The Camera That Shoots Half Black Frame

I have been scouring the local used marketplace for cheap, old cameras to play around with. I found an RM200 (USD40) Canon 1100D which seemed to be in really good condition, and the seller told me it was in working condition. I was not made aware of any issues with the image shooting process, so I hit the "buy" button and got the item delivered to me. I could not test the camera immedately because my Canon lenses were loaned to a friend. We had a photowalk planned on a Saturday, which I intended to shoot some street images using the Canon 1100D with my 35mm F2 EF lens. Everything went well, until I reviewed the images and it appeared to be half black frame (bottom half). Of course I can initiate return and refund process but, at this point, I just chucked this case into one of the few unfortunate ones. You win some, you lose some, when you gamble on ultra cheap, old used products. I continued shooting anyway, hoping that the RAW files would appear differently, but as I have guessed, I was not so lucky. I decided to show you the half black images, but I cropped off the black part of course. 

I admit, I was attracted to this Canon 1100D because it was in red. 

Initially I thought it was the shutter not being in sync with the image sensor, or the shutter being stuck at the bottom half, causing the half black frame. However, I quickly realized this was not the case, as I enabled the live view mode on the Canon 1100D, without the use of shutter, the LCD screen shows half of the frame being black. Of course, I am not 100% sure what exactly happened but I am quite certain that it was due to the malfunctioned image sensor, as the bottom half failed to capture any information. 

When I figured out the camera captured half black images, I quickly changed my plan. I knew the top half of the images were still ok, but I decided to compose my images as if I was shooting with the entire frame. I wanted to see what happened when I cropped off the bottom half of the frame, would the images still work? It was an interesting experiment. It was easy to compose with the entire frame because I was shooting through the optical viewfinder. I know I can choose to just utilize the top half of the frame, but hey, what is the fun in that? I pretended like there was nothing wrong with the camera and captured my images as if I was shooting with the entire frame, and the results turned out to be quite exciting!

Another reason why I bought the Canon 1100D was to see for myself what I have missed out, starting out my photography with a Four Thirds DSLR system, the E-520 instead of Canon's APS-C entry level DSLRs like the 1100D, which many of my friends would recommend me to get. Honestly, I was not that impressed with what the 1100D can do - dynamic range was poor, the noise control was bad, at ISO400 you can see noise problems already. Even if the image quality is better than Four Thirds, whatever advantage is honestly pointless and negligible. The Olympus E-520 was better built, has image stabilization and honestly, produces better image quality overall. I can be biased in saying this, yes, but now that I have used the Canon 1100D, I'd gladly say I did not regret my decision with the Olympus E-520. 

It was too bad, because I thought the Canon 1100D was quite a capable camera for an entry-level, beginner-friendly DSLR. It was stripped down to basics, and the camera was small enough to be carried around comfortably. I would not recommend this to anyone who wants to start photography, there are better options out there, but if you are curious about these older cameras, and they don't cost too much in the used market, seriously, why not? They can still shoot some wonderful images. 

The half black frame problem. I suspect the sensor is faulty. All images after this are cropped

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  1. Hi Robin...

    Although this is something that is not normal for a digital camera, the result looks quite interesting. And after cropping, one wouldn't realise if something wasn't right with the sensor.

    As always, your photos are always interesting to enjoy.

    1. It's almost like those inexpensive cameras back in the days of film, maybe APS, that had a switch to select different shooting modes, including panorama, but where the effect merely involved cropping the frame. (That was disappointing because one hoped that a panorama mode might somehow employ some fancy optics to use multiple frames instead, but obviously that wasn't going to be happening in something that was relatively cheap.)