I've worked in the camera repair industry for a little over 10 years. I currently repair Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sigma products. I have also repaired Hasselblad, Ricoh, Tamron, Sony, Olympus and probably some others I'm not thinking of at the moment.

I'll answer as many of your questions as I can. Anything from the mechanics to specific problems to industry questions as well.

My Proof: http://imgur.com/wYUIrai

I'll do my best to keep up with your questions. I may be able to answer more tomorrow as well (New Years Day).

Edit: Added Hasselblad. Questions about insurance, warranties, repair tools, manufacturers, industry standards, adjustments... Anything camera, lens or video camera related.

Edit 2: Thank you all so much. I had so much fun with this. Thanks for making me feel awesome and I'll keep answering your questions. I think I got everyone, but I'm sure I missed a few. Keep 'em coming!

Comments: 374 • Responses: 105  • Date: 

SomeDingus16 karma

Is it true that Nikon is making it almost impossible for independent repair shops to work on newer cameras? Our local repair shop has a sign asking people to sign a petition saying something about Nikon not letting them get the needed parts and/or diagnostic tools.

I'm just curious if that's an industry wide thing, or if Nikon just doesn't like this one repair shop.

Also, what do you see more of; Canon or Nikon?

checkmate300121 karma

Nikon has decided that they WILL NOT sell parts to camera shops that aren't "authorized". There are only about 25 shops in the United States that are "authorized". To become authorized you need to be first allowed to become authorized - which hasn't happened in over 15 years. So no one new is getting into the club. Second, you MUST purchase every piece of adjustment equipment required to fully adjust the cameras or lenses you want to get authorized on.

The adjustment equipment is VERY, VERY expensive. The shop I work at has spent over $100k in the last 3 years to STAY authorized. The silly thing is that over half the equipment we have NEVER used. It doesn't matter if it is useful or even necessary. It doesn't matter if you can find the exact same thing and buy it directly from the manufacturer yourself. If you don't order it from Nikon and pay what they charge, you aren't authorized.

There has been a lot of talk in the industry about law-suits and getting consumer protection firms involved in this fight because a lot of shops went under for no reason than Nikon not willing to sell parts to them. Unfortunately, these shops are typically small and don't have much money. So they can't afford top lawyers. The news hasn't picked up on it much either. A lot of authorized shops don't like it either because it means that if something weird happens, they too could be cut out of the loop and completely go under. Unfortunately, these shops can't do anything for fear of retribution from Nikon.

It is a very scary time for repair shops right now and everyone is fighting very hard to survive. It is a dying industry.

At my shop it is mostly Nikon - but mostly because we get free advertising from Nikon's website because we're authorized. So Nikon's policy has helped us, but I still disagree with it. It is completely Un-American.

It has been this way for a while in other countries. I don't remember which ones, but manufacturers have been dicks for years.

squaqua9 karma

How would you rate factory refurbished bodies and lenses versus out of the box? What is your favorite site for gear reviews? And thanks for the AMA.

checkmate300118 karma

Refurbished come in 2 varieties: Factory refurbished and then a more loose term of refurbished. Factory refurbished are generally very good. They were done by the manufacturer and are usually returned items from dealers. A factory technician goes through them and either repairs them if there was a fault or verifies they are in factory standard.

They other type of refurbished is something that the retailer or repair shops have done in-house. These can be a crap shoot. It really depends on what their quality is and how honest they are.

My favorite review site is dpreview.com and kenrockwell.com. I don't really like kenrockwell.com that much, but it is mildly entertaining from my perspective. He has a lot of experience, but he throws in his biased opinion often. Some of his information can be misleading internet banter.

Best site to buy gear: bhphotovideo.com by far the best online camera website to buy gear. They are extremely honest and they make sure you are happy. Basically the newegg of camera equipment.

Edit: formatting, links.

Adamiciski2 karma

+1 for BHPhoto. Great prices, and a fantastic return/exchange policy.

If the camera/lens doesn't suit you, you can keep trading in until you find the one that works best.

The service varies; if you get a good salesperson, they'll work hard to help you, even researching competing prices on the interwebs. I've also had less pleasing experiences there, but absolutely the safest place to spend my money.

checkmate30012 karma

Man... I understand the desire to keep returning cameras... but it seems so overkill to me. I've heard of people returning cameras over 20 times to get "a good copy". In my experience it is kind of bs.

There are so many variables that go into testing a camera for a "good copy" that unless you have a very reliable way to rule out all the variations, your "bad copy" could just be a fluke. In general, all new cameras are within specs. Eventually, if people keep sending equipment back trying to find a "good copy" they are going to start raising prices to re-coup their losses.

But that being said - BHPhoto is fantastic.

Shnazercise9 karma

Why don't manufacturers like Canon allow complete access to every level of functionality on bodies like the 5Dmark3? Again and again there have been new abilities/functions like shooting 4k video (though I know it has it's problems) that have been unlocked by users in hacks like Magic Lantern. These devices often have more processing power and abilities than the manufacturer allows us to use.

checkmate300117 karma

I agree 100%. The industry is EXTREMELY secretive and doesn't like anyone messing with their cameras. I don't know what the manufacturers are really thinking, but it seems like there are a lot of very rich and powerful heads that are old and closed-minded. There have been a lot of issues with very controlling, constrictive regulations passed down the chain of command.

Every time I hear of someone hacking a camera, it makes me smile inside. I'm waiting for the day that someone breaks into the market and goes full google. I want to see someone make a camera that opens everything up to the consumer. Make it programmable like android. Give the device to the people for the people... I am overly idealistic, however.

cyniclawl8 karma

I have a single grain of sand rattling around in my lens after I loaned it to a friend(never again...). On a scale of 1-10 how hard is it to disassemble a lens and reassemble?

checkmate30013 karma


They are not designed to be taken apart. If you have a delicate hand, are extremely mechanical and have a fantastic memory of where everything goes... you may be successful.

Or, you will break it and it will never work again.

Go easy on your friend. Unless they really treated it like crap, it likely isn't entirely their fault. Wrong place, wrong time.

GenericSquirrel8 karma


checkmate300127 karma

Sometimes. Often the customer wants to take the card back with them.

My personal favorite was once when a customer thought there was a problem with their card. They said they couldn't access it with their computer. I took it in the back and put it in a card reader. The very first picture on the card was the customer with some dudes dick in her mouth. So so difficult to look her in the eye when I gave her her card back and tell her it was working just fine. :)

rordawg76019 karma

She wanted you to see it. That was a missed signal...

checkmate30017 karma

Damn... I KNEW IT!

TunaTrky5 karma

....This just made my morning. Reminds me of Rob William's "The Final Cut" when he can see all of the inappropriate things that happened in peoples lives, and at the funeral he looks at family members in disgust for previous happenings to the deceased

MASTERLUKE7553 karma

And you can't forget about his role in 1 Hour Photo

checkmate30012 karma

Had a girlfriend that said I reminded her of Robbin William's psycho character in that one movie... I should have seen that as a sign...

checkmate300111 karma

Also, I should note that a couple technicians that worked for a major repair company got in some serious trouble with the law when they found pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1209934,00.html

Shaeos6 karma

Okay. If I'm going to get a digital camera it'll be an expensive mother fucker. I'm sick of digital zooms. What do you recommend if I was going to save up and invest in a camera that will serve for years to come?

checkmate300110 karma

Get a DSLR/lens combo. The Canon 70D is pretty freaking awesome. The Canon 6D comes with built-in wifi capability and can fire the external flashes off shoe wirelessly.

I prefer DSLR's because of the lens options you have. You can buy anything that will fit your budget and the type of photography you want to do. Telephoto, Macro, portraits... whatever you need. They are also, in general, a little more robust. They can last a while.

Also, any camera you buy will be no longer repairable in 7 years - regardless. Or more accurately, parts will no longer be made after 7 years from the date of production.

Shaeos3 karma

Really? Shit. O.o Thank you, I didn't know that. Why seven years? Industry standard fuck off date?

checkmate30016 karma

There is some law that states they MUST provide parts for 7 years. The manufacturers have found a loop-hole by providing replacement cameras instead, but for the most part 7 years parts are no longer available. If the manufacturers still have stock, they'll sell it, but it disappears pretty quickly for major parts.

Shaeos2 karma

Oh cool! Thank you. If I was going to pre buy replacement parts, which should you get in general?

checkmate30012 karma

It's kind of a waste. We've tried it and now have a huge stock of ancient stock that no one really wants. Huge waste of money.

Not to mention Nikon has since passed a condition in their new contract that states under NO circumstance can we EVER sell ANY Nikon parts. Period. Even insanely old parts. Nazis.

Daanonymous5 karma

What is the most inappropiate picture you have ever seen while working?

checkmate300110 karma

Nudity, sexual encounters, random public nudity in the mountains, one was a glory-hole situation. Some of the more interesting were ones where you could tell the person didn't remember or realize that those pictures were on the camera when they brought it in. I can only imagine their reaction to taking their camera home and then seeing what they left on the cards.

Odusei5 karma

What kind of p-to-v ratio are we talking about here?

checkmate30012 karma

I thought I replied to this...

Not enough. Mostly the shots are really amateur. Also people have wised up a bit and the material is few and far between. Kind of disappointing.

checkmate30011 karma

Not much actually. It's gotten slower... I think people have wised up or something. Kind of disappointing.

Graceful_Bear5 karma

What cameras do you use personally?

checkmate300116 karma

No one likes my answer to this one...

I don't own a camera. HAHAHA!

Crazy as it seems, I only use my cell phone. I get to play with cameras all day. I've even borrowed cameras for a weekend here and there. I'm just not good at photography and really get far more joy out of fixing them. I also like to drink when I'm out with friends and I'd break something if I carried a nice camera out with me drinking.

morphotik4 karma

How much do you typically charge to replace the USM in a Canon 70-200mm F4 lens? My AF is super slow these days and suspect it's the motor but am not sure how much this repair typically costs.

checkmate30015 karma

The F4.0 is a little cheaper than the 2.8, but I'd still expect a price range between $150 and $250. It could be related to other problems, but it sounds like it may just be the motor. Clean the front and rear lens elements with a little warm breath and a soft cloth if they are dirty. Be gentle if there are sand-like particles to prevent scratching.

wsfarrell6 karma

Soft brush first, then wipe.

checkmate30013 karma

What this person said ^

filthylimericks3 karma

What kind of vacuu...sorry wrong thread.

checkmate30012 karma

I wish I could remember the german model that guy mentioned... Shit... on the tip of my tongue. Oh, that's going to bother me all day now...

setsar3 karma

No micro four thirds love? :P

Why are leica lenses so goddamn expensive?

checkmate300114 karma

Olympus is four thirds. Leica equipment is expensive because of the name. Panasonic and Leica point-and-shoot cameras are 100% exactly the same. Leica is outrageously expensive compared to Panasonic. In fact, I remember on one particular camera we needed to replace the Leica name-plate. The freaking name plate about a 1 cm sq cost over $100!

potatonator4 karma

And the Leica glass? I guess he wasn't talking about point and shoot camera's

checkmate30015 karma

Leica's name is everything. I'm too young to know why. I've never seen the point of charging so damn much for a name.

jackwiththefro3 karma

Why are pictures square if lenses are round?

checkmate30012 karma


I wondered this too. I don't have an answer unfortunately. I guess the same reason TVs are rectangle. We've done that way for so long, that we just stick with it.

cretecreep3 karma

Is sending a lens in for calibration every few years a waste of money or an actual valuable service?

checkmate30012 karma

I'd only send it in if you are actually experiencing problems. Otherwise you're paying some one to check it out, make a possibly very minor adjustment (likely un-noticeable) and clean it up.

If you have the money and you like the peace of mind, do it. Otherwise, wait until you notice a problem.

Smokeball2 karma

From a technical perspective which is the most beautifully made camera? I imagine Hasselblad ...

What sort of training do you need to get into this field? It sounds very interesting

checkmate30013 karma

Hasselblad is the only fully mechanical camera I have ever worked on. Blew my fucking mind.

Training is mostly done in-house and with factories. Training with factories is very rare. You have to be "in" to get access to those trainings.

It's really trial and error. I actually trained myself on Canon equipment. No one was fixing them where I worked and they were still coming in. So one day, I didn't have anything to do. I decided, well, if I mess it up, we can always send it out.

I never looked back. I'm actually pretty darn good considering how much I've learned "the hard way". Having someone who knows so much around me really helped.

hudbud2 karma

What would you say is the best build quality of the top DSLR brands? (Nikon, canon, Pentax, panasonic, Sony)

checkmate30015 karma

Nikon and Canon by far. Pentax isn't bad and the design is similar to Nikon.

I don't like Sony because it's Sony. Sony USED to be a good company with good quality... since then, they've cheaped out and charged a crazy amount for repair. Sony lenses aren't even repairable. They exchange every single one we've sent them for full freaking cost of a new one. Sometimes more. Parts aren't available for the lenses at all.

Sony does make almost every CCD/CMOS in most cameras across the board. There are exceptions. Canon has done a lot of in-house production of CCD/CMOS.

Kate8972 karma

I got a few bits of sand into my Canon 24-105L. I can see it on the inner glass and I was able to hear gritty noises while zooming (but I no longer can). Can I keep using the lens or should I send it for cleaning? How much damage will the sand do if I don't get rid of it?

checkmate30012 karma

Cleaning usually requires a full tear-down. So cost can be high. You're likely looking between about $100-$250. But that is really rough.

If it isn't affecting your images and you don't feel the grit anymore, I say use it. The sand has likely moved to a location that it isn't bothering anything or it has turned to dust and gotten stuck in some lube somewhere.

That being said, over time it may cause pre-mature wear. But you're going to be paying for it eventually one way or another. Might as well get your use out of it before you HAVE to get it repaired.

beankun2 karma


checkmate30012 karma


That's what we use. You can also buy the solution, but I personally use diluted windex and then denatured alcohol.

Kaitology2 karma


checkmate30013 karma

I'd try it, but they know it happened before. I doubt you'll get a 2nd freebie. That first one cost Canon about $500+. Those sensors aren't cheap.

The sun can definitely do some damage. There was an eclipse not too long ago and for weeks I kept getting Nikon D7000 with holes in the shutter. The sun melted right through them. Surprisingly the only problem with the sensors were a little smoke damage that cleaned up easily.

bobtimmons2 karma

Hi there - I have a UV lens stuck on a Canon 24-105 lens. I think it might be misaligned but it's stuck on there pretty good. I tried to take it off without tools but I can't. What's a safe way to remove it? I don't care about the UV filter, just don't want to hurt the lens.

I thought of using a hacksaw on the UV to just crack the plastic and also thought about maybe using a channel-lock type of wrench. What would you do?

EDIT: Oh and thanks for doing the AMA

checkmate30016 karma

First try a piece of rubber. I use bike tire tubing. You can place it over the front of the lens and it grips the edge of the filter really well.

If I have to break it, so be it. I break out all the glass and make sure I don't scratch the front element. I have a pair of wire cutters that works really well. I then make 3 snips through the frame of the filter about a half inch apart. I then grab the edge of the filter with my snips and use them like pliers to twist one section inward using the cuts I made to bend the metal easier.

At my shop, I've gotten so good at it that I just do it for free. You may call a shop and see if they offer this service for free. It only takes me max of 5 minutes from the moment it's in my hands to cleaning out the broken glass from the front of the lens.

gordonator2 karma

Here's cannon's official method

Seems scary, but also looks very effective.

checkmate30012 karma

I don't see why Canon would recommend this... but it is basically what I do. Although I don't do it in the snow... and my hammer is smaller... But the bent up filter at the end is usually what I end up with.

adamchalupa2 karma

Just out of curiosity, do you utilize the Point Spread Function or Optical Transfer Function to determine the quality of any of your optical lens systems? If you do - what tool do you use (i.e. program)?

checkmate30013 karma

Nope - way to scientific for me. MTF is often used, but only very high-end manufacturers use it. I'm thinking of Zeiss lenses. Here: http://lenses.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/en_de/industrial_lenses/products/lens-measuring-technologies.html Good luck saving up for that machine... Probably more than a house.

In actuality, most manufactures (for repair and service) use an optical projector. It shoots a resolution chart through the lens and either displays the chart on a flat wall or on to camera CCD's on a wall. This allows the technician to see exactly how the lens will function with an image. The better the tech the better the image.

adamchalupa1 karma

Wouldn't even the optics in the projector cause aberrations as well? Or is that accounted for? I know some programs like Matlab allow you to analyze the MTF, OTF and PSF for very simple images... I was curious if you knew a way to do this with an image quality chart, or a single perfect point photo for the PSF.


checkmate30011 karma

The projectors are really pricey, so I can only assume the optics of the projectors are made really, really accurate.

Maybe this is what you are looking for? Seems overkill for me. But you seem to know more than me about this: http://www.imatest.com/docs/lens_testing/

checkmate30011 karma

Holy crap. Look at the last 2. Thanks. I'm sending this link to my tech buddies.

TheBackpacker1 karma


checkmate30011 karma

They're some old middle range lenses for film. Tokina, Tamron... The Tamron has the adaptall mount (one lens with changeable mounts to fit different cameras).

Nothing amazing, but someone may like to buy them.

CTraise1 karma

This is a much too narrow question but I just saw this thread and coincidentally just found out I have a problem with my camera. When I called a couple repair shops the consensus was give us some money, bring it in and we'll look at it and tell you how much it is to fix. Is there any online resource I can use to figure out an estimate of how much my repair will cost me?

Nikon D80 the shutter button seems to have lost its ability to depress halfway so no half-press auto focus.

checkmate30012 karma

Well, the shops that offer "free" quotes often just program in a low estimate. Once they get it, they always can re-estimate it higher.

That being said, there are 2 that I can think of: www.criscam.com www.precisioncamera.com

I think both of those will give you an online estimate. But there is no guarantee that's how much it will actually be. I beg you to NOT send your camera to precision camera. They ship EVERYTHING out to Mexico for repair without the customer's knowledge. I hate that place.

A rough ballpark for me is about $175-$250. It depends on the exact cause, but likely it is the release switch itself.

snowontherocks1 karma

Hi there! I made a bit of an oopsies awhile back. I was at Sand Dunes National Park taking pictures, and the lens on my Nikon L610 got scratched. Consequently, my camera refuses to focus anymore because of the scratches messing with it. Is there anything I can do to fix this issue?

checkmate30011 karma

Not really. The lens needs to be replaced. We often get requests to "buff out the lens" but no one does that. It'd be too time consuming and labor intensive. It's cheaper to have the lens unit replaced. $150-$225 maybe.

SunBakedMike1 karma

My brother in law zapped his Nikon DSLR with ESD (static electricity). . The camera itself is fine but now the Nikkor 18-105mm DX lens auto functions will not work. How insulated are camera lenses against ESD? It wasn't a big shock (my nephew was going down a plastic slide) and the discharge was against the outer casing not the contacts.

checkmate30011 karma

It shouldn't have affected it at all. Everything should have gone through the outer body of the camera. The bodies are painted with special paint or have metal bodies so it shouldn't have made a big difference.

I would suspect the lens has an issue. Try another lens and see. You may be able to try that lens on another body at a camera store or something too.

biomunky1 karma

Hi. Where are you located? I bought a Nikon camera a while back and I spent about $250 on it. I know it's not much money for a camera, but it's all I could really afford. (I have 3 little girls and I'm a single mom) Last summer after a short trip, my sister's dog was over and bit into the screen pretty bad. Now, no picture can be shown on the screen, but the camera itself, works. Would it be a waste of money to try and replace the screen or should I invest in a new camera? The eco-friendly voice in my head keeps reminding me of electronic waste accumulations. But the economic side of me really wants to know which way is the cheaper route. Please help! Thanks!

checkmate30011 karma

It's tough to say. I'd need to know what model it is. Generally the screens are about $50-$75 in parts alone. Depending on whether or not the case is damaged, it may be cheaper to buy new. It's kind of a toss up.

If you give me the model number I may be able to give you a better ball park.

x_Juan9_x1 karma

Hi, I have a T3i and recently while shooting video, I found a red dot on the video recorded. It is a consistent red dot in one specific location.

I am wondering if you would be able to help me with this.

Thank you for your time.

checkmate30012 karma

Nope. It's a hot pixel. It likely will require re-adjustment from Canon. Make sure you have the latest firmware too. Sometimes that can find and fix the hot pixel.

covairs1 karma

The switch that changes the lens from automatic to manual has broken off my Nikon lens 55-200mm. Is it better to repair it or get a new one?

checkmate30011 karma

Repair it. I am assuming it is a kit lens that came with the camera. Repair is probably about $100. Maybe less.

DoctorDeath1 karma

What DSLR camera would you suggest for someone who wants to break into the photography business but doesn't have a lot of starter money?

checkmate30012 karma

Check out keh.com. They sell used gear. Some of it is iffy, but some can be good. It's tough because you can't really see it until you buy it though.

Barrrrrrnd1 karma

Broke the zoom-ring in my Tarmon 17-50 and now have to manually pull the barrel out to zoom it. I have no problem taking the lens apart, but cant get a new zoom-thingy. Any thoughts?

checkmate30012 karma

Unfortunately this is Tamron's problem. No parts available to my knowledge. It has to go to Tamron for repair.

THEMCV1 karma

I have a Canon T2i that often has a white "hot" pixel on video. What is the cause of this? Is it fixable?

checkmate30011 karma

Make sure you have the latest firmware. Sometimes the firmware will "find" these hot-pixels and fix 'em for you. Otherwise, cleaning might help or it could require re-adjustment of the CCD/CMOS by Canon.

It happens when the pixel is sending too much feedback to the circuit and telling it that more light is hitting it than it actually is. It happens and adjustment fixes all but the most extreme cases.

DaveIsLame21 karma

Which pocket-size point-and-shoot cameras do you think are built the best and require the least amount of repairs?

checkmate30012 karma

I recommend spending $200. That price range they are little more robust. They are all decent though. Just check reviews and stay away from ones people don't like. I really like Canon's G series. But they are a little more pricey.

DaveIsLame21 karma

I just did a diy repair for "lens retraction error" on my canon powershot elph sd680. Great camera for the past five years. I don't know how you handle all those little screws!

Actually, how do you handle all those little screws?

(I also just ordered a canon powershot s120.)

checkmate30012 karma

It can be mind-numbing. I'm a little shocked how I keep them all straight. I must have a very good memory. I also tend to lay the screws out on the bench in a general location from where they came out of the camera. It looks weird and no one I know uses this method, but I've used it for years and it works for me.

tomato351 karma

I had a Canon SLR for years with lots of lenses. I've held back from buying a DSLR partly because of my circumstances but also because I thought that cameras are a little high end to be an early adopter. I've bought a couple of point and shoots Canons and recently got a elph 330hs on sale. Its been a couple of years since I used anything but a phone camera and I was shocked at the features on this $140 camera. If I could get the wifi to work Iwould be a happy man.

checkmate30011 karma

They sure have packed a lot of technology in some of these cameras. Pretty neat stuff under the hood.

gordonator1 karma

I have a Canon 60D. I have a lot of dust on the focusing screen - how hard is it to clean that - and how would you suggest I do it?

Also, my rubber grip is coming loose. It doesn't really bother me a whole lot (on the bright side, it fits my hands almost perfectly!), but if I wanted to fix that, how hard is it to do?

Thanks in advance!

checkmate30012 karma

The focusing screen is easy to clean, but delicate. It is kind of easy to scratch. You'll need to blow it out and maybe take the super-impose screen out to get the dust out from behind that too. It should be only a spring latch and a couple screws.

The rubber is a pain in the ass because it comes as the rubber and a piece of double-stick tape. Getting the tape down just right is so freaking difficult. Canon should sell the parts though. They are fairly cheap.

Kenahn1 karma

Girlfriends 7D fell into the ocean. Camera turns on but the camera mode dial doesnt work (when on M the camera thinks it's set to a different mode) Is there any way to fix this or is the camera pretty much done for? She's already upgraded to the 6d but it would be cool to get this one back up and working to use as a backup

checkmate30011 karma

You could send it in and see what they say, but salt water = death for cameras. Personally I would likely sell it on ebay for parts and chalk it up as a loss.

FrenchieSmalls1 karma

Honestly: how easy is it to install split-prism focus screens for the average user? Thinking of getting one for my D700, but I certainly don't want to fuck anything up.

checkmate30012 karma

Actually very easy. There is typically a little spring that holds it in. Swap it and pop the spring back. It may be easy to scratch if you don't have steady hands.

Most shops should do this for $50 or less. Nikon may do it free.

nobedtime121 karma

Curious on your professional opinion on knock off lenses (Sigma/Tokina/etc) I always save and splurge on Canon lenses, but have never picked up a lower end one.

checkmate30011 karma

For the most part they are pretty good. Some can be crap. Check reviews and you'll find out which ones are cheap junk. Sigma and Tokina make surprisingly good lenses. Tokina had kind of disappeared for a little while, but they are making some now that I'm quite impressed with. Really solid lenses.

The only problem with the 3rd party lenses is service. It often requires them to be sent to their maker for repair because parts are a little difficult if not impossible to get a hold of. Sigma parts are available but they take forever to get 2-4 weeks every time. Tamron only sells external parts which is similar to Nikon's parts policy. I can't get what I need so I send those in.

KingOfCharles1 karma

I have a Sony NEX 5r, and one of the first lenses I got for it was the SEL16f28. It is a 16mm f2.8 pancake lens.

I managed to drop the lens form about 4 feet up onto a tile floor.

The lens still registers with the camera, and tries to focus, but the rear element got popped loose. It looks like it was glued in place before, and it basically dislodged.

I picked up the lens for $100 on ebay (the sony price is $250).

I haven't done anything with it since. I figure getting it fixed will probably cost just as much as getting a new one, but I figured I would ask your opinion.


checkmate30011 karma

I posted a similar answer about this.

Sony will charge you full replacement value. To my knowledge, no parts are available for the Sony lenses. Just buy a new one. It'll be cheaper over all.

peteleepdx1 karma

I know this thread is about digital still cameras, but am hoping you might have some educated perspective on this.

I happen to work for an organization that has an High Voltage Test lab.

A friend of mine has a couple of higher-end 4k cameras (including one made by Red) and was willing to shoot some stock footage in exchange for allowing my organization to use it for PR purposes. After some consultation, however, I decided that I wasn't fully knowlegeable about whether or not filming high voltage testing would harm the camera or not.

So, in terms of a best guess, do you think there would be any electromagnetic pulse or EMI/RFI conditions which might harm a digital still or video camera? (I theorized that perhaps the cables that go to microphones or other equipment could have damaging current induced under the right circumstances.)

Thanks for doing this terrifically scintillating IAmA!

checkmate30012 karma

Well, I certainly hope you don't try to sue me because I have no idea.

I know that cameras in general are shielded against electromagnetic interference, but I'm not sure about such an extreme environment. I'd assume you wouldn't want the camera any closer than you'd want people. That goes for cables too.

peteleepdx1 karma

Thanks! I've heard mixed things from our Public Affairs department about DSLRs having problems after filming these sessions--but it's hard to say if that was the actual reason...

checkmate30013 karma

I suppose you could try to shield it with a metal cage of some sort. That should do the trick. Or make a little tin-foil hat for the camera to wear. HAHAHAHA! :)

draxxion1 karma

So I have a Pentax K-5 and I was wondering how you felt the weather sealing in K-5s measure up compared to Canon 7D, 5D and Nikon D7100, D800.

checkmate30011 karma

Pentax actually is the best. I haven't torn into a D7100 or D800 personally, but I think Pentax started this trend first. They really put a lot of weather sealing everywhere. It's really pretty good.

draxxion1 karma

That's good to hear! Have you had a chance to compare sealing in lenses? I like having a sealed body, but it's the lack of sealed lenses that gets me.

checkmate30011 karma

Well, no lens is completely sealed because as you zoom air needs to fill the void. Some lenses have a sticky coating to collect dust or even tape around the openings to collect dust.

You are going to get dust in the lens eventually. It is just going to happen. I know Pentax has put more seals in it's lenses than Nikon or Canon, but I don't know a ton about all Pentax lenses. Many likely have no seals at all.

AchtungKarate1 karma

Why are digital backs for analogue cameras so damn expensive?

checkmate30011 karma

I can only assume you are talking about Hasselblad? I've seen digital backs for other film cameras... I can only assume because they aren't making much money on them. It take a lot of money for research and development and with the low number of sales everyone is paying a larger chunk of that.

Hasselblad backs are expensive because they're so damn big. Those are more than a middle range car.

CitizenTed1 karma

Oh, boy! I hope you read this.

I have a Panasonic Lumix G2 I like a lot. I switch out lenses often and even though I power down between changes I somehow got two microscopic bit of grit on my sensor. A local camera shop did a cleaning but were unable to remove them. Who/where can I send my camera for a careful removal of this grit?

checkmate30011 karma

It's going to happen. Powering down likely doesn't matter much. It could be located behind the low-pass filter. This is likely a big problem and may require replacement of the sensor. Some shops may be willing to try to clean out from behind the low-pass filter, but not many.

Panasonic should be able to do it, but they are kind of expensive. Look around for other shops and see who is willing to give it a try at cleaning keeping in mind that replacement may be needed.

raven124561 karma

Last couple of weeks my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens has had trouble auto-focusing on closer objects (within a few feet). Camera just keeps trying to focus and never locks onto anything until you move further away. Is this a problem worth getting the lens serviced, or better to just replace it? (Using with Canon 5DIII)

checkmate30011 karma

It may need repair or it could just be too close. Also see if the manual focus moves freely the full range. These lenses are known to stop focusing well if their barrels get bent. They aren't the strongest at the infinity position. There isn't a lot of metal to take much stress at that position.

bellpepper1 karma

I've got an old Canon 40D that simply won't power on. It was shooting fine one day, and the next, nothing. The battery is fully charged (and I've tried a backup battery as well), but when turning it on, the card reader light flickers maybe 3 times and then nothing else happens. LCD remains off, USB does nothing, etc. I took it to a Calumet and they said they couldn't diagnose it there, and they'd have to send it off to Canon. From the sounds of it, Canon would just diagnose the issue, and then I'd have to either pay for the diagnostic fee + shipping to and from (if I didn't agree to the repairs), or just pay for them to fix it as well. I wasn't prepared to spend an unknown amount of money for this.

It might be a long shot, but with this (admittedly small) diagnostic information, any idea of what the problem could be? And any idea of a price range for the repair? I don't want to waste the money if simply buying a replacement (or better) could be more cost effective.

checkmate30011 karma

Inside the USA the only thing you must pay to get the camera back from Canon is the return shipping. I think it is usually about $15-$20. So if you get an estimate you don't like, that's all you're really out.

The problem you describe is maybe a bad card circuit, but it is kind of strange. I don't see it often. It also could be one of the motors that runs the mirror or shutter is seized up. I've seen that happen too. It draws too much current and the camera kills the power to prevent damage. The power supplies are pretty good at protecting the camera, so that may be it.

My guess: $200-$300 max. If it is heavily used, maybe more. The 40D is getting old and I know some parts are no longer available. You may start to think about buying something new.

Wile-e-Cyote1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA.

How often does the Nikon flashes pop up mechanism fail? We have it fail on both or D40 and D7000.

checkmate30012 karma

It happens, but not extremely often. It is usually caused by a hit to the flash and it messes up the hinge and pop-up mechanism.

montyberns1 karma

I've been shooting classic cameras for a good while now and every year there seems to be fewer and fewer people that are able to service older equipment (lack of parts notwithstanding). Do you have any idea how large that group of people who are able to do quality repair of classic film cameras and lenses is now? Why do you think this community is shrinking so much? Lack of business? Lack of interest from younger people to learn how?

checkmate30012 karma

As far as repair on older equipment, there are likely less than 50 people in the United States who can still repair the classic cameras. The information is hard to come by, and the repair people experienced on the film cameras are literally dying off.

The industry has shrunk for a few reasons:

  • Throw away society

  • Little to no courses in the field

  • Unseen push by manufacturers

Consumer electronics have gotten cheaper and cheaper and with everything being made in China for pennies, it's hard to compete for what little money is available. People don't want to spend 1/2 or 3/4 of the cost of a new camera on a repair even though it is cheaper. They want a new camera or lens.

Students now are looking for higher paid jobs in business or banking or computers. They aren't even thinking about repairing electronics. Money is still there, but it isn't the "big bucks" they want to make.

Manufacturers are also pushing new vs repair. It costs them money to service cameras. The overhead is what costs money. Managers, technicians, facilities. The labor to get the cameras repaired is actually very cheap.

Most manufacturers sub-contract work out to other repair shops they have selected. They offer $20-$75 per camera or lens for the repair regardless of the work involved. They give the parts for free to the sub-contractors. The manufacturers have in-house technicians, but they only work on the very high-end equipment or very picky customers or extremely tricky repairs. They get paid pretty well. The sub-contractors get paid rather poorly.

F1nd3r1 karma

I've got an older p&s Lumix TZ7 (ZS3 in some parts I believe), which first got dropped in sand and later on paving. There are some dents on the lens barrel, but it did continue to work for a while. Now it no longer focuses. I'm quite fond of it, but am also aware that tech has moved on - reckon it can be affordably salvaged?

checkmate30012 karma

I doubt it. The lenses are the most expensive parts on these cameras. I unfortunately would have to suggest to move on.

StandingByToStandBy1 karma

Whats your thought on the walmart brand Fuji cameras. I have 2 of their DSLRs and didn't pay more than $200 for either.

One of them won't turn on unless you smack the shit out of it.

checkmate30015 karma

I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to. Is it a Walmart camera that is basically a Fuji inside with Walmart branding?

I haven't played with a Fuji in probably 5 years. They were OK cameras. I felt some were built very cheaply, but most are. The Fuji DSLRs were actually Nikon cameras with Fuji branding and Fuji circuit boards inside. The mechanical parts were all Nikon along with the frame and some minor electrical parts.

brianishiwa1 karma

Great AMA, thanks for doing it!

I have a Minolta "Beercan" (70-210 f/4) and it's bizarrely developed fungus inside the "sealed" inner element assembly. I've taken it apart twice, cleaned it with detergent and ultrasonic on the small parts, and this is the third time it came back. I don't have the resources to un-epoxy (?) the sealed element and have gotten quoted of $150-200 locally. Is that pretty accurate?

And yes. I know this is a lot of nonsense for a lens that's now around $100 on the used market, but it's by far the best copy I've found - tack sharp wide open, little to no PF/CA, etc.

checkmate30011 karma

Well, I'm not even sure they can do it... but if they can, it very well could change the optics of the lens. I know I wouldn't dare touch it. Perhaps they have parts, but the parts have to be very hard to find.

As long as you have some kind of guarantee that you aren't stuck paying the cash and getting a crap lens back, I say go for it. If they say they'll try and if it doesn't work out, you don't pay, that would be ideal.

CaptainSS1 karma

What is the best camera to get for under $750?

checkmate30012 karma

I hate this question. It's far to vague...

I would go for Canon or Nikon or Pentax if you have lenses. Anything between $500-$750 should be ok. None are spectacular, but they are all decent.

Check out keh.com for used camera gear too. It's kind of a crap shoot because they are all used. Some may be better than others.

kaybeesee1 karma


checkmate30012 karma

Damaged front elements are pricey. $300 for parts on some of them.

Liquid is stay away. Just don't do it. Not even once.

Heavy impact is also not worth it.

Look for lenses with errors. Usually just the aperture is no good. Or maybe ones where the USM has gone out.

royalprinceofzamunda1 karma

Not a question about cameras, but what brands do you prefer or use when it comes to flash memory? For both still pics and video capture?.. I'm also cheap, what would be the best bang for your buck?

checkmate30011 karma

I really like Sandisk but I've used others. I haven't found a brand I don't particularly like, but I shy away from ones I haven't heard of or seen much of. There are a lot to choose from now.

For video you need to find a card that is fast. That is what matters the most. Get class 10 cards if you can. Less may work, but nothing less than 6.

Sannazay1 karma

Do you recommend a particular method of cleaning the sensor on a Canon 5D MkII, or do you always recommend taking it to the pros? I'd love to be able to periodically clean my sensor, but I'm never sure what products, etc. to trust.

checkmate30011 karma

I posted this somewhere else... but...


That's what I use and I use windex first and then denatured alcohol 2nd. You can buy special solution... but for me my method is far cheaper and it works really well. Go light on the liquid. The swabs should only be damp, not soaked.

jorinverwoert1 karma

How many times have you shocked yourself on a flash capacitor?

checkmate30012 karma

Ohhhh man...

Those hurt so bad! Probably about 10 times. I still (knock on wood) haven't shocked myself on a capacitor for one of the external flashes. Those fuckers will probably question my choice of staying in the field. The worst is when you go to discharge it and you don't hear the sound of the discharge... you never know if it discharged or if you just didn't get it right... you sweat the whole time taking the camera apart hoping that it really is discharged.

One time there was a tricky little fucker I worked with. He would charge up capacitors and leaving them laying around as a prank. I, being a noob, would pick it up and get the bejezus shocked out of me. Little fucker...

natmccoy1 karma

Oh oh oh! I hope you're still willing to answer. I got sand in my point-and-shoot lens and it is nearly incapable of closing, opening, or zooming now. Any way that I can salvage it myself? Popular opinion online seems to be that it's a lost cause.

checkmate30012 karma

Generally it is a lost cause. If you have nothing to lose, I'd try to take it apart an clean it out. But it is very likely it may not work again.

zaikanekochan1 karma

How do you prefer your eggs to be cooked?

checkmate30011 karma

Over hard... but this is hardly interesting... I forgot, school's out...

Dabee6251 karma

Do you ever say "Let me guess, the lens broke because it couldn't handle your extraordinary beauty?"
How about "I bet it broke when you pointed it at yourself because you're so ugly!"?

checkmate30012 karma

In my head... But now it's more like: "Let me guess, you weren't paying attention and you swung your camera around like a dolt when it was around your neck and you smashed the lens all to hell."

They always say "No, it's never been hit... ever... not even like 6 inches on to carpeted floor when the cat knocked it off the couch. I don't know why it's broken."

MeklonPrime1 karma

I have a broken/loose canon lens that shifts under its own weight, where should i get it repaired?

checkmate30012 karma

Well, it depends on where you live. Try to find a repair center near you. More than likely you may have to ship it to someone. We are a dying breed.

Try to find reviews of the place and make sure you trust them. The bigger places have better reputations, but I work at a really small one and I know I do a damn good job.

If you can't find one you trust and you're going to have to ship it far, you might as well go with the manufacturer. Depending on the lens, it could be quite expensive. They typically charge on a sliding flat-rate scale and it all depends on the person who writes it up as to how much it'll cost.

Ghost117931 karma

What makes a nice lens a nice lens? I guess, why is it that everything looks so good through L glass as compared to an FD lens. Is it just the quality of glass, or is there more to it?

checkmate30012 karma

Well, FD is a mount type. EF is the newer mount and EF-S is for the smaller-frame cameras.

The main difference between a regular lens and an L lens is a higher amount of design and quality control and higher quality materials. Most of the low f-stop (f2.8 or f4) lenses are L lenses. To get the image quality out of these lenses the glass has to be bigger and thicker. This makes the lens much heavier. So then they have to design the body of the lens stronger. This means more metal and less plastic. They also throw in more adjust-ability and better electronics.

For instance: the lower-end lenses have basically just optical adjustments. The L lenses also have programmable circuit boards to allow the technician to change how the lens focuses at say 24mm or 50mm. They can dial in the focusing to lock a little closer or a little further. The entire focus range can be completely adjusted. It's pretty freaking cool technology. They can even get the lens to change how it focuses from the center of the image vs the edge of the image with the higher end bodies.

goodcase1 karma

I have a 40d sitting in my closet with a failed PCB. It was sent out for repair for the same thing a couple of years ago and cost close to 230$ to repair. How easy of a fix is this as in could I do it myself of I find the part?

checkmate30012 karma

What PCB? There are about 3 circuit boards: DC/DC power supply, Main PCB and Bottom PCB. What are the symptoms? No power? Errors?

goodcase1 karma

The main PCB. The camera won't turn on at all. No other symptoms.

checkmate30012 karma

That will have to go to Canon. It requires re-adjustments and Canon won't release the tools required to do the repair.

asdfik1 karma

You repair lenses? How does that work? Do you repair lenses that are cracked or something? If so, how? If not, what constitutes a lens that you can repair?

checkmate30012 karma

I repair A LOT of lenses. Most of the problems are some form of failure or a broken part of some kind.

I first see how the lens functions or doesn't function. Does it zoom smooth? Is the focus smooth? Does the lens mechanically function like it should?

Then, what electrical issues are there? Does the electronic aperture work (Canon)? How about the Image Stabalizer?

I narrow down the parts that need to be replaced and replace them. Finally, either during the assembly or after it's assembled (some adjustments must be done when the lens is apart on some models) I adjust the optics to make sure the image is flat and that the lenses are centered.

After it's all together I check it out and make sure everything works like it should.

chanzhf1 karma

I am a hobbyist who have done abit of work on camera repairs too. I have a question that my local Canon service center cannot answer nor solve.

I have 2 copies of a Canon EF 28-70 f2.8L. Both are at least 18 years old. However, one of them developed a very bad hazing in one of the lens group. I've torn it down to all its bare parts but no one can tell me how to replace/fix it. Any ideas?

checkmate30012 karma

Very likely the glue used to bond the lens elements into groups has begun to break down and caused separation. There are no parts for that lens, so you're kind of screwed. You should be able to see the hazing inside the elements. Very few shops will waste their time because they know they can't get parts.

crossmod1 karma

Just bought my son a Canon T3I for Xmas. What are some things he can do as preventative maintenance?

checkmate30019 karma

  • Get a padded case.
  • Keep the lens caps on when he's not using it.
  • Also get a UV filter to protect the front of the lens.
  • Make sure the strap is on the camera CORRECTLY.
  • About once a year or every couple years, take it in for cleaning.
  • Keep it away from sand, dirt, water.

In general they don't require much maintenance, but these things will make it last longer. Kids can be rough with stuff, but depending on how he cares for it, it should last a while.

Edit: formatting

crossmod4 karma

Thanks !! Your awesome. He is 15 and has been asking for a good camera for a while now. He just got a fish eye lens, so i had to remind him to stay off his skateboard with the camera. He laughed....i'm not sure if it was a "Ha, sure" or a "ha, like i would ever do that"

Thanks again !

checkmate30014 karma

Oh, he'll have a blast with that fisheye. Skateboarding and fisheye go hand-in-hand. :)

He should just run along with the skateboarder instead of doing both. ;)

spankratchet1 karma

Have you seen many Nikon D600s with sensor dust/oil problems? Do you think those problems are unusually common? The amount of internet complaining going on put me off buying a D600, but I can't tell if it's a vocal minority blowing up a tiny problem or a widespread issue.

checkmate30013 karma

It is a very small minority that has this issue, however it is real. Honestly, they are discontinuing the D600. I'd move to something else. I think they already came out with the D610. I think they found that this dust issue was a shutter-related issue and they needed to redesign and remake the D600 so they made the D610.

I'm just telling you what I've heard and it's all rumors, so I don't know for sure.

crawlspace_taste1 karma

I have Mmagic Lantern in all of my Canon cameras. What is your opinion of 3rd party firmware?

checkmate30012 karma

I'm mildly nervous of it simply because they are designing software without knowing everything about the camera because the manufacturers won't share information.

I applaud the 3rd party firmware people for what they do. Working in the dark has to be incredibly frustrating and rewarding. I say, hack it till it breaks. I'm not impressed with how the manufacturers are so secretive with their information.

Danilo_Mello1 karma

what is your favourite DSLR brand?

checkmate30013 karma

My personal favorite is Canon. But Nikon is also very good. I just learned on Canon and I really like their design. It is fairly simple and you can tell someone took extra time to think of the technician when it comes to repair and adjustments.

Nikon lenses are the worst to work on, hands down. So much work to replace simple parts or to adjust them. Pentax takes a distant 2nd to design complexity for lenses.

sacman1 karma

I dropped my G12 from a height of about 1 foot onto carpet. It completely killed the camera. No external damage, no rattling noises, no loose buttons or panels. But the camera acts as though it doesn't even have batteries in it (i.e. completely dead).

I have tried multiple batteries that I've charged using the external battery charger - no dice.

What do you think is wrong with it, and is it worth repairing?

checkmate30012 karma

  • It may have a loose screw that came loose and shorted something.
  • It could have just touched 2 boards together and shorted something.
  • It could be a broken battery door switch. (actually very likely the more I think about it)

The door switch should be visible. Look for a part of the door that sticks out further like it needs to push on something inside the camera. That's where the door switch is. It could be completely broken or just jammed or missing.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that it is located on the Main PCB. Only Canon should replace it because it requires complete re-adjustment to get the focusing and exposure right. You may be able to find someone who knows the manufacturer of the switch and can repair/replace just the switch. But the components are so close together, it is really tough to do.

Repair cost is likely $150-$225 maybe. Likely in the lower side of that, but it depends on what they find wrong with it.

kemenyadi1 karma

I have a Sony A33 camera and the connection on the bayonet between the lens and the body is poor. Often the connection is lost, especially while zooming, it suddenly doesn't recognize the lens. Any tips I could try at home to fix it? The pins aren't damaged or anything :S

checkmate30012 karma

I've seen this before and it is a bitch to completely cure it. I think in the end we replaced the contact plate on the camera, but it still acts weird every once in a while (it's a shop camera).

I'd try cleaning it with a pencil eraser keeping the little bits out of the camera body. That's about the best you are going to be able to do.

AboveAllBeKind1 karma

Oh oh! I've a specific/selfish question that, if you could answer, would be a massive help! I just bought a Canon 600D mostly for video blogging (interviews) and recording of my band's rehearsals/gigs, after asking for advice in a forum. People were suggesting the 600D, then one guy pointed out I could only record small segments at a time (so no good, since I'll usually be in front of camera, not behind). Then I found this and thought I could record 44 mins with a 16 gig memory card (http://www.canon.co.uk/Support/Consumer_Products/products/cameras/Digital_SLR/EOS_600D.aspx?faqtcmuri=tcm:14-821508&type=faq) - but now I'm thinking, that's not continuous recording, is it? Info at bottom shows smaller limit for camera itself... D'oh.

(TL;DR) Am I right in thinking the 600D is no use for recording continuous videos of 20-40 mins? And if so, any recommendations in same budget area? (Got the 600D + spare lens on Amazon.co.uk for just under £400. Just arrived and hoping I can return unopened if not suitable!) Thanks a mill!

Edit: ...and Happy New Year! ;)

checkmate30012 karma

I think you are just asking how long will it record without the user hitting the record button again...

It appears that the file system limits the file size to 4GB. HOWEVER, the camera limits recording to 30 minutes REGARDLESS. So it doesn't look like is going to suit your needs. They typically do this to prevent overheating/damage to the CCD, but I think it's kind of bullshit. You can just start it back up again so how does that give it any time to cool down?

Copy-pasta from Canon's site: * The file system limits the file size of a single movie clip to 4 GB. If the movie clip reaches 4 GB, the shooting will stop automatically. This translates to around 11 min. for 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720, and around 46 min. for 640 x 480. * Even if the file size of a single movie clip is within 4 GB, movie shooting will automatically terminate when the movie time reaches 29 min. 59 sec.

That being said, I think there may be 3rd party firmware that allows you to record for more than 30 minutes. You'd want to some research in to magic lantern.

killubear1 karma

I don't know if you will have the answer to this but oh well. Now that there are cell phones with 42 megapixels at a reasonable cost, what is different about a DSLR image sensor that prevents DSLR's from having such high resolution in a camera that wont impload your wallet?

checkmate30013 karma

Cell phone cameras have literally broken the back of the camera manufacturers. It has really showed them that they weren't offering customers what they wanted. Cell phone cameras are limited, however. They don't do well in the dark. You can't do anything super amazing with them. They are just really, really handy and make sharing pictures a million times easier.

DSLRs offer interchangeable lenses and a very large amount of control over how you take the image and what kind of images you can take. The glass is the magic when it comes to resolution. We are at the point now, that glass matters more than mega-pixels.

Dimadgio1 karma

How do cameras work? I just don't get it.

checkmate30012 karma

Well, let's break it down into 2 types: DSLR and point-and-shoot. There is also mirrorless, but they are a blend of the two technologies.

Basics (for all digital cameras): Shutter opens and light comes in and hits the CCD/CMOS sensor. The sensor transfers the light into a digital signal and sends it to a chip that then turns it into data (jpg or raw file) and saves it to memory (internal or memory card).

DSLR: So you press the shutter release button. There are 2 levels of contact: pre-release and full release. The first stop (pre-release) tells the camera to measure the light coming in to the mirror box. The light typically bounces off the main mirror and up into the prism (view finder). There is a sensor that measures the light brightness. It then calculates the appropriate aperture or shutter speed required for proper exposure. If you are shooting manual, it just tells you if it is over/under exposed.

Another beam of light passes through the main mirror and bounces off of the sub-mirror and into the AF sensor at the bottom of the mirror-box. The AF sensor uses contrast and somewhat color and looks for vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines to tell the camera how to focus the lens.

Once the camera determines the lens is focused, you press the shutter down all the way. It activates the aperture in the lens (mechanically or for Canon - electrically). It then drives the shutter and mirror (either 2 separate actions or part of the same mechanism). The main mirror flips up (or if Olympus, down - Olympus is weird). Once the mirror is detected as in the proper position, it releases the shutter. The first curtain is mechanically released and a spring makes it travel up or down. Depending on the shutter speed the second curtain is released shortly afterward. An electro-magnet holds the second curtain for a determined amount of time to make a slit between the 2 curtains. Longer shutter speed = bigger slit. This exposes the sensor to the light for the desired time. It doesn't expose the entire shutter for the entire time. It is a traveling slit so every part of the sensor is exposed for the same amount of time. The second curtain closes. Then everything to turned into an image.

Point-and-shoot: Light is always hitting the CCD/CMOS when the camera is on. It is constantly showing you an exact image of what the camera "sees". You pre-release the camera and it measure light directly off of the CCD/CMOS while it also focuses using the information from the CCD/CMOS sensor. This is why focusing takes a little longer with point-and-shoot and live-view DSLRs. It has to transfer the signal from the imaging sensor into data and make calculations on the fly instead of a designated sensor used JUST for autofocus.

Once it is ready to take a picture, you press the release all the way. It closes the shutter very quickly (typically 1 or maybe 2 blades) and then opens it for the time determined to get a well exposed image. Then it turns it into an image.

Here is a slow-motion video of a DSLR firing. Here is a simplified break-down of the design of a SLR.


I have a canon speedlite flash which has been in bits on my desk for a couple of months now. Basically the batteries leaked and acid got into the electronics causing it to do some crazy things when turned on. The connector which I'm 90% certain is the cause of the problem is not a connector at all and I can't remove it to clean. Any suggestions for getting the remaining acid out? I've bathed it in baking powder/water mix and left it in the oven for an hour, but it still goes mental, usually as I'm putting the last screw in!

See this post for a picture of the problem: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskElectronics/comments/1pc02h/repair_help_how_do_i_remove_this_connector/

checkmate30011 karma

It looks like an older one. I would buy new. They are so much better in every way. the Speedlight 600EX-RT is amazing. Built-in wireless control of other speedlights (if you have many).

Andrew11010 karma

What's your best advice for taking your gear out to the beach? I have a 7D and I've been reading stuff about salt particles being in the air due to sea spray. So basically, my question is, how good are the weather sealing capabilities of the more higher end cameras and lenses?

checkmate30012 karma

Don't worry about salt in the air unless your camera gets sprayed by a mist of water. It will hardly make a difference, and I've never seen one with damage that didn't actually get wet.

If you do get it wet, clean it immediately. Keep that puppy dry. If it gets submerged - it's toast, unless you can get someone to completely tear it apart and clean it in less than 24 hours.

The higher-end cameras are better with weather sealing, but most of the time is it just foam and won't keep water out (ie: rain).