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I discovered in live view on my Nikon D5100 that there is a black band obscuring about a third of the screen. It rotates with the screen and stays on top. Shots I take now are also affected by this band. The camera has not suffered any impact.

Can anyone explain what the problem is likely to be?

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Does it also do this when you shoot pictures looking through the viewfinder? Have you had any error messages related to shutter malfunction recently? –  Michael Clark Apr 21 '13 at 6:31
4  
When you say "it rotates with the screen and stays on top" do you mean it stays on the same side of the screen regardless of the camera orientation? Or do you mean it stays on the side of the screen towards the top of the the part of the camera facing up, even when the top of the camera isn't pointed up? –  Michael Clark Apr 21 '13 at 6:36
    
Can you attach an example please? A Bad sensor is all i can think of... –  Darkcat Studios Apr 21 '13 at 8:59
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It could also be a piece of the shutter curtain hanging in front of the sensor or the mirror not attaching to the top of the light box properly and obscuring some of the light from the image circle cast by the lens. –  Michael Clark Apr 22 '13 at 7:43
1  
Show a sample picture. (Now why wasn't that obvious?) –  Olin Lathrop Jun 21 '13 at 13:35

4 Answers 4

I'm crossing my fingers on your behalf that this answer is the right one, because it's the easiest to fix.

If you're shooting in shutter priority (S) at faster than 180th or 200th, and using flash, you've surpassed the speed at which your sensor can see the flash from behind the moving curtain. Take a look at the images at the bottom of this post to see if they look familiar:

http://digital-photography-school.com/understand-flash-sync-speed-so-you-dont-sink-your-photo-shoot

If so, you're in luck! The solution is free, and you've just learned something really important about your camera.

Best of luck!

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A more careful and more detailed description may help.
BUT essentially, it's broken, and unlikely to be fixable by other than a repairer.

Websearch for similar faults - such things may be known by others.
If N people report it and say it is unfixable, it may be.

'Just in case' try:

(1) Turn camera on. Take battery out. Turn camera off. Leave for say 30 minutes 9but 20 seconds is probably enough). Replace battery. Turn back on.
Fixed?

(2) Perform as full a system reset as is available.
Fixed?

(3) Reflash with latest firmware if possible.
Fixed?

If it is on the long side whether the camera is in portrait or landscape mode
AND is on the saved image whether the camera is in live view or not
AND is present on the live view screen before the shot is taken
AND after it is taken then (probably) it is functionally in the sensor or sensor-related electronics.

If any of those AND conditions are not met one may have to think harder.

Regardless, though, unlikely to be fixable if the suggestions above do not work.

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Without a more detailed description it is hard to say but here are the most likely scenarios.

  • The problem is with the LCD screen and associated hardware or software controllers and the pictures themselves are fine.
  • There is a mechanical issue with the shutter, mirror assembly, or other parts of the light box that is causing something to block light between the lens and the sensor.
  • There is something wrong with the sensor and the signal from part of it is no longer reaching the image processor.
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My gut instinct would be one of three things:-

  1. There is a problem with the sensor
  2. There is a mechanical problem with the shutter curtain itself being stuck
  3. If you're using a flash you may be trying to shoot with a faster shutter speed than the max sync speed (typically between 1/180th and 1/250th depending on your equipment).

If point 1 or 2, I'd say to try a full camera reset. Remove the main battery. Then see if Nikon tell you where the 'clock battery' is. (In my Canon it's in the side of the main battery compartment and just slides out but I don't know about Nikon ... you're looking for a small 'watch' type thin round battery). Then leave the camera for a period of no less than one hour. Reinsert the clock battery, then reinsert the main battery and turn it on. Note that it will have lost ALL settings and be like new - so you'll need to re-enter the date and time etc.

If point 3 above, just bring your shutter speed down to below 1/200th or 1/180th.

Hope that helps.

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