Oh no! You've dropped your digital camera. And it's out of warranty. And repair costs more than the camera is worth. What to do short of tossing the camera (or selling on ebay)? Well, believe it or not the average person has a good chance of diy fixing that camera themselves. All they'll need for most cases is some patience, and a little background knowledge. The intent of the posts on this blog are to help provide that knowledge.

But now for the WARNINGS! Many of the repairs posted here should only be considered as a last resort for a broken camera that would otherwise be considered for disposal. Also please consider those repairs that require removing the camera case to also require some electrical background and knowledge, and should not be attempted by anyone unfamiliar with basic electrical components and safety precautions.

Make sure you read this post and are aware of the potential DANGER OF SEVERE ELECTRICAL SHOCK should you decide to proceed with a "do it yourself" repair that involves removing the camera case.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This is how I fixed my Canon SD600 with Lens Error.

Out of the blue my Canon SD600 showed "Lens Error" after I turned it on. The lens was normally retracted and didn't even seem to try to come out. Even if switched to "play" mode it showed Lens Error and didn't get to the menu.

I went online and noticed this is a BIG problem for many people with Canon's. One option offered was to push the lens back in - but since the lens is fully retracted in my (and many other cases) that is not an option. Another option mentioned was to tap the camera on a hard surface. That didn't work either.

Since the Camera is out of warranty (just 2 weeks!) I decided to open it and see what I could do.

It turns out I could fix it!!!

The problem seems that miniscule dust/sand particles jam the gears which moves the lens. It is possible to turn the lens motor by hand bit by bit and remove particles stuck in the gear.

I will explain in detail below, including pictures. Note: these photo's were made with my 2002 Konica KD-400Z - still working great, while this is the 2nd (and last) Canon.

Step 1: Remove all 6 screws with a miniature philips screwdriver (2 bottom, 2 left, 2 right). They are all the same size screws.

Carefully remove front cover, then the back cover. This is what you will see:

The lens motor is located behind the flash. With a miniature screw driver it is possible to push this rotor around bit by bit. It takes some time and precision, but you can very slowly see the lens coming out. The rotor must be rotated towards the back of the camera for the lens to open. In other words: the axle should be rotated clockwise.

When I switched the camera on after a few revolutions, it actually worked again! Problem solved!

However, I wanted to remove the root cause of the problem. I could hear the gear didn't go very smooth, little "ticks" could be heard. It seems small pieces of sand and dust were jamming the lens gear. The lens gear (well, at least 2 gears) can be seen on the side of the camera - see picture below:

I used the smallest screw driver and a needle pin to pick out particles of sand/dust which were stuck between the gear. They are easy to see on the black gear, but they were also present on the white gear. I worked the entire gear by pushing the motor rotor bit by bit with the miniature screw driver. I continued until I removed all particles. This took me 10-15 minutes.

Warning: Don't touch the Flash - the capacitor is charged with 20 kV or so - it will give you quite a shock.

After this the lens opening and closing went smooth - without odd noises or ticking.

I inspected the inside of the camera, and noticed more sand/dust particles were present. I cleaned it all up, to avoid them from jamming the gear again. There was a lot of sand stuck in the speaker (round black circle on the back) and a LOT of sand was stuck on the rectangular rubber seal on the inside cover. See picture:

I think the Canon's suffer from these lens problems because sand/dust can enter the camera - especially if they are put in your pockets. Canon should have sealed the gears so sand/dust can not enter. Maybe it's a strategy, maybe they don't like the camera's last too long or like to earn a buck on repairing them.

After fixing it and cleaning everything, the camera can be closed again. Start with the back cover. Pay close attention to make sure the mode switch slider (play, movie, camera) is catching the switch lever correctly. After placing the back cover, but before putting in any screws check if the mode switch can be operated normally.

Then carefully place the front cover and position the piece of plastic for the carry-cord. Fasten the 6 screws.

I hope this information helped you fix your Canon.

Kind Regards, Arnoud.

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