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Thread: It's dead, Jim...

  1. #1
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    It's dead, Jim...

    or at least I suspect it is.

    Last week, I retrieved my P30+ back from the shelf in my hall closet where it has been stored in its case, unused, since 2014.

    To my surprise, the internal battery (capacitor?) still holds a charge and after I charged a couple of BP-911 batteries, I mounted it on my Kapture Group True Wide camera and successfully took a few photos with it.

    I was encouraged enough by those results to locate and purchase a used Kapture Group sliding adapter for a decent price last Friday and yesterday, I made a new mounting plate for it so I could mount it on my Toyo VX23D medium-format view camera, as shown in the photo below:



    Because I photograph urban and suburban scenes almost exclusively at night, using long exposures at base IS0, I really don't need a shutter on my camera. Which is good, because the with the particular setup I planned to use on my VX23D, there is no shutter available for me to use!

    Instead, I plan to operate the back via an external control box made by -- Yes, you guessed it! -- the (now out of business) Kapture Group that will allow me to manually wake the back, then start and stop each exposure.

    (To avoid causing any errors, I will cover the lens before I start and stop each exposure using a loose-fitting lens cap, so I can remove and replace it without jiggling the camera. Although even if I do jiggle the camera slightly at the beginning or end of each exposure, it isn't a big deal when the exposure length is 30 to 60 seconds or even longer.)

    Unfortunately, it appears my P30+ is now at least sick or has begun its death throes, because something happened to it between 11:30 pm Monday night, when I took several photos using this exact same method to operate it, and 3:30 am this morning, when it was mounted on my Toyo VX23D instead of the TrueWide and obviously not working properly.

    Here is the first photo I took with it this morning using a 15-second exposure (which based on my experience of photographing this test scene at the end of my driveway, should have been roughly correct):



    The photo was much darker than I expected, so I double-checked my setup and discovered I had set the aperture at f11, not f8, which meant this photo was at least one stop underexposed. A-ha, I thought ... problem solved!

    So I reset the aperture to f8 and took another photo, but this time I gave it 30 seconds of exposure, just to be certain the sensor would receive enough light, and this was the result:



    So I double-checked my setup a second time, confirmed the aperture was indeed set at f8, and took a third photo, this time with 60 seconds of exposure, which absolutely should have been more than long enough, even bordering on overexposure. Alas, this is the photo I got:



    Yep, something is definitely not working properly here!

    I then went back to the first photo and took a look at the file at 100%, which confirmed that something is indeed very much wrong here:



    I tried cycling the power a couple of times and also changed (and formatted) the memory card along with the battery, but none of these things made any difference. This afternoon, I retrieved my Contax 645 body from the closet so I can try it on that, but all my 2CR5 batteries were dead, so that will have to wait until I buy some fresh ones or find the rechargeable ones that seem to have gone missing over the last five years.

    With all that as background, based on the above evidence, does anybody have any idea about what's happening here? As I said, the back worked perfectly approx. 28 hours earlier and nothing whatsoever happened to it in the meantime, except that it was moved from one camera to another.

    Are there any tests I can run to diagnose what it's doing or perhaps a protocol I can use to reset something or ???

    I'm afraid that with the market value of these backs today, it probably doesn't make much sense to repair it (unless the cost involved is relatively modest, which I somehow doubt will be the case) and now that I'm retired / unemployed (Grrr...), replacing it isn't a very likely possibility, either (or at least not any time soon.)

    All of which is truly unfortunate, because it was recently looking at some of the prints I made from my P30+ files many years ago before I transitioned to using an A7R that reminded me of just how much more visually appealing they are compared to the majority of prints I have made from my A7R files, despite them being almost 25% larger and the A7R's sensor possessing superior specs.

    Thoughts or suggestions, anyone?

    Thanks in advance for any input or advice you can offer!
    Last edited by Audii-Dudii; 26th June 2019 at 16:58.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: It's dead, Jim...

    I think stick to plan A and test it in daylight on your Contax.
    I'm hard pressed to think of an electronic fault that would cause the outcome you have here.
    Is it possible there is some incorrect setting on the back ?

    If the Contax test yields the same result then maybe a battery out and let the electronics discharge for 10-20 mins may be an idea. Then re-test.
    Don't panic yet. I hope it will be well on the Contax.

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    Re: It's dead, Jim...

    I don't know if you tried it with the copal shutter and sync but I would try that just to make sure nothing is confusing the sensor.

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    Re: It's dead, Jim...

    Quote Originally Posted by Boinger View Post
    I don't know if you tried it with the copal shutter and sync but I would try that just to make sure nothing is confusing the sensor.
    Unfortunately, I can't do that, because the connector on the Kapture Group One-Shot cable release that came with the TrueWide predates the multi-pin connector used on my P30+, so there is no way I can connect one to the other.

  5. #5
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    Re: It's dead, Jim...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    I think stick to plan A and test it in daylight on your Contax.
    I'm hard pressed to think of an electronic fault that would cause the outcome you have here.
    Same here, although my degree was in mechanical engineering, not electrical engineering, and aside from vacuum tubes, I don't know much about solid-state electronics.

    Is it possible there is some incorrect setting on the back ?
    I don't think so, because it should be the same for both sessions and when I double-checked the settings, they were as I recalled them from Monday night, when the back worked just fine.

    If the Contax test yields the same result then maybe a battery out and let the electronics discharge for 10-20 mins may be an idea. Then re-test.
    This afternoon, I did remove the battery, left it for an hour, and tried using it again, with no change.

    Don't panic yet. I hope it will be well on the Contax.
    Same here! <crosses fingers!>

  6. #6
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    Re: It's dead, Jim...

    Can you confirm that the P30+ Back is firing when you use the Kapture Cable? Maybe the Kapture Switch or the one of the connections on the Kapture cable has gone bad? It must be maddening to have the setup work fine and then fail less than a day later. It seems unlikely that the back electronics would fail that quickly so I would look at the Kapture wake-up function. Hopefully all will be well when you connect the Contax. How does the Contax electronically connect to the P30+?
    Good luck

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