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Friday, November 30, 2007

Repair tips for digital cameras that won't power on.

For that camera that died, here are some non-intrusive simple fixes that you should try before throwing in the towel. Copied this first post from somewhere. It was a fix for a Canon A520, but am not sure if it would work for other cameras with the same problem? For those of you with a camera that will not power up or turn on, especially if this occurred after a power interruption with your lens extended, please give it a try. If you do, please leave a comment on specifics like your camera make/model, and whether it worked for you or not.

"DEAD CAMERA, LENS OPEN-If the batteries run down completely while the camera is still open, it may not start up again when new batteries are installed. But if you remove the memory card, then install the new batteries, when you turn it on it should come back to life. Error E30 means you don't have a memory card installed, so turn it off, slip in the SD card and turn it on one last time."

OK, so the above didn't work. Next thing to look at are the batteries themselves. Are you using alkaline batteries, or worse yet those "Super Heavy Duty" batteries? If so, betcha we've just discovered your problem. Alkaline and regular "super heavy duty" batteries just don't have the power for more than a few pics in a digital camera. Some may even have problems just powering startup of the camera. It doesn't matter if they're new, and right out of the package. Digital cameras for the most part should only be used with rechargeable NiMH batteries (if you still have your instruction manual, open it to the "batteries" section. Pretty sure you'll see a statement similar to what I've just said). Most retailers sell NiMH batteries for around $7 for a package of four (about $15-19 for the batteries with charger). Keep in mind they'll save you big bucks in the long run over alkalines, AND they'll last for at least 100 pictures per charge (and probably many many more). You'll be very pleased with their performance, and may slap yourself for not buying them sooner. When at the store, look on the package for a power rating of at least 2500 mah.

OK, so maybe those newfangled batteries didn't fix your camera, don't give up just yet. The next thing to check is that your batteries are actually making contact with the battery posts, and that these posts are clean. If not, bend the posts up/down a little, and maybe clean them with a little rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip.

The next thing to try is examine both the battery and flash card door. There's usually a little switch on both doors (note some SD card doors do not have this switch) that activates when the doors are closed. If they don't, the camera won't start to prevent damage to the flash card or camera startup sequence. For most cameras its usually a little piece of plastic on the door that pushes in on a pin switch when the door is closed. Closely examine both doors to try to identify these switches. A lot of times that little plastic nib wears down or breaks off, but can easily be jury rigged with a small glued-on replacement.

Examples of Nibs and Pin Switches

If you've tried all of the above and still no luck, the problem is then likely to be internal to the camera. Am planning on posting sometime in the future some likely things to check, hopefully with a pictoral guide. One example would be that if your camera uses Compact Flash, check to make sure all pins are present and aligned in the card slot (if bent, simply unbend/straighten them with a skinny "jewelers" screwdriver, then insert the flash card for final realignment).

As before, if one of these simple fixes worked in your particular case, please leave a comment on your camera's make, and which fix worked.

Good Luck!
Camera Repair

Friday, November 23, 2007

Camera Mode Dial Repair

The "Mode Dial" enables the camera to select different modes of operation. Rear mounted types, such as those seen in the example picture, are of very simple design. Top mounted types are also of similar design, but they are usually much harder to access. Mode dials should operate for a very long time due to their simplicity. Yet some may become inoperative for a variety of causes (dirt fouling, impact damage, etc...). When this occurs, it may be necessary to actually open up the camera case to correct this problem. As such, please consider this a repair that requires some electrical background and knowledge, and should not be conducted by anyone unfamiliar with basic electrical components and safety precautions.

Mode Dial

Before downloading the following repair guide, please first review this important warning concerning the possibility of SEVERE electrical shock from the camera's flash capacitor, and how to mitigate it:

Also the usual warning of “Follow these procedures at your own risk. These procedures should only be considered as a last resort on a broken camera with an expired warranty. I take no responsibility should you damage your camera in following these steps. Also note that there is some danger of electrical shock from the camera's flash capacitor. I also take no responsibility if you zap yourself while following these procedures.” Here's the repair guide download link:

Mode Dial Repair.pdf (from skydrive)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Important Warning: Camera Flash Capacitor Shock!

Any repair that requires opening up the camera case requires some electrical background and knowledge, and should not be conducted by anyone unfamiliar with basic electrical components and safety precautions. If you must open up your camera in an attempt to repair it, it is very important that you understand that there is some risk of SEVERE electrical shock. All digital cameras contain a flash capacitor. This device stores quite a bit of electrical energy from the camera's batteries. This energy is utilized to power the camera's flash. The device itself looks a little like a battery, and in turn draws its power from the camera's batteries. In order to work on your camera, it will be necessary to safely drain the capacitor of any residual charge it may have.

Flash Capacitor

The following link is downloadable procedures for safely discharging the flash capacitor to greatly reduce the risk of electrical shock. Before downloading, the usual warning of “Follow these procedures at your own risk. These procedures should only be considered as a last resort on a broken camera with an expired warranty. I take no responsibility should you damage your camera in following these steps. Also note that there is some danger of electrical shock. I also take no responsibility if you accidentally zap yourself while following these procedures.” Here's the link to the procedures:

Flash Capacitor Safety.pdf (from skydrive)

Flash Capacitor Safety.pdf (from fileden)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Repairing or replacing a digital camera LCD screen

It is necessary to actually open up the camera case to fix a broken camera LCD screen. As such, please consider that these repairs require some electrical background and knowledge, and should not be conducted by anyone unfamiliar with basic electrical components and safety precautions. Before proceeding, it is important to first read this WARNING concerning the possibility of SEVERE electrical shock from the flash capacitor should you decide to open the case of your camera.

The following link outlines repair or replacement of the fairly common problem of broken, cracked, or shattered digital camera LCD screens, including rotatable ones. These are not my own guides, but wanted to share them with all (hope this is ok Andy?):

Photography on the Net (Canon) forum of digital camera LCD screen replacement. Recommend scanning these posts for some background info prior to attempting any repair yourself:

And here's a pictorial guide for replacing an LCD screen on a Canon Powershot S40:

And here's pictorial and video guides for replacing an LCD screen on a Canon Powershot S400 / S410 / S500:

By the way, the above YouTube video is by Zweige9. He is a very prolific videographer of LCD repair. If your camera's model is not covered here in my blog, you might want to peruse his videos on YouTube:

Here's a couple great pictorials on repairing the LCD screen of a Canon Powershot SD300 (note these procedures are also applicable to SD200 / SD300 / SD400 as the LCD screens in these three models (and ONLY these three) are interchangeable):

And here's an excellent pictorial guide. The example used is a screen replacement on a Canon Powershot SD400:

And here's another excellent LCD screen replacement pictorial on the Canon Powershot SD450:

And here's a pictorial guide for replacing an LCD screen on a Canon Powershot SD500:

And here's an LCD repair on an SD550, including how to buy a replacement screen from Canon:

And here's a couple pictorial guides for replacing an LCD screen on a Canon Powershot SD600:

And LCD replacement on a Canon Powershot SD870 IS:

And here's a LCD replacement pictorial for a Canon Powershot SD1000:

And here's a pictorial guide for replacing an LCD screen on a Casio EX-S500 and EX-S600:

And here's a pictorial guide for replacing an LCD screen on a Panasonic DMC-TZ15:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sony Konica Minolta Cameras Experiencing Black Images or Distorted Images

(Updated March 23, 2011) Similar to Canon, Sony at one time promised to REPAIR FOR FREE its cameras experiencing symptoms of a defective CCD under their recall advisory. THIS INCLUDED FREE SHIPPING. Some symptoms of a defective CCD include distorted images or abnormal colors, scratchy purple lines, blank or black pictures, and/or black videos with good sound being recorded on the camera's flash card. You may suspect that the camera's shutter is not opening, but this is not the case. Digital still camera models that are affected by this problem are extensive, and include:

Cyber-shot DSC-F717, F88, P10, M1, P12, P2, P31, P32, P51, P52, P7, P71, P72, P8, P92, T1, T11, T3, T33, U10, U20, U30, U40, U50, U60, V1

CD Mavica MVC-CD250, CD400, CD500,

FD Mavica MVC-FD100, FD200

The following was the verbage of the original Service Advisory:

"Based on the information provided, your product may be affected by the CCD image sensor issue and needs to be sent in for evaluation and possible repair. Sony will repair your product, free of charge, where the issue is caused by the image sensor device provided the failure is not due to abuse, misuse or neglect. Sony will also cover the cost of shipping and handling from and to addresses within the United States and US Territories for service to correct this issue."

(UPDATE June 2010): Sony has abandoned the free repair of all cameras, with the exception of T3 and the T33. For these two specific cameras, Sony will offer the free repair until May 31, 2011, at that point the free repair offer expires. Shipping is not free for this repair. Please see this Sony link for the details.

By the way, If you have a Konica Minolta digital camera experiencing these issues, Sony at one time would have also fixed this for your for free. However this offer was for a very short duration:

(UPDATE September 6, 2008:
A reader has reported that the following link no longer works, and that Sony has abandoned their free repair of the Konica Minolta cameras with the defective Sony imager. The reader also stated that as a result that he will no longer consider Sony products. Given the quality assurance problems Sony has been encountering lately, I don't blame him. Just my opinion. Also IMO, ALL of these cameras should have been recalled and repaired in the first place as inevitable failure of the defective imager is HIGHLY likely. To have repaired them on a case by case basis, with a program limited duration, has inevitably led to the above consumer's experience and response. Shouldn't a camera that originally cost a few hundred dollars really be expected to last more than just a few years? ):

The Dimage models that Sony was accepting for the recall repair were: Dimage 7HI, 7I, A1, Xi, F300, XT, X20, S414.

And finally, this is a WORLDWIDE advisory recall. You may need to do some google searching to find the advisory notice for your country. Google the words "Sony", "advisory", your camera's model number, and your country. Look for the official Sony website for your country with its related advisory in the Google results that come up.

Hope this helps some of you out there. Please remember to come back and leave a comment below on how things went. We're all curious, and your feedback may help others!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Canon Digital Cameras Showing Black Images or Distorted Images

This problem may be corrected by Canon for free if you suffer the above symptoms. But before reading further, first verify that you didn't just accidentally turn off the LCD. To check, turn the camera on and press the "DISPLAY" or "DISP" button once. One other thing to check is that black pictures can sometimes be caused by a stuck shutter. Continue reading below, but if your camera is not on the list of affected cameras, please see this other article for self-fixing a stuck shutter.

Potential symptoms may also include purple scratchy lines showing up on the LCD monitor and the camera's pictures. Other reported symptoms may be extremely distorted images (one reader likened them to the movie "Grudge"). Or blank or black pictures or black videos with good sound being recorded on the camera's flash card. You may suspect that the camera's shutter is not opening, but this is not the case. Note that the camera's menu functions should show up without any problem.

A large batch of potentially faulty CCD image sensors (from another vendor who shall remain nameless) were installed on a large number of Canon cameras over the space of a few years. The sensors may go bad prematurely with time, especially if you live in humid areas. A big thumbs up to Canon in that they recognized this problem, and are willing to fix your camera for free if it is experiencing CCD problem symptoms, especially for the free shipping and handling both ways :-). Under the recall advisory this is regardless of the cameras warranty status! I recently got an old A300 fixed this way. They are not going to ask for receipts or any of that.

Please note that your camera must be experiencing these symptoms due to a faulty CCD, and not due to other problems. If the problem is due to your dropping the camera, you might be out of luck. Note that they're going to look for dings and dents. They also are not going to repair your camera just to change out the sensor. If your camera is working fine, they don't need to (and won't) fix it.

The list of problem digital still cameras include:
A40, A60, A70, A75, A80, A85, A95, A300, A310,
S1 IS, S60,
S200, S230, S330, S400, S410, S500, SD100, SD110,
IXUS V2, V3, 300, 400, 430, 500, II, IIs,
IXY Digital 200a, 300a, 320, 400, 450, 500, 30, 30a

Canon's United States advisory listing the program's details may be found at this link.

UPDATE (October 3, 2010)

Canon has posted on their website that they are gradually phasing out the free repair for SPECIFIC CAMERA MODELS. The phase out schedule for the specific cameras is as follows (and may also be seen here):

PowerShot S40 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S200 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S330 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S230 - 7/31/2010
PowerShot A70 - 2/28/2011
PowerShot S400 - 2/28/2011
PowerShot A60 - 3/31/2011
PowerShot A80 - 6/30/2011
PowerShot A300 - 7/31/2011
PowerShot A310 - 7/31/2011
PowerShot SD100 - 8/31/2011
PowerShot SD110 - 8/31/2011
PowerShot S410 - 10/31/2011

Note that many cameras on the advisory list are NOT mentioned in the phase-out schedule, and they are STILL ELIGIBLE FOR FREE REPAIR under the advisory after 3/31/2011. These include A75, A85, A95, S1 IS, S60, s410, S500, SD100, SD110, and their IXUS / IXY counterparts.


Note that for other countries, go to and click on "Support" in the left column. Then click on your region on the map and select your country. Go to the Digital Camera "Support" page for your country, and find the page describing support for your specific camera model. Your country's CCD advisory should be included somewhere on this page. If not, contact the official Canon digital camera support office listed on the Canon website, as they will be knowledgeable on the advisory. Again only contact the "official" Canon support centers listed on the website. If you go anywhere else, they may charge you for the repair, and merely ship the camera to Canon for the free repair.

This is a worldwide advisory, and as you can see in the comments below, there's yet to be a country that sells Canon products that has not honored this advisory. Unfortunately, some country's websites are poorly designed, and make it very hard to find their advisory (as example, this link may help save some time searching for those living in Australia).

For those in the U.S. or Canada (other country's procedures may vary slightly), you will be directed to call 1-800-828-4040 for further assistance. Or if you wish, you may also contact Canon via email at Make sure you print out the above advisory and have it in hand when speaking to the customer service representative. State the problem you're experiencing with the camera. If for any reason it starts to sound like they want you to pay for shipping or repairs, MAKE SURE that you let them know that you are aware of the advisory for your camera, and quote the following paragraph from the advisory:

"Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, the products listed above exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if Canon determines that the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair."

You should receive several emails from Canon. One includes a short repair evaluation form that you'll need to include with the camera, along with a free UPS shipping label that you'll print out and tape to the camera's shipping box. In addition to Canon's repair form, make sure you print out a copy of the advisory and include it in the package. Also include a short note stating that you're aware of the advisory, and that you're submitting the camera for free repair as per the advisory. Just drop the box off at any UPS drop off point.

If instead of the above you receive an email that infers that it's your responsibility to arrange shipping and/or pay for the repair, REPLY BACK IMMEDIATELY again quoting the above paragraph from the advisory, and also include the above link to the advisory in your email. (Note, free shipping applies for the U.S.. Other countries may vary on shipping arrangements/payment for this advisory).

One important note. Some readers have been reporting that Canon had offered them as a replacement a refurbished "upgrade" camera, BUT at an inflated price. Not sure what this is about, but if this happens, recommend turning them down. The upgrades that have been reported seem to be older model cameras at much higher prices than the going price on ebay. Recommend pushing for and demanding the advisory dictated free repair with free shipping on your old camera. If offered a replacement, it should also be free.

Another reminder for you owners of cameras that are not listed in the advisory list of problem cameras, including other non-Canon cameras. If your camera is not listed in the above list of problem cameras AND it is taking black pictures, there's a good chance that your camera is experiencing a stuck shutter. Don't fret, as there are some simple fixes for this, albeit it may be a temporary fix. Please see this article instead for some tips on how to unstick that shutter.

Hope this helps some of you out there. Canon really does make quality cameras and stand behind their products. Please remember to come back and leave a comment below on how things went. We're all curious, and your feedback may help others!

And finally, the following videos may help you understand what you're getting with this free CCD repair. An SD100 (IXUS II) is the camera being repaired. Don't try this at home (I know I won't):

Part 1 SD100 CCD Repair

Part 2 SD100 CCD Repair

Camera Repair

Friday, November 9, 2007

Repair of Stuck Lens Covers

A stuck automatic lens cover is a fairly common problem, but it is normally easy to fix. A single grain of sand jamming the cover mechanism is normally the culprit, and you want to try to dislodge it: 1) Try blowing lots of compressed air around the lens cover to clean the mechanism. Or use a hair dryer for a few seconds (don't want to heat up the camera). Use no heat mode if possible. 2) Slide a thin strip of paper between the lens cover shutters and the outer support ring. Work it around 360 degres to clear out any debris that may be in there. 3) With the lens barrel extended and pointed downward, tap the lens barrel with a pencil while you extend and retract the lens by powering the camera on and off. Repeat the above three steps several times. If repeated tries don't work (keeping in mind that it usually does), it then may be necessary to open the lens barrel to access the lens cover mechanism. But before attempting that, first read through the user's comments below for additional non-invasive tips that may work for your particular situation. Especially pay attention to Jeff's tip, several people have had success with it.

The lens cover mechanism is usually accessible for many cameras without needing to open up the camera case. Before starting, a reminder that I hold no responsibility should you damage your camera or worse. These repairs are intended as last resorts on expired warranty cameras that would otherwise be tossed. In the example outlined in the following link, we'll fix an inoperative lens cover on an old Canon A400:

And here's two excellent tutorials for those with slightly more complex four leave lens covers. A Canon A530 and a Canon A1000 are used as examples (hope you don't mind me including the links xscrewdriver).

And finally, found this fix that was particular for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 camera. It's simple enough and worth giving a quick try even if your camera is not a Panasonic: