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Old Aug 4, 2011, 8:22 AM   #1
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Default My Sony A-350 Dead?

I was shooting a series of shots this morning -- tripod-mounted, remote release cable -- and suddenly got "Camera error". While the normal noise of the shutter release sounded like "click-clack", after the camera error, there was a delay and another clack between the click-clack.

I found this post:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/so...ra-errors.html

and tried the troubleshooting methods mentioned there -- turn off the camera, switch batteries, switch lens, format the card -- but still have the error. I also tried the cleaning mode and used compressed air in case some particle got stuck in the mechanism.

Other info: The camera is old and heavily used. It was purchased in Sep 2008, will cost a flat $208 to repair according to Sony website, and just rolled over past the 30,000th shot. (I do HDR.) It took 3 good shots after rolling over starting with the file number DSC00001.ARW. After the error, all shots were black.

It wasn't dropped or bumped or anything. Just normal use.

However, and I'm not sure if this is coincidence, since last month, I changed my bracket-shooting technique.

Before, I used the LCD as EVF. After each shot, I would wait about a second or two for the camera to save the image then change the speed setting and shoot the next. (I can't change the speed until the camera is finished saving.)

Last month, I found out that if I used the OVF and kept my eye in the viewfinder (somehow, if I remove my eye from the viewfinder the following technique doesn't work which makes me wonder if the camera can detect light being blocked from the OVF by my face pressed on it, anyway...), I can change the speed right after the shot without waiting for the camera to finish saving and then shoot the next. This way, I can finish my bracket of 5, 7, 9 or more shots faster because there's no 1 or 2 second delay between shots.

I mention this because I'm now wondering if doing that -- rapid firing essentially -- is bad for the camera?

In any case, I think it needs to be repaired. I just thought I'd post here in case anyone has encountered the same problem. My thoughts on the repair price is that I'll get a new body instead. It's probably time anyway.
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 8:31 PM   #2
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I have established a pattern.

I have two Sony-brand zoom lenses:

#1) 75-300mm
#2) 18-70mm

On both lenses, when I zoom at maximum focal length -- 300mm on lens #1 and 70mm on lens #2 -- "camera error" does not happen. At minimum focal length -- 75mm on #1 and 18mm on #2 -- I get "camera error".

I tried shooting with #2 at various focal lengths starting with the maximum of 75mm. I only managed to shoot without "camera error" at 75mm and 60mm. Lower than that (maybe 40-50mm), "camera error" happens.

My Tamron 10-24mm displays "camera error" at any focal length.

My Sony-brand fixed 35mm lens displays "camera error".

(Sometimes, and I think this is purely random, my Tamron lens will shoot fine after attaching the lens. Then the next shot displays "camera error".)

Without any lens attached to the body, it shoots fine -- no "camera error".

In all cases, it does not matter whether the switch is on AF or MF.

Any clues appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Aug 5, 2011, 9:28 PM   #3
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I found discussion online (http://www.flickr.com/groups/sonycam...7625979664188/) and so tried my SAM lenses again. They work fine. So "camera error" happens only on AF lenses at less than max focal length.

In my previous post I said "fixed 35mm lens" displayed "camera error". Not sure now if that's true or if I just got confused when I was juggling lenses.

So I guess from the discussion I found online, a pin responsible for the lens when it "runs through the focus range" might be causing the error. (Not meaning to pull TCav into this thread but it was a "TCav" that I learned it from.)

I checked the pins they all look normal -- nothing bent, dirty, or sunk. They are all "springy" in that they sink when pushed. I tried dabbing the contacts' tips with a used sensor swab moistened with cleaning fluid but still get "camera error".

So right now, the camera is good for fixed, SAM lenses only. Or zooms at the max focal lengths (except my Tamron ultrawide zoom). I tried a Quantaray 2x teleconverter and for a while it worked (maybe 2-3 shots) and then I got "camera error" too.
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Old Aug 6, 2011, 10:28 PM   #4
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vv;
I've had experience similar to yours with my old Minolta 5D. It started to malfunction randomly for quite a while. I would go through everything conceivable to get it to shoot and sometime I thought there was a pattern only to later find that I was wrong. Sometimes I could go for a month and it would work perfectly then randomly fail again until about 2 months ago it finally died.

You got some great shots with that camera but for the amount of shots you have taken with it and the age of it I would suggest a replacement rather then getting it fixed.

It's tough losing an old friend but they do wear out.

I spent about a week with the A55 to try it out and it is a great, inexpensive camera. I also used the Tamron 10-24 with it and that combo is great for photo's but even better for video.

I would like to have the A55 just for video and the A77 for photo's but that's not going to happen. I'll just keep waiting for the A77. I'm lucky enough to have access to the A55 or the A580 when I need a second body. As for now I'm down to only the A700.

Good luck sorting things out and I look forward to seeing some more great photo's. Maybe with a new camera.
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Old Aug 7, 2011, 7:08 AM   #5
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The other night, my wife suggested I blow compressed air to the contact pins and that seemed to work. I was taking test shots with my 18-70mm zoom at all focal lengths and was so excited. Then, just to make sure it's really fixed, I changed lenses. Again the problem came back with all my lenses -- even with the non-zoom 35mm SAM lens. So I think you're right -- it's random and there's no pattern.

We're lucky I guess that there's a Sony Outlet at a nearby outlet shopping center (Woodbury Commons). My wife and I went there and bought a "refurbished" A55 body. I was looking for an A580 to compare but they didn't have it. We've bought refurbished there over the years and they all looked new except they came in a white box.

(I remember seeing a refurbished A700 there before, was several hundred dollars less when I checked amazon.com, and was tempted. I didn't know then yet that it was not compatible with my A-mount lenses. The next time we went there, however, it was gone.)

Since my wife recently had the A550, we swapped cameras. I liked the A55's features better (although I don't see myself shooting video with it) but thought its much smaller body was better suited for her smaller hands. She'll try it out. So I will now own an A550 which I'm very excited about. It's a step up from my old, tried-and-true A350.

I'd still like to have the A350 repaired eventually, though, if not for sentimental reasons then for a second body. I agree with TCav (if it's the same TCav here that I found in another discussion forum) that I think it has to be the contact pins. It might be mechanical. So I'm hoping the part is cheap to replace. But it's good that I'm not in a hurry now.

Thanks for the reply, lomitamike, especially that it matches my experience. We're waiting for the rain to stop here in NY so we can take our cameras out for a spin.
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