Points in Focus Photography

Intermittent Non-UDMA CF card write failures with the 5D mark 3?


I’ve been seeing an intermittent but reoccurring issue over the past couple of days with my 5D mark 3 and 8GB SandDisk Extreme III 30MB/s flash cards. I will, on occasion, get an ERR 2 that the camera can not write to the card. Removing and re-seating the card will fix the problem for the duration of the time the card is in the camera.

Now before people start with the Canon fail drama on this, these are old, fairly well used (but not excessively), non-UDMA cards, and that I don’t see the issue in any consistent way. Nor do I seem to have an issue when using my Lexar 16GB 300x UDMA cards, though I’ve not used them enough to be really sure.

Also the issue seems to be both intermittent and dependent on how much writing the cards are doing. I can blow though the entire card several times over, then all of a sudden at the end of an extended high FPS shoot or while recording a video segment, it throws an ERR 2. I can’t do anything on the camera with respect to shooting or what not that prompts the issue. The only thing I’ve noticed is that after heavy use the CF cards are warmer than they’ve ever been for me—I think this is expected due to operating at near maximum write speed—but at the same time it may be contributory to what I’m seeing.

As it stands I’m leaning towards this being a localized card issue but I thought I’d throw this up and see if anybody else was seeing something similar.

If you’re seeing an ERR 2 or a card write failure and have a Canon 5D Mark 3, if you wouldn’t mind please drop a comment in the comments section with the type of card you’re using, what you were doing (i.e. continuous bursting, recording video, etc.), whether the card is UDMA or not, and approximately how well used it is?

Update 2012-10-23: Just an update to this. I have since tested 3 different Lexar Pro 400x UDMA cards (all 32GB) in my 5D-3 and have yet to see a problem with any of them. So far it seems like the mid-range UDMA Lexar cards work reliably in my 5D3, I couldn’t justify 1000x cards to see if I got issues similar to what Greg reported in the comments.


Greg Lawler

I shot over 500 photos on my new 5D mark 3 this weekend and found that 60% did not write correctly to the Lexar UDMA 7 1000x CF card.

My photos had varying file sizes in Canon raw of 1.1 MB(unreadable) to 40 MB (opens fine). No file smaller than 27 MB can be opened. 60% are unreadable.

I will continue to perform tests to see if the problem can be isolated to a bad CF card or other issue.


I’ve experienced this problem twice with my 5D Mark III. Both times it happened to my SanDisk Extreme CF card (32 gig, 60 mb/s). The first time I had an “Err 2” message appear and lost all the pictures I had shot on the card. Following that I was able to format the card and things were fine for awhile. The error message came back again though and files were lost again (all in the same day). I wasn’t doing any heavy shooting and no continuous.

I took the card to the camera store to return it and I couldn’t get it to fail again, it was working fine. Regardless the store replaced the card with another new one (the first was only a few months old and never had any issues in my Canon 7D). Just tonight I took out my 5D III and took 4 shots of my dog… the “Err 2” message came up again but my files are still playing back on the camera. I haven’t tried to upload to the computer yet.

I find that the problem is with the CF card slot. The SD has never failed (again a Sansdisk 16 gig 30 mb/s card).

I’m very concerned about this and am ready to take the camera back to get it looked at.

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