Last updated: Jun. 7, 2017
The greater the image, the greater the loss — so when photos are accidentally deleted, corrupted or just plain lost from your Nikon camera, what then?
Often, deleted files that can't be accessed by your camera or your computer leave pieces behind. Those pieces can be picked up and put back together.
While you can send the SD card to a data recovery company, that process often costs hundreds or even thousands.
But there is a DIY option — with the right digital photo recovery software, you can put your own photos back together without the big expense.
Here's how to recover deleted photos from any Nikon digital camera.
What You'll Need
To go the DIY route, you'll need to download an image recovery software. We like Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery because it's able to recover JPEGs from any Nikon camera, as well as RAW files from Nikon DSLRs, including NEF and NRW. Also because the program is compatible with both PCs and Macs.
You can download the free trial version to see what the software is able to put together before you commit to a purchase. You'll also need the SD card (or whatever device the image was lost from) as well as a way to connect it to the computer with a card reader or USB cord.
Ready to recover those photos? Here's how
Important note: as soon as you realize you lost an image, stop using your Nikon to take pictures or videos. Adding more files to the memory card can overwrite those pieces that were left behind, reducing the chances of a successful recovery. If you need to keep shooting, swap out the memory card for a different one.
Step 1: Plug the SD card or device that the image was lost from into a computer. Then go ahead and get Stellar Photo Recovery and install the program to your PC or Mac, open it up and click "Recover Photo, Audio & Video" to get started.
Step 2: On the next screen, you'll see a list of all the different media storage options on your computer, including your Nikon memory card that you plugged in earlier. Select the card (or if you lost the image from your own hard drive or a USB drive, select that device). Then, hit "Scan Now" in the lower right corner.
Step 3: The scanning process can take some time, especially if you scan a larger hard drive and not a small SD card — so you may want to take a break and come back to your computer in a few minutes.
Step 4: Once the scan is complete, you'll see a window listing all the files that the software could recover. The files are arranged by file type, so use the sidebar on the left to click the file type you are looking for — JPEG, NEF or MP4, for example.
Step 5: Select any files you would like to keep, then click Recover and choose a location to save the files. If you haven't purchased the software yet, you'll need to upgrade from the trial in order to actually recover those images on the list, but you don't need to spend anything if the photos you are looking for don't appear in that first scan.
Step 6: Once you order from the software's official site, you'll get a confirmation number to put inside the pop-up window that appears after clicking Recover. Open the folder where you choose to save your files, and enjoy your missing photos!
- Always backup your photos using either an external hard drive or cloud storage — or both for even more protection.
- If you have a camera with dual SD card slots like the Nikon D7200, you can choose to save the same files to both slots, so you have a back-up even before those images get to your computer.
Lost photos are every photographer's worst nightmare — while the gear is expensive to replace, those images often can't be replicated. Photos can often be recovered, however, with software. From accidental deletions to corrupted files, Nikon photo recovery isn't impossible with a solid recovery software.
Hillary is a technology writer and photographer based in Michigan. While her favorite tech brands are Apple and Nikon, she enjoys exploring all but the most frustrating new devices.