correction of this problem by the end of May 2005. In the meantime, please be aware of the following when using these models,"’ said Canon a consumer advisory.

Canon is suggesting users of their $8,000, 16.7 megapixel 1Ds Mark II should "remove and re-install the battery to restore correct operation" when the image buffer problem occurs.

Until the firmware is updated, Canon EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II users are warned by the manufacturer, "Before pressing the [DISPLAY] button to check captured images, make sure the access lamp is off, indicating that files have been written to the media."

For many users, the instinct was to blame the media cards inside their high-performance digital SLRs. Yet a consistent pattern of complaints regarding similar issues continued to emerge. Since late in 2004, photography forums catering to Canon EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II have been full of tales of missing images and buffer problems.

While problems with hardware or software can happen with any camera, Canon users seemed united by the continuing disappearance of images and recurring buffer clogs.

On the face of it, people should always be wary of unconfirmed problems, although with the announcement today by Canon, it seems those particular Canon users may have had a point.

In late March, as problems and complaints seemed to reach a crescendo within user forums, Canon announced firmware updates for both the EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II. In both updates a central feature was the "improvement in communication reliability when using some CF cards."

Immediately following the March firmware updates from Canon, many users seemed skeptical of the update, feeling as though it may have been an attempt to mask a larger problem.

In a seemingly unrelated story, both Canon and Lexar released statements today addressing issues of compatibility between specific Lexar CompactFlash cards and some Canon EOS digital SLRs.


It appears users originally assumed the memory cards being used were corrupt. Seemingly trying to address this problem, Lexar began looking into the issue with lost images both in-house and with Canon. Today, Lexar announced problems with the way their Professional 80x CompactFlash cards worked in the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS 20D, and EOS Digital Rebel XT models.


In a press release alongside Canon, Lexar noted, "Captured images on some Lexar CompactFlash cards can be lost when used with the Canon cameras listed above. Working together, Lexar and Canon have investigated the cause and confirmed that the problem occurs in extremely rare instances when the products above are used together."

As a fix, Lexar announced a free firmware correction for Lexar Professional Series 80x CompactFlash used in the affected Canon cameras. The fix is expected to come at the end of this month.

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