There are few products out there as electronically and mechanically complex as a modern DSLR. Between the sensor, shutter, various LCD screens, and Flexible Printed Circuit boards (FPC) running everywhere, it’s enough to make even the most organized DIY repair person quake in fear. [TiN] over at the EEVblog forums wasn’t scared off though, as he bought a broken Nikon D3 on eBay in hopes of repairing it.
The D3 was Nikon’s top of the line professional camera in 2008. With a 12 Megapixel Full frame sensor and a host of other features, used models still command a good portion of the original $5000 USD price. [TiN's] camera was described as having been dropped, and was dead on arrival, exactly as it had been described on eBay. The battery door was destroyed, so [TiN] connected an external supply. The camera was still dead, so it was time to dig in. Thanks to the internet, [TiN] was able to find a service manual for the camera. He decided to check the power supply board next. A TO225 package transistor with an obvious hole blown in the front was a good starting point.
[TiN] replaced the transistor and the camera sprang to life. The main LCD showed the live sensor view, and it would take pictures. All was not perfect though, as the two auxiliary LCDs were still dead, and the D3’s mirror would get stuck every other shot, leading to an error display.
Click past the break for the rest of [TiN's] story.
The dead LCDs turned out to be another easy fix. The D3 has quite a number of interwoven FPCs traveling throughout the body. The drop must have dislodged one, as removing and reconnecting everything brought the auxiliary LCDs back.
To fix the mirror issue, [TiN] had to gut the camera down to its bare frame. In doing so, he found a camera owner’s worst nightmare – cracks in the magnesium frame around the lens mount. Forum members suggested glue, bracing and other repair methods. However, [TiN] left them in. He plans to use the camera as a high resolution time-lapse capture device, so the lens mount will not see a lot of abuse or heavy lenses.
With the entire shutter assembly gutted, [TiN] found a tiny spring labeled 262 had been jarred loose by the drop. This spring was keeping the mirror from popping back up. Once the spring was re-positioned, [TiN] was able to re-assemble the camera. It worked well enough to take a picture of all the screws he had left over. The camera is now working great, and is employed taking stunning 4K time-lapse videos such as the one seen below.