16GB SD Card Formats to 8GB in Camera

February 17, 2012

I have a Canon EOS 20D and recently I started using SDHC cards for storage in combination with an SD-CF adapter. Works great and SDHC cards are 1) pretty cheap compared to CF cards and 2) work with all the other devices I have that support SDHC, including my MacBook Pro. I got a pair of 16GB cards and it’s pretty hard to use them both up on long trips. I ended up using only a little over one card on my recent two week vacation where I shot about 2000 photos in RAW+JPEG mode.

Anyways, I was clearing out a card so I could put some new photos on it and I decided to use my camera’s format option rather than doing an erase all, thinking it would be faster. It might have been, but it formatted the card to an 8GB capacity – half of what it should be. Turns out that while my camera can handle 16GB cards, it can only format 8GB ones. Popping it back into my computer to format it didn’t help either, as it now only recognized 8GB as well. Some hunting around the Internet led me to this blog post, which suggested reformatting the card with this USB_Format utility, which worked like a charm and I have 16 GB available on that card again. Now I just have to remember not to format this card in my camera again…

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittney March 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I have tried this link and it keeps telling me that permission is denied and that I need administrators rights to run the tool. Help!

RoboGourmet March 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Right click on the application (usb_format.exe) and select “Run as administrator…”

Sam Crossley May 9, 2012 at 7:23 am

Hi – I recently tried this, i.e. SD card and SD>CF adapter but could not get the combination to work in either my EOS20D or my daughter’s Fuji – “CF Err” on the Canon and “Card not recognised” on the Fuji. Could you please advise make of the SD>CF adapter and anything you have to do other than put the SD card in the adapter and the adapter in the camera? Eg “Formatting”? I have bought and used loads of SD cards and never formatted anything! Many thanks Sam

RoboGourmet May 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

Sam – There’s a link to the SD-CF adapter that I purchased on Amazon at the beginning of the article. Be aware that it looks like the product has been updated since I purchased it two years ago, so it’s not exactly the one I have, but it will probably work. Also, be sure you are using an regular SD card or an SDHC card and that your SD-CF adapter supports SDHC if you’re using such a card (the one I link to does). I’ve been using a Transcend 16GB SDHD card (link).

I did not have to format the SD card initially – this article is about how I accidentally formatted the card with my 20D, which formats the card to 8GB, and how I was able to reformat to get back the full 16GB of storage.

Sam Crossley May 15, 2012 at 4:18 am

Thanks, that’s great I’ll give it a try … if I can find the bits in the UK!

paul bunn March 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I know this is an old article but I found it by randomly Googling and have a solution to using the in camera format! All you need do is protect one image on the card and it will prevent it from being full formatted allowing you to keep the full 16gb partition.

RoboGourmet March 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Paul – What camera and firmware are you using? I tried to replicate your suggestion of protecting an image and still got an empty 8GB partition after formatting. I’m running firmware 2.0.5.

nick March 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm

i’m having the same problem as brittney, but “run as administrator” is not an option when i right click. what can i do?

RoboGourmet March 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Nick – two suggestions:
1) Have you unzipped the file? The download is a .ZIP file which, when unzipped, should create an .EXE file.
2) Try right-clicking on the .EXE, select Properties, then the Compatibility tab. Check the box that says “Run this program as an administrator”. Then try running the program (double-click).

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