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03-27-2012, 08:20 PM   #1
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Will a dslr self destruct just because they are electronic?

It has been mentioned that a dslr has a shorter lifespan than a film slr because the electronics will go out...with use or without use in a dslr.

Do you think this is true?

If so, what is a conservative estimate of the useful life of a dslr. With emphasis on the electronic deteriorating more so that shutter actuations.

Thanks

03-27-2012, 08:25 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Yes, it certainly does- also due to the fact that it will become obsolete more quickly. You can expect to take about 100,000 photos with a Pentax DSLR before things start shitting the bed- though some users have taken more without any issues. Some higher-end DSLR shutters are rated for 300k or even 400k actuations. As with any piece of equipment, proper care and maintenance is the key to longevity.

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03-27-2012, 08:45 PM   #3
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I'll go out and take 300 photos with a DSLR.

With an SLR with $5 of film that costs $5 to develop, I'll take 36 photos in a similar session.

At that rate, the SLR will never wear out. But the DSLR might. If I didn't sell it after a year to upgrade again.
03-27-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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I think dSLR shutter mechanisms will wear out before their electronics die. Film SLRs and dSLRs may have very similar shutter mechanisms, but dSLRs tend to be used more. On a busy day I might hit my K20D's shutter up to 1000 times. I couldn't afford to do that with a film camera; and if I could, I also could afford a new camera when the old one dies. If I *wanted* to fry a dSLRs circuits, it wouldn't be hard: just mount an old flash with a high trigger voltage. But I don't want to brick my camera.

03-27-2012, 08:55 PM   #5
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I believe this is somewhat but not necessarily true. There is no inherent reason that a DSLR cannot last 20 - 30 years just like an SLR provided it is maintained properly, not abused, and stored in the correct environment.

However, Adam makes a good point in that things become obsolete much faster then in film days. For example the Pentax Spotmatic had a production run from 1964 through 1973 with only minor changes made. Many of these are still functional today, because there are lots of bodies available for parts, they are mechanical and so someone with good tech skills can repair them. It is much harder if not impossible for a modern dslr to be repaired without the proper test gear and electronic parts which will not likely be available any where near that long. More importantly the "sensor" (the 35mm film cartridge) was in production for I believe over 40 years, and is only now starting to fade. And the film "sensor" could be user upgraded if a newer better type of film came out, which it did many times during that span. The "sensor" in a modern dslr is obsolete, or at least superseded in 2 or 3 years at most and is not user upgradable.

I am not sure you can just say "the electronics will go out", that is too simplistic and under normal usage is not true. Electronics are more fragile if abused but I have seen plenty of old radios and TV's that work just fine after 20 years, and I think modern integrated circuits are even more robust.

So to answer your question: a dslr will be replaced first by becoming obsolete, not by the electronics "deteriorating".
03-27-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by slackercruster Quote
It has been mentioned that a dslr has a shorter lifespan than a film slr because the electronics will go out...with use or without use in a dslr. Do you think this is true? If so, what is a conservative estimate of the useful life of a dslr. With emphasis on the electronic deteriorating more so that shutter actuations. Thanks
Hmm I don't really think they will "self-destruct", they'll just break down faster than film slr's, given the normal wear-and-tear. Very careful use will give it more years of course.
03-27-2012, 09:00 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by slackercruster Quote
It has been mentioned that a dslr has a shorter lifespan than a film slr because the electronics will go out...with use or without use in a dslr.

Do you think this is true?

If so, what is a conservative estimate of the useful life of a dslr. With emphasis on the electronic deteriorating more so that shutter actuations.

Thanks
I don't personally think its true unless you have some data to quote from. My impression that folks are setting aside cameras because they prefer the improved features in newer cameras. My K10 from 2007, i stopped using it and gave it to my nephew because i wanted the better AF and iso performance of later cameras. My nephew is still using the K10.
03-27-2012, 09:32 PM   #8
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Only if you use AA batteries.

03-27-2012, 09:33 PM   #9
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I should mention that I still use solid-state devices dating from the 1960s, and tube electronics from the 1940s. The tubes get replaced over time, of course. But even some tubes last long long times. The TV in the next room (which is in use at the moment, so I can't pull it out to check the model number) is a Toshiba 20-inch Blackstripe that we bought in 1982. That's right, 30 years ago, from TeeVax in Santa Rosa CA. And its colors are still bright and sharp. This is amazing. Vacuum tubes tend to 'leak' over time, air molecules seeping in through the glass. Old color TV tubes tend to get soft and murky.

But I digress. AFAIK the most common failures in solid-state come from 1) sub-spec components, 2) incompetent assembly, and 3) trauma. My Sony DSC-W7 suffered from (1) and maybe (2), well-known issues for cameras from that Chinese plant. My first Sony DSC-V1 suffered from (3) when its tripod blew over and the camera landed lens-down. Ouch. But whereas I've had a couple camcorders (JVC and Sony) wear out electro-mechanically, such hasn't happened with any still cameras. Expect moving parts to die before electronic components sizzle and smoke. (*)
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(*) I have a computer sizzle-and-smoke story, and a catastrophic murderous hard-disk failure story, but I'll save those for another time. Unless someone demands them now.
03-27-2012, 09:59 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I believe this is somewhat but not necessarily true... I think modern integrated circuits are even more robust...
Let's hope that they are more robust. Electronic components such as capacitors will deteriorate over time even if left idle. To what degree is anyone's guess. Heat, humidity, voltage, etc. might have an affect on a capacitor's spec retention. I am sure that there are other components that will act similarly. For the record I am not an expert in electrical engineering, so someone that is should slap me down.
03-27-2012, 10:28 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Self destruct?
More than that.
I had a K200D series turn on me. Became disobedient to my instructions and ultimately zapped the family pet with a red-eye flash ray.
I felt I was in the middle of "I, Robot", the concepts of Isaac Asimov running through my head as I sought safety from the electronic devil on the second floor attic.
After hearing things break and shrieks of pain from family members at what they saw, it all became silent.
I huddled amid tepid clothing, clutching my *ist D series camera.
When the attic door opened I was blinded by the light, all I know is that the *ist D came out victorious. And I am here to write these words.
(Just in case I was kidding)

Hey all electronics fail. My thinking is that they will fail much faster than any mechanical film camera ever will.

My suggestion is go out and shoot as much as you can, while you can, with your DSLR. No better time than now.
03-28-2012, 12:08 AM   #12
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All things wear out eventually....

As Rico said Electronic Tubes wear out due to usage. And shutter mechanism wears out simply because it has mechanical components. All mechanical components wear out sooner or later due to friction between different surfaces. I guess that shutter mechanism is prime reason for that wear. On the other hand you could expect similar wear on aperture (iris) of lenses. Given number of actuations the iris blades (and the whole mechanism) is going to wear out sooner or later. Rubber (sealing, grips...) will also get "dry" and oxydate and/or wear out eventually. Then there is always some kind of "decay" (oxydation) process going on, but then we are talking about hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years before it gets unusable.

Now as of electronics: electronics do not die simply of use. Actually it should never "die" but it does. There are some parts that get "old" and some parts that die because of pure statistical chance. Those electronical parts wearing "old" are primarily electrolytic capacitors. Since their function depends on electrolyte being there and electrolyte is ususally a thin fluid film it can suffer from "drying" (electrolite evaporation over time). More over those electrolytes are sensitive to long time of inactivity so if you want your DSLR (or flash for that matter) to work for long time, you have to power it up once in a while.

The things that are not supposed to get broken (but they do) are all ICs, flash memory (used for firmware) and so on. Your DSLR will get unusable in case a simple bit error occurs on some critical part of firmware image. Luckily that just does not happen to often.

Regarding the ever-coming new generations of electronic, it is simply because electronics is still rather young (being there for some 100 years compared to some 20 000 years of mechanics). So new integrated circuits are being released and the old designs reach their "end-of-life" ever sooner. End-of-life doesn't mean that they will suddenly dye, but simply that they are no longer produced or maintaned by manufactorers. So there is always a problem if you want a peace of equipment to have a working life for say 30-50 years when most critical components become obsolete after 10years or so. That is a common problem in defence, aviation, telecom (by telecom I mean infrastructure, not the mobile phones), medical, energy and heavy production (you know all those automated factories) industry just to mention some. The problem is tackled by buying huge number of components at their end-of-life, just to ensure that you have some spare for maintanance.

If we are talking about some really "long" life span (30+ years) than the problem becomes in both having the expertise (all those guys are either dead or long retired), as well as development environment: how do you open a document written 1987 in "chi-writer" on a PC-AT and stored on a 5.25 inch floppy-disc. Not to mention those "ancient" programs written in 60' and 70' stored on punch-cards and punch-tapes...

Last edited by stanislav; 03-28-2012 at 06:07 AM.
03-28-2012, 01:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The TV in the next room (which is in use at the moment, so I can't pull it out to check the model number) is a Toshiba 20-inch Blackstripe that we bought in 1982.
I have a Tosh from 1980 still working in my kitchen. It will be scrapped in September when the analogue signals are turned off in North East UK as it doesn't have the connections for a decoder.



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03-28-2012, 03:56 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Billgscott Quote
I have a Tosh from 1980 still working in my kitchen. It will be scrapped in September when the analogue signals are turned off in North East UK as it doesn't have the connections for a decoder.



Bill
Just get a little rf modulator, that would allow you to connect a decoder to the tv.. whether or not its worth the hassle or cost is another question..
03-28-2012, 04:47 AM   #15
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The reputation of electronics is certainly bad. When electronic fuel-injection was introduced on cars, it had problems, and even today I hear from those who want to rip it out and go back to carburetors, thinking they are more trouble-free. I'm old enough to remember how much trouble carbs and breaker-point ignitions were. Today cars often go 150,000 miles without touching the fuel injection, and 60,000 on a set of spark plugs. Older cars NEEDED tune-ups every 4-5,000 miles, and few cars lasted 100,000.
But in cameras, when Leica began to go electronic in their SLRs, there were a lot of switch contact problems and cracked circuit boards. Leica users wanted all-mechanical cameras, so after the R3, R4, and R5 electronic film models, Leica came out with the all-mechanical shutter, manual exposure R6. It still has a loyal following, and they still make the all-mechanical film rangefinder MP.
Older folk just don't trust electronics. Younger folks don't trust anything else.
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