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How to choose and test Nikonos V camera
It is your money, so remember to spend it wisely. A loss of $50 is worse than a good camera that is $150 of value. Sometimes it is better to pass on a cheap deal than to have completely lost your money. Things to look for that could be trouble or costly to maintain even at a great price.
1. Visual inspection. Visual inspection starts with quick outer and inner inspection to the camera body. The existence of corrosion, dents or other defects could be signs of a bad purchase.
- Dents on outer body: Camera is made of extremely durable die-cast alloy. If you see dents, it means the camera was seriously abused. Surface scratches do not affect the photos.
- Corrosion: Light corrosion on the body is acceptable as long as these areas do not extend to rotating parts such as dials, battery and sync cord areas. Corrosion on lens bayonet port means camera might not be waterproof any more.
- Clear Viewfinder: Traces of dried up water drops, water spots, means water has already breached the O-rings in the past and other non-visible inner parts could be corroded already. Let it go, the camera is not worth it.
2. Battery and sync cord chambers inspection.
- Check if both battery and sync cord plugs can be removed easily and are clean. Be extremely careful with battery cap. Use small coin, rotate plug slowly, remove and inspect inner battery chamber. Inspect battery chamber inside the camera. Most important is to know if the inner plastic part is cracked or still complete. Might be difficult to see, so use a penlight or inspect in an outdoor sunny area. If chamber is cracked, then electronics will eventually fail if they have not already. Repairs are extremely expensive for such a small part, as it requires taking the camera completely apart and this will not come cheap.
Signs of sand or corrosion inside battery or flash chambers means that water has already penetrated deep inside camera body. Broken chamber can disengage electronics eventually (or already did it). In any case camera still should work ONLY on M90 (mechanic shutter speed 1/90).
3. Inner body inspection. Open camera back door and inspect inner body. Any signs of sand, water, or corrosion is not a good sign. Let the camera go.
4.Testing camera functions.
- Advance lever should wind and return smoothly with spring action. If it is hard to advance or does not return quickly, then internal O-rings will require replacing (also possible that some water might have come through).
- Trigger should also return to original position after firing. If return is slow or restricted, then some corrosion may be the cause.
- After installing batteries into the chamber (be careful and slow, putting plug back into place, if forced you may be breaking the inner chamber and it will cost you a lot). Electronics should engage after counter reaches number 1. When shutter is slightly depressed then viewfinder display should have something lit up.
- LCD panel light inside the viewfinder. Do you see red lights when slightly depressing trigger? If no, install new batteries and check again. If it does not come on with new batteries installed, then you already have electrical problems and it will cost you. If yes, advance trigger until you reach at least number 1, then direct camera at sun or bright lamp. Does indicator show you must increase shutter speed (red arrow points to the left or number on the left blink)? Close lens port with your hand. Does indicator show you must slow down shutter speed (right arrow or blinking numbers to the right)? Any of these problems can cost you money to repair. Of course you are welcome to use the camera in M90 settings (it will always work in M90, unless it is seriously corroded).
- If you see small light in the viewfinder (numbers or triangles on either end) then you can set shutter to A (auto). While in Auto setting, look into viewfinder AND depressing the shutter half way change angle of your photo shoot from dark to well lighted areas. The inner light should change increasing or decreasing the recommended shutter speed. If it does, that is a good sign. Now set the shutter speed to 30 and fire away, then compare it with the 1000 Shutter speed. You should be able to distinguish different speed and double click on the 30. You can also remove the lens and do this test again with both 30 and 1000 while looking inside the lens mount. Make 2 more similar shots. At slower speed you should see texture of the surface behind the curtains. At faster speed curtains move too fast and you should not see anything except very fast movement of curtains.
- Rewind crank. Set shutter speed to "R". Check if rewind crank lifts up and goes down. Check if it moves when you rotate it.
- Film counter. With back door closed, make few shots to check if film counter advances. Open and close back door again. Counter should return to zero.
5. Lens test
- Check rear glass surface. Any imperfections will be visible on the film.
- Check front surface. O-ring should not have cracks. Minor imperfections on the front glass surface most probably will not affect the photos.
- Check internal optics. Sand/fungus/corrosion are very bad signs (means moisture had access to the inside of the lens). Avoid such a lens. Minor dust specks will not affect the photos. Haze decreases contrast of the lens, but if it is very light (you have to look attentively to see it), most probably, it will not affect the photos.
- Aperture and distance knobs. Should rotate easily in both directions. Check if diaphragm opens and closes when you rotate aperture knob. Distance knob moves lens elements front and back from rear end of the lens.
6. Sync cord socket test
- Connect strobe to Nikonos V (pass counter 1), set camera to M90 and strobe to 1/4; and fire. If it does not fire then you have a problem (it could be the camera, strobe or sync cord). If it does work, then set camera to A and strobe to TTL. Open lens to large aperture 2.8 or 3.5 depending on your lens. Point lens to face strobe so there is no obstructions between flash and lens. Trigger the shutter and see if the strobe fires AND the LED strobe light blinks once and then back to ready. If it blinks few times, then there is a problem. Do this few times to make sure that it only blinks once and is immediately back to ready position. Now turn strobe down so it fires onto table or ground and cover camera lens with lid, towel or hand and fire the shutter looking at the LED red light of the strobe; It should blink few times, then it becomes ready (it might take few seconds depending on how fresh your batteries are). This means your TTL settings between camera and flash are working correctly.