Nikon Cameras: Troubleshooting CHA (or CHR) Errors

   Posted February 16, 2011 by David Kirk in Technology reviews

Many Nikon cameras use the CHA or CHR error syntax for a variety of common errors. Common culprits and associated fixes are included.

I have been using Nikon cameras for quite a while. I have experienced several different circumstances where the Nikon will throw a CHA or CHR error message. Typically, these errors are directly related to SD memory card.

I believe Nikon officially refers these to CHA errors. A couple of my photog friends refer to them as CHR errors. The confusion is that on the Nikon screen, the difference between the letters A and R are not clear.

Before formatting or manipulating a SD card that is giving errors, always been sure to copy the images to another device such as a computer. If the computer cannot read the card and you have images on it, you will need to attempt to salvage your photos with some type of memory card recovery software first.

1. Unformatted card. Buy a SD card, throw it in, and you get a CHA/CHG error. Using the camera’s format command will fix it. Most people figure this one out.

2. Wrong size or type of memory card. If your new SD card does not work after formatting or if the device refuses to format it, it is very impossible that the SD card is not compatible with your camera. Most frequently, this is due to the SD card being too big. Many popular Nikon cameras like the D50 cannot handle large SD cards. Updating your firmware occasionally helps with this.

3. Write protection enabled. On the side of SD cards is a slider that prevents a device from being able to write to the card. Often these sliders get accidentally enabled when putting the memory card in or out of the device. Move the slider away from the “lock” selection and try again.

4. Bent or broken SD camera pins. If a card is forced in backwards or at an awkward angle, the pins in the camera that serve as digital connectors can get damaged. If multiple SD cards do not work, repair may be the only option.

5. Failing or Buggy SD memory. If a card is failing or contains errors, often it will throw a CHA/CHR error. Move all the pictures off the card and then attempt to use your camera’s format function to clear the memory. If that fails, you can try formatting it using your computer first. If you have to do this repeatedly, then the memory is likely failing. I am not typically concerned by the requirement for an occasional reformat.

6. SD card is full. Once a card is full, the Nikon will display this error. If the camera locks and you are unable to delete pictures off the card, just wait until the memory light quits blinking and then restart the device. Often the device will then allow you to delete images and resolve the error.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • Lovely Sugan

    Thanks for your Greatfull Answer. Its very Usefull Tips..

    • Steve

      I have a Nikon D50 and have had for many years. I am very satisfied with the camera. Very recently the built in flash stop working. I played around with different settings in menu but none of that helped. Do you have any suggestions as to what maybe the cause of the problem?

      Looking for h help.


      • David Kirk

        Oh, I loved my D50.

        I suspect it’s just a hardware problem. I’d take it to a local camera shop and have them give it a look over. Best of luck!

        • Steve

          I did take it to a local fairly reliable camera shop . They said it is likely a blown bulb. They said I would have to make a $250.00 commitment for them to send it out to be repaired. That sounded like a lot of money to me in light of the fact that I can purchase an updated Nikon camera (body only) for under $600.00 and I would have a new and updated camera. Also there is no guarantee that repair cost would not be higher. I think I am going to look into getting a new body only on a trade in of my Nikon D50. If anyone has other comments I would appreciated seeing them.

          Thanks for your comment, it is very much appreciated.

  • gfdg


  • David


    I have a Nikon D50 and have had the “CHA” Error displayed on my screen. And when I go to the playback screen, it displays a message saying that says something like “This Card Does Not Work.” Now I’ve read on other sites that it is an issue on this camera between the circuit board and the SD Card Slot. Is this true? Can it be fixed? Or is it better off to buy a new camera? Please respond, just confused and trying to figure out the best solution.


  • laura

    Hello, I’ve had the nikon D50 for several years with no problems. Recently the top screen is showing Full and the folder contains no images and doesn’t allow me to shoot. i’ve reformatted with no correction. Any other thoughts? do i just need a new card?

    • David Kirk

      I hope you just need a new card. I’ve seen d50s where the card reading mechanism fails which gives a similar error.

  • Brian Carey

    Cool, just what I needed thanks!

  • anne

    Had the same issue. Despite formatting the card, nothing. however when I inserted the card in my Mac it still showed the Nikon folders being on the card so I deleted those and once they were gone, so was the problem.

    • lani

      > I tried the card in my hp, says my 100NCD50 file is empty; have 1.86GB free of 1.86GB… canera still takes pictures. Just don’t know what is going on!!

  • lani

    My camera shows (3.5) with small k on top in the pictures remaining icon. What does that mean?

  • lani

    Why does my pictures remaining icon (top of camera) say (3.6) to the power of k?

  • Jude Le Blanc

    Very creative. Very inspiring. Great connection to the kids.

  • Steve

    I have a Nikon D50 for several years and I am pleased with it. Very recently the built in flash stop working. I played around with the menu but nothing I did resolved the problem. Do you have any suggestions as to what maybe the cause of this problem?

    Looking for help. Thanks

  • Steven Sagala

    Nikon D70s – getting CHA error messages on all my CF cards, intermittently for several years, Favorite fix no longer works (freezing card overnight.) Should I replace card reader or ?? THX