Do cameras 'die' if you don't use them?

Frankieplus

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A photographer friend of mine told me that it's not good for a camera to just sit there and not be used. He was saying something about the shutter seizing up and moisture problems and all sorts of things and gthe camera will eventually go bad.

He said if you don't use a camera that the shutter will just decide to not work anymore and that a shutter is designed to be used not to just sit there doing nothing.

Is all this true? How long can a camera just sit in a box in a wardrobe? How do you properly store a camera for extended periods of time?

And in contrast, what's the minimum amount of time a camera can be used to keep it nice and healthy? Will taking it out of the box twice a year and shooting 20 shots considered enough usage?


-Frankie
 

Rob

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Obviously any mechanical device can fail if it is left to rot and rust away. However, in most countries, I wouldn't think that the moisture level in a wardrobe would be sufficient for it to break a camera without at least a few years of sitting. I know of cameras which have lain undiscovered for over fifty years and have not had a problem.

In answer to your question, I would say that firing the shutter a few times every six months and changing the aperture would be a good idea. Don't forget to take batteries out of a camera either - acid from blown batteries can wreak havoc.

To store a camera, give it a clean, put it in a plastic bag with some silica gel, put that in a padded box and stick it somewhere with consistent temperature.

There's an easy solution: take more photographs!! :)

Rob
 

DocFrankenstein

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I'd venture to guess that at STP the cameras wouldn't die by themselves. Usually the old stuff gets put into a basement or the cellar and the conditions may be above the operating ones.

AFAIK the leaf shutters are the ones that have a reputation of getting out of whack because of storage.
Also the lenses can grow fungus. Or the lube can leak onto glass.
 

Meysha

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I'd be worried if you live in the tropics like I do (well actually it's 'did' now, coz I've moved). The humidity pretty much wrecks anything and everything. Especially adding sea air to that too! :shock: eeek. thank god I moved. :lol:

I can't remember if the capacitors can break from not being used - or if it's just that they break because they're old. hmmm I think it's coz they're not being used.

I don't know what the 'minimum recommended usage' would be. My Canon EOS 100 is getting old now - but we've had it since new. My dad used it as a professional camera for a few years... then it sat in its pelican case for about 7 years. I pulled it out, put a new battery in it and it works like new. I did have to get the lens and mirror cleaned though coz there was enough mould on there I could've opened up a pharmacy.
I was worried the flash (a speedlite 430EZ.... ie: my baby) wouldn't work because of the capacitor thing I mentioned before... But it works like new. It's only played up once or twice... and that was when it was attached to my digital - so I'm putting it down to the mismatch of hardware.
 

ksmattfish

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If stored properly I don't think the odds of a camera breaking while just sitting in a closet could possibly be higher than if it was being used regularly. I've never had a camera break by itself, but I've broken a few while using them.
 

cumi

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A have an old Canon AV-1. I haven't used it for c.a. 10 years. Now I bought (just for fun) a film and shoto 36 pics. The result was as good as 25 years ago, when my father bought it.

For digital, I have no experience...
 

Alpha

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New cameras last longer than older cameras if unused. It's a question of moving parts, really. Mostly mechanical cameras are designed to be used, and moved around. If you don't use them, things like grease gets stiff, crap clogs them up, etc. They essentially start to fail mechanically if not used for very long periods of time. Electronic cameras, on the other hand, have fewer moving parts. Therefore, they can sit around longer without risk of something freezing up. However, I think that a well built mechanical camera is almost guaranteed to outlast an electronic one, when used often.
 

Mitica100

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Being a collector of old cameras I can tell you that they can sometimes go bad without a little 'exercise', i.e. firing the shutter 15-20 times every 3-4 months and playing with the aperture rings. It does happen more often to the older cameras, mostly due to the type of lubricants used at that time, which were not as good and sophisticated as the ones used nowadays. God knows how many shutters I've 'rescued' by just giving them a good cleaning. If your camera is 30+ years old, give it a little 'exercise' every once in a while, or as someone else pointed out, just go out and shoot.
 

2framesbelowzero

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Q? are there springs used in lens-reflex mechanisms?
if so - maybe good not to leave a film camera's shutter 'cocked' when not in use...as this might weaken the spring.
 

Dave_D

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In general, it is safe to store a camera in the state it was in when new off the shelf. If the camera was cocked when it came out of the box then cock it when you put it away and vice versa.
 

Mitica100

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2framesbelowzero said:
Q? are there springs used in lens-reflex mechanisms?
if so - maybe good not to leave a film camera's shutter 'cocked' when not in use...as this might weaken the spring.

That might have been the case with the SLRs of the 1940s through 1950s. The more modern cameras don't really suffer from that. The main issue with the above cameras is if you leave a camera cocked for a long time, i.e. store it that way for years. The spring(s) can weaken a little but what renders these cameras inoperable (jammed) is the old grease used to lubricate the parts. That old grease is the major culprit, really.
 

DocFrankenstein

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If the spring is made from good steel, it's going to take a couple million years for it to weaken significantly.
 

Rob

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2framesbelowzero said:
Q? are there springs used in lens-reflex mechanisms?
if so - maybe good not to leave a film camera's shutter 'cocked' when not in use...as this might weaken the spring.

I have a folding camera which has a clockwork shutter mechanism. Like any clockwork device, you wouldn't want to leave it cocked as any small rust would make the coil springs seize together. Similarly, with an SLR, I would personally wager it's better to leave it in the relaxed position - i.e. post fire, pre wind-on. It probably doesn't make too much difference though!

Rob
 

monicam

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Frankieplus said:
A photographer friend of mine told me that it's not good for a camera to just sit there and not be used. He was saying something about the shutter seizing up and moisture problems and all sorts of things and gthe camera will eventually go bad.

He said if you don't use a camera that the shutter will just decide to not work anymore and that a shutter is designed to be used not to just sit there doing nothing.

Is all this true? How long can a camera just sit in a box in a wardrobe? How do you properly store a camera for extended periods of time?

And in contrast, what's the minimum amount of time a camera can be used to keep it nice and healthy? Will taking it out of the box twice a year and shooting 20 shots considered enough usage?


-Frankie


Frankie, I'm not sure the exact answer for you, but I do know it depends a lot on where you live. If you are in a very dry area, like Arizona, things will be preserved a lot better than if you store a camera here in Philippines without air conditioning.

It's always a good idea to take a camera out and click it a few times. I do it at least once a month or more when I'm not taking a lot of photos.

What I would do is:
• Take out the battery if it is going to sit for a period of time.
• Store the camera in the driest place you have in your home in a dust free area.
• Take it out once a month and click it a few times.

I think there must be places you can Google to find out more on this unless someone else knows more things to do.
 

ElectricSunCafé

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Can i ask what would be the best thing to do if one does indeed manage to thaw out an old fossil?

I recently got given an Olympus OM-30 that operated ok for a few weeks after being reintroduced to life above the basement, but the shutters jammed? Any simple solutions? My archeological skills are pretty rusty too.
 

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