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Help! Entirely black frames on EPL5

Discussion in 'The Olympus Outlet' started by Steyr, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Steyr

    Steyr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    60
    28
    18
    Hi all - I hope someone can offer some useful advice with a problem I'm having.

    I've had an E-PL5 for a few years, in the Oly housing (PT-EP10). Until recently it has worked flawlessly. Recently it has started capturing an entirely black frame with some shots, then most shots, and now all shots - if they're taken more than 1m underwater. Above water it works perfectly fine, whether it's in the housing or not. The image (raw) is entirely black. Not underexposed; I mean utterly black. Upping the exposure in post processing doesn't bring out any detail. There is nothing captured in the image - just blackness. And yes, I have the lens cap off.

    Today I did some experimentation under a pier in 1-3m water, and here is what I found.
    • On the surface photos capture correctly.
    • At shallow depth (<1m) they seem to capture correctly too.
    • When I dip below 1m (approx - it's not precise) it starts capturing only black frames; though possibly there might be a slight delay (maybe 10 seconds?) before that starts happening. If I'm quick I might capture one shot at 2m before the blackness starts kicking in.
    • When I ascend back above 1m, it starts capturing images correctly again; though again there is a delay (10-30 seconds) before it starts working correctly - until then it gives me black frames, even above the water.
    • As an example, two photos taken seconds apart after descending below 1m - one is captured correctly and the other is all black. EXIF data shows them with identical settings - ISO200, F2.8, 1/40 sec, -0.7 exposure step, center weighted metering, captured on aperture priority.
    • The shutter speed, F-stop, ISO, exposure step all make no difference. I might get a black frame pointing at the sun with a 1/4000 speed, or pointing at a dark subject with 1/15 speed.
    • All manual settings or all automatic (or anything in between) makes no difference.
    • Flash on or off makes no difference.
    • The lens makes no difference (have tried 60mm macro, 14-42mm telephoto, and 8mm fisheye)
    Given that depth seems to be what triggers it, I can only imagine it's something to do with pressure. But The camera is in a rigid housing, so the pressure on the camera shouldn't change. Perhaps an o-ring might compress a fraction, but I imagine the pressure change inside the housing is almost nothing, and we're only talking 1-2m anyway.

    I wondered if a button on the housing might be pressing in and somehow interfering with the shot, but I've managed to use a fingernail under the edge of each button (one by one) to make sure it's not depressed when I'm taking the shot, and that makes no difference.

    And here's an added twist - video records just fine, even when photos are coming out black.

    I'm all out of ideas on this one, and welcome any sensible suggestion as to what the problem might be. Can anyone help?
     
  2. Jcp2

    Jcp2 Barracuda

    477
    339
    63
    Mechanical shutter impending total failure?
     
  3. KevinG58

    KevinG58 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vallejo California USA
    279
    73
    28
    Which lens? After years of shooting UW with my 14-42 kit zoom without problems, I suddenly began experiencing occasional black frames. I eventually found the zoom gear would shift slightly and rub the lock switch on the barrel and that would somehow result in the black frame, OR a message on the camera that the lens was locked. I don't recall it being depth dependent. Not identical problem but similar, I hope this helps your troubleshooting.
     
  4. Steyr

    Steyr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    60
    28
    18
    Any lens. All lenses. Including ones that do not use the zoom gear.

    Thanks for the reply, but I think my issue is different.
     
  5. Steyr

    Steyr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    60
    28
    18
    I hope so. I want an excuse to upgrade my camera. :eyebrow:
     
    BenjaminF likes this.
  6. Jcp2

    Jcp2 Barracuda

    477
    339
    63
  7. Steyr

    Steyr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    60
    28
    18
    Thanks - I found that after your first reply. It's possible that the shutter curtain is timing itself badly, but it's not getting stuck like in that link (there's a YouTube video that shows it too). The shutter does retract after each shot, and I can see through the LCD screen again. If the shutter stayed stuck, the LCD screen would be black.
     
  8. Steyr

    Steyr Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    60
    28
    18
    I might try that anyway - a very long exposure and give it a whack during the shot. Though giving it a jarring impact underwater might be more difficult than on land.
     
  9. Chris Ross

    Chris Ross Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sydney Australia
    403
    137
    43
    I had a similar issue, different camera(EM-5 II) , the lens release button has a switch that activates to tell the camera a lens is attached and to try to talk to it, if this is faulty it will take a black frame, Olympus at North Ryde fixed my camera for around $100-200 range, it was like $15 for the part and a few hours labour, turnaround was fairly quick. It was not depth related though.
     
  10. gert7to3

    gert7to3 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northwest Michigan now, formerly Chicago
    1,106
    97
    48
    You might get a used or refurbed EPL-5 for about what the repair would cost.
     

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