Further Digital Disconnection

After thinking that I’d solved the intermittent shutter problem of the Nikon D200 by cleaning the lens and body contact points a couple days before, I rode out before sunrise this morning with the camera and tripod in the saddlebags. The sky looked promising, though my first thought about shooting from Mount Rubidoux had to be put on the backburner. When I walked to the garage glancing at the eastern sky it appeared that I really needed to have started ten to fifteen minutes earlier to get to the vantage point I had in mind on the shoulder of the mountain.

I went to Anza Narrows instead, reminding myself that I really hadn’t determined yet that my shutter fix would work in the field, though it appeared to be working properly a couple nights before at home.

My hesitation to declare the camera in working order turned out to be reasonable. I set up my gear with the camera set to the self-timer. The shutter didn’t fire 80% of time. I only managed to capture four frames in a ten-minute period. Again, I was puzzled. The only thing that had changed since I tested the machine at home was the temperature. It was considerably cooler outside early in the morning, but I’d never had a temperature related problem with the D200.

Somewhat disgusted, I slung the camera strap around my neck, collapsed the tripod and began walking across the grassy hiltop toward the Road Star. When I neared the bike, I decided to see if the camera’s shutter would fire if I took it off the timer setting. It then fired about 80% of the time. It made no sense. The photograph shown above is from those few minutes before I rode home. I cranked up the ISO to 500 and hand held the camera to capture it.

During the short ride home I suddenly remembered that one of the two 8 Gig memory cards I use with the Nikon had acted somewhat flaky a few months before. When I formatted it, the number of available frames displayed on the LCD panel was only about a quarter of what it should have been. I checked the memory card by inserting it in the card reader, but Windows Explorer showed the same thing: the card seemed to have lost around %75 capacity. Oddly, a couple weeks later the card suddenly reacquired   a capacity of 8 Gigs. At the time I thought that there might have been a piece of dust on the connecting pins that was eventually pushed off.

Back home I pulled out the low capacity CF cards I once used in the Kodak DC 3400. The D200 shutter fired with no problems with both the 8 Meg card that came with the Kodak more than a decade ago and the 256 Meg card that I upgraded to shortly after. I then inserted the 2nd 8 Gig card. The camera worked without a hitch with the 2nd 8 Gig card.

The first 8 Gig card was fairly aerodynamically sound: It spun through the air like a miniature Frisbee before landing in the trash container.