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12-16-2010, 04:23 AM   #1
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Problems by recovering deleted 14-bits RAWs from my K-5

Hi everyone,
Being quite stupid some days, I deleted about 200 RAW files (PEF) from a Panasonic SD card which I thought I had already copied over to my computer...
Not a big deal I thought, I'm used to recover lost RAW files using various software, and I didn't touch the SD card again after the deletion so it shouldn't be a problem.

But this time I'm not able to recover any file.

I tried with Recuva, Sandisk RescuePro and PC Inspector Smart Recovery. They all found the deleted files but none of them was able to recover any file: Recuva hangs (you have to kill it), and Sandisk RescuePro and PC Inspector just produce corrupted files, in which the imbedded jpg preview is still available, but the RAW itself is a mix of parts of various images crossed by hallucinated pink lines.

I suspect the RAW files from the K-5 differ from standard TIFF and PEF from previous Pentax DSLRS in that they are coded in 14 bits instead of 12, and that the recovery software tries to recover files in 12 bits.

I really do hope my theory is correct and that one of this software will be updated pretty soon so that I can recover my lost files... otherwise I'll just cut my left little finger.

Any thought from the techies around here?

12-16-2010, 04:53 AM   #2
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Out of curiosity, how did you delete the files?
Also, are you sure you didn't write anything on the card following the deletion?
12-16-2010, 04:57 AM   #3
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I deleted all folders inside the DCIM folder from my computer, but didn't format the card. I didn't take any picture on this card after that..
12-16-2010, 05:46 AM   #4
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I don't mean to discourage but, garbled images are usually related to file integrity(structure). Of course that doesn't mean this is what's happening here but it does sound like that in the way you're describing the problem.

Also... on the possibility that the 14bit system extends beyond that of image fidelity? ie. file system doesn't seem very likely. Though I only say this based on the way in which the feature is/was presented by Pentax. Which seemed limited to an image benefit.
Now, I could be wrong(of course), but it really seems that way when I read about it.

A couple more question that's come to mind; Did you try running the software through a card reader? If so, did you try with an alternate ready to be sure it was fully compatible?
Do you know if there are any recovery exceptions with SDHC and SD class cards? I know in the past, I've read that certain manufacturers had specific requirements for their own cards with respect to data recovery. Not sure if they was just marketing or not talking, but it never
hurts to investigate I suppose.

Anyways, I wouldn't give-up just yet.
A last resort might be data recovery services(if the images are valuable enough).

12-16-2010, 06:05 AM   #5
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Every camera's native file differs from other camera files in some respect. This is why raw converters need to be updated every time a new camera hits the market.
From a recovery software POV, the bit depth of the image shouldn't affect how the recovery software works, as all it is trying to do is recover files, not decode them.
12-16-2010, 06:11 AM   #6
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data recovery in this situation should be trivial, the nature of the files should make no difference. i would make an image of the sd card (like dd if=/dev/$sdcard of=image.img bs=1M in linux), and try data recovery on that (so that the card is "released"). to put it simply, this is a vfat filesystem, nothing happened to the files, only the reference to them is gone. should be trivial to recover them, it is, so to speak, a matter of figuring out where they are, for the recovery software. try some non-(sd card)/image specific recovery software
12-16-2010, 06:14 AM   #7
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Thanks for your reply guys. I will try another card reader but I'd be surprise if it makes a difference, but who knows... I couldn't find specific indications regarding Panasonic SD cards recovery procedures, if such a thing really do exist.

Anyway I'm not gonna give up, these pictures are some of the best I brought back from my Madagascar trip.
12-16-2010, 11:00 AM   #8
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It you want to retrieve exotic formats like .PEF, you have to found the file format signature with a hexadecimal editor.
And, if your recovery backup software is good enough, you can use the file signature with it, then the program can recognize and recover .pef files.
More infos : File Signatures (and many more info with google)

Edit : i open with a hexadecimal editor 3 differents .PEF files, 2 from a K200D, 1 from a K5.
They all begin with the same numbers :
4D 4D 00 2A 00 00 00 08 (maybe the 1, 2 or 3 last series of number are not necessary, it could be
"4D 4D 00 2A 00" or "4D 4D 00 2A", i don't know)
That should be the PEF file format signature.
And, as i said above, with a good recovery program, you can use it to retrieve your files.
By the way, Pentax forum, if someone could stick these datas somewhere, it could be helpful for the future.


Last edited by Couscousdelight; 12-16-2010 at 11:39 AM.
12-17-2010, 05:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Couscousdelight Quote
It you want to retrieve exotic formats like .PEF, you have to found the file format signature with a hexadecimal editor.
And, if your recovery backup software is good enough, you can use the file signature with it, then the program can recognize and recover .pef files.
More infos : File Signatures (and many more info with google)

Edit : i open with a hexadecimal editor 3 differents .PEF files, 2 from a K200D, 1 from a K5.
They all begin with the same numbers :
4D 4D 00 2A 00 00 00 08 (maybe the 1, 2 or 3 last series of number are not necessary, it could be
"4D 4D 00 2A 00" or "4D 4D 00 2A", i don't know)
That should be the PEF file format signature.
And, as i said above, with a good recovery program, you can use it to retrieve your files.
By the way, Pentax forum, if someone could stick these datas somewhere, it could be helpful for the future.
Interesting info, do you have such a recovery program to recommend?
12-17-2010, 09:42 AM   #10
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Well, last time i've use one of these, it was in 1999 !
It was ontrack data recovery, and there is no more free version of this software... Maybe you can find it by another way.
It should be others free data recovery program which let you identify type of files with a hexadecimal signature, but i don't know them... sorry.
Some infos i've found : File signature and file offset for RAW data recovery - Microsoft Windows / Windows 7 / Vista / XP answers
Free data Recovery Software Roundup! (All freeware data recovery tools.)
Free Data Recovery Tools Roundup apparently, you can recovery files with hex signature with this one(i mean, the first program of the list, NTFS READER DOS BOOT DISK), but you have to install it on a bootable CD, floppy or USB key.

I strongly recommand you to ask on a PC hardware forum ! Or if you have a computer geek in your entourage...

Last edited by Couscousdelight; 12-17-2010 at 09:51 AM.
12-17-2010, 10:06 PM   #11
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Here is a link to another recovery app. Maybe this one can help. :-)

TestDisk - CGSecurity
12-18-2010, 04:09 AM   #12
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I would try PhotoRec, it knows about PEFs and I used it recently on a friend's Sony memory stick Pro which had his corrupted and invisible holiday photos on it, and the programs you've already tried couldn't recover anything but PhotoRec could. PhotoRec is a crude program running in a DOS window - but it works!
PhotoRec - CGSecurity
12-18-2010, 04:37 AM   #13
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Hi SteveB,
PhotoRec is probably the standalone version, which is otherwise included in TestDisk.
Anyway, good to see that others are aware of this app as well.
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