I don't always have the best of luck with camera gear. It's a running joke of mine that I damage something on every shoot - either myself or my gear. In September, I wrote about my unfortunate experience dropping one of my go-to lenses, and the subsequent cost of getting it repaired. The lens had sustained physical damage to the auto-manual aperture switch, as well as some internal components that had to be replaced.
Another issue that I'd attributed to lens damage at the time was a focusing problem where the focus point would "stick," so that I couldn't select a different area in the frame for focusing. Likewise, the autofocus function itself would stop working in those instances, which made for some stressful situations when I was working on a paid shoot. I could generally get it unstuck with some fiddling around, or cycling power on the camera, but clearly this wasn't going to work as a real solution. After getting my newly repaired lens back, I took a bunch of test shots at home, and saw no problems.
Fast-forward a week or two, and I was doing a family shoot when once again my focus point suddenly refused to budge. After some experimentation, I discovered that the problem was not limited to the one lens. Concluding that there must be an issue with the camera itself, I contacted Fujifilm US and shipped my X-T2 off to New Jersey for warranty repair. (I used my trusty backup camera, a Fujifilm X-E2, to keep shooting jobs in the interim.)
A few weeks later, my X-T2 was finally back from the shop. The repair notes indicated they had replaced a couple of circuit boards and the camera had passed their QC process. Elated to have the camera in my hands again, I took it out for my next family shoot. (You can see where this is going, right?) Sure enough, partway into the shoot the old stuck focus problem surfaced. I was able to work around it and complete the photo session, but now I was supremely frustrated. It looked like I was facing more money and time lost shipping it off again for service!
As my wife was driving that day, I began looking over the camera thoroughly, and considering what might be going on. Surely the Fujifilm repair center had thoroughly examined and tested the camera after repair; it's not in their best interest, after all, to perform multiple repairs on the same gear at their own expense. As I looked over the camera, and the attached grip, I had an epiphany: the secondary shutter button on the grip was unlocked! Suddenly, the pieces fell into place.
What was apparently happening is that the secondary focus button, located on the right side (as viewed from the photographer's vantage point) of the grip, was getting halfway pressed by the palm of my hand as I held it. Not enough to trigger the shutter, but enough to lock the focus - essentially overriding both the main shutter and focus point joystick. I'm quite sure that early on I had set the secondary shutter to the locked position, as I don't really use it, but somehow it had been switched back.
This may be a one-in-a-million kind of problem, but hopefully this blog post will benefit someone out there who may be similarly perplexed by what seems like a persistent lens or camera failure. It's easy to imagine users of other makes and models of camera grips having similar issues. Some larger DSLRs, such as the Nikon D3S, have built-in secondary shutters that are infamously easy to trip. Maybe my hands are atypical in size, or maybe there's something unusual about the way I hold the grip. In any event, checking to ensure that the secondary button is locked is now part of my shoot preparedness pre-check.