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Thread: Is 50 years the life expectancy of SLR camera electrical functions?

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    Ausphotography Regular Nick Cliff's Avatar
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    Is 50 years the life expectancy of SLR camera electrical functions?

    Noticed someone with a Pentax Spotmatic ES camera said the camera despite repairs was now only used with mechanical shutter and was not economic to repair any longer.
    I was told that copper phone lines should last 50 years before problems occur and would this be similar with our old cameras as I have an Olympus OM2n Md camera that would be about 35-40 years old now.

    cheers Nick

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    It depends on storage and usage, I suppose.

    I have a Minolta SRT-303 that's from the late 70s that still goes. It's mechanical
    but for the lightmeter, I guess.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    A lot depends on capacitors etc. They can dry right out and fail. Even though your camera likely does not have the large capacitors of the 70s and 80s, they are still prone to the same things.

    Electronics will fail..eventually.

    https://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~reese/electrolytics/
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    I think the older film SLRs may have used mechanical components, such as springs, and these may gradually weaken. Also, if there were light machine oils used to lubricate some components, then those oils may become displaced and any electrical components may either fail or "drift" in their electrical characteristics, which might lead to problems.

    Cheers

    Dennis
    Dennis

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    Thanks for the information Rick it appears many of these cameras with electrical components will have a use by date then and are unlikely to be working beyond 40-50 years without some electrical components being replaced

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Dennis I am sure you are right the oils should need replacing in the moving parts with modern higher quality oils that may not drift as easily and or conduct electricity and am seriously thinking of taking the top plate off the camera to clean the winder and around the prism etc.

    cheers Nick

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    All components have an expected time to failure. Plastic bodies, they harden with more and more UV exposure, so at some point your consumer level plastic bodied camera will fail in some way.
    Electronics/electricals, no reason to assume they can't fail. Usually user induced. Copper degraded over time. it corrodes(turns green).
    Wires in old cars suffer this a lot. First sign will be headlights, not as bright as they were when new. The wires carry high(ish) current, the longer they do, the less they can eventually carry, so less power to the globes, result = less bright headlights.

    Same with cameras, though the currents that the copper has to carry is much much lower, so probably not so much of an issue. Also, most of the copper is board based, that is not so much loose wires, like your house or car wiring .. the copper tracks are on the electrical boards. A good manufacturer(such as Japanese camera makers) will 'seal' the boards to eliminate exposure to the environment.

    Like Rick said, the components in the camera like resistors, capacitors, all those transistors, etc .. will usually be high quality Japanese made products, and so less likely to fail. But some do.

    the example of copper phone lines is not a apples to apples comparison either. Phone lines were always subject to the environment .. water, air, dirt, salt .. etc. While copper doesn't corrode as easily as steel, it still corrodes, and phone wires are very thin, and can be subject to mechanical stress too. As much as can be done to protect them from these issues has been done, but they still get subjected to those respective issues.
    I guess they could have been made much more environment proof, with better insulation, but at what cost?

    So there's both reasons and no reason to expect a SLR camera of some type to last a set amount of time.
    The oldest fully mechanical types always had service lifetimes, where say after 10K shutter actuations the recommendation was to have it serviced or SLA(service lube adjust).
    Theoretically, electrical/electronic bits have an expected lifetime, usually measured in hours or cycles. So to say that a camera could have a lifetime of x number of years is 'inaccurate'(so to speak).
    It's better expressed in terms of shutter actuations. Imagine the difference in how a pro uses a camera compared to a casual consumer user? Pro could easily shoot 100K images in a year, consumer maybe 1000.

    I'm pretty sure that oil wasn't used in cameras(or lenses), it's a special very light grease.
    I'll post a link to a really nice chap(Rick) based in Japan that showcases the cameras and lenses he repairs. No videos(I think) .. more traditional reading material based website structure if your interested in some of this type of info.

    RichardHaw
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Interesting link, AK.

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    Here is a useful link to a resource that discusses the topic of the application of oils and greases for camera repairs and the history of their usage.

    https://www.filmshooterscollective.c...tt-rogers-4-27

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    Thanking you Arthur will follow up on the link supplied and will see how the old camera lasts with a bit of maintenance one guy mentioned cleaning out the electrics with some jets of air too that makes some sense re the dust bit over time. With the oil bit had wondered about using a special grease called Never seize though will read the information kindly supplied first before making any decisions.

    cheers Nick

    - - - Updated - - -

    Dennis much appreciated with this information supplied as I would imagine there would be a mix of oils and grease used with different components of the camera,

    cheers Nick

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Don't use never seize in the mechanics of the camera. I dunno, but I dare say that it will affect the movement delicate moving bits in there.

    Air for electronics is OK, can't do any damage. See how much dust and muck has accumulated within the camera.
    The best stuff for electricals(of any type) is contact cleaner. Always handy to have a small can of spray.
    eg. for camera or lens contacts, spray a small wet patch onto a cloth of some type, wipe body/lens contacts with wet patch, non communicating lens will be recognized by camera immediately .. heart starts working again!

    I'd say if you "HAD" to try some kind of lube on the internals of the camera, the only two I'd use would be something like WD40(which is more of a lubricant than anything else) .. I prefer INOX better myself.
    The other stuff type I'd give a go would be a lightweight lithium grease spray.
    These products wouldn't be recommended, but considering the nature of the internals of a camera, I'd reckon that their consistency would be OK for the workings of a camera.
    Theoretically, some sewing machine oil would also work, but being oil it wouldn't cling to the bits that require lubricating and would settle over time.

    ps. lithium grease(spray version) really good stuff for general purpose use. It's very highly moisture resistant, and very light(grade). Works really well for locks and stuff, where I used to use graphite but always seemed to need to reapply again sooner than expected.

    I own a 4WD and for a couple of years I always seemed to be lubricating the door hinges. Dust would make them squeal after a trip. I have the lithium spray, thought try this instead .. can't recall the last time I reapplied any.

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