Repair DSLR or buy a new Micro Four Thirds camera?
December 23, 2011 3:12 PM   Subscribe

We've a 3 year old Canon Rebel XS. It suddenly started reporting an 'Error #99' about a year ago, and the estimates I've received for repairing it are around $250, ugh. Before I spend the money doing that, I was considering replacing it with another camera, wonder what the hive mind thinks.

The other candidate: a Lumix micro-four thirds camera. Not a top-tier camera, but Target is currently selling this for $400 with a $75 gift card: when you include the 5% 'red card' discount, we could buy this for about $300. It comes with the 14-42mm lens.

The Canon has an 18-55mm, plus we have an ok quality 75-300 (non IS) lens for it and a padded case.

We're not camera fanatics by any means. We got the Canon because my wife wanted more zoom and faster shutter response. The Lumix obviously hasn't got a great zoom with the kit lens, but according to dpreview it's very fast for its class. We would not miss manual features and would probably appreciate the Lumix's focus on non-enthusiasts. We could eventually sell the Canon, case & lens for a couple hundred (?) and buy a big zoom for around what we'd get for the Canon.

Thoughts? The Lumix sale is over tomorrow.
posted by carterk to Shopping (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't used the Lumix so I can't make an informed recommendation there, but I can say from experience that paying the repair fee is no guarantee that you'll get rid of the goddamn Error 99.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:25 PM on December 23, 2011

Yeah, that's sorta my worry. How does Canon get away with this? We babied that camera, and it failed 4 months past the warranty ended. Arggh.

So: cut our losses and start over? I count HZSF's response as one vote in favor.
posted by carterk at 3:30 PM on December 23, 2011

I guess you probably tried that, but my error 99 on my Canon RebelXT went away after I fully charged the battery. I also heard it sometimes is caused by the memory card and changing it can fix it.
But it looks like you want the Lumix anyway, so if you can afford it, why not?
posted by domi_p at 3:53 PM on December 23, 2011

Have you contacted Canon? They totally took care of us a couple years ago when ours had a weird problem. They know the value of keeping their folks happy.

That said, if Canon says no then I wouldn't drop the money into fixing it cuz it's only worth around $250 anyways.

Personally, I've had great experience with Canon. I'd keep your lenses and get a new Canon body. Take a look at this.
posted by Murray M at 3:57 PM on December 23, 2011

Who did you get that repair estimate from - Canon? Seems steep.

Its crazy, but I'd just toss the camera. I JUST bought a mint condition Canon XSI as a gift from KEH for $275.

Also, in my experience owning about 10 Canon DSLRs, the error 99 can sometimes be fixed by cleaning lens and or battery contacts.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:57 PM on December 23, 2011

As blaneyphoto suggested, you could try cleaning all the metal lens mounting surface with a pencil eraser and some isopropyl. If that fails, borrow another lens and see if that works. Err 99 is very often a problem on the lens side.
posted by pjaust at 6:06 PM on December 23, 2011

And if I had any reading comprehension at all, I would have noticed that you already have tried two lenses. My bad!
posted by pjaust at 6:06 PM on December 23, 2011

gf3 is a very good and highly rated camera.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:29 PM on December 23, 2011

Repair estimates from 2 places in Seattle. The first guy laughed when I suggested the repair might be around $100, saying that in his experience repair costs were usually higher (but he didn't give a number). Second quote was from Cameras West, where the guy said that Error 99 repair was usually around $250.

I've tried the quick easy repair ideas espoused on the web, tho I have yet to figure out how a pencil eraser can get at the battery contacts. It failed directly after charging the battery which made me suspicious. I'll try charging it again, why not?

The Lumix is undoubtedly a better fit for how we use a camera, so I'm pretty sorely tempted to jump on what looks like a great deal. But then, selling a broken camera + extra lens, what a hassle...
posted by carterk at 7:51 PM on December 23, 2011

I've had two Rebel Xsi's at work go through Error 99 issues; in my cases, it was the shutter assembly that was causing the problem both times. From what I understand, Error 99 is a generic hardware problem, and nothing specific, so it could be caused by a variety of things. We were still under warranty with both, but I spoke with Canon the last time and they said if we were out of warranty Canon would still fix it but bill us for the service. I'd say talk to Canon, see what they have to offer to fix an Error 99.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:56 PM on December 23, 2011

Yeah, if you haven't had Canon take a look at it, then you're only getting quotes from people who are interested in squeezing you for every last penny. Canon has a larger interest in keeping you as a customer for life, if possible. Their Jamesburg, NJ service center has gone above and beyond for me even well before I was a CPS member.

As for the eraser and contacts - maybe you're not understanding what the contacts are? For both lens and batteries, they're right there - nothing to "get at".

One other thing to consider is that with any jump down in quality - whether its a 4/3rds or other smaller sensor camera - you're going to immediately see lower quality images in general, but particularly in low light. You'll also almost never see a nice bokeh. Its ok to not be a camera fanatic for sure, but you should be informed ahead of time so you don't end up posting a "why do my photos stink?" question in a couple months.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:38 PM on December 23, 2011

Well, I thought I'd tried about everything, but per dom_ip's suggestion I charged the battery up fully and now's it's taken 10 successive shots without an error message. I'll snap a bunch more tomorrow morning, and with any luck my question's become moot. Thanks, Dom!
posted by carterk at 1:21 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Too good to be true– the error's back. Sigh. I'm going to buy the Lumix and sell the carcass of the Canon. Thanks all.
posted by carterk at 10:09 AM on December 24, 2011

In my experience, Error 99 is due to dirty contacts of some kind (usually battery or lens). Clean the contacts on your camera body and lenses and see if it goes away.
posted by bradbane at 10:13 AM on December 24, 2011

Send it to canon for a repair estimate and google for information on their customer loyalty program, which gives discounts for trade-in of non-working equipment.

First though, have you tried it with a different memory card?
posted by Good Brain at 6:24 PM on December 24, 2011

« Older Books that are fun to read out loud   |   I still don't want to be Mark Zuckerberg's friend Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.