How to Recover Photos & Videos from Digital Camera or Camcorder

This post was last updated on July 24, 2016.

Photo and video loss happen here and there, if you are a photographer who holds your own digital camera (Canon, Nikon, Samsung, Olympus, Fuji, etc.) or camcorder (Sony handycam, JVC Everio) to capture beautiful moments of daily life.

But sometimes previous memories can be lost due to either human errors (accidentally deletion, formatting the device memory) or technical errors (unable to access the storage media for photos and videos) thus put you in panic. Here are two specific examples:

The First Type – Delete Photos or Videos Unintentionally
  • "I carelessly pressed delete ALL button on my Canon EOS digital camera and never intended to erase those most important photos, is there any way to recover digital files?"
  • "I formatted the SD memory card insides my JVC camcorder, forgot to back up a few video chips that needed to be shared on YouTube with friends. Is it possible to restore the videos back to life again?"
The Second Type – Digital Media Storage Device Error
  • "The memory card on my camera became corrupted and each time I wanted to access, it asked me if I want to format it and more oddly it wouldn't let me format. How could I retrieve the files (photos, videos and audio pieces)?"


Yes, it's definitely possible to recover the lost photos or video files from your digital camera or camcorder. But note that I said possible (meaning not 100% guaranteed). I'll explain why later. Here's how to recover the files in four steps:
Step 1: Stop using the camera or camcorder immediately. If your digital device is equipped with memory card (stick) or external hard drive, best to take the chip out and put it in secure place and don't let it have any chance to be damaged such as fall onto the ground, etc. Because all your deleted photos or videos are still stored on the device.
Step 2: Download and get a data recovery software to help. Recuva is the best one I recommend as it is 100% free and the program is with easy to use interface (see below). You may learn from my previous post tutorial to recover deleted files with Recuva if you don’t know how to operate. Note: Recuva works on Windows, for those who use a Mac, see this post for free Mac file recovery apps. If none of them helps, this anysoftwaretools article also lists several great options.

Step 3: Connect the storage media to your computer. You have two ways to connect. The first one is to directly connect the camera or camcorder (with memory card or hard drive insde) via a USB cable. The other is to take the storage device out and load it into a card reader or so and plug to your computer. You may also have other ways to connect, all in all is to make sure the storage media in your camera or camcorder is showed as "removable drive" on your PC or Mac. 
Step 4: Start the recovery process. After the device is detected, open the recovery software and start the scan automatically. Depending on the volume of your camera, it may take you a few minutes to hours to recover those photos or video files. Additional tutorial can been found in this camera undelete guide. Good luck.


The success rate of any data recovery relies on whether the data is overwritten or storage media damaged or not. Digital camera or camcorder recovery is no exception (that's why I said it is just possible to recover preciously). So you'd better follow the tips if you want to maximize chances of recovery.
  • First of all – Do not save more files to the storage of your camera or camcorder. Better take the storage device out as each read or write operation may put your deleted files at risk.  
  • Secondly – After the photos or videos are found by the program, better save the recovered files to a different disk in case the previous data got partially or fully overwritten, once overwritten, it is almost impossible to recover unless a data recovery service is performed. 
  • Lastly - Feel free to check out the slrlounge article for 10 good habits to avoid camera memroy card problems. It's quite useful.

Still have any problems recovering files from your camera or camcorder? Share them in the comments. I'll try to help.

1 comment:

  1. How can I retrieve videos from a dead sony DCr-SR88 camcorder?