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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 will use your camera's Format command anytime that you want to erase the card. So after you've held your images into your computer, you will 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 are going to use very regularly, it's good to learn exactly where it is. The Format command is located in your menu system. It's here in the Setup menu. It's a little wrench. It's the thing called Format memory card. If I go in here, you see I have two options, because the D800 has two media slots. It's got a CompactFlash, or CF slot, and it's got a Secure Digital, or SD slot.
SD is currently grayed out because I don't have an SD card in the camera. So this says if I simply hit OK I will format the CompactFlash card, but it first asks me to confirm, so I am going to scroll up here and hit OK. Now, notice the center button here doesn't do anything. This is one case where this does not double for the OK button. I have to actually hit the OK button, which is just to keep me from accidentally doing it. It's very easy while you are using the multicontroller to hit the Center button. So I am going to say OK and it goes through with formatting.
Now, there is another way to format my card without even going into the menus. If you notice the Trash button has a Format icon above it, as does the Mode button. If I press and hold both of those down for two seconds, the camera goes through its formatting operation, which you can see right there. So that's a very quick way of getting to Format. Remember, when it comes time to erase the entire contents of your card after, you've dumped it to your computer, it's critical to use the Format command. You do not want to use the Delete command that's in the Playback menu.
That's going to make your card much less reliable.
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