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IBM microdrive failures increase since the beginning of the year  
Saturday, January 1, 2000 | by
After watching the number of web postings on IBM microdrive failures increase since the beginning of the year, I called for feedback from readers last month.

The response was quick, and tremendous: a total of 132 messages and 7 phone calls for a total of 139 readers weighing in on IBM microdrive reliability. As tends to happen when the group sampled gets sufficently large, the results were split down the middle, with 49% citing no problems, or at least none that could be traced to the microdrive hardware. Another 45% noted mild to serious card problems, including cards dying outright, cards failing to write images or other in-camera errors. It was not possible to determine which way the remaining 6% of respondents leaned.

The photographers not experiencing problems don't appear to have a lot in common. Some are news shooters, others work exclusively in the studio. Several have shot in excess of 10,000 frames, others much less than that. The only bit of commonality I spotted was that 12 shooters used Kodak cameras, though the bulk of respondents overall either shot with the Nikon D1 or oversaw a staff of primarily D1 shooters. Among those indicating few if any microdrive problems were 8 who identified themselves as microdrive dealers.

Among those bitten by their microdrive, trends are easier to spot:

  • The microdrive sends a clear signal when it's deceased. It makes a distinctive click-click-click sound as it tries to spin to life, and refuses to be recognized by camera or computer. An unlucky 13 respondents cited this happening to one or more microdrives. This is the sound my dead 340MB microdrive makes as well.

  • Images not being written reliably to the card, with the camera sometimes locking up simultaneously, was cited by 11 respondents. Several of those indicated that they didn't experience similar problems with Sandisk or Lexar Media Flash RAM cards.

  • Another 14 users indicated that their card or cards would present a blinking "FOR" or "CHA" error message during Nikon D1 shooting. The "CHA" message in particular suggests a serious miscommunication occurred between the camera and the microdrive.

Humidity was cited as a possible reason for drives stopping altogether. Though there's no way of knowing for sure if humidity is a factor, it fits with the demise of my microdrive, which ceased operation shortly after extended shooting of my son splashing about in a humid bathroom. Also put forward was the idea that microdrives manufactured in Thailand were more prone to failure than those manufactured in Japan.


It's hard to know what to conclude when about half of those that responded noted minor to major IBM microdrive problems, while the other half indicated that it had been smooth sailing all the way, or nearly so. One thing, however, is clear from the results: some shooters have experienced serious problems with the first generation of IBM microdrives. Are they failing at the same catastrophic rate Type III PC Card hard drives did a couple of years back? Definitely not. In fact, to even make that comparison is probably unfair to IBM's miniature hard drive. Given that some shooters have had microdrives behave erratically or fail altogether, however, it's important for the rest of us to tread softly with them. Careful handling and regular formatting can ward off a host of glitches.

If you're considering purchasing the current microdrive, note that many photographers are using them without incident too. But if you want to go with the most trouble-free type of card available, a Flash RAM card will always be the better, albeit more expensive, choice.

See for yourself what shooters are saying about the IBM microdrive. Below you'll find about 45 messages, or 1/3 of the total submitted for inclusion in this report. This sampling I hope will give you a good sense of how I arrived at the conclusions above, without burying your browser in all 132 emails.

Summary of responses

Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 12:51:46 EDT
From: RonB
Subject: D1/Microdrive

Hi Rob, I would first like to say thanks for your time with your site, great pro-oriented info.

I have had my D1 for just over a month now along with the only card I purchased with it, the Microdrive. The first time I used the combo, taking 20-30 pics with it, then downloading, went fine. I formatted the card apon putting it back in the D1 and everything was fine again, only I didn't remove the card I just turned the D1 off when I finished. When I attempted to use it the next time, I was prompted to "format" the card. Well, being here at the studio it wasn't much problem, so I Dl'ed the card via Microtech's CameraMate to my iMac and formatted it. Recently I have been taking it with me to some kids ball games for action shots, between the "memory-mate" work I shoot. I format before I take the first pic and ALWAYS end up having to put the D1/Microdrive back in the case because after 3-4, 7-8 pics I'm again prompted to reformat! I can turn the D1 off and back on and I can get a few more pics (sometime), then its format again. I wonder if this on/off/on/off without downloading the card could be causing problems? Anyway, theres "NO WAY" I can intergrate this combo into my workflow right now, its just not reliable enough for me to feel secure using it on paying jobs. I have ordered a Lexar 160mb 10x ( which Nikon has recently "passed" ) that should be here tomorrow. What my ideal "set-up" would be are 2 reliable cards and the "Digital Wallet" from ( if it ever becomes available. Was end of April, now is June ... ). Hopefully I can get the darn thing to start paying its way soon ... the D1/Microdrive combo, in my experience, makes a hellva paper-weight !!

Thanks again RonB

Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 09:49:45
From: Robert Hanashiro
Subject: Hey Now! IBM.

Rob ... personally (I can't vouch for the other 6 shooters on the USA TODAY staff) I haven't had any problems with the MicroDrives since we started phasing them into service late last year.

I have 15 of the 340 meg drives and haven't lost an image ....yet (knock on wood, fingers crossed, salt tossed over the shoulder, etc.).

I regularly format my drives before using them (I run a quick format rather than delete or erase all of the images) and I run a full format about every 4 or 5 weeks. The last full format I ran on my drives, none reported any bad sectors.

Once in a great while I've had a Microdrive not recognized by the laptop or DCS520. But after ejecting and reinserting, everything was fine.

Now one thing to remember is that Nikon expressly does not support IBM MicroDrives in the D1. As a matter of fact, they go out of their way to say that their tests on the drives does not meet their standards for reliability ... and they also say there is a heat issue when used in the D1.

I met a couple of engineers from IBM that were involved in the MicroDrive development (one from the U.S. another from Japan) and I have written them about the MicroDrives troubles and asked about its future.

I love my MicroDrives, but if I were a D1 user, I would follow Nikon's directive and stay away from them. I don't know what the difference between use in a DCS520 and D1 would cause so many failures. But maybe I'm just a little bit more careful in handling them.

Seeing photographers at events all over the county during the course of my travels, I will say this: a lot of them aren't as careful with them as they probably should be. Transporting them from the field to the editing area ... or even storing them in a camera bag ... I see most cards (IBM, pcmcia and flash) not in their protective cases. I also see cards tossed about like we used to do with film "in the old days".

However with that said, I do not doubt that there is some reliability issues involved with the MicroDrives. But maybe the way we care for them adds to these troubles.

If I hear anything back from my contacts at IBM, I'll let you know.

I had countless number of Vipers over the years and didn't have too many problems with them either ... I didn't abuse them, always stored and shipped them in the padded pouches and reformatted them regularly.

Date: Sun, 28 May 2000 21:51:49
From: Len Wood
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hi Rob- We have used three Microdrives since last November with our D1s and have had great success with them. One just started acting up last week though. The photographer who uses it formats it daily (with the 2 button camera method). Lately, the drive hangs on reading picture 165. Two different times, writing images after 165 appeared to be working, but didn't record anything. Microtech suggested a battery problem, but the level seemed okay. I'm sending this Microdrive back for service.
Len Wood Santa Barbara News-Press

Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 12:56:37
From: Richard Mandelkorn
Subject: IBM microdrive

I'm using a microdrive with a D1. I've had it only about a month and have given it light use so far (still learning the D1) - maybe a dozen downloads to my PB G3/250. Total shots taken about 2000. I'm a pro architectural photographer using it for details and quick shots I see that are not worth using the view camera for, as well as using it for stock. So far not even one problem. Formatted in the camera perfectly first time, effortless downloading to Powerbook through PCMCIA slot. Will update if I have any problems.


Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 08:45:47
From: Marcel
Subject: IBM microdrive

Had my Microdrive for six months and 4,000 images and still working fine.

Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 23:57:47
From: Alan Youngblood
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, As I have mentioned on the D1 discussion list a couple of times, we have for the most part abandoned the Microdrive.

We started getting D1's in late December. During December and January we were transitioning to digital as our stuff straggled in. My original plan was to go with all microdrives. However, During that one month period we had two microdrives go belly up.

Fortunately, I had many MD's still in the packaging so I sent them back and traded them for Sandisk 128 meg cards. The two that went down, I had no choice but to keep of course. When they returned, I gave one to my guy with a D2000 and put the other one in a pool camera. The microdrive has worked fine in the D2000.

The reason I bailed on the Microdrive was because they failed during a time of light usage and cool Florida weather. My thought was that if these things were failing in this situation, a hot humid summer day in full daily use was disaster waiting to happen.

I didn't feel to bad going to the smaller capacity card either because we shoot in Fine JPEG mode all the time and editing 233 images at a time was getting to be time consuming. The staff hasn't complained either.
They like being able to get the images off their cards.

Alan Youngblood Photo Editor Star-Banner Ocala, FL

Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 19:19:03
From: Robert Dickson
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob Working for Leeds Photovisual in Glasgow, Scotland, a photographic dealer, I have sold many D1's into the snapper market, both to freelancers and newspapers, but I have almost refused to sell microdrives to go with them.

I have encountered too many problems in the past with Calluna's. It's my personal opinion, that anything with a revolving disk is just not suitable for the press market. The Lexar brand almost sells itself, o.k, you pay a premium price, but I have only ever had 1 back, and all that was wrong, was the fact that the card had lost it's format, which I easily remedied.

Many Thanks Robert Dickson

Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 10:22:00
From: Olivier Jol Pimont
Subject: IBM microdrive

Dear Rob as a dealer we faced a high demand for IBM microdrives early this year as we sold our first D1s. We were reluctant at first, but our customers mentionned good reviews. We sold around 30 pieces, mainly to news and fashion photographers. Several of our customers bought card while in the U.S. and Asia. So far no card resisted more than 3 weeks. Failure came earlier for photographers shooting long bursts of images (ie sports, fashion shows). We also have heard of breakdowns caused by high temperatures ( over 30 &Mac176; centigrade). We can't know for sure about the actual temperature since the D1 doesn't have the nice Kodak feature indicating the temperature inside the camera body. Performance also seemed to lower while shooting in cold weather (under - 3&Mac176; centigrade).

I'll let you know of further developpement on that matter.

Best regards Olivier Jol Pimont

Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 08:40:47
From: David L. Morel
Subject: IBM microdrive

I am an individual that shoots kodak and my microdrive has not had any problems since last august when i purchased it...i use a kodak 330 with over 5000 shots since then...

could the problem be with the d1?

david l. morel

Date: Tue, 09 May 2000 12:09:34
From: Nicholas R. Von Staden
Subject: IBM microdrive

I (nicholas R. Von Staden at the sun Sentinel newspaper so fla. ) have 4 microdrive 340's one failed as new ....never worked.. (I had these for 5 months now) I 've had to send two others back...both replaced; another photographer had one erratic sent it in.......was sent back reformatted and said no other problem....a few other photgs said theirs are getting warmer than usual.

Date: Tue, 9 May 2000 09:04:17
From: Tom Wagner
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hi Rob, I had one 1 month Microdrive before I got the D1. But it failed after not even 2 weeks use. As I needed something fast to replace it I bought a Sandisk 96mb card to replace it. But I had bad luck and the Nikon certified card didn't let me write more then half of it.

Now I thought it was the camera. But it was the microdrive and a broken Sandisk, as the sandisk I got as replacement works flawlessly now for 2 month and another noname 128 card works also like it should. When I buy a new card now, I fill it up once in the shop with nef files, to be sure that it can be written in full. As I lost the bill for the Microdrive, I can't even get it replaced or repaired. But even if I could, I wouldn't put it anymore in the D1, as I think its to high a risk, that images could be lost.

Salut Tom Wagner

Date: Mon, 8 May 2000 16:19:31
From: william lauer
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, Your website is great. Without it I would be out of the digital loop.

My newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star, purchased two D-1s with four IBM Micordrives the end of February. One of my drives crapped-out after one week. Believe me, I didn't do a thing to it. The problem started when my laptop (Windows) could not even see the drive. Oddly, the camera not only saw the drive but all the images on it. After trying several computers, including Macs which also didn't see the drive, formatting the drive in the camera, shooting new images etc., trying to eliminate possibilities, the camera would not see the drive either. It was under warranty and replaced. Up to now that is the only problem we've had. I wonder if my problem was the odd fluke that happens very rarely since my drive was so new. But after such an experience I encourage the philosophy of more disks with less space.

Keep up the good work.

William Lauer

Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 10:18:37
From: Bill Heybruck
Subject: IBM microdrive

For the past 9 mos I've used one in a Canon S10. After the code upgrade I've had NO problems.

I have dropped it a few times so I count myself lucky. The picture count is great and I never have to worry about running out of "film" !! I've taken it camping on a backpacking trip too. I probably have run 1000 pics or so thru it.

Bill Heybruck, Charlotte

Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 15:24:32
From: Bo Rader
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, In response to your request for feedback on the microdrives.

I have about 30 plus cards in the field right now between 11 photogs.

2 are in my desk drawer from failure.

1 card just quit. The other is just goofy.

For the most part 90% of my shooters have had no problems. The rest have had problems have been with the card not recording. Or not recording beyond a certain point. example: one photographer has a card that hangs up at about 90 images everytime he uses it. The Camera gets shoots a burst then takes forever to write. The Images written from that point are lost.

example: another photog has shot several things that just didn't show up, she fired the camera, thought all was well, but the camera just seem to record for ever. No images.

we clean our cards after every download, and reformat everyday, sometimes more than once.

There have also been some problems finding images when downloading on a Mac. I'm thinking that some of our problems are caused by the various browser programs and working with a couple different programs on the same disk.

bo rader director of photography the Wichita Eagle

Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 16:18:16
From: Bob Pearson
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hi Rob: We have six of the IBM 170 Microdrives here at AFP. Of those six, four have worked flawlessly for the past year. One drive has needed reformating on a desktop PC to get rid of persistant hangups in the camera. The D1 would occasionally freeze up and the format indicator would light up on the LCD window.....right in the middle of a shoot.

The photographer would have to shut down the camera and eject the disk before the camera formatted the disk. While this only happened occasionally, once was too much. Reformating seemed to help some, but rather than take a chance, I have put this disk in our back-up pile and it doesn't get much use.

A couple of our stringers had the same problem with IBM drives. They have since switched to SanDisks and have had no further problems.

The sixth of our IBM 170's crapped out during the Elian Gonzalez coverage in Miami. It is unrecognizable in either Mac or PC and is on its way back to Microtech for repair....sounds like the same problem you are having. We are now buying Lexar 160's and SanDisk 128's rather than the IBM's.

Bob Pearson AFP Photos

Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 14:15:37
From: Todd Buchanan
Subject: IBM microdrive

Funny you mention it. I just had one 340M micro-drive go down. It was one of three that I own. Got RMA from Microtech. May have to start going back to the old Vipers...

Specs: Used with DCS520 for about 8 months Did not loose any images (fortunately) Using Macs to edit (but could not get Mac's or PC's to mount the drive, drive was spinning up, but no utilities could recognize or format the drive...When inserted in a DCS520, it would call it a "defective disk").

best -- Todd Buchanan in Chicago Corporate & Editorial Photojournalism

Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 10:28:30
From: Rick Stankoven
Subject: IBM microdrive

Sure, you want feedback on the Microdrive... I'll give you feedback! My experiences with the Microdrive have been the most aggravating problem I've fasted in my 25-year photographic career! Using THREE different cards, tested on a couple different cameras, the biggest problem is that in the middle of a shoot, it will stop working. I look at the display and it states that I need to reformat the card.
Usually, but not always, I can pop the card out of the camera and back in and it might remount. Sometimes it takes a little more effort. Its as if the card had gone to sleep and needs to be rewoken.

It was not a great feeling while shooting a SuperBowl playoff game in St. Louis. On two occasions during the game, I saw the play unfolding before me and when I pressed on the trigger, absolutely nothing happened! The display asked me to reformat.

I have had occasions where the card works for a couple days with out problems but then suddenly, it will repeat the same behavior. Last Saturday on a shoot, it stopped working on SIX occassions... but it was not a breaking news or sports event so I was able to causally pop the card out and back in again. The subject was not aware.

I have written IBM but was referred to Microtech...

In talking to other photographers in the St. Louis area, we have come to the conclusion that it is with cards manufactured in Thailand. The photographers using cards made in Japan are NOT having these kinds of problems.

The card, to date, has NOT lost any images, however.

-- Rick Stankoven

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 12:47:23
From: Bill Pekala
Subject: Microdrives

Rob-of the twelve that I bought we have had 3 of them go down and no amount of formatting or diagnostic will bring them back. Since the major reason that we didn't certify them was the humidity factor and Tony is in Central Fl - I wonder if this is just the start of a major crash on the way.


Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 12:22:38
From: scott dalzell
Subject: IBM microdrive

We've had two microdrives running for about 6 plus months. Been using them in the Canon D2000. Absolutely no problems, especially in comparison with the bulk of 260mb Calluna Type 3 cards we are using. I'm more hoping those cards drop out so I can replace them with microdrives.

We tend to have back block problems with the Calluna cards. But now I'm not so sure with the reported problems the microdrives are having.

Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 09:34:36
From: Joerg Hagitte
Subject: IBM microdrive

rob, we are a distributer and reseller for prof. digitalcameras.
we sell products like dcs, d1 ....
Up to now, we have approx. 350 microdrive in the market.
only 3 of them were broken. this is a very good rate! so, we are very happy with the microdrive.

-- proBIS Professionelle Bildsysteme Vertriebs GmbH
Joerg Hagitte

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 22:57:40
From: Ron Reznick
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hi Rob, I have two Microdrives one of which has recorded about 6000 images. The other is at about 2000. No failures, no problems other than an occasional need to reseat the drive before it is recognized.

-- Ron Reznick RR Design; RR Audio Laboratory

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 15:40:33
From: Dave Keiser
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, We have five 340mb IBM microdrives (since February) that we use on wedding shoots with the DCS 520. So far, they've been stellar. They're much less finicky than our Calluna cards, but seem to be as reliable as our Lexar 320mb card.

Over the past 18 months of shooting near 50,000 digital wedding images, I know of only 3 images which I had trouble getting off the card, and thereby lost. Those three were on a Calluna Card (Kingston brand).

But so far, the microdrives have been great.

Thanks Dave Keiser
Keiser Photography

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 14:21:28
From: Bob Warner
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, First, I love your web site. Keep up the good (no GREAT) work.
While covering the Kentucky Derby yesterday A friend of mine was shooting a D1 using a microdrive. He works for a wire service and was assigned to the finish line. After the race he was cussing and fussing and when I asked what the problem was he said his microdrive locked up on the sixth frame as the were nearing the finish line. He also said another photographer had the same problem. It occured when they were both shooting sequences. Myself, I have been using the 128 meg SanDisk and so far have not had a problem. Thought I would pass this on to you.
Happy shooting, Bob Warner/ The Ledger-Independent, Maysville, KY.

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 11:50:33
From: S.Stefan Jonsson
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hi Rob, I'm a photographer in Iceland who has used the Nikon D1 since last December. I've been using a IBM microdrive for several months but recently I've relying more on the CompactFlash cards.

At first the Microdrive worked just fine. Then the camera took a bad knock when it was dropped onto the sidewalk. The camera survived the fall with only some scratches to the bottom but it seems that the drive in the camera suffered some damage. It still works but now it seems to take forever to write images to the disk. Reformatting has not helped.

The CompactFlash cards are now much faster.

Hope this helps.

Best regards, S.Stefan Jonsson

Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 15:58:29
From: Uwe Steinmuller
Subject: IBM Microdrive

Hello Rob, I have three IBM Microdrives. One had a bad sector (click, click) and one photo was lost. The sector was repaired in NT4.0. But for my safty I got an exchange from who were very supportive.

I always format the drive in the D1.


Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 11:00:24
From: Richard C. Lewis
Subject: IBM microdrive

I am the team photographer for the Florida Panthers NHL team, and I shoot other sports in South Florida. I have used two D-1's with four microdrives since the last week of December without problem, except for one camera creating new folders during shooting, without the apparent loss of any images. Several days ago I purchased two additional microdrives because I will be shooting in Israel for two weeks, with my flight leaving Monday. I used the two new drives at a baseball game last night, and had problems with both of them. I would try to shoot a picture and nothing would happen. I would look at the display, which would say "for", indicating that the drive was not formated. After about 60 seconds, the "for" would go away and the camera would continue where it left off. I do not think that I lost any images that I actually shot, and sucessfully downloaded them into my Sony notebook through its pc slot.
After downloading the images from both cards, I put them back into the D-1's and formated them. When I tried to use one of them, before I shot a single frame it had the "for" message again. I packed it up and will return it tomorrow. The second new microdrive now seems to be operating normally, I filled it with images without once getting the "for" message. I am undecided whether to exchange the defective microdrive for another or purchase a 128 Microtech card, the only other one available to me before I board my flight.

I believe that many of the microdrive problems can be traced to:

1. use in the pc slot of Apple computers, which seems to corrupt the format of the microdrive.
2. requiring more current than some USB card readers can supply.
3. other defective hardware.

I enjoy your web site and I have read most of your book which I purchased before buying the cameras.

Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 06:32:54
From: Roger Stermann
Subject: IBM microdrive

No problems with 2 IBM Microdrives that I have. Now, no one has posted how many images have been shot with the failing microdrives. That would be relevant I think. I've had my microdrives for about 3 months and they have each maybe put on about 10,000 images in Fine mode. They have both been dropped from table height to the floor without a problem. They have frozen on certain images a total of 3 times where we have to just delete the image to get them going again.

I tried to use the sandisk option to use to swap while the one microdrive was being downloaded for a hockey tournament but the 48 and 64 mb cards are too small so I simply waited for the microdrive to download and kept using it. I don't like the prices for the sandisk 128 mb card.

One thing about the microdrive and D1 I am anxious about is working with them in the humid summer months. In Winter there were no problems really with either the D1 nor the microdrive. I just hope I haven't jinxed myself now!

Cheers, Roger Stermann
Spectrum Digital Imaging Services, Hamilton

Date: Sat, 06 May 2000 18:17:54
From: Robert Deutsch
Subject: IBM microdrive

usa today: we have 15 microdrives for each of our 6 shooters. We've been using them for 7 months or so, I think, and we have not had one failure yet that I know of...

Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 10:57:32
From: Martin J. Wood
Subject: IBM microdrive

Hello Rob, I haven't had the pleasure in a while, I need to talk to you more.

I saw your stuff on the Microdrive. While we are still ramping up on sales for it, we have shipped a significant number, (hundreds, not thousands yet). I quizzed customer service this morning, and they have had less than 10 calls total about MicoDrive, and all were about formatting issues. All were quickly solved with no returns or defectives involved.

We were made aware of some minor problems in a few units by IBM. We understand it is very few, and the problem is fixed. You can rely on the size of IBM to make any issue with that product, and any other product of theirs right, period.

Martin J. Wood
Delkin Devices, Inc.

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 23:52:04
From: Dean Hoffmeyer
Subject: IBM microdrive

Rob, As I mentioned in Williamsburg, I've been using a D1 since November (Ser.# 5001465) with 2 microdrives without many problems. The banging sound you're hearing is me knocking on wood...

Just for background, I shoot about 250 frames every day, and I'll format (low level) whenever I fill up a disk and about every 45 days. I keep the drives stored in camera, or in IBM snap container. We use Windows machines in Richmond, so the drives have never talked to a Mac.

So far, so good.

I've had 3 occasions where a corrupt jpeg file locked up the camera LCD preview, the browser, etc. I have to pull the disk, delete the file through Windows, then everything runs great. Other photographers at our paper using D1's have experienced slow spinups with some microdrives, resulting in missed photos, followed by cursing.

I got really jazzed when I saw your custom function mini cheat sheet for the D1. It looks similar to mine- GOOD POST!

Dean Hoffmeyer
Richmond, Va.

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 21:27:32
From: Kevin Sprague
Subject: IBM microdrive

rob I've shot about 7000 frames since december on my microdrive, without any problems EXCEPT the one time that I tried to do some selective deleting of images on the card. Normally, I shoot the card full or partially full, download the images to my laptop, and then using the play mode and the menu "delete" commands, I erase the card and keep shooting. The one time I tried to delete images selectively, the performance of the card diminished drastically, almost immediately, and I had some lost image and mounting problems that forced me to re-format the card. I've probably only reformatted the whole thing like 2-3 times since I bought it. I wonder if some of the problems that people are having with the cards are related to this, and if it is a fragmenting issue. I've experienced none of these problems on my 64 mb lexmark CF card.

Thanks for the great work.

Kevin Sprague

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 16:08:21
From: Hal Ferguson
Subject: IBM microdrive

I recently purchased a Casio QV3000EX with 340 MB microdrive, which traveled with me on vacation through various airports from West Coast US to East Coast and back. Upon return, when I select "play" on the camera to review shots with built-in display, the drive spins up, repeatedly makes a faint sound like a bomb falling (no kidding), and then the camera indicates "no format -- You must format the CF card for use in the camera" or some such. I've yet to try to access the drive via the PCMCIA interface.

Can you point me to an authoritative source on how to safe-guard a digital camera w/ microdrive while on travel? I've been told to use everything from aluminum foil to nickel impregnated ziplocs.

Regards, Hal Ferguson

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 12:02:12
From: Bill Welsh
Subject: IBM microdrive

I have used mine for over a 1000 shots in one month with a Canon S-20 with no problems. I trust it will continue.

Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 20:05:48
From: Roger Ames
Subject: IBM microdrive

So far, so good. I've been using the same Microdives since the beginning of the year with no problem. I am the only photographer on a small daily. We bought two 170mb IBM Microdrives when we purchased our D1. I rarely have to swap drives because one is full and can go all day on one drive. To down load I use a Micoteck(?) reader on my G3 and put the other Microdrive in the camera in case I have to run before archiving the images I intend to keep. I rarely edit in the camera unless I start to run out of disc space. I've never had a need to reformat the drives and so far I haven't lost any images due to equipment failure. Early on I did once delete the images from a nearly full disk before archiving a day's worth of work. If you know of a way to un-delete a permanent delete please tell me. I did try to run a Norton utility on a Microdrive with no success. It was late at night or very early in the morning I don't remember.

Roger Ames The Sheridan Press

Date: Sat, 06 May 2000 18:08:57
From: Tim Parker
Subject: IBM microdrive Japan/Thailand

Rob, I have two MBM Microdrives both made in Japan several other shooters here in St. Louis have Japan and Thailand made drives. Only the Thailand made drives are casing problems. IBM seem to be aware of this. As soon as they here a problem drive is made in Thailand they offer to replace.

Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 11:46:41 EDT
Subject: IBM%20microdrive

Rob, I am on staff at the Boca Raton News in Boca Raton Florida, We have three photographers on staff and use 3 D1s and 6 Microdrives. I just recently sent a Microdrive back because it failed after only about a week of use. The drive could not be recognized by the camera or our laptops it kept wanting to be formatted. Even after you formatted it still would not work.

Todd Reeves Boca Raton News Staff Photographer

Date: Mon, 8 May 2000 09:40:08
From: Gerry Gemmel
Subject: Micro drive stats

Six months, Three (3) 340 Microdrives, 15,000+ shots, NEFs and "fine" JPEGs, no problems Always reformat drives after each use (88 - 350 ) shots. Always reformatted in the PCMCIA slot of a Sony VAIO PCG XG-19.

Gerry Gemmel
Dallas, Texas

Date: Mon, 8 May 2000 07:59:18
From: MK
Subject: Microdrive

We have 10 of the drives in use since November. One drive was shipped for repairs after we lost some images and it developed a noise. During my call to tech support, as soon as I mentioned the noise, the tech said "oh shit, that's a bad drive , send it in". Two weeks later we received a new drive.

One other instance-disc started formatting errors and became unreadable. We had to ship it for reformatting because we do not have a card reader or firewire on PC here, only on our Macs. The photog mentioned taking the camera through a security gate earlier that day.....


Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 11:43:29 GMT
From: Peter Ibbotson (via the D1 Discussion List)
Subject: Failed Microdrives Update

The UK distributors of the IBM microdrive have now agreed to replace my two failed drives. They say that they have had 6 failures out of 600 sold, so I must have been VERY unlucky to hit a 1% chance of failure twice running.

They are sending the dead drives back to IBM for full examination. Since they both went down immediately after downloading via a USB card reader, one possibility may be a power surge at the end of the download. Sounds unlikely to me, but they have asked to see my cardreader as well.

In the hope that I have my lifetime share of 1% failures, optimism has triumphed and I have accepted the replacements rather than the cash back!

Peter Ibbotson.

Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000 06:20:57
From: Peter Ibbotson
Subject: Submission for Rob's DigiNews

Great new site design! You asked for views on the microdrives....

I got a 340Mb microdrive with my D1 in November 99. It went all over South Easy Asia with me in december 99, very rough conditions, and one bad fall. No problems. Then in February, during a routine download it failed completely and wouldn't format. I was using a Swift Cardport USB cardreader.

I got a second card, which failed in the reader, on my desk, after just six days use. It had been handled like a Ming vase. In both cases the data had been successfully transferred, but the microdrive couldn't be accessed or reformatted.

Both drives were replaced by IBM without quibble. The UK distributor is also the distributor for the Cardport, which they also replaced, in case the fault was there. They speculated about a 'power surge'. Sounds unlikely to me.

Since then I have taken huge care with downloading from the replacement kit, and always leave the card in the reader for ten minutes or so before clearing the data or moving it back to the camera.

Despite all this I am very much in thre market for the 1Gb version. It will be a godsend shooting nef files: the 340Mb gives 'only' 88 or so frames: with 1Gb it will be like shooting jpgs!

Peter Ibbotson (Oxford, UK)

Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 15:06:40
From: Todd Moore
Subject: microdrives

Hi Rob. Long time no see. Hope all is going well.

Here's some Microdrive feedback. At the end of this note is a post I made a couple days ago to the D1 list, and I know I should have never "bragged" about those cards because today, I kid you not, two photographers brought in three discs that had problems. One disc had incomplete photos--one that had a thumbnail but was a third missing (I got it open in GraphicConverter), and two that had jpeg icons but I couldn't see anything. A second disc burped during a DiskMinder download, then in two separate card readers (Adtron and Minolta CD-10) I got "this disc is unreadable.." errors on the mac. I didn't reformat, but instead took the disc out and shook it and listened for noise, and compared it to a couple of other "good" discs. All sounded about the same, but the broken one sounded looser, if that makes sense. But here's the rub: after shaking it I put it in the card reader and it was fine. I should also mention that this second disc showed images in the camera (according to the shooter), but after burping in DiskMinder the camera also could not read or reformat it.

Only after shaking it did it come back to life.

We've been using all these cards since January with only one problem and we replaced that drive. Now, perhaps coincidentally, the humidity has increased during late spring and now we've got a handful of "almost" failures. The humidity and increased air tempterature is about the only variable I can come up with.

D. Todd Hi all.

Here in Indy we have 25 Microdrives, 24 Lexar 160mb 8X cards, and 24 Lexar 160mb 10X cards for 24 D1 cameras. The reason we have three types of cards is the Microdrives were the only high-capacity card we could find when we got the cameras last January. Then the Lexar 8X's were available (even though I'd ordered 10X's), so I took half my shipment in 8X. Then the rest came as 10X.

Of all these cards, I've had to swap out only one Microdrive because it lost images and then could not be re-formatted. But that was during the first week. We've had no trouble with any of the other 75 cards, although a photog brought a Microdrive in last week and said she was having trouble with it. After some prodding she admitted to "dropping it on soft carpet from about waist high." Interpret that as you wish, but after re-formatting the card seems to be OK.

Anyway, we've had excellent luck with these different types of cards. Now if we could just get the TTL to work every time....

D. Todd Moore Photo Operations Manager Indianapolis Star

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