I received the following question:
What are some good tests to do when receiving a new camera body? I just want to make sure it’s a good copy before my return date expires.
I’d not thought much about that. I do days of testing when I get a new camera, but that testing is related mostly to finding out how the camera is designed. In doing that, I would notice if the camera were improperly assembled, but that’s not the thrust of my testing. But, as I understand the reader’s question, it relates to how well the camera under test is built, not how well it is designed.
The first thing I’d do is check for light leaks. Make long exposures at high ISO settings with the body cap in place, and with several lenses. Look at the raws for signs of leaks. Then I’d mount several lenses and see the stiffness is Goldilocks: not too tight, and not too loose. Your lenses themselves will have some tolerance, so try your tightest and loosest one. Take an out-of-focus picture of a white wall and make sure the sensor is clean. Check all shutter and drive modes. Make sure all the controls work right, with no stiffness or wobble to them.
Test the autofocus in various modes, using a known target like a Siemens Star.
Make sure that flash synchs OK at the advertised highest synch speed. You may have to back down two-thirds of a stop if you’re not using the camera-maker’s flash.
Make sure then lens mount and sensor are aligned properly. You can use this test, with a known good lens.
Some things that you used to have to test, but you don’t any more:
- Shutter timing at all speeds. With today’s electronically-timed shutters, that’s never a problem
- Exposure metering in MILC’s. If the sensor works, then the exposure metering will work.
- Rangefinder operation on all but Leicas.
- AF bias on MILC’s.
It’s been years since I saw a brand-new camera that was defective, so, if you find anything, double check before returning the camera to your retailer.