August 24, 2004 5:57 PM PDT

CompactFlash card takes licking, keeps ticking

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March 13, 2003
Don Frazier is glad he wasn't any closer to his camera when it shot a photo of a local bridge demolition.


Earlier this month, 50-year-old Frazier was assigned by the Southeast Missourian newspaper to take photos of the dismantling of a section of a highway bridge along the Mississippi River. He set up three digital cameras, about 240 feet away from the bridge, on the Missouri side of the river in Cape Girardeau, Mo. That was too close, as two of the cameras were damaged and a third was totally destroyed--but not before capturing images of the bridge's final moments.

The 256MB SanDisk CompactFlash card used in the camera survived the blast and stored the images until Frazier could later download them to his PC. The cards are solid-state media, which means that the circuits are made of solid materials and have no moving parts.

"After looking at the camera, I was amazed that the card worked," Frazier said. "The card was literally blown out of the camera and was sitting a foot away from what was left of the camera."

City officials and some of the demolition crew wanted onlookers at least 800 feet away, but Frazier's remote controls for the cameras only had a range of 600 feet.

He worked it out, signing several waivers and agreeing to stand behind some construction equipment so that he could be close enough to activate his cameras. He felt the blast.

"The pressure from the explosion had to go somewhere, so it followed the path of least resistance, which was on level with where my cameras were set up," Frazier said.

The pressure created from 600 pounds of dynamite exploding caused about $15,000 worth of damage to Frazier's gear.

Frazier was so impressed by the durability of the card that he notified SanDisk, and the company announced the survival of the card Tuesday. Frazier received a few CompactFlash cards and a USB flash drive from the company.


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This is why solid state devices are the best
I like my original 430MB Microdrive but nothing beats SS in reliability. I actually washed a Sony Memory Stick (FYI NEVER AGAIN WILL I USE THAT FORMAT.) that was washed and dried and still works.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
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Wash & wear memory
I had a similar experience. I accidentaly ran my 128MB Memorex USB Thumbdrive through the washer and the dryer. When I heard it rattling in the dryer and removed it, it was too hot to hold, and the built-in plastic loop on the cap had fatigued to the point it broke off in my hand. But everyting on the drive was available and it continues to be reliable. Eureka - in an era of "disposable-everything" - something that works BETTER than expected.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Just a few cards?
Kudos to SanDisk for rewarding Frazier with some media. But they could capitalize on the situation by offering Frazier some new camera equipment in exchange for his testimony in a national campaign regarding the durability of the solid-state media. I have a 2.2 Gb CF II drive that I use for controlled shoots, but when in doubt I use the CF solid-state cards.
Posted by DotComFactory (2 comments )
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This is news?
When an airplane crashes, many parts survive, but we don't write news stories about how great those parts are.

This seems to be a story about an inexperienced and reckelss photographer. Whether he was using film or solid-state storage should not have mattered one bit, because he should have been out of harms way, shooting with a camera that had better zoom capabilities.

All this guy proved, is that he was lucky.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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Somehow, this comment seems to miss the point.

If the photographer was "dumb" all the better. Ever hear of the term "idiot proof"?
Posted by bci9 (1 comment )
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CF cards ahead of readers
I have only one major and one minor problem with CF media and that is with the interface support. I have two readers, a PCMCIA adapter and a Lexar Jumpstart USB adapter. Minor: the PCMCIA adapter is instantly recognized with hot swaps between my laptop and desktop readers while the USB takes trickery and perseverance on any recognition even on Windows XP. Major: this will give you hives -I borrowed a Canon PowerShot from a friend. Removing the CF card seemed especially difficult so easing the card out with only two fingers (shipyard electrician's fingers) I discovered three pins were extracted along with the card. I am still researching insertion/extraction tools and camera repair runs from $300 to $500 dollars (some even higher!). And this not an isolated problem as my web searches revealed in major league cursing. ~StevenJ
Posted by hokuwho? (5 comments )
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