How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?

Started Jun 12, 2013 | Discussions
Rod McD
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How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
Jun 12, 2013

Hi,

It's been interesting reading the comments pages on the new high end Leica and Hasselblad cameras. They've been unusually consistent for a DPR comment page in their negativity. It's lead me to wonder about these high end marques and in fact whether any digital cameras will ever again be able to develop the reputation they've inherited from the film era.

Leica and Hasselblad, perhaps more than any other brands, built the reputation they trade on today in film. The secret was simple - well made and highly reliable bodies matched to first rate lenses. The M6 was last of a mature product line, beautifully built to last for decades. Today's high end cameras might bear a functional and styling resemblance to their ancestors, but they are a far cry from them on the inside. They can only keep working as long as their electronic components last.......

I can't think of any electronic thing I've owned that lasted more than about ten years and many have been less. Phones, digital cameras, iPods, DVD players, remote controls, game consoles, you name it. Sooner or later a sensor, motor, LCD, processor, circuit board, etc, something - has 'died'. They worked yesterday. You wake up this morning and they're dodgy. No-one repairs them. And no-one stocks the parts. Or they don't have the diagnostic tools. Or they "no longer support that model". And even if they do it's "uneconomic to repair". It seems it's cheaper to buy a new one in the electronic (disposable) age. A friend of mine who's a repairman has multiple garbage bags of dead digital cameras to scavenge for parts that he can't buy.

That's just the bodies. These days many of the lenses have chips, circuit boards and motors too. Many have to be controlled by the camera and their utility can only last as long as the matching body or as long as the manufacturer supports that mount. Many valuable lenses are already too old to get repaired.

So what do you think? How long have your digital cameras kept working? How old is your oldest digital camera that's still working? Have others 'died' on you? And are any marques going to be able to develop/keep their reputation in relation to their camera bodies if their components are no better than anyone else's. (I acknowledge that mechanical lenses may be a different matter).

Food for thought.

Cheers, Rod

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wklee
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

I have no doubts that the bodies themselves will most likely last a long time. How long will the batteries be available? Or the memory cards? I have a Canon G7 which is still usable but there aren't any spare parts left for this model.

The G7 certainly won't take the newer SDXC formatted cards. The lower capacity SDHC cards are fine although I have never tried putting a 32GB SDHC card in it to find out.

I don't know if Leica will upgrade the SD card slot when something newer comes along like from SDHC to SDXC to whatever comes next?

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Mike_PEAT
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Should last at least 10 years..,
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

Rod McD wrote:

I can't think of any electronic thing I've owned that lasted more than about ten years and many have been less. Phones, digital cameras, iPods, DVD players, remote controls, game consoles, you name it. Sooner or later a sensor, motor, LCD, processor, circuit board, etc, something - has 'died'.

I have a Commodore monitor from the 80's that still works, I have digital cameras from more than 10 years ago that still function 100%, even my first LED clock radio from the 70's (one of the first on the market) still works fine.

The risk in digital cameras is the mechanicals (the shutter), and the capacitor for the internal flash.  Also how you take care of it.  I used my film camera for 20 years and it never needed any service.

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Alleg1
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

Rod McD wrote:

Hi,

It's been interesting reading the comments pages on the new high end Leica and Hasselblad cameras. They've been unusually consistent for a DPR comment page in their negativity. It's lead me to wonder about these high end marques and in fact whether any digital cameras will ever again be able to develop the reputation they've inherited from the film era.

Leica and Hasselblad, perhaps more than any other brands, built the reputation they trade on today in film. The secret was simple - well made and highly reliable bodies matched to first rate lenses. The M6 was last of a mature product line, beautifully built to last for decades. Today's high end cameras might bear a functional and styling resemblance to their ancestors, but they are a far cry from them on the inside. They can only keep working as long as their electronic components last.......

I can't think of any electronic thing I've owned that lasted more than about ten years and many have been less. Phones, digital cameras, iPods, DVD players, remote controls, game consoles, you name it. Sooner or later a sensor, motor, LCD, processor, circuit board, etc, something - has 'died'. They worked yesterday. You wake up this morning and they're dodgy. No-one repairs them. And no-one stocks the parts. Or they don't have the diagnostic tools. Or they "no longer support that model". And even if they do it's "uneconomic to repair". It seems it's cheaper to buy a new one in the electronic (disposable) age. A friend of mine who's a repairman has multiple garbage bags of dead digital cameras to scavenge for parts that he can't buy.

That's just the bodies. These days many of the lenses have chips, circuit boards and motors too. Many have to be controlled by the camera and their utility can only last as long as the matching body or as long as the manufacturer supports that mount. Many valuable lenses are already too old to get repaired.

So what do you think? How long have your digital cameras kept working? How old is your oldest digital camera that's still working? Have others 'died' on you? And are any marques going to be able to develop/keep their reputation in relation to their camera bodies if their components are no better than anyone else's. (I acknowledge that mechanical lenses may be a different matter).

Food for thought.

Cheers, Rod

My Nikon D100 is over ten years old, looks virtually new and is still faultless.

Having said that, it will probably blow up tomorrow!

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Cailean Gallimore
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

With regards to the two manufacturers you mention, it would make sense for them to produce a range of cameras with no internal components of any kind. This would prevent any wear or damage as a result of misguided people using them to take pictures. The joys of unboxing and ownership would be just as great as they are now.

I would buy one in an instant.

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Biggs23
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

Rod McD wrote:

So what do you think? How long have your digital cameras kept working? How old is your oldest digital camera that's still working?

I have an Olympus P&S from 2000 that still functions, although we now let our  young son play with it.

Have others 'died' on you?

Never had one die on me, no.

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Any opinions I express are my own and do not represent DPReview. Have a good one and God bless!

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jaymc
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

I got an Olympus C-3030Z that uses Smart Media cards ... it still works.  

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ryansholl
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Long time
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

My Minolta RD-175 still works fine after almost 18 years, though obviously not seeing much use any more.  The hard drives and battery... not so much.

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macmaven
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Tin Whiskers and Lead Free Solder
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 12, 2013

This article is from 2005.

We are already seeing a lot of failures of equipment from this time, while older equipment continues to work.

"Lead Free Solder- A train wreck in the making"

The wreck-in-progress revolves around the evolving switch in the electronics industries in the U.S., Europe, and throughout the world from conventional lead solders to the new lead-free solders.

The specific threat is tin whiskers, which are physical abnormalities that grow in nonlead solders that lead to unpredictable shorting and failures of electronic parts. This phenomenon will compromise the reliability and reputation of most, if not all, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic parts and subsystems.

The move to nonlead solders stems from the Reduction of Hazardous Substances rules-better known as RoHS-that will apply to electronic products sold in Europe as of next July. (2005)

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/print/volume-16/issue-10/news/trends/lead-free-solder-a-train-wreck-in-the-making.html

http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/background/

http://www.sc.edu/news/newsarticle.php?nid=5371#.UbivBOvy96A

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D Cox
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Re: Tin Whiskers and Lead Free Solder
In reply to macmaven, Jun 12, 2013

macmaven wrote:

This article is from 2005.

We are already seeing a lot of failures of equipment from this time, while older equipment continues to work.

"Lead Free Solder- A train wreck in the making"

The wreck-in-progress revolves around the evolving switch in the electronics industries in the U.S., Europe, and throughout the world from conventional lead solders to the new lead-free solders.

The specific threat is tin whiskers, which are physical abnormalities that grow in nonlead solders that lead to unpredictable shorting and failures of electronic parts. This phenomenon will compromise the reliability and reputation of most, if not all, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic parts and subsystems.

The move to nonlead solders stems from the Reduction of Hazardous Substances rules-better known as RoHS-that will apply to electronic products sold in Europe as of next July. (2005)

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/print/volume-16/issue-10/news/trends/lead-free-solder-a-train-wreck-in-the-making.html

http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/background/

http://www.sc.edu/news/newsarticle.php?nid=5371#.UbivBOvy96A

Yes, that was a big mistake. The dangers of lead and mercury are greatly exaggerated.

I don't believe anyone was ever harmed by solder.

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AllMankind
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 13, 2013

The main problem with digital is not how long any digital camera can keep working, but rather, how long before the advances in technology make it obsolete in one area or another.

I have a digital camera that goes back to the early 2000's and it still works.  But it is basically unuseable by today's standards.

Assuming you actually use your cameras, I would say that after about 5 years, the advances in technology will probably make upgrading a worthwhile prospect.

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Brad99
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Re: Tin Whiskers and Lead Free Solder
In reply to macmaven, Jun 14, 2013

Far more likely than tin whiskers are failing polarised capacitors from electronics manufactured several years ago. These have tremendous failure rates due to dodgy industrial espionage only getting part of the electrolyte chemical formulae from a major manufacturer. They didn't get the part that stops the electrolyte deteriorating after a couple of years. There's still lots of these capacitors being used today in really cheap electronics, and there have been further episodes of bad capacitors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

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Christoph Stephan
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to AllMankind, Jun 14, 2013

AllMankind wrote:

Assuming you actually use your cameras, I would say that after about 5 years, the advances in technology will probably make upgrading a worthwhile prospect.

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On the other hand, we often quite see a saturation curve, with rapid and Very noticeable progress in the beginning, and much slower and gradual progress later on.

With computers, that rapid and exponential progress was in the 1990ies, with digital cameras, it was in the 2000ies.

A digital camera bought in the 2006-2008 years period is much more useable than one bought around 2000 ... and as one bough around 2000 was already in 2006.

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Roger99
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Back in the day...
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 14, 2013

...when I used to do a bit of electronics design\repair it was law that manufacturers of consumer appliances stock a complete set of replacement parts and assemblies for every product for no less than 10 years after the sale of the final unit in a line.  This all changed with the advent of computers.  Somehow someone swept that law under the carpet or rescinded it in some back room deal.  As far as I know it still stands but it would be interesting if anyone ever tried to exercise that particular consumer right.

Cameras have done better for me than most other stuff but it is still an area rife with the principles of in built redundancy.  Up until now redundancy has been a pretty simple phenomenon of style and features evolution.  Getting the latest model was a good idea to improve what we were producing image wise but as practical limits are reached the only thing they (camera companies) will be able to do to keep nose bleed profits going will be to have our costly little toy virtually blow up after a couple of years of use.

I myself am almost past the point of getting the better top end gear but more often look for cheaper stuff that will "do the job" to make the better stuff in my gear cupboard last as long as I can get it to.

Honest quality could be a thing of the past.  Just glad I still have my old Nikon film kit for emergencies, and of course the feel of a well built machine occasionally.

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: Tin Whiskers and Lead Free Solder
In reply to D Cox, Jun 14, 2013

"I don't believe anyone was ever harmed by solder."

The risk is to the workers in the factories who can be exposed to high levels over long periods of time.   Also to workers in recycling facilities.

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Roger Krueger
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Still shooting my Dec. 2004 1dsII
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 14, 2013

Still a better camera than my 7d

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Roger Krueger
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Out of service parts BEFORE the end of retail sales
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 14, 2013

Apparently the case for Canon's non-IS version of the 70-200/2.8.

I doubt this was intentional. I'd bet the lenses still on the shelf were built several years ago.

And a pro workhorse lens like this is going to generate a lot of repairs.

So this is probably bad forecasting plus a long-dismantled production line.

OTOH my 2004 1dsII has been repaired twice in the last 18 months and still had plenty of parts, including a complete top deck.

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Amamba
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Re: How long can digital bodies last.......even the good ones?
In reply to AllMankind, Jun 14, 2013

AllMankind wrote:

The main problem with digital is not how long any digital camera can keep working, but rather, how long before the advances in technology make it obsolete in one area or another.

I have a digital camera that goes back to the early 2000's and it still works. But it is basically unuseable by today's standards.

Assuming you actually use your cameras, I would say that after about 5 years, the advances in technology will probably make upgrading a worthwhile prospect.

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Oppose Tyranny in all its forms.

Precisely. Your camera will be obsolete long before it dies. Most of those Sony Mavicas with a floppy disc for storage are probably still functioning 15 years later, however I never see anyone using them.

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happypoppeye
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Going on 12 years for the G2
In reply to Rod McD, Jun 14, 2013

Rod McD wrote:

Hi,

It's been interesting reading the comments pages on the new high end Leica and Hasselblad cameras. They've been unusually consistent for a DPR comment page in their negativity. It's lead me to wonder about these high end marques and in fact whether any digital cameras will ever again be able to develop the reputation they've inherited from the film era.

Leica and Hasselblad, perhaps more than any other brands, built the reputation they trade on today in film. The secret was simple - well made and highly reliable bodies matched to first rate lenses. The M6 was last of a mature product line, beautifully built to last for decades. Today's high end cameras might bear a functional and styling resemblance to their ancestors, but they are a far cry from them on the inside. They can only keep working as long as their electronic components last.......

I can't think of any electronic thing I've owned that lasted more than about ten years and many have been less. Phones, digital cameras, iPods, DVD players, remote controls, game consoles, you name it. Sooner or later a sensor, motor, LCD, processor, circuit board, etc, something - has 'died'. They worked yesterday. You wake up this morning and they're dodgy. No-one repairs them. And no-one stocks the parts. Or they don't have the diagnostic tools. Or they "no longer support that model". And even if they do it's "uneconomic to repair". It seems it's cheaper to buy a new one in the electronic (disposable) age. A friend of mine who's a repairman has multiple garbage bags of dead digital cameras to scavenge for parts that he can't buy.

That's just the bodies. These days many of the lenses have chips, circuit boards and motors too. Many have to be controlled by the camera and their utility can only last as long as the matching body or as long as the manufacturer supports that mount. Many valuable lenses are already too old to get repaired.

So what do you think? How long have your digital cameras kept working? How old is your oldest digital camera that's still working? Have others 'died' on you? And are any marques going to be able to develop/keep their reputation in relation to their camera bodies if their components are no better than anyone else's. (I acknowledge that mechanical lenses may be a different matter).

Food for thought.

Cheers, Rod

Canon G2 ...considering the 4 MP ...still great IQ compared to some of these mega pixelers of today.

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Amamba
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Re: Back in the day...
In reply to Roger99, Jun 14, 2013

Roger99 wrote:

....

Honest quality could be a thing of the past. Just glad I still have my old Nikon film kit for emergencies, and of course the feel of a well built machine occasionally.

The "honest quality" was a big selling point when stuff was relatively expensive, compared to the average earnings, the technology didn't develop very fast, and quality was generally hard to come by. People wanted to pay extra for lasting quality in something they would only buy once or twice in a lifetime.

Not many are willing to pay top dollar for "honest quality" in the age when everything is an expendable commodity and the quality of  cheap commodities is usually good enough to outlast the usefulness of the product. I don't expect my camera to last 20 years, but I'd be p!ssed if it didn't last 4-5.

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