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do digital cameras wear out

Katie H. , Nov 16, 2004; 08:11 a.m.

I have a friend who shoots with a Fuji S2. She said she's having more problems with blown out highlights and someone told her its because the sensor wears out after 10,000 clicks. Is that true? Can a sensor wear out? What happens? How long does it take? If this is true I'll have to think twice before buying a used DSLR. I've tried searchs but I can't seem to find any information on this. I hope someone can solve this mystery for me. Thanks, Katie

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Shourya Ray , Nov 16, 2004; 08:20 a.m.

because the sensor wears out after 10,000 clicks

Utter baloney. Blown out highlights are due to incorrect exposure. The solution is to learn how to read the histogram and not overexpose the image on a sensor that has a smaller latitude than negatives.

I don't think there are any reliable answers as to how long DSLRs last since I've run into DSLRs (of the medium format kind) that are well past 5 years old (I cannot even imagine the # of exposures on these pro units).

Ellis Vener , Nov 16, 2004; 09:18 a.m.

She said she's having more problems with blown out highlights and someone told her its because the sensor wears out after 10,000 clicks. Is that true?

Your friend is getting bad advice. Can Digital cameras wear out/ of course they can because they are machines and eventually all machines fail, but what you describe isn't related to that. She should have the camera serviced.

Mike Feetham , Nov 16, 2004; 09:20 a.m.

I talked to someone last weekend who had to send his D70 in for a repair on the shutter mechanism. He had taken over 110,000 shots over a 3 month period (nobody said these were GOOD shots).

I believe most manufacturers reference a life cycle for the camera/sensor, but only time will tell.

Greg Chappell , Nov 16, 2004; 09:26 a.m.

So you're worried about something wearing out before you even buy it??

Sounds like you need to wait 5-6 years & verify what's being made today still works- then you can buy without fretting so much. I imagine there will still be people shooting with Canon D30's and D60's at that point.

You will probably need a new computer before you need a new camera.

Fernando Dentone , Nov 16, 2004; 11:06 a.m.

I think the S2 uses a Bayer sensor. Bayer sensors use a colour filter. This colour filter is initially a transparent material, afterwards dyed with red green and blue. Exposure to light will, eventually, start to degrad the dye, so with time you should see that colours start to wash out. Having said that, I really: 1. Don't know when this occur, it really has to do with expusure to light, rather than number of clicks, 2. Haven't heard anyone reporting this 3. 10,000 clicks sound waaaay too a little number to cause this problem. I am a pure amateur and already did 4000 with my D70, bought last May. Imagine that pros do a lot more than this, certainly more than 10,000. The problem with the internet is that you will always find troubles with whatever you are researching, try google: "S2" and "problems" you will find thousands. I agree with the previous postings, your friend is getting really wrong advise, probably the camera needs to be serviced, or she changed some setting that might have altered the exposure. So in short, yes, digital cameras do wear out, eventually, 10,000 clicks is probably far away from this. Cheers, Fernando PS: your TV set suffers from more or less the same problem, still you bought one ...

Mike Elek , Nov 16, 2004; 11:52 a.m.

Someone here last week asked about a used DSLR (I think that was the question), and everyone here said they would never buy a used DSLR. Why?

Beau Hooker , Nov 16, 2004; 12:53 p.m.

Mike, I can only venture a guess, but because there's no film to develop, most DSLRs see heavy use, even from amateurs. Unlike film, it just doesn't cost any more to take 500 shots than it does to take one, so people do. Consequently the shutter can wear out faster, but a shutter can certainly be fixed too. Best wishes . . .

Jon Austin , Nov 16, 2004; 01:16 p.m.

Response to Fernando Dentone

"Bayer sensors use a colour filter. This colour filter is initially a transparent material, afterwards dyed with red green and blue. Exposure to light will, eventually, start to degrad the dye, so with time you should see that colours start to wash out."

Really? I've done extensive, if not exhaustive, reading on sensor technology, and I thought the color assignments in the Bayer array were accomplished digitally in the camera's image processor, not by analog means such as physical dyes.

The only filter I was aware of in my dSLR is the colorless / clear / transparent anti-aliasing filter that is (more or less) permanently mounted in front of the sensor. (Incidentally, my greatest concern in purchasing a used dSLR would be that the previous owner had scratched / damaged the AA filter, by improper or overly aggressive cleaning to eliminate sensor dust...)

Roger Krueger , Nov 16, 2004; 02:00 p.m.

Jon: Proof that reading is no substitute for common sense... if the colors aren't being discriminated physically in front of the sensor, no digital "magic" is going to sort them out thereafter. (The "Ted Turner" colorization process, while amazing, requires extensive manual intervention.)

Fernando: Yeah, but put something transparent in your window and see how long it takes to fade--at least a month or two. Now figure out how 1/125 exposures that'd be.

Katie: Death due to wear is mostly a shutter issue. I'd heard multiple rumors that my E?10's shutter would only be good for 20,000, but it was closer to 25,000 when it got stolen, and still running fine.


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