Photography / Tips and Solutions

What’s Wrong with My Camera? Part 2

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As was discussed in the first part of this two-part article, my camera was producing an overexposed arc through the center of the image frame. After ruling out many possible causes by trying the camera with different lenses, settings, and in varying light, I reached the point where I needed to contact the experts at Photo Tech Repair Service to diagnose the problem and let me know if my camera was worth repairing.

Thankfully, Michael and Paul Naraine and the staff at Photo Tech were incredibly professional, and not only had a diagnosis and estimate available quickly, but they were also very patient with all my questions. A bit of background on Photo Tech—the company was founded in 1958 and, in the 1990s, Frank Naraine, father to Michael and Paul, who had been working at the company for years, became partners in the business. He also was a partner in Chrysler Camera, which was located in the famed Chrysler building, but due to heightened security in the wake of 9/11, they lost so much walk-in business that they relocated to 34th Street. The businesses are now under one roof, located on 36th Street with a refurbishing center in New Jersey that deals directly with manufacturers. Their Manhattan location is known to news photographers and paparazzi for their ability to get cameras repaired in a hurry.

Photo Tech is an authorized service center for Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Sigma and, while not an authorized Canon service center, they can certainly repair Canon cameras and those of other brands. Michael Naraine explained to me some of the protocols and diagnostic tools that are required by the manufacturers for a camera repair shop to be “authorized.” It is definitely a relationship that requires diligence and an adherence to rules, but Photo Tech has all of the necessary gear and know-how to repair any DSLR or mirrorless camera.

My Broken Camera

As I mentioned, I brought my camera to Photo Tech, complaining of an overexposed arc that appeared on many images.

After the requisite filling out of forms, I spoke directly to the technician who would be working on my camera. His first instinct, based on a similar case he saw “a couple of years ago” was to examine the shutter mechanism and, if that was not causing the problem, he would then look at the sensor. I received an estimate of two days after I dropped my camera off and it was for $279.00, which was $168 for authorized Nikon replacement parts and $89.00 for labor costs. I approved the estimate and gave them the go-ahead to work on the camera. The agreement was that if the fault was not found in the shutter mechanism, they would replace the new parts with my old parts, not work on the sensor, and get the camera back to me. Paying $279 for a working camera was one thing, but paying over $600 for a new sensor seemed too much. About five business days later I received a call and the camera was fixed, the final total was $236.26!

As it was described to me, the problem with the camera was a light leak in the shutter—a slight bend between the blades on the lower curtain allowed a swath of light in as the curtain dropped during exposure. This would require a new shutter assembly and new sequence operator, which works along with the shutter, since they also found “wear and tear” on its components. With these two parts replaced, the shutter was adjusted for speed accuracy and then tested with a Nikon authorized computer. After this, the sensor was aligned using a very precise (and expensive) machine that they are required to have to be authorized by Nikon and, finally, the camera was cleaned and a few minor repairs were also made (new mode dial installed and rubber gripping replaced.) When I received my camera it looked and sounded better than ever.

Shutter assembly and sequence operator

Many Explora readers engaged with us on Part I of this article. If you look over those responses, it seems that there was at least one commenter whose diagnosis was right on the money, but much thanks goes to all who offered their feedback, comments, guesses, and sarcastic remarks regarding what was actually wrong with my camera. 

If you missed What's Wrong with My Camera? Part 1, click here.

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