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Shutter problems

Neal Shields , Aug 20, 2010; 06:01 p.m.

Now for the second time in my life I have had problems with shutters on a Nikon SLR with less than 200 rolls of shot film. Last time the shutter on an F4 blew up after about 20 roles of film and this time the shutter on an RS (underwater SLR) stuck. It sounded fine, the mirror was going up and down etc. It just wasn't opening.
We lost ALL of our vacation underwater pictures. (Although the RS is old we only use it about once a year for about 20 dives a year, so total use is minimal).
After getting 20 blank rolls of film back, I worked the camera and gave it a gentle tap with the shutter depressed (on the B mode). The shutter fired and has worked fine ever sinse.
I have been told by a independent camera repairman (Nikon no longer repairs this $5000, 15 year old camera) that there was probably a hair or fleck of film in the shutter track and it is no more likely to fail in the future than any other camera.
Anybody else had this problem with Nikon shutters, digital, film or otherwise and if so did it re-occure?
I just spent a fortune on a D700 for my wife and as near as I can tell it has exactly the same shutter. Really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, but once you start with a brand and invest a small fortune in lenses, I can't see any way to jump ship.
Note: before you say it. I have been loading film in cameras sinse a Leica 3f was current production and no, we didn't touch the blades.

Neal

Responses

Vincent Peri , Aug 20, 2010; 06:12 p.m.

About three months ago, I won a really nice Nikon F3HP on eBay. Last week, I started to advance the film, and the shutter fired. It happened about every fourth photo, so I packed it up and sent it to Keh.com for repairs. Got an estimate of $130, which I approved since the camera is worth it.
I'm not worried, even though I have four other F3HPs. They're all at least 25 years old and have proven their reliability.

Dave Wilson , Aug 20, 2010; 06:50 p.m.

Yes, we can get into the frustration of my pair of FM2s with MD motors. I always work with pairs of whatever. They were brand new, one black and one chrome so I could easily tell film types for professional applications. Shutter failed and was fixed twice on chrome plus motor got jammed several times, very frustrating, it was all due to the bad shutter. I also had an FE that would just stop working as I was sure shutter as sticking. The whole lot got fired and I went on to N90 as primary, flawless, excellent, N2000 ran forever too so I kept that around. Point is "you never know" so just test it out and see how it goes.

Jerry Litynski , Aug 20, 2010; 11:47 p.m.

One tip: before your next vacation with the underwater camera -- take one roll of 12 exposure film and test the camera before you leave. Twenty rolls of film is a large price to pay for *it should have* worked after resting on a shelf for a year.

Neal Shields , Aug 21, 2010; 10:40 a.m.

I totally agree and will of course do that next time. We already had a battery of tests that we always run everytime before going underwater including a TTL test to be sure that circuit is working. Normally I would have run the extra roll of film threw before leaving but life through a bunch of issues at us right before we left.
It does puzzle me however that on of Nikon's major claims to fame and something that they feature in a lot of their advertising is the reliability of their shutters. I still own my orgional Nikon F with the horizional running cloth shutter and I own my own shutter speed tester. I would bet my bottom dollar that I could take that camera out right now with never a roll of film through it in the last 10 years and the shutter speeds would be accurate plus or minus 1/4 F stop.
It just seems to me that Nikon sacraficed reliability to get braging rights on fastest focal plane shutter when they went to the horizional runing bladed shutter from the vertical curtain shutter.
How often do any of us need 1/8000 of a second shutter speed unless we are photographing a nuclear bomb test?

In my defence, the first time I had a brand new Nikon shutter fail it blew up completely so the failure was obvious. In this case everything worked and sounded fine, no error messages etc. It just wasn't exposing the film.

P.S. Is everyone else good with spending that much money on a camera and being told 10 years later that it is no longer supported with service or parts?

Jerry Litynski , Aug 21, 2010; 10:54 a.m.

"Is everyone else good with spending that much money on a camera and being told 10 years later that it is no longer supported with service or parts?"

You have discovered the reason the underwater-housing companies have a brisk (and the housing are fairly expensive...) business. Old Leica camera owners like the fact their equipment keeps on working. [All the Saturn automobile owners right now are not going to be happy in 11 years, or whenever GM decides to no longer keep an inventory of parts....that is life in the business world.]

I've a old Nikonos IV body -- it is set aside in case our area gets a hurricane -- the water-proof Nikonos should be good from rain. But it would be hard to fault Nikon for the camera sitting idle and then finding out the camera suddenly did not work. I am not 100 percent on this, but I think every Nikon instruction manual suggests a trip to Nikon for a service check-up every couple of years, depending on how much the camera or lens is used.

Neal Shields , Aug 21, 2010; 06:49 p.m.

I did in fact send it in to Nikon Torrance regularly for service. One of my problems is they will no longer service that camera that was released in 92 and discontinued about 10 years later although the continued to sell NOS after they stopped manufacturing. They also will not supply the parts so no one else can do the periodic service either. Yes this is a 10 year old camera but I like many divers go once a year and shoot about 20 rolls of film per trip. From the standpoint of what their marketing would lead you to believe, this is basically a brand new camera.
Beyond that the F4 shutter that blew up was not to the 15th roll of film.
I suppose that if Nikon marketed their product differently, I might feel a little different about my experiences but at least for most of my life their marketing has been focused on reliability and the ability to continue to build a camera "system". Not only do I have a camera body that they no longer support but I have very expencive lenses that they no longer make a body of any kind to fit!

Yes, we could buy a housing and go digital with all the operational inconvience that entails compaired the RS but should I really have to? Did their marketing 10 years ago lead anyone to believe that if they spent over $10,000 on one of their camera systems that the WHOLE system would be obsolete in 10 years?
Maybe I just expect too much for my money.
Neal

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