Canon MkII malfunction
July 11, 2014 1:13 PM   Subscribe

My wife's Canon 5D MkII seems to be bricked, and I'm looking for input on what the issues might be and if it's reparable (or worth it to repair it).

The first thing that happened was, when taking a photo, the shutter actuation would take a few (3ish?) seconds no matter what shutter speed was set on the camera, and the LCD screen would show an Error 70. She tried a number of different solutions found online which involved resetting the camera in various ways, including removing batteries and draining power completely and using/formatting different SD cards. The only thing that worked was using rubbing alcohol and q-tips to clean the camera's sensors which connect to the SD card.

This solved the problem for a couple days, but when the same thing started happening again, other issues started popping up. She started getting Error 06 message in addition to the Error 70 (which apparently means the camera can't detect the sensor when it's cleaning). The shutter actuation now takes 5 to 10 seconds, regardless of the set shutter speed, which probably means the sensor isn't detecting the amount of light bouncing off of it. The LCD screen went out, it's only showing images that look like this. These problems accumulated and all are occurring simultaneously now.

We can't seem to find this combination of errors online to tie it to a definitive problem, but this all seems to point to a main hardware problem, such as the motherboard or the sensor going out. The camera is 5 years old, and she estimates the number of shutter actuations at 120,000 to 150,000. It's about 5 years old at this point, and well out of warranty. If it was in proper working condition, it would be worth about $1200 (based on and other similar price comparisons). She's debating whether to get it repaired or not - i.e. send it in to Canon, who would tell her what's wrong with it and give her an estimate to fix it. She shoots weddings and other paid gigs on the side, so she's buying a new replacement (apparently they just recently stopped making the MkII, so she's getting a MkIII) but is debating whether it would be worth it to fix this MkII and keep as a backup body.

Can anyone shed any more light on what's probably wrong with it?
posted by hootenatty to Technology (8 answers total)
I don't have many suggestions about the exact nature of the problem — it does seem like it's probably an electronics problem, and there's not a ton you can do there but swap out parts — but I do think it's worth pointing out that there are more avenues for repair than just Canon itself.

Canon obviously does repairs themselves, and are equivalent to taking your car to the dealership. But then there are 3rd party repair shops that will work on high-end DSLRs, some of which are factory authorized service centers and some which are not.

I haven't used them in years (probably more like decades) but Precision Camera is one of the factory-authorized 3rd parties. I'd get an estimate from Canon as well as from them, or a similar place.

Many major cities also still have local repair shops that can handle some DSLR problems including mainboard swaps. I'd ask around camera stores / pro photo retailers / etc. (assuming you have any of those in your area anymore) and see if they might exist just for comparison purposes.

If you decide not to repair, you can always sell the dead body on eBay and probably get a few bucks. The cameras are worth something simply for parts (e.g. one with a bad mainboard will be worth it to someone to get the screen, lens mount and intact plastic bits; one with a busted screen is worth it for the mainboard, etc.) so definitely don't just toss it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:53 PM on July 11, 2014

Can you still operate the camera or navigate through the menu? I feel like the answers would be:

1. try the battery thing again
2. disable the auto cleaning sensor feature in the menu
3. reinstall the latest firmware
4. send it to Canon

Canon's repair team is excellent and reasonable, but I can't remember if they charged for the estimate. You're on point with the price estimate for a used 5dMk2, so you know you shouldn't be paying for repairs that cost more than that.

If by shutter actuation you're telling me that it takes about 5 seconds between you pressing the button and the shutter firing, and the LCD is looking like that, you might need to just get a new camera. The 5dMk3 is a really pleasant upgrade.
posted by phaedon at 3:28 PM on July 11, 2014

Response by poster: phaedon: for clarification, by 5-10 second shutter actuation I mean that when the button is pressed to activate the shutter, it opens immediately, then stays open for 5-10 seconds, then closes. Getting a new MkIII is a given, what I'm trying to figure out is what makes sense in terms of repair of the MkII for use as a backup body - we definitely use 2 to 3 cameras when shooting a wedding, for instance, and a backup full-frame is useful.
posted by hootenatty at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2014

If you're curious about the actual shutter count, you can use Magic Lantern, although every LiveView actuation also increments the counter since it does operate the shutter and reflex mirror.
posted by autopilot at 5:49 PM on July 11, 2014

Got it. Have you tried shooting in manual mode? I'm trying to figure out how you arrived at the conclusion that the sensor is not picking up enough light from the actuation problem.

I would really give reinstalling the firmware, and clearing all settings and functions a go. All things being equal, I think the Mk2 is still a worthy backup.
posted by phaedon at 5:49 PM on July 11, 2014

The actual shutter count is also in the exif data encoded in the images themselves. No need to mess with the firmware.
posted by miyabo at 6:21 PM on July 11, 2014

If she's doing this professionally--does she have a CPS account? That's the first place I would send it to be checked out.
posted by inertia at 6:31 AM on July 12, 2014

The actual shutter count is also in the exif data encoded in the images themselves.

I don't actually think this is the case with the 5D Mark 2. People say it is, but it isn't.
posted by phaedon at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2014

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