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SOny a200 viewfinder without focus area (scope view with black frame)

Discussion in 'Sony Chat' started by Jinder, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    Hi all,

    I've got a Sony a200, which has been working well for a long time. Some months ago, the focus area in the viewfinder suddenly disappeared and the view became somewhat of that one finds when looking through a scope (without the cross-hairs, etc.). It is also the same view I have when looking through the viewfinder while the camera is not powered on. Ever since, it has been impossible to take good photographs, so I reverted to my other camera in the futile hope that perhaps one day, by some unprecedented miracle, the viewfinder would go back to normal. This, however, did not happen.
    Any ideas on what could be done? Would be very grateful if someone knows a solution to this.


    I've attached a picture of what I see through the viewfinder.
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That is odd. I understand that camera to be a DSLR, if it isn't please ignore!

    In an SLR the light from the lens hits the mirror and is projected onto the focussing screen. This is viewed through the eyepiece via a prism (or more recently a mirror assembly) which inverts the image so that everything looks the right way up. There is often a small built-in magnifier to improve the view of the viewfinder, often with a position switch for eyesight correction. Something has gone wrong on this pathway.

    Put a plain cloth on a table (to catch any bits) and holding the camera over the cloth take the lens off. Carefully look to see if there is anything loose inside the camera body. Some but not all cameras allow the focussing screen to be interchangeable (see your manual) and it can come unclipped. Also it is not unknown for the mirror to come loose - although this would not produce such a symmetric effect.

    If the mirror is still attached and the focussing screen still in place hold the camera with the viewfinder to the light and look in the mirror. You should see a dim but normal view of the world. If you look through the viewfinder you should see just a white rectangle. If you still see the shape above then something is likely wrong inside the viewfinder itself.

    Check the cavity in the back of the lens to see if anything has fallen into it. Hold the lens to the light and look through it from the camera end. If the lens is focussed at infinity and you hold it at arms length you should see a reasonably sharp inverted image of the world. If the lens has manual aperture control this image will appear in a circle at full aperture and then in a polygon as the lens is stepped down, the number of sides depends on the number of blades on the aperture assembly.

    Those checks should narrow down a bit where the problem is.

    If nothing is loose and the problem is still there - put the lens back on and run the diopter wheel through its range to see if it does anything. I cannot imagine that this effect is produced by the magnifier but you never know.
    Jinder likes this.
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    This is probably totally unhelpful, but I see something very similar through the viewfinder if I remove the focusing screen from a Nikon F. "Unhelpful" because I can't imagine where the screen could have gone in the case of your camera!


    Jinder likes this.
  4. swanseadave

    swanseadave Well-Known Member

    There was also a A200 Bridge Camera.I believe Dorset_Mike has one.

    That is a very odd fault and I fear I cannot offer any suggestions.

    If it is the A200 bridge camera then the lens is not removeable.Let`s hope the OP returns to let us know just what camera it is.
  5. frank1

    frank1 Well-Known Member

    Do a You Tube you never know what might come up. I've never seen a problem like this reported on here and the A200 is getting on. You have some good answers here but no harm in spreading it about.
  6. frank1

    frank1 Well-Known Member

    I thought that but it's a Minolta Konica so we must take it as a Sony Alpha 200.
  7. Andytw

    Andytw Well-Known Member

    One possibility is that the aperture mechanism has failed.
    As I understand it when a Sony (and presumably Minolta) A mount lens is not mounted on a camera the aperture is fully closed down to the minimum available, but when mounted on a camera the aperture is opened fully for focusing and is only stopped down to the correct value to take the picture.
    Do you have more than one lens to test with?
    If the problem occurs with more than one lens than the aperture motor on the camera may have failed, if it only occurs with a specific lens then it is almost certain that the lens is at fault.
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    No. A stopped down lens just gives a dark image.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  9. Andytw

    Andytw Well-Known Member

    Yes you're right I wasn't thinking properly, the only way an aperture failure could cause this is if it was opening further than it was designed to creating excessive vignetting
    which would be a fault in the lens and not the camera.
  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Is it one of those cameras that uses an LCD panel to display the focus marks metering circles and guide grids etc? If so it could be that the LCD has failed and gone black barring the centre...
  11. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    Thanks for this, Pete. The camera is DSLR, and I went ahead and checked everything as you suggested. I found that there seems to be no apparent problem (no loose bits, everything is in place, looking through the viewfinder/mirror forwards and backwards is normal--as you described). I checked the lens, nothing had fallen out. When I checked the lens by looking through it into the light, this is what I saw (not sure if it's supposed to be like that, but when zooming it changes a bit, with sides being less or more even in length, but never a circle. The blades are there, but they seem to be loose to an extent, or something similar):
    I think this is probably an issue, but not sure if it is THE issue, as I still do not see any guidelines when looking through the viewfinder and taking pictures. This is still missing when I look through the viewfinder (I can only see the info at the bottom and none of the focus frames or metering circle)
    This might be more of a program problem maybe??? I have no idea.
  12. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    The LCD screen cannot be used to take the picture, only to show settings and to view the image afterwards. There is no live mode.
  13. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    It's the regular DSLR-A200 from Sony. The lens is removable and all. No luck with the issue yet though.
  14. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    Roger, to be fair, I'm getting the feeling you're spot on with your suggestion. I think I am missing the focusing screen (how in the world did that happen??? I don't recall ever taking it out)...that combined with the issue of the lens panels not working properly is I believe the cause of my strange and annoying situation. Will get back to you after further inspection. Thanks!
  15. Dorset_Mike

    Dorset_Mike Grumpy Old Fart

    I actually have two Konica Minolta A200 bridge one in the car and one by the window, I also have a Sony A200.
  16. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    you wouldn't take it except to change it and you'd need a tool. it is in the top of the reflex chamber. The mirror folds up toward it.
  17. Jinder

    Jinder Member

    Indeed, I wouldn't take it out. Still, it's not there, so it remains a mystery as to how and when it "disappeared".

    Thanks all for the kind help!
  18. Andytw

    Andytw Well-Known Member

    In order to provide something more useful than my earlier dumb post in this thread I decided to remove the focus screen in my Sony A200 following this http://www.focusingscreen.com/work/a200en.htm guide to see what happened.

    The result was that with a lens attached (an 18-55 SAM kit lens and a Sigma 17-70) there was some strong vignetting in the viewfinder, but it was more akin to using an APSC lens on a full frame camera http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2013/11/08/heres-how-the-sony-a7-shoots-using-aps-c-lenses rather than the "telescope" view shown in the original post, this could depend on the lens being used though.

    Jinder, I would suggest using the removal guide linked above to re-check whether the focusing screen parts are still in place (if the first spring clip is still in place then the rest should be fine, don't take it apart if you don't need to), if they are then this is unlikely to be the cause of your problem (in any case if they had fallen out you should have found them loose between the lens mount and the mirror when you checked the camera).

    Also what lens are you using and if you have more than one lens does the problem occur with all of them?
    If you have a local camera shop then it may be worth seeing if you can try a different lens there to see if the problem is lens or camera based.
  19. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Perhaps I should have been more precise and pointed out that I was talking about the viewfinder - some cameras have an LCD panel within the viewfinder that can display different marks like crop frames etc according to how the camera is set. Sometimes when LCDs fail they go black - just though this might be a possibility in your case.

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