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Most media cards come from the factory already formatted, but it's a really good idea to format a new card with your specific camera. You'll use your camera's Format command any time that you want to erase the card. So, after you've pulled your images into your computer, you'll need to put the card back into your camera, and format it. It's very important that you choose Format to do this, rather than using the camera's Erase All function. Repeated use of Erase All can leave your card unreliable, and result in you being unable to get the images off your card.
Now, you can usually use special file recovery software to get to unreadable images, but it's a lot better to just avoid the problem in the first place. If a card does get messed up, then formatting it should put it back to normal. Since Format is a command that you're going to use very regularly, it's good learn exactly where it is. Format is located over here in the setup category, so I am going to use the Q button to get over there, and it's right here on the first page, there at the bottom: Format card. Scroll down. Hit Set. Now, the 5D Mark III can hold two different cards; it's got a CompactFlash, and an SD slot.
I have cards in both slots right now, so I can select either one of these. If I only had a card in one slot or the other, the missing slot would be grayed out, and so I wouldn't have a choice here. So, I am going to start with the CompactFlash card; I am just going to select that, and hit the Set button. It tells me how big the card is, how much is used right now, and asks me to confirm, so I am going to say OK. And this goes pretty quickly, because when it's formatting, all it's doing is wiping out the directory information on the card; it's not actually wiping out any of the data. That means that if you were to give the card to someone else, or sell the card, or something like that, it is possible for them to recover images from that card, so you want to be careful about that when you're giving a card away.
The good news is, that means if you accidentally erase a card, it is possible for you to recover lost images also, sometimes. That's not a guarantee, so you want to be careful with this command. Note that when I go over to the SD card, I get an additional option, Low level format, which I can activate by hitting the little trashcan button here, and that puts a checkmark right there. That actually does go through and wipe out every sector on the card, so it's a really thorough formatting. It takes longer, so you don't want to leave that on unless you have to.
This card is empty, so I'm not going to bother reformatting it right now. You want to reformat any time you need to erase all the images on the card; it's a much more reliable way of erasing images. You also want to do it if you've got a new card. It's best to use a card that's been formatted by the camera you're shooting with, so any time you get a new card, stick it in the camera, and format it right away. You might also sometimes get an error on your card, and that'll show up on the upper LCD display. If that happens, the first thing you should do is try formatting the card. It may be that you simply have a bad card; it could be that the formatting has simply gone wrong.
So very often, formatting will fix a card that you might be having trouble with. Formatting is an option you're going to use a lot. Later in the course, we're going to show you how to put it into a special custom menu,s so that you can have quick and easy access to it.
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