How can you tell if a camera is broken?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by keller, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. keller

    keller TPF Noob!

    Sep 9, 2005
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    Erm, so I've got this nervous fear that if I buy a secondhand camera, it could be broken and I wouldn't even know.

    Beyond the obvious (photos not processing, no flash, buggy menus, missing lens), what are the more subtle signs of a camera that is broken or buggy? I'm mainly looking at digital, since they seem to be more expensive.

  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

    Jan 29, 2005
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    There's only one way to know for sure - have a print done! With digital this should be really easy as you can take in a card, or borrow one and get it done almost instantly at a kiosk.

    The best subject is a test card, but failing that any shot which involves accurate focussing. I've only ever bought cameras which have been lovingly looked after. To ensure that this is the case, look at the corners and body for scratches and most importantly knocks or chips. Make sure the film door and/or battery door operate perfectly - these are vulnerable items. Always check the battery compartment for corrosion, this can damage things - look for severe rusting or white deposits indicating an errupted battery.

    Take off the lens and look for any marks scratches or fungus. Do the same with the mirror and viewfinder (don't take them off obviously).

    Lastly - instinct. If you're not happy don't buy it!

    Good luck!

  3. j_mcquillen

    j_mcquillen TPF Noob!

    Oct 3, 2004
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    Northumberland, UK

    Check the shutter and mirror mechanisms are working too...

    Fire off a couple of shots without film to make sure the mirror doesn't stick on its way back down, and set a couple of different shutter speeds around 1/2 to 2 seconds to check if the shutter is damaged... ok, you won't know if its exactly on the right speed, but it should give you an idea if there's anything major wrong with it :D

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