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Thread: Black frames

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    Black frames

    I have an Olympus E-420, and a few weeks ago I noticed occasional frames were coming up black. I shrugged this off as shooting too quick, or the flash not firing or just a hiccup in the firmware or something, but they started becoming more frequent.

    This weekend I tried to take some pics in the garden and every shot I took was black. I can still see through the eye-piece, but if I switch to view on the screen, all that is displayed is black. This happens with both my lenses, and Ihaven't actually been able to capture anything for three days now, despite a reset of the camera, activating the cleaning process, changing and charging the battery.

    Is my chip just broken?

    Any thoughts as to what this is, what may have caused it, or what I can do about it?

    Any help gratefully aprpeciated.

    Cheers
    Andy

    Nikon D7000, 70-200mm (newly obtained...no pictures up shot with it yet)
    Olympus E-420, 14-42mm, 18-180mm, 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 (shutter has died on this one )

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Gosh! That sounds like a good trick - you'd NOT want.

    So you're saying that you can use the eyepiece viewfinder but not ?live-view or playback. Can you "play back" an image and see it in the eyepiece?

    I had a look through the manual on-line and it does not even have a Troubleshooting section. The error codes did not seem to list your problem, either.

    Well, FWIW it sounds like it's just not writing to the card, and if there are NO OTHER messages I just don't know.

    I'm now interested to see what it is.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Hi Andy,

    did you do a firmware update recently?

    I think a friend had this problem after the last firmware update and had to send it back Olympus for repair.

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    Cheers Am, sadly I haven't found anything online, in manual or troubleshooting or anything

    It doesn't display in liveview either so I assume it's nit just a writing problem. Also I tethered it to my computer time lapse to take a shot every 5 minutes whilst doing some gardening work in Saturday...after two hours I just had 24 shots of black, both JPEG and RAW.

    Looks like I may have to get my Nikon sooner than I thought!

    Thanks for the reply...will let you know if I figure it out.

    Sent from my HTC Desire C using Tapatalk 2

    - - - Updated - - -

    Cheers Dasv1, I was looking at upgrading the firmware, but hadn't done it as yet. It's out of warranty though, and not sure I went to spend the money sending it for repair, as I was looking to get a new camera anyway...a shame though, I was looking forward to either selling it to fund the new one, or keeping it as a spare/sacrificial camera (say for long timelapse outdoors or similar, where it doesn't matter too much if it got damaged). Neither seems probable now

    You never know though, a firmware update may even fix it, so that's not a bad idea.

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    It sounds like the sensor has died.

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    Any idea what soer of price they run to by any chance Lance?

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kafter244 View Post
    Any idea what soer of price they run to by any chance Lance?
    Sorry, your sentence is not quite clear, but if you are asking about how much it might cost to get a new sensor, I have no idea. Need to take it back to the store you bought it at or send it to Olympus.

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    Yes, sorry Lance...between using a colloquialism and a spelling mistake, it wasn't the clearest sentance I've ever written! But yes, I was wondering if you had had any experience with broken sensors to give an idea of price.

    Thanks everyone for your help...I shall contact Olympus.

    Cheers
    Last edited by Kafter244; 01-10-2013 at 9:43am.

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    In case you're interested I received an email back from Olympus today. They suggested the issue sounds more like a shutter problem, and could cost in excess of $300 to have fixed. Although they do not charge to review a camera, if I choose not to have it fixed but want it back, I will have paid about $30-$40 in postage for no reason.

    As I've just bagged myself a rather nice second-hand Nikon D7000, I think I'll put that $40 toward a new prime lens rather than shipping around an old, poor and broken camera!

    Thanks for all the advice

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    To (help)confirm if it's a shutter issue, try doing a bulb exposure or any other longish exposure.

    If you can set up the camera to make an exposure without a lens attached, what you want to do is to leave the lens off.
    Setup the camera so that it will take something like a 5sec exposure or so .... the time is not critical, just as long as the time of the exposure allows you to see with the naked eye, if the shutter is opening or not.

    This part may sound tricky or unnerving, but the reality is that it's not going to break your camera in any way.

    Once you set the camera up to exposure for a few seconds, pointing it towards yourself and looking through the mirror box, press the release to take the exposure.

    You should see the mirror flip up and the sensor now exposed. The sensor may be a translucent looking, possibly green coloured surface.
    If you only see a flat matte black surface, then you are looking at the shutter itself.

    Some other possibilities could be that the syncing between curtains may have failed, so that one of them(front or rear .. doesn't matter which) may be opening but the other isn't or that the rear is closing too soon.
    The possible variations in a shutter problem are too many to mention here.

    What's important is that you can see the translucent greenish sensor surface for approximately the amount of time you've dialled in as the shutter time. Somewhere between 2-5sec works well, so that you can easily see and estimate a time scale for the inner workings of the camera.

    D7000 is a good camera, and tho it's now old tech(in camera years), it's still very much up there with the best of them.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Thanks, that shutter test is a really good idea. I picked my Olympus up last night just to see if there was still anything on the card, and snapped a photo for the hell of it...it worked...so I took another...that didn't...then another and it worked again. I'm now convinced it's not the sensor, but the shutter. I like your test...will try it out. This may even show itself as a lesson in the art of camera maintenance too :-)

    Could it be something as simple as the shutter sticking, and a well aimed and controlled squirt of servisol or similarly electronic friendly lubricant could be just the ticket?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    So one exposure works and then another doesn't.

    Could it be something really simple and silly like exposure bracketing set in the camera? That is if the camera allows exposure bracketing up to about -3Ev, are you snapping up exposures with huge exposure bias?

    Post a dark image with all exif data intact, and maybe there's some info in there that can help?

    Have you tried to run the black frames through software with massive exposure bias set? .... eg. +3 or more Ev, to see if there is any image at all, or is it really a fully black frame?

    I wouldn't be trying to fix it just yet. Firstly determine if there is indeed a real problem, and if this turns positive(in that there is a problem), then try some home brew ideas to see if it's fixable.

    I dunno about Olympus, but my bet is that the shutter mechanics are internally hidden, so that environmental exposure is limited .. so squirting lube into the mechanism will probably only spray lube onto the sensor.
    It'll most likely have to be stripped down(at least partially) to reveal the shutter assembly ... then you'd want to spray some lube.

    Apart from the potential to lose small parts, stripping down a DSLR isn't all that hard.
    I've partially stripped the D70s down, and you just need a secure and safe way to keep hold of the small screws.

    I'll be stripping down my D70s and D300 very soon for some modding.

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    I don't think it's anythign like a bracketing or setting problem, because I set the camera to auto and also managed to take 24 straight black frames the other weekend, but then suddenly it would start again, then stop...it's erratic, not regular. I haven't looked at the EXIF data of a black frame though..good idea.

    I also like the idea of stripping it, I'm an engineer and used to working with electronics, so shouldn't be too hard...it's finding the time and uninterrupted space with a 3-year old and 3-month old that's the problem! lol.

    Thanks again Arthur.

  14. #14
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Simple way of checking if it is the shutter. You should have a "clean sensor" option in the menu and when activated, the shutter stays open for you to clean the sensor. If you use this option and the shutter doesn't open, then it is your shutter that would seem to be at fault.

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    try these people, http://www.camerarepairs.com.au/index.htm I have never used them personally but they are close to you (I think) and may be able to help.

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