D3100 Often Won't Shoot

Within the past year or so, my D3100 has begun frequently failing to shoot when the shutter button is pressed. Regardless of the mode (M/A/S) or lens, it will often do nothing. Manual or automatic focus doesn't matter (I use back-button focusing).

Sometimes, if I hold the button down for 10-20 seconds, it will may finally work.

It -seems- to happen more frequently in lower light situations (although I'm not sure), but even if that's the case, it would think that it should still take the shot, especially in Manual mode.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


  • It does not sound very normal. One thing, if it seems to be happening in lower light situations, is to make sure you do not have auto ISO on. I don't think that should cause significant delays either, but it's one thing to check.

    I'm assuming there's no battery issue, and no card issue. Although again I don't see why it would matter, I'd see if there's a problem with the memory card.

    Otherwise, though, it ought to shoot pretty much instaneously with back button focus and manual, even without a lens attached at all.
  • Oh wait! I just thought of another thing to check though it's a long shot. Make sure that long exposure noise reduction is turned off.

    If you're not familiar with how this works, when it's on, the camera will fire a second time with the shutter closed, to duplicate the noise in your image. It then subtracts the noise in that blank image from your chosen image. What this means is that if you are taking long exposures, the next shot will be delayed by the length of your exposure. That's no big deal in ordinary circumstances, but when you get to exposures of several seconds or more, it shows.

    I also forgot to ask if it makes any difference whether you're in Live View or not. Although back button focusing does away with problems of focus priority when using the viewfinder, the BBF implementation, at least on the D3200, is a mess, and back button focus does not work in AFF, so it tries to refocus anyway. Add to this the undocumented fact that in Live View, focus priority is also modified, so that if focus cannot be achieved, it will wait a few seconds and then fire anyway.

    By the way, BBF also does not work with the infrared remote. It will always try to refocus with the remote, and since it's permanently in focus priority, that means it may not fire at all.

    Anyway, if this problem is occurring in Viewfinder mode, those things don't count, but it's worth noting some of the oddities of how BBF is implemented.
  • Bruto,

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Auto ISO is ON, which has not been a problem in the past, but I'll try turning it off.

    Battery is good; SD card us good as far as I know, but I'll try using another one.

    I don't use Live View enough to know whether the problem would occur then, but I don't recall it happening the few times I have used it. The issue occurs when the camera seems to be in focus (I don't try to take a pic if it isn't). I have also found it to happen even when using manual focus.

    I never use a remote, so it isn't that, and the D3100 doesn't have long exposure noise reduction (I wish it did!).

    Oh well, I'll try out the suggestions that I can, and see what happens.
  • Good luck. Just to clarify, though, the D3100 does appear to have long exposure noise reduction, but it is combined with other noise reduction under the one heading (see instruction page 134). But it's probably not an issue anyway, since it displays "job nr" while it's working.

    I just remembered that the D3100 does not have sensors for an infrared remote, so that's clearly not an issue here. It's one of the pluses in the D3200 and 3300, as the remote itself is very cheap, and allows a true time exposure (the "b" shutter setting becomes "t" using one button push to open the shutter, and the next to shut it).

    Do you have any manual lenses? One thing you might try is using a lens without a chip or even no lens at all in manual mode. The camera should still fire, but if the problem is some odd or obscure issue of lens interface that should eliminate it.
  • Thanks!

    I just have the two Nikon kit lenses and a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G, no purely manual lens.

    I wasn't aware of the long exposure NR -- will have to check it out.
  • Just for grins, try shooting in manual with the lens off. Since there's no metering, auto ISO won't operate, no AF. The shutter speed will still be variable, so you can try different shutter speeds. Of course if the problem is only intermittent, nothing will be definitive if it doesn't misbehave, but if it does, it exonerates the lens and the AF and the metering system all at once.

    If you then activate the "slot empty release lock" in the setting menu, it will fire with no card. It won't save anything, but will briefly show the shot or its info on the screen (set your playback option before removing the card, as you can't change it after). If it still misbehaves, you can exonerate the memory card too, and that pretty much leaves you with a camera malfunction.
  • I thought I'd have had a chance to try those suggestions before now, but have been busy. I'll post the results when I do. Thanks again!
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