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Friday, 20 May 2011


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I do get most of my memory from three sources: B&H or Adorama or Amazon. Never occurred to me that some of it might be counterfeit. I do a lot of SanDisk cards, too. Is there a way to verify that cards I have already are jenuwine bona-fidey good?


I did sell some fake Ralph Lauren T-shirts as a broke teenager. Nobody seemed to notice that the player on the logo was bigger than the horse

I only ever buy genuine scamdisks and always from the same guy in the same pub.

I would start by looking at the Artwork, clean and sharp is more likely not to be counterfeit.

So you think that the San Disk cards from Costco are suspect? I actually got some suspect goods there once. Fortunately they have a liberal return policy.

"So you think that the San Disk cards from Costco are suspect?"

I didn't say that. I don't know anything about Costco. Never been in one.


Lexar Professional memory (Micron makes the memory in the U.S. then it is cut and assembled in Asia) is another excellent option for pros and, is it counterfeited as much as SanDisk? I don't think so.

The Lexar web site has a story of a camera card surviving in the ocean for weeks, being dried off by the diver who found it, and working. Another reason to write your name and contact info on the card! The camera was toast but the card will survive.

After reading this, I am wondering about the only card that ever caused me anguish. It was a Sandisk III 8gb, but I don't know if I still have record of where I bought it.

Since beginning to shoot digital, the only photos I ever lost due to data mis-hap were on that Sandisk card. At the time, it was my largest and NEWEST card. I went to work with the images after copying them from card to server, but they were not on the server. Assuming I lost track of where I was and that I didn't actually copy them up yet, I put the card back in my reader. Mysteriously, all of the RAW images on the card had turned into small, unusable .tif thumbnail files. Luckily, no work for paying clients was on it. Some important not-for-profit work was, though, and with great embarrassent and apologies I had to schedule re-shoots.

After many attempts of trying to recover the original images from the card, I did a low-level format. Then it would only register 4gb instead of 8gb. I had no confidence in the card, but threw it in a box instead of throwing it out.

Ironically, my mother found out about this after losing at least half her photos from a trip to of all places, China.

It's hard to tell from the packaging, the counterfeiters have gotten remarkably good. We compared two sets of Sennheiser packaging side-by-side and couldn't pick out any differences, right down to the holographic stickers. The actual product was also 99% identical physically. For the headphones there was an obvious difference in use, but when it comes to memory the difference won't be apparent until the card fails prematurely.

This makes me feel better about that time I got scammed by the fellah who spooled ancient Kodacolor II into discarded Tri-X carts.

The first bit of what Hugh Crawford said. I think.

The percentage of counterfeit memory cards is certainly much higher on eBay. (Some people mention 95%.) They have guides to recognise fake cards, but you can do that only after the fact.

OTOH, you can also follow the saying, "if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't true". But people can be stubborn. A friend of a friend found a 32GB SD card on eBay for $15 and couldn't be dissuaded from buying it.

How timely. I had a main 3 phase circuit breaker blow this week (Not the first - I live in Ethiopoa). I went to buy a new one but my usual shop did not have them. Across the street in the "electricity district" a wee shop had ABB ones. He asked me if I wanted European or Chinese!!

I spent a good amount of time in the shop learning the tricks of identification - very hard and certainly not guaranteed to give the real ones. On inspection back at home I reckon that all my Legrand ones are fake. Up to the landlord if he replaces them.

You cannot trust anything nowadays - must read the data on my CF cards - Reckon they are less likely to be counterfeited as it is a smaller market - yeah sure :-(

Andrew from Addis

This is what happens when people buy exclusively on price. Not that price is a guarantee of quality, but I think the fakers' thought process runs like this, "It won't last, so if I sell it cheap they won't come chasing me, because it's not worth their time and effort, and I'll have their money."

Personally, I have bought nothing but SanDisk from long term retailers here in Australia, and so far (touch wood) I haven't had a failure. The mercy is, I think, that we're such a small market and it's so expensive to ship to here that it's not worth it financially for the pirates to try to enter the market.

Sandisk had a big advertising campaign on the London tube a year or so ago, but it didn't tempt me. I have one memory card, made by Lexar (I hope), which lives in my camera. I don't think I have taken it out since 2004 when I bought it. It can hold more than 500 images at maximum resolution for my Nikon D200, which is about 450 more than it has ever held before I download.

Having just returned from 4 years working and living in China, I can confirm the Chinese are supremely talented forgers. There are cheap fakes and (if you ask nicely) top quality fakes, presumably using the high end local brand products, maybe even (it's whispered) from the same factory as the real ones, but of course, probably quality control rejects. In any case, seriously skilful and clever people. It's a shame they can't devote themselves to making legit products, but then in China, everything is legit in a huge market where penalties are few and opportunities are many for making considerable profits over genuine items. I got to the point where I wandered the camera and computer supermalls and I didn't trust anything I saw to be real. I'd even heard reports of fake cameras. Trouble is, this ethos permeates literally everything, including the food you ate. I'm happy to be back in Canada where i can at least trust the milk. Oh, and I bought 2 Sandisks in Beijing for my M8 and they both failed at the same time last month.

I'm not too keen on SanDisk, actually. The colours are somewhat desaturated and the grain is more pronounced compared with competitor's products.

We have been investigating counterfeits in the electrical and communications market since 2004, and sometimes even we are surprised. Recently we found some Cat 5 cables made from copper-plated aluminum instead of copper. Square D gas had GFCI outlets counterfeited, a highly dangerous situation.
We are on business in Africa right now and have heard even worse stories - poor quality cables from China BUT they are being installed by Chinese PRISONERS flown for installation labor!

Dear Roland,

And they don't push worth a damn! I've souped those SanDisk cards for a good hour in Acufine and the ISO doesn't go up one bit.

Just worthless for us available-darkness photographers, lemme tell you.

pax / ever-helpful Ctein

Yeah, I've been burned by this. I don't even trust Amazon for SanDisk cards anymore, ever since one I ordered on there failed after about a day of shooting (the data was unrecoverable as well). Now I only buy them from B&H.

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