D80 blinking CHA/CHR error

Friday night, after using a card reader to upload a bunch of bugs photos to my imac, I inserted my SD card into my d80, turned it on, and was faced with a blinking CHA (or CHR) on the LCD.

The last letter is difficult to figure out: it’s like a squared 8, with the bottom horizontal piece missing. A or R? Only Nikon knows for sure… though I guess I could could look in the manual, if I could find it.

Searching online yielded various tidbits of information, mostly relating to the probability that the card was not recognized by the camera – perhaps an unapproved brand? Well yes, RiDATA is not a recommended brand, but the cards have worked for over 15000 images in 8 months, so it seemed unlikely that the problem was that.

Cleaning the contacts didn’t (nor did they look in any way dirty). Reinserting didn’t fix it. Resetting the camera didn’t fix it. And oddly, my second SD card (also a 4gb RiDATA card) gave the same error. I thought perhaps it was the camera, but that was not a happy thought.

I tried again the next morning, hoping that it would magically work. It didn’t. I pondered some more, remembering that the error indicated some sort of card access failure. I checked the cards, noted that they were “locked” by a sliding switch, switched them to unlocked, and tried one in the camera: it worked! A rather simple solution, it turned out.

I was later informed (after a bit of chuckling) that the d50 noted on the back LCD that the card was locked – a feature sadly missing from the d80.

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25 Responses to D80 blinking CHA/CHR error

  1. Samtherocker says:

    Damn those pesky lock sliders!

  2. A quick note: After a quick consultation of the troubleshooting section of my D50 guide, it appears that it’s an A not an R, as Rs are represented by using a lower case version to avoid confusion. (Is this the first time my manual has come to any real use? :O)


    On the regular LCD lettering shape as shown, an R would use the bottom left vertical and centre horizontal bars for an R:

    I like to be specific 😀

  3. James Murdoch says:

    Glad it worked in the end- was getting worried there 😮

    so how did you manage to lock BOTH your cards without realising it? or was this some practical joke from a friend 🙂

  4. Mike Franklin says:

    sam – yep 🙂
    adam – gosh, thanks for that.
    james – well, either inadvertent nudging or … operator error. you think I let my friends touch my SD cards? never!

  5. Henrik says:

    Do you have any photo to show that
    lock to us on the RiDATA card?
    Would be interesting to see!

  6. Carl says:

    My D80 just did that and I formated the SD card and all is well!

  7. Jane says:

    I’ve just done the self same thing – a moment of panic, then a realisation that I’d locked the card, a quick google (the camera was still being used to import photos) and I discover your post and know that I’m right 🙂


  8. Jon O says:

    Thanks for the great post with a bit of humor…it solved my problem quickly!

  9. Alan says:

    A friend was just shooting a wedding with her D80. it had in it 8GB Kingston SD Card. with about 200 shots to go it stop and a message came on the D80 back screen ‘card lock’. in the top screen it said FOR . She has 2000 images on this card but the camera seems to be telling her to format the card.

    She has tried removing the card and sliding the lock switch up and down, still doesn’t resolve it. She also put it in her computer SD slot, same problem, can’t seem to get to the images.

  10. Mike says:

    THANK YOU !!!!! don’t know how mine got locked and never saw the switch before….Glad I found your post…TYTYTYTY

  11. Trina says:

    You saved my day! I was out for a photo walk and discovered this error. Luckily I had my Blackberry and could google it. Your site was the first to come up. Thanks for posting!

  12. Florence says:

    I got the same problem when I travelled in Harbin in early Jan. My SD card still showing “CHA” and the problem do not solve till now…. Extremely worry now as I got 700+ pics in my SD which was large part in my travel…. HELP!!!

  13. Katherine says:

    Thanks for this. Saved me alot of time and worry – especially since I had just cleaned my sensor myself for the first time! Whew.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’d just emptied my card, and when I reinserted it into the camera, I got the CHA message. I didn’t ever notice the switch before – it’s back to normal now! Thanks again!

  15. andy stanton says:

    Thanks so much for the info
    such a simple thing that can happen and cause such frustration
    Thanks again brilliant

  16. david says:

    did not work for me, card is unlocked “Cha” remains. card must be bad I guess.

  17. Niko Bellic says:

    Same error. Mine was not in the locked position, as simply a matter of removing and re-inserting. Thanks.

  18. Rebecca says:

    This was so helpful!!!! Thanks so much! Such a silly problem but one that drove me crazy for a while and the maul wasn’t very helpful. So glad I didn’t have to bring my camera in.

    • Rebecca says:

      This was so helpful!!!! Thanks so much! Such a silly problem but one that drove me crazy for a while and the manual wasn’t very helpful. So glad I didn’t have to bring my camera in.

  19. Mack says:

    Thanks for your info. You saved me a lot of worry and grief. I have used this card for many years and tonight it did not want to work.

  20. Angie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! This is a good piece of info that Nikon should include into their manual.

  21. RRyan says:

    ok had same issue with D80 after uploading photos to iPad with card reader and lock switch not the issue. tried to reformat – no change. checked in my owners manual no solution other than reformat but still no change. CHA keeps coming back.

  22. Mesospheric says:

    In many cases, removing the card, maybe cleaning the contacts a little (care with static!) the error will be removed. If not, looks like a new card is required; they do break down eventually.

    Of course, this just highlights once more that there’s nothing quite like ensuring you download your images, and not rely on the camera’s SD card as a permanent or longer terms storage mechanism.

  23. Val Pieroni says:

    My D80 is doing the same, nothing works to fix the problem. I couldn’t get my sd card to load onto my mac either. Hopefully when I buy a new card it will work.

  24. J says:

    Thank you! Had no idea such a thing existed. (This, after rejiggering every knob, button, lever, etc–to no avail!) Yep, sometimes the simplest solution is the best one, eh?

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