Nikon F4 with broken finder

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I just bought a used Nikon F4. It appeared to be in pristine condition. When I first got it the numbers in the viewfinder lit up and it seemed to work fine. I noticed however that the prism does not latch on...it will slide off, as if the latch wasn't working. I noticed that the track on the prism itself appears rounded off, but the latch on the camera seems ok.

    During the first roll however, I noticed the viewfinder display numbers went away, and they would come back if you tapped on the prism. This applies to both the LCD displays and the backlights. Now the I can't get the LCD displays or the backlight to come on at all, except sometimes they do if you push down on the prism.

    The camera continues to operate when the displays aren't visible. Do you think this is due to the prism or the camera, or in other words, what are the chances that buying a new prism would fix it? Also, the camera operates even when the viewfinder numbers aren't there. Do you think it's working fine, even when the prism isn't displaying anything?
     
  2. archphoto

    archphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Holland and
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    It seems to be the latch of the finder and/or parts connected to it.
    Check if anything is stuck or if there is some dirt where it should not be so the latch can not operate as it should.
    Those latches are spring operated by the way.
    Getting it fixed is one option, an other would be getting one that works propperly, it will me a matter of economic's, but me being me I would want to fix it anyway.

    If the camera operates normaly I would not be worried too much for the time being untill it starts to bug you.

    Peter
     
  3. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The latch appears to be intact and working properly. It springs back as it should. It's the corner thing that it grabs onto on the finder than is rounded off. If the extent of the problem was just a failure of the latch to hold the finder, I could hold it from sliding off with some tape or something.

    It's the lights going off that is annoying. Although I haven't developed any film, in full program mode it looks like you can just shoot it without needing any lights, but you don't get a frame counter, AF dots, or any warning symbols either. I can make the lights all come on every time by pushing down hard on the top of the prism. And if I keep pushing down, they stay on. If I let go, they turn off eventually when I bump my eye against the finder or something.

    Keh doesn't have any finders for sale right now and neither does eBay.

    EDIT: Actually it doesn't look like it's the finder anyway. When you take the finder off, you can see the little bitty screens where the exposure info and AF info gets beamed up into the finder. These screens behave just like I've been describing. So it must be the body that is broken. I really got screwed on this one.
     
  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Holland and
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Quote: I really got screwed on this one

    Looks like it.... sorry.

    Peter
     
  5. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's funny; with the finder off you can observe the lights and by pressing on the back of the camera near where the slider slides on, you can get them to come on and stay on. You can even flash them by pressing here intermittently. There is probably just something loose inside, possibly under the bussbar of contacts, but I don't see how to get inside to check.

    Do I even want to know what Nikon charges for repairs?
     
  6. namke

    namke Member

    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you very much. If I run out of other options I might have to try to repair it, just as soon as throw it away. I can't very well sell it in it's broken state.
     
  8. AlexG

    AlexG Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I dropped my F4 on a trip a while back and the LCD thingy cracked and the display began to bleed. I immediately took the camera to a Nikon authorized place in Japan and I managed to see the room where some guys were fixing other F4's. Let me tell you, it ain't gonna be simple. These Japanese guys looked like rocket scientists repairing the microscopic parts on such a complex camera. It was not a sight for sore eyes! I suggest you send the camera out to a place to get it checked out. It's well worth the money! The Nikon F4 has got to be one of the best 35mm cameras ever manufactured.

    Good luck!

    Alex
     
  9. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

    Messages:
    1,897
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Let me guess "being sold as is because we really don't know anything about cameras, but it sure looks fine to us!"

    I have been there, and pretty recently, actually. I guess we need to learn our lessons occasionally.
     
  10. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Not really. I saw the camera on Craigslist and it looked to be in practically new condition, and what's more it came with the MB-20 battery pack which I really wanted if I was to get an F4. When I met the seller I took batteries and film and a lens. The camera literally appeared to be NIB so I felt a little silly testing it out, but I didn't have any problems with it during the few seconds I tested it out. It was immediately after I got home that I noticed the prism wouldn't stay on the displays were going off and on. So I kind of did my homework actually, and I still got bit.


    What kind of place? Nikon themselves? Right now I'm pretty much stuck with selling the battery packs, and viewfinder on eBay and chucking the apparently brand-new remains in the trash, and buying a cheap (although not so cheap after spending hundreds on this F4) AF body off KEH.
     
  11. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Member

    Messages:
    268
    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Location:
    San Diego, C
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Worst case, you could sell it as a parts body - accurately described as such. I would expect that you could certainly get at least $50 for it as such - which is better than tossing it in the trash.
     
  12. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Aberdeen, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Short of tossing your F4 into the garbage, I'll offer you my Nikon N8008 for it (before you "part it out"). My N8008 works perfectly and also comes with the MF21 databack (in-place of the regular plain back).

    If I were in your place, 'tho, I would look into having it fixed. Are you sure that the latch just isn't bent alittle, or something simple-to-fix like that?
     
  13. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I wish it were so. I can't find anything external that could be fiddled with. The viewfinder lights still come on and stay on if you press down hard on the prism, or with the prism off, if you press gently against the back with your thumb in a certain place. If there was some way to wedge something against it permanently there it would probably work flawlessly.
     
  14. mudman

    mudman Member

    Messages:
    330
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a wonderful repairman near me named Al who owns Cameraworks. His number is (518) 782-1503. He's done full overhauls for me for $80. You'd have to ship the camera to Latham, NY though and he's only open W-F.
     
  15. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

    Messages:
    403
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Location:
    Yorkshire, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Have you tried cleaning the contacts between the body and the prism? I bought a mint F4 and the second roll I put through it the prism started behaving very strangely. I got no meter readings on the lower LCD, but the exposure values (shutter speed etc) appeared on the upper LCD where the frame counter usually is. I took the prism off, cleaned the contacts on both with a cotton bud and alcohol, and after that it was fine. As a worst case scenario, you could always glue down the prism with a little epoxy. That would be enough to hold it, but a sharp knock would always get it off again if you wanted to, or if you found a spare.
     
  16. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

    Messages:
    822
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I don't think you're screwed just yet. I have 4 F4s that are used often and regularly in our wedding biz. One of them had a very similar problem, intermitant finder display, otherwise functioned well. I diagnosed that it was the finder track being ever so slightly off, that made the finder contacts not quite sit true. What I did is unscrew one of the rails on the body a tiny bit, then re-position it so that it was a bit narrower, made the finder sit snugger and lock more securely. Problem solved. If that body gets used with a lot of on camera flash then after 10-15 weddings it starts doing it once in while.
     
  17. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think I fixed it. The key: New batteries.

    The reason I didn't notice the problem when I bought is because it had the MB-21 high-voltage pack installed. When I got it home I instantly switched it to the MB-20 and the problem started. I had put known good rechargeable batteries in it. I suspected that maybe the rechargeabel batteries was causing the problem so I took the alkaline batteries out of my F801 (confirmed 'good' cause they were running my F801 after all) and the problem was the same.

    I put the MB-21 back on it to sell it, and couldn't reproduce the problem.

    It turns out one of the rechargeable cells I originally put in it had gone bad. And the batteries that were running my F801 just fine were still too low to run the F4. Apparently the F4 is quite a voltage hog, and my F801 will run with almost-dead batteries forever.

    After putting new alkalines in, I can't reproduce the problem. I bought some Energizer lithiums and popped in there and it's been fine every since. I still don't know why the display would turn on when I pressed down on the viewfinder and poked around on the body. ESD perhaps.
     
  18. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Aberdeen, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    That is excellent that your F4s is back to good working order, and was a simple a fix as putting in new batteries!
     
  19. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My friend and I think the reason the F4 wasn't sold in america without the MB-21 high-voltage pack is because it's a worse battery hog than Nikon anticipated. It definitely runs sluggishly with rechargeables compared to my other cameras; I guess i'll stick to regular batteries for this one. I have also heard about F4 's that got get sent to Nikon coming back with Lithium batteries in them.
     
  20. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Aberdeen, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yah, I also think that alot of folks with F4's forget to turn the camera off ("L"), and that causes a slow battery drain. I sure wish that the F4s had an "auto-off" feature, and a seperate on/off switch.

    I'm going to have to invest in some of those Lithium batteries myself, as they are alittle lighter in weight than the regular AA batteries, and have a longer shelf life and longer run-time.
     
  21. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The camera runs noticeably faster on continuous mode too. It probably runs just as fast in MB-20 form with lithiums as in MB-21 form with rechargeables.
     
  22. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

    Messages:
    822
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Well, yeah, Duh. I guess we all assumed that you had the power issues covered, but hey we all make mistakes. Thats why when I change the lithiums AA's in my set of 4 F4s I write the date on the last cell, I generally change them every 6-8 months whether they need it or not. Some of the bodies get 10-15 rolls a wedding, anywhere from 12-18 weddings per set. The old batteries get used in remotes and whatever the kid finds a use for. With the Lithiums in it gets very hard to tell when you should change them, you tend to go a Really Really long time and then they are near dead for 1/2 roll and then they are kaput.
     
  23. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

    Messages:
    138
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Aberdeen, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So, I'm guessing that the battery tester doesn't work on the F4s when using Lithium batteries? :confused:
     
  24. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

    Messages:
    822
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Well, by working you mean they light up. But the time between two full lights to one light is like 2-3 rolls (maybe) from one light to no light/no operation is really short, like 1/2 roll. When the lithiums die, they go very quick. The F4 seems to have an internal voltage switch which when the juice dies from the lithiums it just goes, and you have a very pretty brick. I've also had one go where only one AA battery was funky, gave the camera the classic 'off-on, does it work now?' signs, took out the lower battery pack (MN-21) to check the cells and one was really really hot. Changed just that one and finished the day.