The Dreaded Lens Error

by Tony on

Lens Error

**Disclaimer! Disclaimer! Because it could be perceived that I am either endorsing or defaming the given manufacturer, I will steer away from specifics of this repair, like make and model. Regardless of this omission, this particular encounter rings true for many digital compact camera models regardless of make.**

Recently I worked on a compact digital camera which is, as of publication, a current model made by one of the major manufacturers in the industry. The camera was one of those easy to use, point-and-shoot cameras that will fit in a large pants pocket (though not recommended) or a small purse (ok with a protective case). For a small camera it packs a big zoom; a zoom that just five years ago would probably have only been found in a large “super zoom” model. This type of camera has a wider view than many older models, and has an amazing telephoto that lets you get close to far away subjects all in a stylish little package.

This little camera happened to have a lens error and made an unsettling grinding sound when attempting to zoom. An error like this is common to compact cameras, even before there were digital cameras. As is the case with most consumer electronics, the more something protrudes from the base, the greater the potential for damage. The zoom lenses on compact cameras are no exception to this rule. There are a number of causes for problems like this one but the most common cause is physical trauma; this includes everything from dropping to accidentally turning it on in your pocket and jamming the zoom mechanism. The camera senses errors, like the displacement of components, and immediately shuts down, preventing it from damaging itself further.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about this particular work order because it is such a common repair that we see quite often unfortunately. It is, however, a difficult repair given the lens assembly has many very small parts. As I’m sure you can imagine, the disassembly and reassembly of units like this one is quite time consuming; this particular repair was no different. After tediously removing all of the parts and cleaning the individual components, I lubricated the gears and barrels. Fortunately none of the parts were damaged, just a little out of place (likely from impact damage) and requiring reassembly to return it to proper condition.

Often times when a camera experiences physical trauma, parts are needed to replace those that were damaged as a result.  While this particular unit didn’t require any parts, many lens error repairs do require parts replacement. Due to the nature of compact digital cameras, mainly their commoditization, replacement parts can often cost as much as the camera itself.  Needless to say, sometimes it is more economical to replace such a camera rather than repair it, especially if it is an older model.

At the close of my repair work, the camera powered up right away. Following a few minutes of testing, using calibration software and practical diagnostics, this was a successful camera repair.

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