Digital SLR: test the camera before buying

Buying a child a soft toy, you do not particularly care about the fate of this nice teddy bear. It is quite another thing, if you decide to have in the house, let's rottweiler - you weigh the pros and cons... The same example is comparable when compared to the digital/film CD "Soap" cost 150-300 USD to professional or semi-professional digital SLR prices from 1500 USD, which you are going to buy.


If we bear patiently endure all the "hardships of their own destiny", the Rottweiler requires a special relationship. And here: the hit was accustomed to your "soap box" for SLR - death. So before you buy an expensive SLR camera, consider carefully whether or not to communicate with such a technique. It will be easier to answer this question, you have read this material.
The article will be useful for a beginner photographer who decided to change the boring "soap box" for a more serious hardware.

How to bypass the "pitfalls" buying digital cameras

If you're reading this, then your desire to stimulate curiosity, to the acquisition of knowledge which is not enough for decisive action - buying a digital SLR. And very useful, because in front of you seriously, expect difficulties and problems associated with lack of knowledge of the topic. It's time to learn from the mistakes of others, because on its own - is expensive. At one time, I had to "fill bumps" getting bitter experience due to our own ignorance. Previously, such information on the Internet is almost not there, and if something were divided, it is quite poor. Today you have information that will help save you money and hassle.

The photo below is made in a supermarket photographic "Foxtrot", which is always available a wide range of cameras and photo accessories.

Digital Cameras in stores Foxtrot

Suppose you already know what you want to buy and at what price. It remains only to go to the seller and make a deal. I deliberately did not use the word shop, it is not always a deal going on at the store. It's no secret that the seller of the goods is interested to sell their wares, and sometimes, just what is called a shove. So, for the sake of you could not vtyuhat illiquid, and this article is written. While your money with you - the seller Parkhaev around you like a moth, and this time should be used for their own purposes at 100%, because after the transaction is completed, your problems - is your only... completely. A few days later he came to the seller with claims of product quality, no one will give for the product with your money, and do not dream. The only thing you can count on in this case, is to trust your camera to the service center, which is not too interested in the rapid return of the product to the owner, especially when up to him a few thousand kilometers. While "get round" the master to your treasure, it may take several months. Moreover, during the repair resource shutter of your camera can lose hundreds/thousands of positives that you no longer return. But the price of a product depends on the resource and the gate, which, unfortunately, is melting with each press of the shutter button, the camera closer to death.

Check the number of times the shutter, you can use a small utility does not require installation. This version works with cameras Nikon, in OC Windows. Take a picture in RAW or JPEG, and with a tool check the numeric value in the Shutter Count. This number also is that the shutter of your camera. Download utility.

Module Replacement bolt from the economic point of view, is not cost-effective, since it is equal to the cost price of one third of the entire chamber. About portal gate talk later. The famous phrase: "Strike while the iron on the spot!" Relevant in our case. Well, it's time to learn how to properly "strike while the iron." So, where do you start the test SLR camera? - Start with the packaging.

Shipping box

Packaging, a keen eye can tell a lot... If the box visible dents from impact and/or spots with protuberances (a consequence of exposure to moisture), or simply too worn - do not trust the seller that it is not "scary", it is "normal condition of packaging." We do not buy potatoes at the market, and a high-precision instrument that requires careful handling, even in the packaging box. And - at cars in excellent condition.(!) Therefore, we can not give an inch or downhill! - Ask to be replaced. Note the seal restricting access to the product. If they do not find it is likely that the product has already been to repair or at corporate.

Why such a conclusion? From personal experience I know that some nerodivye storekeepers and employees of delivery vehicles to take her home, ostensibly to test the day. But it's days are certainly not limited. Used to return to the warehouse only when an order comes to this product. These details are taken from the ceiling, really. Hope that not everything the company by practice, however. Although, I could be wrong. Typically, the "test" news and expensive equipment, fines are not interested. After such "tests" resource shutter naturally decreases, there may be dust on the sensor, several "fingers" of the lens, invisible scratch on the screen, etc. Well, if you suddenly find that the camera is not working - it was immediately sent to the supplier of goods, and after repair, the same camera returns to any other store, but like new. Through this "cycle" are hundreds of products across the country. Fool us, and we naively accept the word of the seller for granted. But let's get back to the main topic of the article - check, through which you can determine by 99.9% over that in fact, we pay their money... Packaging does not arouse suspicion? Excellent! We can move on.

Before picking up a camera, check the hologram sticker on the front page of the warranty card camera, lens and/or an external flash. Check whether all the figures carved on the body of the camera, lens, flash with those which are set out in the warranty card and packing box for each product. The discrepancy between the serial number and/or absence of the holographic sticker on the warranty card will invalidate the warranty and repair. It has to be only in Russian. If the instruction in another language and/or no holographic sticker on the warranty card, it means that this product is not certified - "gray". All connecting cables and small items included in the package should be packed in sealed plastic bags, with no trace of unpacking (possible minor vents).

DSLR - the appearance of products

Carefully, slowly, look at all the available surface of the body and the camera lens (if you buy a lens with the camera). Pay particular attention to the joints of parts/parts of the camera/lens. In slots should not be any dust or dirt tracks. Remove the protective screen of the monitor, inspect the surface inducing light source - no slightest scratch and "fingers"(!). Control panel and the protective screen must be covered with a protective film. If a film of visible air bubbles and/or band - hence the film was removed and then glued back. Why it was done, no need to explain. Areas of buttons, joysticks, levers and handle should not be worn. Mounting Screws - free from the impact screwdriver. Fasteners battery cover - without chafing. The battery included with this product must be discharged. Note the gold contacts on the battery - no scratches from the charger.(!)

Longitudinal scratches on the contacts indicate the repeated use of the battery.
If the appearance of the supplied no complaints - just put the battery to charge. After 15 - 20 minutes, partially charged battery will continue to test electronic components and state of the infrared camera filter. In the meantime, check the seller camera upcoming test phase, which in time will last about 20-30 minutes. If the preliminary examination has been caused to the seller chop, the next phase of testing may make him nervous tic and/or heightened resentment. But the money for the time being are in your pocket, therefore, to send you one will not be, at least until... So, the battery is charged, the seller did not send you anywhere - it's time to continue scan.
Attention! Inserting the battery and a memory card, make sure the switch is in the off (off).
Camera is off. Insert the memory card and battery. Turn on the camera. Press the button «menu», and see if the display text in English - all right. If you see a Russian - worth thinking about... someone has been here before you. Format the card in the camera, and go to the production of a test image.

Test picture - check infrared filter

Shooting parameters in the manufacture of test shots:
Well-lit white A4 sheet of paper, take pictures at close range, about 15-30 cm
- Set the manual mode on the camera and lens.
- Objective - to infinity.
- Focal length - the maximum (for zooms).
- Aperture - the narrowest (F/28 - F/36), depending on the lens.
- The shutter speed (shutter) 1/15-1/30 sec.
- Metering Mode - Matrix.
- Sensitivity ISO - 800-1600.
- Exposure to light meter - normal (adjustable light intensity).
Why do I need a test shot? On the test picture shows the condition of the low-pass filter covering the matrix.

filter matrix
low-pass filter covering the matrix

If the picture is not visible dark dots/spots from dust and/or villi - all right (above), and if you - just do not hesitate to change the instance to another. Do not listen to the seller, who firmly insist that this is nothing to speak of, there's nothing to worry about! So that's what I want to say about it. To remove this, supposedly "a breeze," you have to go to a specialist with extensive experience of cleaning the matrix, or - in the service center. Not be amiss to say that this procedure will cost you a pretty penny, as contamination of the matrix is ​​not a warranty case, and the blame lies with the owner of the camera.

So is it worth paying for someone else's negligence? The answer to this question will give each his own. And then, in a new chamber where the dust? Serious brand does not allow this. So, someone had to change a couple of lenses on your camera, there is no other explanation. Maybe the nerodivy storekeeper, "testing" your camera to take all precautionary measures to prevent dust from entering the camera body. Oh, and do not try to clean the matrix! Low-pass filter, it is so tender and fragile material that even a strong air flow can damage the cable, not to mention the physical touch inexperienced hands. Unless you have the relevant experience, I do not advise to train on expensive cameras. Damaging infrared filter, the camera can be safely given to children to play it in the yard - it shoots worse from this will not. As a replacement valve, and replace low-pass filter as unprofitable occupation. Therefore, it is best to do a test shot, and with a clear mind to move to the next step of our inspection.

Checking for matrix "hot" and "broken" pixels

Shooting parameters in the manufacture of test shots:
- Camera mode - manual "M"
- Sensitivity ISO - 100 (minimum)
- Noise Reduction - "OFF"
- Aperture - 5.6 (average)
- Shutter speed (time) - 1 sec. to 1/30 sec.
- The lens cover is closed.
The following two results: on the top photo shows looks like a quality matrix, on the ground - with the explicit matrix marriage.

Broken pixels
explicit matrix marriage

The left side of the frame are visible hot pixels (shooting the night sky): ISO 1000, shutter speed - 1/2sek., F/5,6. The right part of the same matrix shows the location of dead pixels when shooting above. Broken pixels are visible on almost all pictures, they look something like this as shown in the following photo.

Hot pixels

Hot pixels are visible at long exposures and/or high values ​​of the ISO. They come in different colors: red, blue, green or shades of these colors. There is a possibility that in the future, the hot pixels are permanently damaged, replacing its status as broken. Similarly, you can check and display (LCD), the image that is removed with the lid closed. On a black background you can see all defective pixels, if any. They burn bright white dots. The quality of photos is, of course, is not reflected only on your peace of mind.
Not nice, every time to look at them every time you watch just-captured image.

Focusing system operation check

Shooting parameters in the manufacture of test shots:
- Camera mode - aperture priority "A"
- Aperture - F/2-F/3.5 (widest depends on the aperture of the lens)
- Metering Mode - Centre-weighted mode Single AF - "AF-S"
- Focus Area - central
- Focal length - the maximum (75-300mm)
- The distance to the subject - 50-80cm. (Macro)
If the camera and lens aligned properly - you get a result similar to the one that is shown in the photos below.

lens aligned properly
camera and lens

The target can use a ruler with a newspaper (see photo 2), a keyboard, a wall with a pronounced texture, and so on, the main thing - the angle between the surface and photographed the lens axis is about 45°.
Noting the area of ​​focus on the target (in the photo - said "20x30"), hold the camera in your hand (best to use a tripod), take a few shots (3-5) and after every frame defocus and refocus the lens. Compare all the received photos. If all the shots focus was unmoved, and that is where you need - excellent. If the focus area to which you were aiming, was out of focus (front focus/back focus), it's time to change the camera and/or lens to another instance as long until you get the desired result. If the focusing system is working properly - this genre of photography as shooting portraits can forget. Since focusing on the eyes portrait, the focus will be the tip of his nose (front-focus), or ears (back-focus).

If after prochitanogo material, your desire to buy a digital SLR has not disappeared, obviously, you seriously and for a long time, possessed the spirit of the photographer. And such people are not afraid of things outlined above. For them it is a common thing - how to wash their hands before eating.

In conclusion, let me remind some important points to keep in mind is always:
You can not plug/lens, an external flash, etc. with camera. This can cause damage and/or equipment. Do not remove/insert the battery and memory card while the camera is on. When replacing the lens, make sure to enter the camera prevent dust. In cold weather, going into a warm room, the camera and inside condensation, which can disable any electronic equipment. Do not allow the sudden change in temperature. Before you enter into a warm room, put the camera and equipment in a sealed package, not breathable.

You can use some new plastic bags of various sizes. In a smaller package laid the camera, and only then put the camera in a bag packed with a larger size. It should look something like a thermos (outside the body - inside the bulb.) Think about the shock or vibration to remind not.
Well, now you are in the subject, but all that is left to implement.
Now to answer the question posed at the beginning, you can be more confident than before.
I hope that the information above, will add confidence when you purchase the camera.
Thank you for your attention. Happy shopping!

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