Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Vsanzbajo, Aug 8, 2011.
Someone told me that Motor Drives are really hard on film cameras. Is that true?
Thanks in advance.
If you're using the correct drive as designed and supplied by the camera manufacturer, I can't see that you should have any problems particularly with careful amateur use.
A lot of these drives would have been used by professionals, so, in that case, the whole set-up would have been expected to be reliable under quite hard daily use.
The motor drive attached to my first Nikon F2 has done no harm. Camera purchased in 1976 is still working just as well as the day I bought it.
Like has been said already if you need to use a motor drive your normally shooting a lot of images. The camera's were designed to take it.
Some films might damage a camera if used with a motor drive or power winder steer away from Rollei/Maco's PET based films they could cause burn't out motors or damaged film transport in the camera body. The film is too strong and doesn't rip/strip sprockets if there's a problem.
A moter drive applies a set foot pound of pressure when winding, compared to my thumb that can wind easy hard or slap the lever back to stowed position. I would think a camera would last longer with even pressure, except for massive volumes of rolls. That could break anythin down over time.
In the "Nikon School" sessions I attended many years ago, they said this exact thing, that the motor's constant torque and speed made the camera last longer compared to cameras only wound manually.
Motor drives may not directly cause harm to the camera but, cameras, especially those targeted to the consumer end of the market tend to wear out sooner when used with a motor drive. This is simply due to the fact that shutters and film transport mechanisms have a finite life expectancy. When one shoots a 35mm SLR with a motor drive, one tends to shoot more frames faster than without. So, it may seem like the motor drive is hard on the camera but, in reality it is only accelerating the normal wear out.
Only in the same way guns kill people.
In both cases it is how many times the owner pulls the trigger that will be the determining factor.
If someone had a motor drive and used it as it was intended, the owner may have gone though a huge number of rolls. It is possible that it was heavily used and usage alone might have caused wear. If it was owned by a journalist and he/she went though 100 rolls every week for few years, sure.... it's likely worn out.
But if the equipment was used by an average enthusiasts, the camera body was designed to take it, so it'll be well within its design parameters. It'll be fine.
I worked as a service tech in a Nikon repair shop for a couple of years.
I never saw a camera that was damaged by a motor drive.
Most of our customers were pros who used drives all the time.
I did see cameras damaged by the operator, but that's a different story.
You just use more film!
I wonder if the cameras with a built in drive and no wind lever are any different?
Strong point. I feel it is all about applied torque and a consistently applied torque is far more sparing to internal parts than a sweaty excited thumb trying to pound away at a subject.
If your camera would normally go 400,000 exposures before internal failures need attention I bet the motorized one would go there and more over a thumb driven camera.
So a winder only camera is no different it just keeps the "thumb print" off the winder system.
But there are pro, consumer and just dirt cheap cameras out there so please take the 400,000 frames as a hypothetical number. I can not expect a cheapo camera to have the sustainability of a pro level camera.
This is a good discussion, hopefully we will get more responses like those from our Nikon service man.
Stems from the fact that cameras used by Professionals shoot a LOT more frames than a camera used by an amateur which leads to wear which is confused with damage.
The "with a motor drive, one tends to shoot more frames faster than without" is not true as Motor Drives all have single shot selectors and if not shooting sports or other venues where it is critical to capture the 'defining moment', they can be normally used in single shot mode.-Dick
I always thought the motor drive was a technological advance over manual levers, albeit initially at the "price" of increased weight. Once drives became incorporated into camera bodies, as opposed to attachments, the manual lever disappeared. Since manual levers were prone to damage and jamming if misused -- I would think that a motor drive would probably increase a camera's overall useful life rather than detract from it.
I've used Motor Drives on Minoltas (X-7a with the MotorDrive MD-1), Pentax (ME and ME Super), and my Nikon F3, without any issues. The trick is (as mentioned early) is to match the drive to the camera.
The F3 is the tricky one because Nikon released two versions of the drive, the Regular drive (MD-4) and a High Speed (MD-4H). If you put the MD-4H onto a regular F3, that would cause damage.
Low-end aftermarket drives for Minolta and Nikon did occasionally cause jam problems. Otherwise, no issues. Amusing to note some here believe motor drives work only on "full auto," whizzing thru an entire roll in seconds. They allowed photographers to keep a constant frame on a subject without a break to lever advance the film. Rarely, if ever, shoot my F3+MD4 on anything but "S."
MD-4Hs are pretty rare, Axle! Have only seen one that was bolted to a hi-speed F3 body at Nikon.ca about ten years ago.
I used to use a motor drive on my F1(n) and never had problems with the camera. I shot more sports back then. The motor drive also rewound my film which was cool. I could load and unload quickly. However, carrying a camera with a motor drive got too heavy. For me, cocking the shutter manually is a better alternative. Motor drives aren't good for people with itchy trigger fingers.
Detachable motor drives require a connection port (usually on the bottom of the camera). When no drive is attached, there often is a cover that is supposed to be installed to close that port.
Somewhat obviously, to use the drives they also require that the photographer actually attach the drive to the camera.
I've certainly seen a fair number of cameras that don't have the motor drive attached, but are also missing the cover for the port.
And I've also seen people who are awkward when they try to install the drives.
So in the first case (missing port covers) the cameras can be more vulnerable to dirt and moisture.
And in the second case, every camera is vulnerable to operator error.
I was scared Sunday that I broke my new to me FE with the I think MD-12 that goes with it. I did around 6 shots on single, then inorder to get fast action and hopefully a winner shot of kid going down water slide I went to continuous. Did around three bursts. It simply stopped and had a nice humming sound. Turned it off, it read 24 on the counter and no it's never been off before but I have never ran it on "C" before either.
Changed batteries, took it off and on a couple of times, still nothing even after unloading fully exposed roll. The way I accidentally got it to work again was to move the motor actuator on the top of the drive back and forth a half turn or so, put it back on and I was back in business. Scared the crap out of me. First motor drive incident for me.
Regarding reliability, it probably has the opposite effect.
More "technology" isn't always a good thing.
There are simply more switches, gears, one or more electric motors and possibly governing electronics which could fail.
I never had a problem with a lever-advance, but I certainly had a camera with a built-in motor die on me.
I would think the winder has the edge for camera durability,for the before-mentioned consistent torque reasons.
In other words,given two similar cameras having made,say,10K exposures,the drive equipped model should be in better shape.
I suspect the same is true of vehicles with auto transmissions :which keep the engine in the best torque range , while Stickshifts, in unskilled hands, subject the car to lugging and over-revving.
There is a valid use for the C setting I have found :In poor light,when shutter speed is marginal, a tiny burst of frames normally results in one frame which is much sharper than the others,or what you could achieve with repeated,thumb-wound attempts.
It is usually the 2nd frame.
Motor Winder OM
I used to keep an Olympus Winder 2 on my OM 's simply because they made the camera easier to control. Never set them to the faster speed. I now have a grip which is shared between my Leica M6 and M3. Same reason.
The same can happen to a well-used pro camera as well.
The shutter on my FM2n literally exploded on a day I was shooting a large amount of portraits with a motor drive.
Obviously, the culprit was the shutter, but the powerful stroke of the motor drive ripped what a thumb push would not have.
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