Digital Camera Repair Problem #2: Broken Lens

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Digital camera lens repair is as common as LCD repair, but it's #2 on my list because it's harder to repair a digital camera lens and there are so many different types of lens problems whereas a broken LCD is a broken LCD no matter how you look at it.

- Do not leave the batteries in your camera in the camera bag. The power button can be pressed accidentally causing the lens to extend and get jammed because it cannot open properly inside the bag.
- Try not to drop the camera with the lens extended.
- Don't ever pull or twist on a lens that is not working 100% properly, you will just break it.

I would have to write a book to fully explain lens problems fully (hmm.. maybe a good idea!) so I will try and keep it simple and informative.

The lens is made up of many different parts... Let's start with the several pieces of glass referred to as the lens elements. The outer lens element is prone to being scratched and scuffed, and usually has a special coating on it that you DO NOT want to clean off with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), or Windex or something similar. It's not the end of the world, and don't worry about it if it's missing. Just keep the lens clean (why are there fingerprints on your lens anyway?) and scratch free.

The inner-most lens element is responsible for the fine focus and resides directly in front of the CCD. When you press the shutter button half way down to focus, this part moves forwards and backwards till it's in the correct position and your image is in focus.

You won't be messing with this part of the lens... unless you feel like removing the lens from the camera and then tearing down the lens to get at it's 'guts'. It's kinda fun the first time, but uh... I wish you luck getting it back together properly. The tearing apart stuff is fun, the putting it back together is a drag!

The lens has two small motors with their own gears that connect to the two main parts of the lens. The larger motor drives the lens barrel in and out when zooming. The smaller motor drives the fine focus element mentioned above and controls the focus. If you get ONE GRAIN of sand in these gears, they will jam and the lens will "error out" as we like to say.

Open it up and clean it out if you like, but it's not easy. Typically the main motor of the lens has 5-6 different gears that must be set and aligned properly to function. But hey, your lens is already jammed, why not see how it works, right?

Then there is the CCD, "charge-coupled device" which translates the light that enters the lens into a digital signal that the camera can record.

There was a very large CCD recall for Sony camera lens repair over the past few years that covers many manufacturers and not just Sony, as Sony provided the CCDs to many others for their cameras. The defective CCD's cause the camera to take solid black photos, or purple/pink "dripping paint" photos, or they have repeating white horizontal or verticle lines on the images.

If your camera does this, call the manufacturer and tell them you want a repair under the CCD recall no matter how old your camera is! IF it's on the list, you might get your camera repaired for free.

Got spots on your images that get bigger and smaller as you zoom in and out? Most likely there is a spec of dust on your CCD. You will need to remove the lens and then remove the CCD from the back of the lens and clean it off. Don't lose the gasket that goes around the CCD, don't get any other dirt inside the lens and don't leave any fingerprints! Tall order I know, sorry, I'm demanding. =)

Let's see... what else? Your lens is part way out, stuck at an angle because the camera was dropped while turned on. Now please read that carefully; the lens must be stuck part way out or all the way out, and one section of the lens MUST be stuck at an angle.

The lens must not move freely at all for this section to apply, and you may follow this advice AT YOUR OWN RISK. The following repair trick works, but I am not responsible for your actions or anything you do to your camera.

Ok, it's stuck at an angle and you want to try and repair your camera lens yourself. No problem.

Hold the camera with the angled part of the lens resting against the edge of a table, and the rest of the camera hanging over the side. Do not place the camera facing down with the "Canon Zoom Lens..." chrome ring section flat on the table.

The rounded edge of the lens must be what makes contact here. Now... here is the tricky part... press the angled part of the lens back into alignment by pushing down on the lens on the edge of the table.

Put your fingers on the LENS below the angled part to support it and press firmly but still gently (how do I do that? I don't know.. you just do it) and the lens will either POP!! back into place and work perfectly or it won't budge and no harm will be done, -OR- one of the "guide pins" that run inside a small track in the lens barrel will break off and you have just destroyed the lens.

I told you it was at your own risk!! Camera repair is fun... right?

Ok, how are we feeling about lenses? I think we have covered most of the basic problems, and possible solutions. If you want to buy a lens for your camera there are several ways to do it which include calling the manufacturer; but they will want $125+ for the lens, guaranteed.

Do a Google search for "digital camera parts" and you will see at #1 the only site that has affordable digital camera repair and DIY parts.

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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