D5100 frequently fails to take a shot

Started Dec 28, 2013 | Discussions
gvm7777
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D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
Dec 28, 2013

The camera has functioned OK for about 18 months but all of a sudden it has started failing to focus and therefore does not take shots. I always use it in Automatic mode. It does succeed at focusing and then taking shots sometimes but more often it fails. When it fails, the autofocus motor runs but since proper focus is not achieved, the shutter does not operate.

I have performed an autofocus test after downloading a test page. The autofocus seems well adjusted.

Is this a well-known problem that can be fixed by a user like me? For warranty service I have to ship it from Australia to USA and I've heard stories that cameras with problems like this come back with same fault.

TIA for any advice /suggestions .... Greg

Nikon D5100
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Jeff AG
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 28, 2013

First thing to do is see if it is actually a fault.  Some setting prevent the camera from shooting until there is a focus lock.  The camera will have a hard time auto focusing in low light or when it cannot find enough contrast to lock on to.

So if the problem is new, what has changed?  Have you changed auto focus settings?  Are you shooting more in low light?
The place to start is with your camera manual.  Learn the various auto focus settings and experiment to see if it is just a setting/scene problem.  I suspect that cameras that come back with the same 'problem' often do so because there is nothing wrong with them.

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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 28, 2013

Adding to the first reply, although I do not have a D5100, most Nikon's have an AF-S focus mode where (using default menu settings) the shutter does not fire unless the in focus indicator in the viewfinder shows as a circle.

Which AF mode are you in when the camera fails to shoot, and does it only fail to take a shot when the circle does not show?

On most Nikon's (check the D5100 instruction book) you can change the menu options so the camera always shoots in AF-S - but you then risk getting some out of focus pictures.

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Iain G Foulds
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 28, 2013

... Occasionally, had the same issue with my D5100. Tried everything. Think it was a contrast/ AF issue of the model. Anyhow, it was good to step up to the D7xxx series. No issues.

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mrbr
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 28, 2013

gvm7777 wrote:

The camera has functioned OK for about 18 months but all of a sudden it has started failing to focus and therefore does not take shots. I always use it in Automatic mode. It does succeed at focusing and then taking shots sometimes but more often it fails. When it fails, the autofocus motor runs but since proper focus is not achieved, the shutter does not operate.

I have performed an autofocus test after downloading a test page. The autofocus seems well adjusted.

Is this a well-known problem that can be fixed by a user like me? For warranty service I have to ship it from Australia to USA and I've heard stories that cameras with problems like this come back with same fault.

TIA for any advice /suggestions .... Greg

Hi,

I own a D5100 and have taken about 9000 pictures with it. I have no problem with focussing at all ( and I use focus priority, so if no focus , the camera cannot take a picture ) and I did not read about this being a known problem, so IMO it is not. The D5100 is a very good dslr.

One possibility is that you are to close to the subject you want to take a picture of and the lens cannot achieve focus at all.

I would suggest that to start you reset the camera to the default settings first ( hold the MENU and info buttons , both are marked with a green dot , for more the 2 seconds ).

Place the camera in AUTO mode as you are used to and try if the focus problem still exists ( try to focus on a subject in good lighting conditions , outside in bright light eg ).

If the problem still is present, can you reproduce it with another lens ?? Do you have a friend owning a dslr ( or camerastore ) where you can discuss your problem ?

I hope this sets you on the way to find the answer.

Greetings,
Marc

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GerardHaines
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 28, 2013

Another thing to consider is the focus motor in the lens -- do the focusing issues happen with more than one lens or just one?

And no, this is not a well-known problem with the D5100.

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gvm7777
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 29, 2013

Thanks everybody for your replies. I am having the problem with both of my lenses. I will act on your suggestions, do more research, and get back to you. Thanks again ... Greg

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gvm7777
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to Jeff AG, Dec 29, 2013

I've done some exploration given your earlier comments. I did a reset of all settings (holding down menu and i buttons for a few seconds) and still have a problem, and I'm quite sure I still have the problem on the other lens too.

There are 11 spots visible through the lens when I take a picture. One or more of them light up when, it seems to me, the camera detects sufficient contrast at a spot. More than one spot may light up when the AF-area mode is set to auto, but only one if any of the other three modes are set. Sometimes, no spot lights up even though I think there is sufficient contrast at that spot or nearby it, and of course the camera doesn't take a shot then.

If a spot lights up, the camera then attempts to focus. I hear a tone when it seems to me the camera has succeeded at focusing. Often the spot flashing and the tone sounding seem to occur simultaneously but that seems to depend on whether or not the auto-focus motor needs to make a significant adjustment. Often after hearing the tone, the camera takes a shot, but often I hear the tone and the camera doesn't take a shot. Why not? In this situation, the camera seems to have the contrast it requires, adjusts the focus as required, but doesn't take the shot. What are possible reasons for this please?

TIA .... Greg

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Jeff AG
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, Dec 29, 2013

It is possible there is a fault with the camera, but I would make absolutely sure before I sent it in for repair.

Can you identify what condition causes it to fail? Is it completely random? Only indoors? Only with one lens?  Is the battery charged?

Will it focus on a the crown of a tree that is over 10' away and in the sun 100% of the time? I would think it should.

Is your subject too close for your lens to focus on? It varies from lens to lens but they all have a minimum focusing distance.

Have you read the manual? Focusing begins on page 32: http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/dslr/D5100_EN.pdf

Test everything.  See what works and what fails.  If it were me I would start in Aperture Priority and AF-S.  If the camera has an auto focus switch, I don't remember, make sure it is set to AF.  If the lens has an auto focus switch likewise. Make sure the center focus point is selected, point the lens so that focus point fall right on a nice contrasty spot, like place the edge of a window or door frame right through the middle of that center focus point, so the focus point is half on a dark area and half on a light area, and see what happens.  If it cant focus on that when the light is good, and you are not too close, then you have a problem.  Switch lenses.  If you still have a problem it is the camera, if not, then it is the lens.  Make sure the electrical contacts on the body and lens are clean, if you think they may not be clean and try again.  Is the camera clean on the inside?  Try blowing it out with a rocket blower.  Not your mouth, and not canned air!  Do it again with the mirror up (On the setup menu.)

If you are sure it is the camera, my condolences.  Find an authorized Nikon shop.

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gvm7777
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to Jeff AG, 11 months ago

Do you think that when the camera beeps it indicates the camera has successfully focused and is 'ready' to shoot? And if so, and it doesn't shoot, then the camera is faulty?

I used the camera outside in bright day light. It wouldn't fail provided the view was filled with good light, but if the view included shadows from leaves then it would not shoot on every occasion; ie I would hold the camera as steady as I could and attempt to take shots repeatedly; it would take a picture many times but not always.

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Jeff AG
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Re: D5100 frequently fails to take a shot
In reply to gvm7777, 11 months ago

I think when the camera beeps, it should indicate focus and it should shoot.  I am not so sure that nothing else could be going on that if it were my camera I would drop it in a box and ship it to Nikon over that tiny piece of information alone.  But that is one option.  If it comes back with the same problem though then you are right back where you started.

Why don't you go put your camera in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing and ask them what is going on with it.  My experience is that the folks at camera stores are very knowledgeable and helpful.  I don't mean the camera department at a big box, but a real camera store.

Good luck.

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