I've owned about 20 Nikon bodies since 1980 and I've had winners and losers both new and used. The best looking used FM I ever bought - lightly used by an amateur - had a terminally defective shutter. Sold it for parts. My first F5, brand new in 1998, had a short that would run the batteries down within two hours. Nikon replaced it of course, but it was broken brand new out-of-the-box. An old brassy Nikkormat EL that was so worn it felt like the film advance lever would wobble off every time I advanced the film was deadly accurate and one of the most reliable cameras I have owned. I do think that the cameras that used accessory motor drives wore out quicker when used on the motors than if they were used manually.
For the most part, it really depends on the photographer. Case in point, my *most* reliable F is the one in my avatar. Even though it was a motor driven camera prior to my owning it (the F-36 on it was added by me, got the camera with the normal back), everything works properly on it. I did have to have the meter worked on, but, it's fairly rare to get a properly working FTn finder nowadays. So, had the meter fixed, and recalibrated to 1.5 volts. It did help that the previous owner was both a pro photog and a camera tech. So, he did keep it in good working order when he was using it. The chrome F FTn that I had last year was in almost perfect condition cosmetically, with only the strap lugs showing wear. Meter worked fine, but the frame counter was off by a frame. Would stop at frame 35 and not go to 36.
I think I could probably purge the Nikomat bodies, the FM2n, and the F3P, and be a happy camper. My F, F2A, and my F4 have been dead nuts reliable. The 'tax I'm keeping as a useable collectible. It probably won't see daily use unlike my Nikon bodies, but will be taken out every once in a while to shoot with. May also use it for when I'm hiking and don't want even an FM2n around my neck.
APUG: F4, F2AS, F, Nikomat FTn
Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 24/2.8 AI, 50/1.4 AI, 85/1.8 K, 180/2.8 ED AIS, 300/4.5 ED AI
- My flickr stream
Best of both words; pick up a pros backup kit.
I got really lucky and picked up an F4s that was the backup camera for a pro/really high end amateur. It was very lightly used. Almost new. But it did have film put through it periodically.
It strikes me as very unusual that an F4S would have such a problem. Most working professionals do look after and service their equipment, even if it is dented, scraped, scuffed, bent or busted but still working. But the F4S is a workhorse, so how then did this shutter problem eventuate? By somebody poking their finger into the shutter? I would be inclined to give it a very thorough visual and technical examination (Nikon, like Canon, has diagnostic devices that plug into the camera to read-off various statistics that can be quite revealing and quite contradictory to the oh-so-sweet salesman's pitch. Go for it.
.::Gary Rowan Higgins
A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
That could be the case here. I don't know the man/woman who has left the camera to the shop. The shop gives me full waranty so I don't mind not knowing. I suppose it's send over to a camera repair point where everything will be checked with the above mentioned devices. Just looking at it is what I already did. I didn't "see" or "heard" a problem... Thanks for your input here.
Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour
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As I did some reading on the F4 shutter, I'm baffled again with the info this:
is giving to the people interested in the story behing the knobs and dials.
Wonderful and very interesting when you're a tech freak.
and the story continues...
My F4S was examined and the shutter found NOK.
The shop did a repairjob and placed a new shutter under warranty.(no costs)
The machine is back in business which is great.
1. I never would buy any camera without a minimum of warranty, be it 2nd hand or new.
2. Go and spend your $/€/£ in a shop you can trust. It's all worth it when the sh.t hits the fan...
I have 3 Nikon F that were 4 to 7 years in Vietnam. They are doing fine. All they require is maintenance.
Originally Posted by budrichard
I bought a second-hand Rolleiflex 2.8 a few months ago. It was heavily worn on the outside, but the optics were in good condition, the shutter and crank ran smoothly and the price was right. I was told by the shop staff that it was previously owned by a pro. I took it outside to load it and it promptly ate my film. On the second try it ate my film again (same roll.) Upon closer inspection, I found that one of the rails? on the back door that helps run the rollers had been bent and warped - either by repeated opening and closing, or just forceful closing. The store refunded my money, left the price untouched, wrote "junk" on the label and put it right back into the window literally five minutes later Lesson learned: ask to run a test roll through it next time.
I'm extremely wary of buying dead stock, new-in-box and/or sparkling-clean cameras. I had a friend who insisted on this, and a few times he was bitten. The funniest was when he bought a Rolleiflex T that had been sitting in a glass cabinet for years. We went all the way out into the middle of no where for a day of shooting. He loads the film, cranks it to take his first picture and the camera quickly seized up. I had to stifle my laughter as he fumed around - I though he was going to pitch the poor thing into a river or kick it into the trees
I'll buy something worn and working over a museum show piece. Cameras (lubricants, really) don't like to sit around doing nothing.
Those who know, shoot film
My first Nikon F2 I picked up at a local camera swap meet for $200. Out of about five bodies this was the cleanest looking one. I have no idea who previous owners were. Without even shooing a roll, I sent the camera in for an c.l.a. Got the camera back on not long after noticed a shutter bounce problem. I took it to another shop and they fixed it. However a couple months later the same problem along with some unexposed frames. Back the shop (the second one) it goes. The camera sits there for months because the cannot find parts. During this time I pick up another F2 body to use, this one a "bargain" grade from KEH. Due to a little bit of rust on the body it goes back to KEH. My first body is still in the shop. I beginning to think they simply don't want to repair it even though it's still under warranty.
Another body arrives from KEH also bargain grade $99. What a beautiful body. Not a flaw on it that I can see. I shoot some test rolls and everything looks great. The first shop tells me that the repairs I need don't require parts. They say to send in the body and even though it's no longer under warranty with them, they'll fix it for free. So off to the first shop it goes. A few weeks later it arrives and for a few months it works great. Then I take it to immigration march downtown and shoot ten 36 exposure rolls. Out of 360 pictures taken, less then five come out. Entire rolls were completely unexposed and others were so underexposed nothing was printable. I open the back, take off the lens and test to shutter. At all speeds above 1/60 the shutter failed to open.
Needless to say I had had enough. Three repairs in a little over a year and the damn thing still wouldn't work. So now I'm using the KEH bargain body and it's working great. The other body will eventually make it's way back to the first repair shop for spare parts.
So the moral of the story is simply that unless one knows the previous owners, there's just no telling what you're getting into. Below is a scan of one of the rolls taken during the immigration march I mentioned. It was really the only roll out of the ten that had anything remotely printable grrr!