How To Recover Corrupt Panasonic GH4 and GH5 .mdt Files

One of the worst gut wrenching feelings any content producer can face is opening up a memory card only to find that a file is corrupt or missing altogether. Recently we sold most of our Nikon gear and switched over to the new Panasonic GH5 cameras because of their better video features, superior image stabilization, and overall smaller size. Unfortunately we have found that unlike our Nikon cameras, the GH5 can corrupt files pretty easily if you are using their battery grip. In this video, I show you how these files can easily corrupt as well as a few software options you can use to recover any files corrupted during a loss of power. 

Let me first give a disclaimer that I am in no was a specialist in data recovery. I consider myself pretty experienced with electronics, computers, and cameras but by no means do I understand all the ins and outs of how data is recorded to camera buffers and transferred to flash memory cards. Recently while filming our video on How to Build The Best PC for Photo and Video Editing, I accidentally corrupted a long, one hour take by trying to hotswap a dying battery in one of our GH5 cameras. This process of hotswapping batteries was never a problem with any of our Nikon cameras (Canon grips unfortunately place both batteries in the grip tray so hotswapping isn't an option at all), and as you can imagine, I was horrified to find out the hard way that the Panasonic GH5 cameras are not capable of saving files to the memory card if the grip battery is removed before power is transferred to the internal camera battery. Whoops, my bad guys! 

This file corruption wasn't the first time we experienced a lost file on the new Panasonic GH5 system. We actually have lost about three files total in the first 60 days we have owned the new cameras. They have all been related to abrupt power loss, and all of those power losses have been related to a loose connection between the camera and the battery grip or a premature ejection of the battery inside the grip. Upon investigating if these files could be recovered, I found that many Panasonic users have experienced corrupt files in one form or another, and the problem dates back to the older GH4 as well. Unfortunately very few of the forums I found offered any helpful advice on how to recover these files, but after reading dozens of threads, I have come up with two of the best solutions if you find yourself in the sticky situation of having lost footage.

Panasonic's Software

The first place to start seemed obvious. Let's see what Panasonic offers in terms of data recovery. I searched through their website and tried to find a OEM software solution for these corrupt files but that path lead no where. A few message boards pointed to some software called Panasonic AVCCAM Restorer and AVCCAM SD Card File Recovery (located under the Software tab). Panasonic's website claims that this software can help restore footage that has been accidentally deleted from an SD memory card. Now keep in mind that the GH5 camera is not an AVCCAM camera but since this link showed up multiple times on forums about GH4/5 corruption, I figured it would be worth noting it here and testing it out. Again, my files were not caused by a memory card corruption but rather a loss of power from the camera itself. Panasonic also has another piece of software on this page called AVCCAM Restorer which is "software for restoring inconsistencies in video data recorded on an SD card." The GH5 does allow you to record in the AVCHD format which is mentioned on the software page, but from my tests neither of these pieces of software did anything with the SD card from a GH5. I'm not exactly sure why this software was recommended so many times since it appears to only be useful for the more professional AVCCAM cameras, but it was the most obvious place to start.

Aeroquartet's Treasured Service

The next piece of software that was highly recommended wasn't actually software itself but rather a recovery service offered by the company Aeroquartet. Their recovery software solution is called Treasured. By visiting their website you can actually upload corrupted .mdt files straight to their server and get a quick idea if the file can be recovered by the Aeroquartet team. Since this is a service and not a stand alone piece of software you do have to pay for each recovery session. I've included a screen shot of their prices which vary depending on the amount of files needed to be recovered as well as the type of file or container the original video file was saved as. If your footage is from a cell phone you are going to pay less than if the footage was shot on a much more professional video camera. 

This service seemed to work well, but I did not actually pay to have any of my files recovered in their entirety. As I mention in the video above, several of my corrupted files were showing up as 0KB, and I of course tried to upload those files to Aeroquartet's servers. Since the files register as too small to recover, I thought it would be interesting to reach out to the Aeroquartet team and see if they thought any of my 0KB files could be recovered at all. To my surprise they actually had a solution for these files. 
 

The actual process of salvaging these files was pretty complicated and it involved using a piece of software called Chrysocome. The guys from Aeroquartet were able to remotely log into my computer, run the software which basically performs a Deep Media Scan on the SD card itself, and save an image file of the raw data from the card to my desktop. Using this .IMG file, the team was then able to upload a large portion of the memory card into their Treasured software and successfully recover one of my files that initially read as being 0KB on the card. For me the whole process took a few hours, but if you have a large memory card larger than 16GB it might take up to a full day to produce the necessary image file needed to recover the video files. All in all, I can't speak highly enough of my experience with Aeroquartet's customer service but the service itself is pretty pricey. However, depending on the project you are working on, it may ultimately be a very small price to pay in order recover any crucial files needed for your video production. 


GRAU GmbH - Video Repair Software

The final software option might be the best because you can actually buy it and use it over and over. This software, simply called Video Repair Software, allows you to recover a variety of file formats and codecs (Mov, mp4, avc, H264, AVC, ProRes, etc), and much to my surprise it actually was able to recover the .MDT files from our Panasonic GH5 cameras (at least the ones with file sizes associated with the .mdt file). Once you download and run the software, you can browse your computer for the corrupt file you need to recover. Once you have located the corrupted file, you also need to point the software to a reference movie. This reference movie is basically a working file that was shot on the same camera using the same settings. So if you know your file was shot at 4k in 60fps and saved as .mp4, you need to make sure your reference file was also shot in those exact settings. Once you hit scan, the software will then try to repair the corrupt footage by using the reference file as a guide. 

In testing this software, I ran about 12 different files through it, and about 90% of the time the program was able to spit out a recovered file. The recovered file wasn't always able to play smoothly on my computer, but I was able to throw this file into Premiere and use it within my timeline. As I show in the video above, Premiere sometimes had trouble playing back the file too, but I was able to solve the glitchy playback by either exporting the file from Premiere and re importing it into my timeline or by simply rendering the recovered file. Like I said before, not every file I tried was able to be successfully recovered, and sometimes I found that the Video Repair Software was able to recover a file on one computer but then could not recover the same file on another computer. I also did not attempt to recover video files with audio so your results may vary when it comes to recovering both video and audio in a single file.

So what is the big catch? Well, there are never any free lunches and that is true with Video Repair Software too. The good news is you can download this software for free and recover 50% of your file with absolutely not costs. However, if you want to recover the entire file you have to pony up about $110 to license the unlocked software. There used to be a hack where you could double the size of your file and successfully recover all of the footage but that hack apparently has since been fixed. However, I feel like $110 for software that might be used a few times in dire situations is a price I am willing to pay. It's also a lot cheaper than hiring Aeroquartet, but as I found out, the service Aeroquartet offers is much more thorough and in many cases they can recover footage that VRS might fail to recognize such as the 0KB files. 

A Real Solution

With all digital technology, we are bound to find ourselves disappointed or SOL at some point in time. Unfortunately for GH5 users though, it's actually pretty easy to corrupt video files when using the extra battery grip on the camera which is a shame. Lee Morris recently addressed this issue in his video Top 12 Firmware Wishes for the Panasonic Gh5, and I really hope this is something that can be fixed with software. If not, maybe there is a chance a hardware update on the Panasonic DMW-BGGh5 Battery Grip could be issued since the grip was just released a few weeks ago (and I'm sure recalling a grip would be easier than fixing a hardware issue on the camera itself). If this problem cannot be fixed with a firmware update, I hope this article can at least help all GH5 users become aware of how easily files can become corrupt when using the battery grip and take extra precautions to make sure their grips are locked tightly to the body and the grip batteries are never removed before the power is transferred to the camera. My only experience with battery grips like this are with the Nikon, Canon, and Panasonic systems so I am also interested to know how the battery system works with other camera systems like Olympus, Sony, and Fuji (we've used Fuji's with grips but not enough to notice the power transfer from grip to camera). 



 

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17 Comments

Michael Kormos's picture

I'm sorry to hear your upgraded gear is just... corrupting files. Goodness! I know you had a number of Nikon bodies and lenses for your video productions. The upgrade must have been a costly investment, and on top of it all, you're dealing with these inconveniences. While I'm not familiar with Panasonic cameras, I know shooting video on any camera has always been a significant drain on the battery. I'd also imagine the image stabilization is eating up a few milli amps. Switching brands has never crossed my mind, personally. Largely because Nikon has never let me down (I don't do any video work.) Their latest D5 just nails the focus like my D4 never could. I mean razor sharp regardless of the lens. Best of luck and I hope your Panasonic upgrade gives you no more problems.

Patrick Hall's picture

Luckily the switch between systems wasn't too expensive because used Nikon gear holds its value pretty well. We prob were able to recover 60-80% of our investment after selling it all off.

I do have to say, having used a ton of different cameras, I stand by my belief that Nikon DSLRs are the best cameras for raw image quality when comparable models are tested side by side. The D810 and D750 cameras are getting a little old now (another reason we left) but compared to the Canon and even Sony, I think Nikon is the bar raiser. The two next Nikon replacements will prob smoke everyone as well. I just wish Nikon would give hybrid shooters like us more video options and improve the overall video sharpness and bit rate. Comparing D750 video files to everyone else is like comparing 4k to 720....Nikon's 1080p files looks so blurry and not sharp.

Pat Black's picture

With Sony not allowing Nikon to use their top tear sensors anymore I have serious doubts if the Nikon D900 (or 820) will be anywhere close to the A7riii, and the canon is dead last, the 5d4 is not even close to them anymore

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Hey Patrick, it's really becoming frequent to see these kind of articles by you and Lee about your problems with the GH5 and I'm sorry about that, are you two still happy with your decision? May I ask you why you choose the GH5 over the Sony A7II? Is it only a matter of weight or there are other reasons? Anyway I know every electronic device has its peculiar problems and thank you for pointing them out helping us to make better decisions.

Patrick Hall's picture

Read my response about our switch below.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Hum, does this only happen when the cameras are gripped? Just an assumption, but there might be some current leak there, as voltages can damage data on cards. Or does this happen when the battery dies sudenly?
My 6D was destroying files because of a 3rd party battery i was using, i could even see artifacts on the LCD.

Patrick Hall's picture

It happens if the battery is removed from the camera too but to be fair here, that causes files to be lost/corrupted on the Nikon cameras too and prob most other brands. You can't just pull the camera's only battery out and expect everything to save correctly. BUT, if you buy a grip, the camera should be able to pull power from both sources if needed.

I didn't see any mention of the Panasonic DMWAC10 AC Adaptor. I would have thought that would be the go-to, pretty much fail-safe option for in-studio or location shoots with power. Incidentally, I agree with Andrea (above) about the frequency of these 'problem' posts. However, I'm not sure I agree with the implication that you made a mistake and should have, instead bought Brand X. And, in any event, a one hour take is, for all sorts of reasons (and in my humble opinion) asking for trouble. Just sayin' But the fire hose must be fed.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I'm sorry I didn't explain myself very well. I don't think they made a mistake choosing one brand instead of another, I was asking about the Sony camera just out of curiosity about which features makes the GH5 a better choice for them. I'm pretty sure every brand has it's own good and bad. I was more interested in the good features of the GH5 than the problems of it

I like what Philip Bloom says in his reviews even if it's a bit idiosyncratic in style. He's an experienced film and video guy and makes lovely demo vids. However, things get done in his own sweet time and I don't think he has finished or maybe even started the GH5 review -- but I think he has the camera. His GH4 review is exhaustive (and some might say exhausting.) You can find it here (if I'm able to paste a link.) http://philipbloom.net/blog/gh5/

Patrick Hall's picture

Read my response above.

Patrick Hall's picture

The main reasons we left Nikon was because of the lack of video quality and options they gave us. Every system we used had sharper and cleaner video and at some point it just didn't make sense to stick with it.

We knew we wanted cameras that were smaller and we wanted to try to go with smaller lenses too since video doesn't demand the quality needed when shooting 36mp stills.

This lead is down the path of 4/3rds cameras and of course Sony. The A7sii camera is super interesting but the battery life on the Sony cameras is extremely bad. Also the Sony a7rii at least over heated when shooting 4K so that wasn't a reasonable option either. Also since Sony is full frame, we would have to buy the same large 2.8 lenses so really their mirrorless option wasn't much smaller or light weight than our Nikon system.

When the GH5 was announced, the big appeal was the 10bit (although we are now less excited about that since we don't have 10monitors and don't grade as much as we thought we would) and the awesome frame rate options of 120 and 180 in 1080 and 4k at 60. When we did a side by side comparison with the Sony, the Panasonic dual stabilization was night and day different which meant hand holding footage was possible with the GH5 where it really wasn't usable with the other brands (we didn't test Olympus which is apparently the best).

The GH5 also had great battery life but we didn't notice the hot swap issue because the grip was released so late. Another super cool feature with the GH5 is they made a hotshot adapter for phantom powered XLR mics which we wound up getting too.

We may still pick up a single Sony A7sii for low light once the replacing model is announced for specialized low light shooting but so far the Panasonic cameras are the best run and gun video camera we have found. Of course we are having issues with some features that it seems Panasonic overlooked or the competition does better but they aren't deal breakers in my opinion. We don't have a relationship with Panasonic (they don't sponsor us) but our hope is that they can improve the gh5 even more to really make it a stellar camera all around for video since that's really who this camera is primarily marketed towards.

For me, this battery grip issue is the most significant flaw in the camera because it can actually corrupt your files. Everything else is kind of annoying but not a deal breaker. Sony's battery life is a deal breaker for me as is the 4K over heating issue. Canon and Nikon are simply too big to use when you need to travel world wide with 3-5 cameras (electronics bans are going to make that even harder for single camera shooters).

So far I don't regret the change and it's been so fun shooting 120fps footage handheld with quality that is better than anything we've previously owned. It's a learning curve for sure but I'm excited at the same time.

I hope that answers most of the questions you had about our switch. I'm happy to answer anything else you might be curious about.

dylan reid's picture

This happened to a second cam op of mine during an event on a A7. He also had a battery grip and when moving with a monopod it powered off mid recording, and corrupting the file. GRAU GmbH saved my life and helped me get the clip working again. It took tweaking settings a little in GRAU GmbH but after a few tests it finally worked and was able to recover the clip. I highly recommend it over Aeroquartet. If you don't mind forking out some cash then Aeroquartet is probably best for you.

I suggest staying away from battery grips altogether when shooting video. It's not worth the headache. Battery grips were never intended for video use anyway. So just stay away from them... and LOL why would you pull a battery out of a camera mid recording(without a battery grip)?

Sorry for corrupt files. If you take out the battery or you miss the power, whether it is a Canon or Nikon or Panasonic or Leica body, obviously I can expect the loss of files because the software fails to complete the finalization of the video file.

Patrick Hall's picture

That is true with the main battery in the camera but that statement is not true with Nikon grips. You can take the battery out with Nikon.

I had a lol moment at 12 minutes where you "renamed" the file. You haven't set the file explorer to show extensions, so you didn't change the file extension. You just made renamed p1000451.mdt to p1000451.mp4.mdt :)

To change the extension you have to go to the view option and choose "show file extension" to rename file extensions.

But except for this, good video and tips.

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha good catch. I actually recorded the screen capture on a different computer than what I actually used for all the tests. My computer did show the the file extensions but the one I filmed the video on did not. At some point I mentioned "for some reason this computer is showing these .mdt files as vlc files but your computer may show something else." Good catch, yes, you want to make sure you are changing the actual extension and not just the name.