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Photographer
Paolo Diavolo
Posts: 8,144
Pleasant Hill, California, US


I'm not as ignorant as that thread title would imply, of course they will wear, but i mean in terms of image quality?

I've only owned 2 DSLRs.
Been shooting on the same one for over 3 years now.
It seems like its turning crappy, or perhaps its wear on my lenses?

Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to.
At least not consistently.
What causes this?

Is there maintenance I should be doing?
I havent ever cleaned the sensor and only updated the firmware once.

Do lense elements get jiggled around?
I usually keep my gear in a bag, should I be keeping it on a shelf?
Dec 10 12 01:16 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Neil Snape
Posts: 9,439
Paris, Île-de-France, France


The shutter will. I have to replace my 5DMKII shutter .

Lenses and cameras, still have some dust fall into the lens or sensor. The problem with the lenses are you can't easily clean them. The captor you can but again inside the prism is very difficult on most.

IF you have them in a camera bag have one with no loose foam that could degrade leaving dust. Vacuum it often, the less dust or particles the better.
Dec 10 12 01:24 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Olson Imagery
Posts: 291
Eugene, Oregon, US


Too many variables.
For some kind of an answer I rotate my bodies through my technician once a year unless I'm noticing something weird. Any time I have one in he goes through checking and cleaning everything and freshens everything up. Glass I take care of myself unless something happens and then he repairs and adjusts as necessary.
Dec 10 12 01:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Raoul Isidro Images
Posts: 5,930
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Paolo Diavolo wrote:
Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to.

I haven't ever cleaned the sensor and only updated the firmware once.

Try having the sensor professionally cleaned and see how you go... borat

To the title: Do cameras wear out?

A lot of them never had the chance: They get upgraded before failing and wearing out, and they just fade away like old soldiers...

.

Dec 10 12 01:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JohnEnger
Posts: 689
Jessheim, Akershus, Norway


Paolo Diavolo wrote:
I'm not as ignorant as that thread title would imply, of course they will wear, but i mean in terms of image quality?

I've only owned 2 DSLRs.
Been shooting on the same one for over 3 years now.
It seems like its turning crappy, or perhaps its wear on my lenses?

Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to.
At least not consistently.
What causes this?

Is there maintenance I should be doing?
I havent ever cleaned the sensor and only updated the firmware once.

Do lense elements get jiggled around?
I usually keep my gear in a bag, should I be keeping it on a shelf?

Some electical components burn out over time, and some just work for ever. I don't know if or how that would affect sharpness. A professional check and clean should rid you of any dust or particles that may have found their way into your camera. Modern digital cameras have the same surface capturing pictures over and over, whereas old fashouned film cameras had a fresh surface for every picture. So naturally new cameras will need cleaning from time to time. I send mine in for a "check and clean" about every 10000 actuations. If you change lenses alot, you may have to do it more often, and if you work in dusty locations or work alot outside, even more often.

Cleaning inside lenses is rather complex, and you would not want to have that done unless it's a very expesive lens, and it's a verifiable lens issue. The rest of the lens you may clean yourself with a lens cloth or lens paper.

Dec 10 12 01:35 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Photography by Riddell
Posts: 622
Hemel Hempstead, England, United Kingdom


Yes of course. And lenses do too.

There is a huge amount of things to wear out in different ways, it may be something as simple as a fraction of a millimeter wear on one of the lense mounting on a lens putting things out of line.

It also matters a lot, because there is a huge difference between pro gear and hobbist kit.
Dec 10 12 01:42 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paolo Diavolo
Posts: 8,144
Pleasant Hill, California, US


i noticed one of my lenses (tamron 17-50mm f/2.8) developed a soft spot in the corner. i've had it for about two years, and its photographed plenty of rock shows and everything else. it almost never left my camera.

now i feel like its useless, is it?
can it be repaired? or just replaced?




yes i know its a tamron blah blah blah please save those remarks for another discussion.
Dec 10 12 01:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
photo212grapher
Posts: 1,538
Saint Louis, Missouri, US


pixels die. dust gets embedded. I'd call that "wearing out" the quality.
Dec 10 12 02:08 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jerry Nemeth
Posts: 26,734
Dearborn, Michigan, US


I have 30-40 year old lenses that I still use.
Dec 10 12 02:09 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Andrew Somers
Posts: 1,032
Los Angeles, California, US


Semiconductors do suffer from various failure modes and degradation in performance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_(semiconductor)
Dec 10 12 02:36 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
photoimager
Posts: 4,799
Stoke-on-Trent, England, United Kingdom


Short answer to the simple question = yes

With regard to you noticing a loss of image quality over time there are both equipment and technique possibilities there and within these too many variables to list.
Dec 10 12 03:29 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,421
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Paolo Diavolo wrote:
I'm not as ignorant as that thread title would imply, of course they will wear, but i mean in terms of image quality?

I've only owned 2 DSLRs.
Been shooting on the same one for over 3 years now.
It seems like its turning crappy, or perhaps its wear on my lenses?

Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to.
At least not consistently.
What causes this?

Is there maintenance I should be doing?
I havent ever cleaned the sensor and only updated the firmware once.

Do lense elements get jiggled around?
I usually keep my gear in a bag, should I be keeping it on a shelf?

Can you be a bit more specific about the lack of sharpness?

Many times what is perceived to be a lack of sharpness is actually a lack of contrast or some other issue.

There are many reasons why your camera may be producing images with lower image quality.

If your lens was dropped or bumped, then an internal part may been broken or knocked out of position.  This can cause a lack or sharpness, or intermittent focusing issues.

If your shooting style/situations have changed over time, this can affect image quality.  If you are now shooting in dimmer light, then the autofocus may not be as accurate.  If you are now using more backlighting or rim lights, your protective filter may now be a problem.

You may have changed equipment.  Are you shooting with the same lenses?  Have you recently replaced a filter?

Have you changed software, software settings or camera settings?  Perhaps you are now shooting with a lower value for "sharpening"?

Your camera might be malfunctioning.

There is also the possibility that your perspective has changed and you now expect more from your images.  Images that you were happy with 3 years ago, are no longer acceptable to you.



Perhaps you can post an old photo and a new photo for us to see?  This might make it easier to diagnose the issue.

Dec 10 12 03:38 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
rp_photo
Posts: 42,488
Houston, Texas, US


Paolo Diavolo wrote:
Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to.
At least not consistently.
What causes this?

Your main computer monitor could also be a factor.

Some of it could even be psychological, i.e as you get used to images of a certain quality they may seem less impressive.

Finally, it could be gradual vision changes.

Dec 10 12 03:45 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
DG at studio47
Posts: 2,362
East Ridge, Tennessee, US


I'm sure the definitive answer is yes. However, my CANON 30D is 9 years old and I can't detect any major changes in its function. 240,000+ shots and counting. Your mileage may vary.
Dec 10 12 03:47 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Drew Smith Photography
Posts: 5,209
Nottingham, England, United Kingdom


Have you had your eyes tested recently?

Gradual lack of sharpness may be your eyes wearing out.
Dec 10 12 03:49 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JohnEnger
Posts: 689
Jessheim, Akershus, Norway


Drew Smith Photography wrote:
Have you had your eyes tested recently?

Gradual lack of sharpness may be your eyes wearing out.

smile

Dec 10 12 04:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paolo Diavolo
Posts: 8,144
Pleasant Hill, California, US


photoimager wrote:
Short answer to the simple question = yes

With regard to you noticing a loss of image quality over time there are both equipment and technique possibilities there and within these too many variables to list.

thank you. i just needed the short answer.
i'm not expecting to list everything or for anyone to try and trouble shoot my gear.

i appreciate any tips on maintenance you guys want to share.

Dec 10 12 04:35 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
SPierce Photography
Posts: 19,566
Amherst, Massachusetts, US


Also, have you cleaned the contacts on your lenses? It's made a huge difference with mine as well.
Dec 10 12 04:38 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paolo Diavolo
Posts: 8,144
Pleasant Hill, California, US


SPierce Photography wrote:
Also, have you cleaned the contacts on your lenses? It's made a huge difference with mine as well.

nice tip!!! i'll do that smile
i need to learn how to clean my sensor or find a place i can have it cleaned.

Dec 10 12 04:41 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Fryd
Posts: 3,421
Miami Beach, Florida, US


Paolo Diavolo wrote:

thank you. i just needed the short answer.
i'm not expecting to list everything or for anyone to try and trouble shoot my gear.

i appreciate any tips on maintenance you guys want to share.

The short answer is that there are a few issues that can affect image sharpness.  There are many other non-age related issues.

The primary "age" related issues that can affect image sharpness are:
- Minor internal mechanical damage (usually from an impact)
- crap on one or more optical surfaces.

Most other failures are not typically associated with a lack of sharpness.

For instance shutter issues normally show as exposures issues, bars across one edge of the image, or a complete lack of image.

Communication errors between the body and lens tend to generate an error code resulting in the camera refusing to operate.

A dirty sensor typically yields dark dust spots, that are more prominent at smaller apertures.

Light leaks cause white streaks / spots on the image, flare, or an overall reduction of contrast.


You can run some simple tests to narrow down your issues.  Put the camera on a tripod and shoot some newspapers to check focus.  See if the issue is front/back focus.  If your camera allows you to adjust for front/back focus, this could solve your problem.

Dec 10 12 05:31 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jhono Bashian
Posts: 2,427
Cleveland, Ohio, US


Jerry Nemeth wrote:
I have 30-40 year old lenses that I still use.

My Hasselblads are 30 years old and are still as tight and sharp as ever, combined with a PhaseOne back, baby it rocks!   They still get tuned up, greased and repaired when needed.

Dec 10 12 05:43 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JPV_IMAGES
Posts: 388
Norwich, England, United Kingdom


A design engineer at an optical seminar I attended indicated that the major wear point on modern kit is the image stabilisation system. Where these are "in lens" the wear affects images taken both with it on and off and that we should not expect these to last as in the past. I must admit this took me by surprise.
Dec 10 12 07:16 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mirror With A Memory
Posts: 282
New York, New York, US


A little TLC goes a long way. I have only had shutter issues over the years.
Dec 10 12 07:22 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Yingwah Productions
Posts: 1,341
New York, New York, US


Could just be the lens has gone out of calibration, thats why most camera's have microadjustments. Did you try zooming in with live view to manual focus then compare same shot using the autofocus?

Lenses do need to go in periodically for a tune up

It could also be the battery being old. my 70-200mm acts sluggish when the battery charge is under 40%
Dec 10 12 08:09 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Bob Helm Photography
Posts: 18,090
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, US


One of the reasons why expensive lenses are expensive is the manner in which they are built and the quality control in the process. Screws loosen, glue fails, plastic mounting flanges wear, so yes lens IQ can change, same for camera lens/sensor alignment.
Dec 10 12 08:15 am  Link  Quote 
Makeup Artist
ArtistryImage
Posts: 2,706
Washington, District of Columbia, US


Paolo Diavolo wrote:
...Things just don't seem as sharp as they used to...

Paolo unless you have comparison shots of a test target (camera mounted on a tripod, mirror locked up, remote or timed release) you probably will never actually know...

With time my image resolution continues to improve constantly... mainly from knowledge gleaned from assisting the many, many commercial shooters in my marketplace... I can not begin to thank each and everyone of them for growing my applied knowledge base... assisting has been and continues to be a fountainhead of applied wisdom... highly recommend it even for the most advanced lens persons... it is virtually priceless...

back in the day... we use to tape a full sheet newspaper of the want ads on the wall, shoot it as noted above with plus-X developed for fine grain... and check center and edge resolution with a high quality sharp enlarging lens... yep, that's how we tested new lens... not much concern about color abortions... lol

On another note... as JPV noted above about lens with image stabilization systems... those make noise, anything that makes mechanical noise i.e. shutter will be subject to material failure over delta time... when I obtain my first lens with the aforementioned I was amazing with it... yes it works, but the clicking noise it makes caused me to research how it works... servo electric magnetic (to simplify) which caused me to take very good care of my lens... it is a precious precision instrument... and I care for it as such...

Ok, personally I have seen old lens experience blade lubricant solidifying to impair performance... professional servicing handles this...  also have seen older film cameras suffer light leakage caused by degradation of seals... so far no shutter issues... fingers cross as the number creeps toward the rated value smile

btw, it's threads like this that make Mayhem a stellar resource... many thanks to everyone for your tenured wisdom here...

Dec 10 12 09:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,174
Salem, Oregon, US


except for my 24-105L where the red L ring fell off!

Robert Helm wrote:
One of the reasons why expensive lenses are expensive is the manner in which they are built and the quality control in the process.

Dec 10 12 09:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


As someone who has owned the same camera/lens for almost 25 years, and who has worked at a camera store for 10 years, I can tell you that normal wear does not cause a drop in image quality.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, people that think their gear is lower quality then it once was have either improved as photographers to the point where they're noticing flaws that they didn't notice before, or they have gained the confidence to push their equipment farther than they did before.

Abnormal wear CAN affect image quality.  This can mean dust, either in the lens/sensor, or in the gearings, damage from being smacked around in a mosh pit, or even using the camera so much that the focus gears have worn down and the elements no longer sit how they are supposed to sit.  In the case of the last one, Tamron has a 6 year warranty that covers that.

Most likely, you've gotten a lot pickier than you used to be.  You're now able to understand why the Nikon version of that lens is worth 2 1/2 times the price, whereas before you couldn't.  That's all it is.
Dec 10 12 08:16 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leonard Gee Photography
Posts: 16,025
Sacramento, California, US


Which camera? Who makes it? Where do you use it?

Digital SLR:
autofocus motor
mirror motor (DSLR)
VR motor
aperture actuation motor/solenoid
shutter bearings
mirror bearings

Electronic film SLR:
shutter bearings
mirror bearings
film transport

Mechanical film SLR:
shutter bearings
mirror bearings
shutter timer
self timer
film transport

Rangefinder film:
shutter bearings
self timer
film transport
rangefinder & links

Electronic P&S:
aperture actuation

Large format:
lens shutters & iris
friction bearings
bellows material
wood shrinkage (wood cameras only)

All moving things wear. Some manufactures have very stringent standards.

I have several Leica M cameras. All have been extensively used in almost any condition you can think of. Most are over 38 years old and two of them have been factory teardown/clean/lube/reassembled once. Leitz service made the same comment in both cases. Camera shows extensive signs of use, meets all factory specifications. Occasionally, the rangefinder image's vertical alinement is adjusted.

Three Leica lenses have been into the shop for cleaning over the same period (material in the internal elements or helicals). Friends have a Leica IIIg and another a Zeiss rangefinder, both still take great images (over 80 years old). I've had a Canon for less than 5 years and it's been in the shop twice already (parts falling off).

Lenses do get vapor deposits if you work in heavy smoke, salt spray, high humidity, BBQ conditions for some period of time. Good seals or not, even underwater cameras.
Dec 10 12 09:06 pm  Link  Quote 
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