The Sony FX6 offers two different ways to format the the SD cards and CFExpress cards. These are Quick Format and Full Format.
What’s the difference and which should I use?
Full Format erases everything on the card and returns the card to a completely empty state. All footage is removed/deleted from the card and it cannot therefore be recovered later should you perform a Full Format by mistake. Because Full Format returns the card to a completely empty state removing any junk or other clutter it also ensures that the cards performance is maximised. Full Format should be used whenever possible as it ensures maximum performance. However once a card has been Fully Formatted you cannot ever recover lost files from it.
Quick Format erases the cards database about what files are on the card. Quick Format is faster than Full Format, but it does not actually remove your video files. When you then start a new recording on the card the new recording will use any empty space on the card if there is any. If there is no empty space then the new file will overwrite any existing files on the card. This does mean that in some cases if you have accidentally done a quick format you may be able to use data recovery software to rescue any files that have not already been overwritten. But file recovery is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon. As quick format does not clear all data from the card, over time the performance of the card may be degraded, so a Full Format should be performed periodically to ensure the best card performance.
It’s also worth noting that if you want to load LUT’s into the FX6, the card should be formatted in Slot B so that the correct file structure including the LUT folder is added to the card. Once any LUT’s are placed in the LUT folder the card must be placed back in slot B to so you can load the LUTs into the camera. You cannot load LUTs via slot A.
For more FX6 posts and information click here: http://www.xdcam-user.com/camera-setup/ilme-fx6-sony-fx6/
Following a series of recent discussions about whether or not it was possible to recover files from XQD cards that have been formatted by mistake I have obtained some clarification from Sony of what can or can’t be done.
This information is specifically for XQD cards and the PXW-FS7 but probably applies to most Sony cameras and also SxS media. I’m not sure about SD cards.
The bottom line is that if you format the card in the camera you will not be able to recover any previously shot material. An in-camera format completely erases everything on the card. This is done to ensure that material shot on the cards cannot be recovered by another production company in the case of card or camera rentals. So there is no point in attempting any form of data recovery on a card formatted in the camera as there is nothing recoverable left on the card.
Formatted by a computer:
When you format a card with a computer it is possible that the material will still be on the card. However different operating systems handle the formatting of the cards differently, so there is no guarantee that the data will be recoverable and often it won’t be recoverable. For very important material it may be worth attempting to recover the card. Sony may be able to assist with this in some cases.
Clips deleted from a card can typically be recovered provided they have not be recorded over by a later recording. Again Sony may be able to assist with this.
Delete or Format?
Based on this new information from Sony I may be adjusting my workflow. My own workflow has always been to off-load material from a card. Then to do a parity check to compare the original files on the card and what is now on the hard drives. This checks not just the file size but also the general structure of the files so should pick up most problems with any copies. My last check is then to skim through the files with Catalyst Browse or my edit application to make sure the clips are there and playable. Only then do I format a card. In light of this new information I may use my computer to delete the clips from a card rather than format it. Of course this will only ever offer some benefit if the card is not recorded on again causing the previous files to be over written, but it might add an extra chance of data recovery should the backups get lost or some other disaster occur. From time to time I would format the cards in camera as this helps keep the cards in the best possible condition.