Powershot Lens Error
November 12, 2007 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting a Lens error on the Cannon PowerShot SD630. What can I do to try and repair this myself?

When I power up the camera, it beeps three times and a message appears on the screen that says, "Lens error, restart camera". The lens is stuck in the extended, open position.

I have removed the outer shell of the camera and have used a can of air to try and blow dust out of the inards. Nothing has helped so far. I'd like to get to the gears that extend and retract the lens. How would I do that? What else should I try?

posted by GregWithLime to Technology (10 answers total)
My girlfriend's PowerShot A630 had a similar error and she ended up sending it to Canon to get fixed under warranty.
posted by o0dano0o at 6:31 AM on November 12, 2007

No answers, just a word of warning: There is probably a capacitor inside your camera that can give you a fairly decent shock. Cameras use capacitors to hold a high amount of charge to fire the flash. I speak from the experience of being impressively shocked by a D70.
posted by knave at 7:41 AM on November 12, 2007

If it's E18, you can find more info here:

posted by AaRdVarK at 7:54 AM on November 12, 2007

You will fail.

I tried to fix a problem with my Cannon SD450 where the gears were somehow jammed and the lens wouldn't go in and out anymore. I took it apart and just gave it up for lost. Those things are packed so tightly in there, with so much electronics and about 1000 tiny little screws all of different sizes. Unless you have significant experiance with this sort of thing, you will never get it back together. I wasn't even able to figure out how to get to the mechanism I was seeking without breaking some parts.

If you do attempt it, make sure you have another camera on hand to take pictures of each layer of the onion as you go. You'll also want some way to label and store each screw you take out so you know where it goes when you put it back together.

I really recommend you don't do this. If you can't send it back because of warrenty expiration, just pay them to fix it or buy a new one.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:50 AM on November 12, 2007

Thanks for the warnings and thoughts. No dice on the waranty as they state that it is void.
posted by GregWithLime at 9:40 AM on November 12, 2007

You may not fail.

I had the same lens problem and focusing problems (apparent after the lens was fixed), due to massive blowing sand, on my Canon SD800. With no internet assistance in repair forthcoming and no special camera repair knowledge, I opened the thing myself and effected a successful repair.

They look like almost the same thing. I bet the insides of my camera are very similar to the insides of yours.

At home I have some notes I took while taking it apart, so that I could get it back together again. They're not really complete, but later I'll look them up and post them along with whatever else I can remember that might help.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2007

I once fixed a similar lens error (when my warranty was void and I had nothing to lose) by dropping the camera. YMMV.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2007

OK, here goes. Things to keep in mind: this was for a different model camera. They may or may not be similar. Hopefully, in particular, the lens mechanism will be similar, which is the tricky part. You will want a clean workspace and a bunch of containers to hold tiny screws. You will need to take your own notes and keep track of which screw goes where, because there only tend to be two or three of any given size. You may need to get some smaller screwdrivers - I was able to get to the "lens can move" part of the repair with my regular small screwdriver for computer repair, but to get further I needed to buy a set of precision screwdrivers. You will need to proceed with care. I lapsed in my caution and ended up breaking the flash while fixing the rest of it.

Anything that just says "screw at xxx" denotes the removal of that screw.

-Screw below wriststrap

-Screw above wriststrap

-2 Screws on side opposite wriststrap

-2 Screws on bottom near tripod mount

-Front removes. Tended to stick near the USB & A/V ports, needed a little finagling.

-Back removes - a tab/slot was sticking in the upper right.

-L Shaped bracket with two pinholes fell out - goes on right side of LCD.

-With the cover removed but no further disassembly, I was able to see the gear motor that extends and retracts the lens. I used a pin to remove tiny grains of sand from the teeth, and at this point it was able to move the lens. It could not, however, focus. If this works for you and your camera can focus, you can skip the rest of the steps and start reassembly.

-2 screws, bottom of LCD - LCD removes, still attached by 2 ribbon cables

-3 screws in plastic behind LCD. From memory removing these might not have actually been necessary.

-5 screws in metal behind lcd. Small one on left holds flash assembly. From memory I believe the removing the other four gave access to the lens assembly, though it could have only been three. Be careful with these ones! I found them easy to strip, and I had to remove one by force so my camera is now one screw short.

-On the back of the lens assembly there was a metal cover held on by a single black screw. Behind this were the focusing gears. There was a larger, white gear, which will fall out, and two smaller black gears - one for the motor, the other connected to the focusing mechanics. The small gear for the focusing was interesting. It seemed to be connected to and to adjust some sort of tension in the focusing assembly. When not held in place by the cover, turning it would make it come in or out like a screw but it could be pushed in by your finger or, in operation, held in place by the cover. I cleaned these three gears with a brush. On replacing the metal cover, I found that the focus' operation was greatly dependent on the tightness of the single black screw, which seemed odd. I'm not sure if it should be that way or if it is because my camera was messed up. Too tight or too loose and it would not focus correctly in various ways. By adjusting the tightness of that screw (and possibly the tension of the weird gear, though that may have been superfluous) I was able to make the camera focus correctly. Yes, this involved examining the focus by turning on the camera while it was apart, with the viewscreen only attached by ribbon cables. It was by being too lazy about powering off and removing the battery before I tried another adjustment that I broke the flash.

During these steps you will be dealing with several ribbon cables, and detaching them will be useful. On most of them, the connectors are hinged - open it like a door and the cable will come out. Put the cable back in place and close the hinged part and the cable will be securely reattached. If your camera appears operational except for an all-black image, the big ribbon cable from the lens is loose.

That's all I have - I didn't take notes for other people to do this, just for me to reassemble it, and my memory isn't perfect for a few months ago when I did this, but hopefully this will help.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:14 PM on November 12, 2007

P.S. Remember, my attitude during all of this was that the camera was broke and it would cost $xxx to replace and probably almost $xxx to repair if that was even an option. So I had a broken camera, and the worst I could end up with was a broken camera. That I was able to fix it involved a bit of luck.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:15 PM on November 12, 2007

Holy crap! What amazing instructions, TheOnlyCoolTim! I'm at a similar feeling as you described in that I don't have anything to lose. I'll brave it and dig deeper.
posted by GregWithLime at 7:35 PM on November 12, 2007

« Older Gmail and Firefox: Not Stronger than Dirt   |   Asia in winter? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.