#1 Digital Camera Repair Problem: Broken LCD Screen

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Here we have some information about what I believe to be the #1 camera repair issue: broken LCD screens.

We live in a throw-away society, it's a simple fact. You buy that brand new fancy digital camera with all the bells and whistles for $400, and in 6 months to 1 year it's worth maybe half that, and then the unthinkable happens: you drop it and it breaks.

The LCD is cracked, or the lens is jammed; what do you do? You head back to the store with your poor little camera and the guy behind the counter (that knows nothing about cameras except for what's written on the box, and even less about camera repair) tells you it's not worth it to fix it and you should toss it in the trash. You feel ripped off and mad at the camera manufacturer and you toss it out and buy a new one made by somebody else.

There are alternatives, there are ALWAYS alternatives to every problem. Honest! Yes, it may cost $100 to fix your camera, and yes you can buy that camera in the bubble pack on the shelf at W**l M**t (they don't pay my bills... I don't advertise their name, sorry) for less than $100, but what kind of quality do you honestly expect from a $100 camera? Not very good quality I hope, because you're not going to get it.

#1 - Broken/cracked LCD screen.

It was hard for me to choose between a jammed lens and a broken LCD screen but I stuck with LCD for #1 because it's so easy to break your LCD that you don't even have to touch the camera to do it!

The LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is the view screen on the back of the camera that lets you see menus, playback pictures etc. The LCD is very thin, very fragile, and on many many cameras completely UNPROTECTED! Look at the back of your camera, is the screen recessed slightly or is the back of the camera flat and smooth?

If it's flat you have a protective 'window' or 'glass' over the LCD to help prevent damage and breakage. If it's not flat, you have nothing protecting your LCD and should put a good quality LCD screen protector on the camera and NOT those thin, flimsy 'saran wrap' plastic film screen protectors, they are worthless.

- Don't leave your camera in your car in summer or winter. Extreme heat can cause expansion of the liquid in the LCD and cause it to 'crack', and on the other side of things extreme cold can cause it to freeze!

- Don't put anything up against the LCD in your camera bag, it will bang against the LCD and crack it (yes, even if it has a window over it, it will break!)

- Don't put your camera in your back pocket and then sit down!

- Don't put your camera in your front pocket and then roll over on it.

- ... Just don't put your camera in your pants pocket please. =)

Ok, so it's broken, what do you do now?

- The manufacturer will just site impact damage and will refuse the repair even if the camera wasn't dropped etc. You can try, and I wish you luck, but they probably won't fix it.

- Look for a defective camera on e**y (hey they don't pay me to advertise for them...) and make one good camera from the two if you are handy.

- Look for an actual camera repair business and not somebody that will send it to the manufacturer and tell you it's $200 and 4-6 weeks to repair. (IF they tell you this, they are NOT repairing your camera for you, they are sending it to the manufacturer, guaranteed)

Many LCD screens are very easy to install and you can do it yourself and all you need is a small screwdriver. Other LCD's are very difficult to install, and even professionals don't like to do them! I can't tell you Brand .... is the best and Brand ... is the worst, it's really not like that.

Certain SERIES of cameras have 1 or 2 models that are difficult to work on, yet the rest of them are fairly straight forward. You need to decide for yourself if you want to open your camera and try the repair yourself or not.

How is an LCD replaced?

With most Canon digital camera LCD screen repair for example (using them as the example because they have the largest market share) all you do is disconnect the ribbon cable for the LCD and the backlight (the light that shines through the LCD and allows you to see what is on the screen) and then install the new LCD. Some come with the backlight attached, some do not. Some backlights need to be soldered to the mainboard of the camera, some do not.

- Be careful to not touch the flash capacitor contacts! You will zap yourself if you do, and it will HURT a bit. You will probably throw your camera across the room when it happens. (Yeah, I've done it, I've been repairing cameras for 5 years now so....) We have 'flash capacitor dischargers' and use them every time we open a camera.

I hope this sheds some light on the subject. You do not have to throw your camera away because the LCD is broken, and you can even fix it yourself!

Thomas owns an online digital camera repair shop in Burnsville, MN. http://www.darntoothysam.com. The business name is an anagram of his full name; Thomas Drayton.

Darntoothysam.com specializes in making camera repair affordable by consistanly charging half or less than what others quote for the same repair for all brands of digital cameras.

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