To add to my broken camera buying spree, I won my first Panasonic Lumix GH1. It apparently suffered from shutter problems. The owner mentioned that the camera was working absolutely fine, then just stopped taking pictures. The shutter just failed and remained in the closed state. I was thinking that it could be an issue with the motor on the shutter mechanism. I was thinking that, worst came scenario, even if the shutter mechanism was shot, I could remove the shutter and just use the camera as a dedicated video camera. I could even mod it to a native PL mount.
Panasonic GH1 Error
Before I started to do anything, I made sure I had adequate space to work. It is always a good practice to set aside a decent sized work area which has plenty of light and elbow room. I like working on a white background, such as oak tag, because it is easier to set aside parts and screws. In addition, make sure you have a computer nearby or area set aside for a laptop, so you can do research in the same room as your camera troubleshooting.
Important note: Make sure you have some type of adhesive tape nearby to put screws on. it makes your life a whole bunch easier. Also, avoid working in a carpeted environment, as finding screws on a carpet tends to be difficult and annoying. Regardless of where you are working, make sure you are grounded when working on electronics!!!
This is what the broken camera ebay posts usually look like: just like every other auction / buy it now post, except with a "For parts or not working" condition affixed. Most of the time, the auctions / buy it now posts are vague because the seller really does not know what is wrong with the camera, or wants to be as concise as possible to sell the item at a higher price. Some sellers don't even say what is wrong with the camera. Instead they just say "NON WORKING" or "BROKEN DOESNT WORK". In capital letters too. What I love even more is the "Camera doesn't power on, most likely a simple electrical problem, quick fix." I have seen this exact statement pop up in an increasing number of "For parts or not working" ebay posts lately. If electrical problems were simple to fix, why didn't the sellers try to fix it themselves? Why didn't they get the camera repaired at an electronics repair shop? Simple electrical fix? Definitely. What really gets me the most, is that you never know if the auction / buy it now will come with accessories. For some reason, almost all the broken item posts on ebay DO NOT specify whether the camera comes with accessories (you know, the useful ones, a battery and charger). That really bothers me. I almost always have to message the seller if the camera comes with accessories and what really happened to the camera. Then I have to wait 1-2 days for them to get back to me. Luckily, this seller seemed to be an honest fellow and told me that a battery and charger were included. He also specified how and when the shutter stopped working, which I greatly appreciate.
Here's how I received the camera: I was very glad that the seller properly packaged the camera. He didn't just throw it in a box with newspaper and call it a day. The camera and power adapter were wrapped in two layers of bubble wrap, which is appropriate.
Once the camera and accessories were removed from the packaging, I noticed that the seller removed the neck strap. After reading up on some common problems with the GH1 online, I realized that he may not have removed the strap intentionally, as there were several dozen people across multiple forums who experienced their strap fall off their camera bu the threaded connection coming loose. This is why the camera sounded like a box of nuts: there literally were loose nuts inside the camera body.
Besides that, the camera looked flawless! not even a scratch on the body. That's pretty amazing. It really did look brand new.
The first thing I did when I got this camera was to verify the seller's description. I checked if the camera powered on with the included battery and what exactly happened.
with the camera on, the next thing I did was removed the body cap and analyze the inside of the micro four thirds mount. Sure enough, the shutter was in the "down" position. This image is a little overexposed because I wanted to show the exact condition of the shutter blades. As you can see on closer inspection, the edges of the shutter blades looked flawless. That is great news, because if if the shutter blades were even slightly dinged, they would not close properly, and the only other option would to replace the entire shutter mechanism or try your luck at fixing a shutter blade. Fixing a shutter blade is not the easiest task in the world, because all the shutter blades have to have extremely smooth surfaces, lay exactly on top of one another and be able to extend and retract in an extremely fast manner. A common problem with a shutter mechanism failing is one of the blades coming loose or mis aligned. A shutter mechanism that has that type of problem usually has one or 2 blades a few degrees off the horizontal, and it becomes quite noticeable just looking through the body cap and taking an image.