AF problem Last week I took some pics that needed the flash turned off. I did that and took the pics with no problem. I turned the flash setting back to "auto" afterwards. (this may not be related to the current problem but does seem too much of a coincidence). Next time I went to use the camera, I got an AF(red dot) and a red hand on the screen. It would take one picture and then would be frozen (no zoom, no picture taking, but the screen would stay on). If I turn it back on I can then take another picture, but with the same AF and red hand icons on the screen. Batteries are fresh, and I have tried 2 different sets of batteries.
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And finally, recommend formatting the card in the camera after you've recovered the pictures. Look for a "Low Level" format option in the camera's menus. The format should help prevent this from happening again.
I just had mine fixed by nikon and it seems as though the problem would come back every now and then. my current solution is to switch over to Manual mode and turn AF assist, AF illumination, and ISO control to "ON" and then then shoot a few shots. Then switch metering to centerweight. take a few shots, it should work correctly, then switch back to AUTO. after that, the flash should fire as normal. I just received my body back about 2 weeks ago, so i hope my "bad batch" flash unit was replaced with a known good one. if not, i don't know what to do.
It sounds like your memory card is corrupt. This most important thing is not to use the card any further until you have recovered your pictures. Unfortunately i see from the date of your post that this may not be the case. What you need is some memory card picture recovery software. There are several shareware programs available for download. Try googling it. Good luck!
You may have the red eye reduction setting set to "on"......this will flash a series of flashes to try to condition the pupils of the subjects in your photos - you can shut that off in the setup menu....Even with that off your Sony is going to send out at least 2 flashes as it send one to meter the light in the scene and then another to take the picture. Turning red eye off though will help.
Are you using rechargeable MiMH or Alakline batteries? If you are using regular alkalines then your battery meter may "wig" out on you as I beleive it is calibrated for NiMH and their voltage.
You may actually be hurting your battery life more by turning the camera on and off so much! It takes quite a bit of power for startup and you will drain the batteries faster by turning it on and off. You will be better off just leaving it on in a lot of cases.