Rasters stored in ArcSDE may appear as solid black when displayed in ArcGIS Desktop.
This may be caused by missing image statistics, the failure to use a stretch renderer for display or in cases with large ArcSDE rasters (~>10G), by a known limit in ArcGIS Desktop 8.3 that results in a memory leak when zooming into the layer.
Solution or Workaround
Diagnose whether the black display is caused by missing or unused image statistics or by a memory leak:
Add the raster to ArcMap.
Right-click on the raster in the Table of Contents and left-click Properties.
Select the Symbology tab in the Layer Properties window.
If the stretch type is set to none, set it to Standard Deviations and click Apply.
Note: This can be done even if image statistics have not yet been generated for the raster, since ArcMap will generate them on-the-fly for the duration of the ArcMap session.
If the raster displays correctly, the problem is due to missing or unused image statistics. If the raster still displays black, skip to step 7.
To determine whether image statistics have been permanently generated for this raster, right-click the raster in ArcCatalog and left-click on Properties. In the Raster Dataset Properties window check the Statistics section to see if it says 'Statistics have not been generated for this raster'. If so, click the Calculate Statistics button. Once statistics are built, ArcMap will automatically apply the Standard Deviations Stretch Renderer to the raster when added to ArcMap.
** This issue has been resolved in ArcGIS 9.0. **
If statistics have been generated for the raster and the image still displays black when a stretch renderer is applied, the problem is due to a memory leak. A workaround for is to access the image through an ArcIMS image service.