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Re: photos are dark halfway across as if something was...
Take the lens off and charge the shutter. with the film door open hold the camera toward a light. Fire the shutter and if you see half light in the film window the shutter magnets need replaced. Or the shutter is not being charged enough. If so,camera must be disassembled by a repair shop.
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The problem sounds like the camera did not reset properly after the last exposure. Minolta deigned the camera to keep the aperture fully open except during exposure. During exposure it snaps the aperture down to the selected opening, then opens it again to allow enough light for proper focusing. If it did not fully open the blades after the shot, much less light would pass through the lens. The viewfinder would be darker and look murky. Most likely cause? Dried up lubricants in the camera. Next likely cause? Teeth broken on a plastic gear. Get it to a camera repair place. Get estimates first.
First remove the battery. wipe off the battery contacts. reinstall the battery. Battery may be weak, replace. If that fails, remove the lens. See the mirror in there? If its stuck in the up position, you can return it by hand. But I recommend a toothpick. It won't leave fingerprints.
I'm unfamiliar with the F80 but on models like the f65 and f75 the viewfinder screen has an lcd overlay and when the battery is exhausted or removed the viewfinder goes dark and blurry.
Looking at a picture of the f80 it looks like it's just an update on my f75 so it strongly suggests that you just need to insert a fresh battery. The lcd does draw power from the battery even with the camera turned off.
I hope that you found my answer useful, once you've tried another battery to confirm what I've suggested I'd appreciate it if you return the favour by rating my answer.
I love that camera. There are several possiblities, If you are using the pop up built-in flash with a telephoto lens or a lens hood you'll get a shadow in your photos ususally at the bottom of landscape oriented shots. If you are using a flash unit attached it may have something interfering with the strobe possibly or it is turned. We have the same camera and have had the shadow issue in the past. The pop up just won't work if something is wrong with the "bulb" the only other thing is that is isn't going all the way up, check that also.
It seems that the lens is restricting the operation of the camera mechanism a possible cause may be the lens actuating mechanism is stiff from being underused, from you description the manual setting for your lens is ok but when attached to the camera the pin on the lens which is activated by a bar situated in the camera at the bottom of the lens mount cannot be pushed fully home. Try pushing the pin on the end of the lens to see if it is being restricted and if so may need cleaning or just a few operations to free it off.
I think this is down to your choice of lens. If you have the kit lens, it is pretty poor unless in bright sunlight. You could try keeping the shutter open longer using AV+/- or increasing the ISO but this increases the chance of a blurry photo. Remember the sensor on the Canon is huge compared to the Kodak - so more light will need to enter the lens to expose it properly. This is why SLR lenses are huge compared to compact cameras.
It sounds like you have something blocking your camera lense. Try taking the lense off and clean/brush it lightly. Do the same for the internal of the camera. You want to be especially carefull in this area. Now if it did this as soon as you first used the camera and it is completely clean, the digital film might be damaged. If that was the case, you need to get a refund or exchange for a new one. Let me know what happens!