When your camera doesn't work like you expect it you may want to scream, cry, pull out your hair, or smash the stupid thing. But fear not, don't do any of those things just yet – there's help coming! In this article, I'm going to tell you what to do if your camera seems possessed! Sometimes you can run into some really odd things happening with your camera. Here is a quick list of five of the most common camera issues, and how to troubleshoot it and find a solution for them.
Problem #1: Your camera is not focusing at all
- Make sure you have autofocus switched on (check both on the camera and lens if you shoot Nikon).
- Take the lens off and remount it (this is often caused by the contacts on the lens and the camera body not making a proper connection). This is a very common issue, I often see this in my classroom and on my photo tours. Make sure when you attach it to the body you hear a click and it is solidly in place. If it's not locked you risk the lens falling off as well, and you do not want that!
- You may simply be too close for your lens to focus, back up a bit and try again. Your lens has a minimum focusing distance, so unless you have a macro lens you can't just put your lens right into that flower and expect it to focus. Most lenses focus at a minimum of about 12 inches. Back up a little or buy a macro lens if you tend to want to get closer a lot.
Problem #2: Your exposures are erratic
Exposures being erratic and all over the place could be a couple of things.
- Your AEB (auto exposure bracketing) may have been turned on by accident. This is where your camera is set to take a series of exposures, one normal, one or more underexposed, and one or more overexposed. These exposures are to be used for making HDR blended images, or in extreme lighting conditions to cover your bases. All other times, make sure it's turned off. If you aren't sure where to find that setting on your camera, consult your camera use manual.
- Check to see if you are in Spot Metering mode (if so switch to Matrix or Evaluative). Spot metering is for very specific things and I tell my students it is for intermediate to advanced photographers only. So if you aren't there yet – switch to another mode.
Problem #3: All of your images are too dark
- The first thing that you want to do if all of your images are too dark is to check the Exposure Compensation setting. Look to see if it has been dialed down to -1, or more, to underexpose. Sometimes it happens accidentally, so figure out how it this setting gets adjusted and make sure you don't bump it inadvertently. Also, note that Exposure Compensation does not revert back to zero after you do one shot. So, if you dial in say -1.33 it will stay there until you put it back.
- Check the brightness setting on your display. If this is turned down, the images may look dark on the screen but are actually exposed correctly. Make sure you use the histogram to check your exposure and do not rely on a visual inspection. This is why!
Problem #4: Random weird issues
Perhaps the camera won't fire, you can't focus, or you see an error message on the LCD or top display of the camera. This is when you really think your camera is possessed! Don't beat it with a baseball bat or throw it in the river just yet though!
When really weird stuff is happening just shut the camera off for a few seconds (10 or more), then turn it on again. That often works – it's just like a reboot on your computer. If that doesn't do the trick turn the camera off, take out the battery, wait a full minute, then put it back and try again.
Worst case scenario if that still doesn't solve it, turn the camera off, take out the battery and the memory card, remove the lens (cover the opening with a body cap to keep dust out) and wait ONE HOUR. Then put in just the battery and try it, fingers crossed! If it still doesn't work and you get an error message, try Googling that message and your camera model to see if there is a recorded reason and solution for it. Ideally, if you have another battery handy, try that one.
Sometimes batteries suddenly die or fail and may need replacing. Always have extras! Other times humidity can play a factor so waiting is the only solution.
Once you've tried everything your last option is to head to a camera store with a repair department and see if they can do an analysis for you. An overhaul and camera cleaning may be in order. It's a good idea to have your camera and lenses serviced periodically anyway (like doing an oil change in your car).
Problem #5: The camera is unresponsive and the screen is black
- It's possible that you have it set to a really slow shutter speed and the camera is taking a long exposure. Look for a red light which indicates the camera is working/thinking. Shutting the camera off will cancel the exposure.
- If you have a locking camera shutter release (trigger) and it's accidentally set to the lock position (and you're in continuous shooting mode) the camera will keep taking photos until you unlock it.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If all else fails, Google it!
Have you experienced any other weird camera issues? How did you solve the problem? Have you got any you weren't able to solve? Please share in the comments below so we can compare notes, and see if we can't troubleshoot any other camera possession issues.