Digital camera repair

camera-repairIt’s no fun when a digital camera stops working! But the fact is, though rare, it does happen.

Digital camera repairs can be  expensive if not covered under warranty or a service advisory. Do a few self-tests first and then call tech support prior to sending your camera to the manufacturer or authorized repair center.

Common digital camera problems

One of the most common digital camera problems is that the zoom lens stops working. The camera won’t focus or fire and you get a dreaded error message. This usually the result of the lens being knocked out of alignment.

Other common problems include broken hinges on memory card doors, broken battery covers and scratched or cracked LCDs. Memory card contacts can become damaged if a card is forced into the slot the wrong way.

Faulty digital camera sensor

Occasionally, a digital camera sensor will begin exhibiting problems. When a sensor goes bad, images may exhibit some or all of the following:

  • Strong tints or color casts
  • A series of strange lines running across images
  • Image distortion.

What to check before sending a digital camera for repair

  • Low batteries - a camera may not function properly when batteries a low. Insert a fully charged set to see if things improve.
  • Camera controls – it’s easy to inadvertently hit the wrong button or change a menu. Check your settings.
  • Full memory card – when a memory card is full, a digital camera may not turn on.
  • Reset the camera – reset either via a menu or by removing the batteries for about 24 hours.
  • Do a hard reset – if resetting the camera doesn’t solve the problem, do a hard reset. How to do a hard reset varies between cameras, so contact the manufacturers tech support.

If your digital camera needs repair

If none of the above fixes the problem, call an authorized repair service center. You will be asked for the model and serial number of your camera. Fully and accurately describe the problem.

Don’t forget to inquire about an estimate for the repair and shipping costs. Ask how long it will take before the camera is returned.

Also ask if the repair work is still covered under warranty. If not, and you purchased the camera with a credit card, you may have an extended warranty by the credit card company.

For minor repairs, such as a broken hinge, using a local repair shop may be less expensive.

Check manufacturer service advisories

Sometimes camera malfunctions are the fault of the manufacturer. When this happens, service advisories are published listing the affected cameras. If yours qualifies, it will be repaired at no charge even if the original warranty expired. Contact the manufacturer or visit its website website to find out if there is a service advisory for your model, and what steps to take.

To repair or not to repair a digital camera?

A digital camera repair can cost 30 to 50% of it’s original price. If your camera needs repair, weigh the cost over buying one that is new or factory refurbished. Also consider the age of your digital cameras. Many new models have considerably improved during the past few years.

Hard reset for Canon compact cameras: this has worked for some Canon camera users who had problems starting their camera. If you know how to do a hard restart for you brand digital camera, post it in the commenting section below and it will be added to the article.

  • Put fresh batteries in the camera and remove the memory card.
  • Double click the on/off button and the camera will turn on and then off.
  • Hit the on/off button once more. Hopefully, the camera will start normally.

Please note: Digicamhelp offers basic information about camera problems to help you determine if your camera needs repair. If it has a serious problem such as not being able to turn it on and off, a blank LCD screen, a stuck lens or sensor or other problem that can’t be resolved by resetting your camera,  contact the camera manufacturer tech support.

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74 Responses

  1. Gail Bjork says:

    Zandri, it definitely sounds like a senor problem. You can read a bit about it here. You’ll only know for sure by contacting Sony tech support. Fortunately, your camera is on warranty. Good luck!

  2. Zandri says:

    Got a brand new Sony Cyber-shot (DSC-W690) camera last week. I’ve noticed that I get pink/white or red/blue/green lines running across my photos. It occurs on photos taken with and without flash in different lighting conditions. Is this a image sensor fault?

  3. Gail Bjork says:

    Russ, unfortunately, many people has had the ERR 99 message. This article will help you understand the Common Causes of Err99. Before calling Canon Tech support, try a hard reset as explained near the conclusion of this article. Let us know if it works. Good luck!

  4. Russ Higgins says:

    Recently, in cold weather, I have had trouble taking pictures with my EOS Canon Camera. I get the following message when I take a picture: “ERR 99 – Shooting is not possible. Turn the power switch to and again or reinstall battery.” I re-install the battery and am able to take ONE picture,.Then the process starts all over. Other Canon EOS photographers are taking pictures all around me. Has anyone had this problem? What is “ERR 99″?

    Can anyone help me?

  5. Gail Bjork says:

    Sylvia, the distorted images indicate a lens and/or sensor problem. The only way to know for sure is to call Sony tech support, who can give you the indication of the cost of repair. My guess is that the camera will not be worth repairing. Many digital camera prices have come down since you bought yours in 2008. With a new camera, you’ll also have a new, one year warranty.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Hi Gail,

    I have a Sony Cybershot DSC-T77 that I bought in 2008. I accidently dropped it quite a distance and when I turned on the camera, the pictures I take are purple and distorted. The previous saved images look perfect on the screen and all, so there is nothing wrong with the screen. I suspect its something to do with the lens or the connection between the lens and the screen which is giving me a distorted view. Is it worth repairing? I do love this camera, and am in no hurry to get a new camera or anything. What do you predict the price range of the camera repair to be around?

    Thank you so much for your advice,

  7. Gail Bjork says:

    bk, personally, I’d buy a new camera. From what I know about the high cost of digital camera repair, there are some great cameras available for around the same price as repair. Plus, with a new camera, you’d have a new warranty, usually one year (as opposed to about 90 days for a factory repair). It wouldn’t hurt to call Sony to get a repair estimate.

  8. bk says:

    i am using sony cybershot dsc-w320. there is fog inside the lens and now the lcd screen is showing blurry images. i am thinking if it is worth the effort to send for repair or would it be better to simply buy a new digicam? what is your option?

  9. Gail Bjork says:

    Violet, you should call Panasonic to see if your camera indeed needs repair. My S100 recently had a similar problem and I had to send it in for repair. Depending on when you bought your camera, it may not be covered under warranty. If the cost of repair is too high, you’re probably better off getting a new digital camera.

  10. Violet says:

    Hi, I have a Panasonic Lumix camera, 10 mega pixels point and shoot. Model number DMC-FS7.

    I am currently unable to use the camera at all, because when I turn it on, the zoom doesn’t work and then it says “SYSTEM ERROR (ZOOM)” What would be the best thing to do at this point and can I save this camera?

  11. Gail Bjork says:

    Pam, if resetting the camera doesn’t work, you should call Olympus tech support. Before you do, check if your camera has a menu selection to reset the camera. It may not be totally reset by simply taking out the batteries.

  12. Pam says:

    I have an Olympus SP-600UZ and all at once the image when downloaded was distorted and a closer look at the monitor indicates that the video function, including, ‘timer’ is on. Of course, this is eating up the batteries.
    I have tried to reset the camera by taking the batteries out for an extended time and now they are back in but I have taken the memory card out.
    Any ideas?
    Thanks, Pam

  13. Gail Bjork says:

    If the camera is still on warranty, even in another country, Canon tech support MAY give you some help, so call them. If it needs repair, considering buying a new camera if the repair cost is high. The camera is inexpensive and you will have a full warranty.

  14. Harpinder says:

    I have a panasonic DMC-S1 camera, and it is given as a gift by my foreign friend, so i do not have its warranty card etc. And whenever i switch the power on then it only shows (system error) zoom. So please help me out. What should i do now.

  15. Gail Bjork says:

    Ahmed, your camera LCD is probably “gaining up,” which happens primarily in low light when the exposure changes for variations in light. If so, there is nothing wrong with your camera. Here’s information about gaining up. However, if your camera flickers when using outside, I’d call Sony Tech support to make sure everything is alright.

  16. Ahmed says:

    I have a relatively new Sony DCS-WX7 and I noticed something about its LCD which am not sure is normal or a problem. If the back light changes, it quickly flickers before stabilizing again.For example, if I am in my room and moving around with the camera, once I face the Window during day light, it flickers and then refocus again. Is this normal ?

  17. Dorothy says:

    Thanks for the reply. Thing is the bars are there when I take pictures in horizontal format too. They are both in the viewer as I take the picture and in the playback. Like I said, it is like it is stuck in portrait format. I reviewed the manual and could find nothing addressing this.

  18. Gail Bjork says:

    Dorothy, the two black bars on either side of an image are normal when viewing photos taken in the vertical format. It’s an Auto Rotate Function that allows the images to automatically rotate and display vertically during Playback mode. I find this feature handy because the image is larger on the screen when rotated. You can turn the orientation sensor on and off. Check your camera manual for the menu option.

  19. Dorothy says:

    I have a Canon G12. While taking pictures one day I noticed two black bars appeared on either side of the image in the LCD viewer. It looks like it is stuck in portrait format. When I rotate the veiwer the image fills the screen.

  20. Sebastian Homan says:

    Great information :)

  21. Gail Bjork says:

    Pam, unfortunately it sounds like your S1 has a sensor problem. The only way to know for sure, is to call Canon Tech Support. If it needs repair, you’re probably better getting a new camera because the cost of repair can be high. If so, ask about Canon’s Customer Loyalty Program to get a new or refurbished replacement with a similar model. If you buy new, take a look at the Canon SX40, their newest superzoom which gets rave reviews.

  22. Pam says:

    Hi, I have not used my camera for several years. It is a Canon Powershot S1 IS. I got it out as I want to use it again because of the zoom, and the pictures are coming out horrible. They have a pinkish color with what looks like static lines across the picture. I thought it may be the Flashcard, so got a new one, but that made no difference. I did a hard reset, and that also made no difference. Can you give me an idea of what the problem may be?

  23. Gail Bjork says:

    Graham, if you can’t find a camera with a viewfinder, consider the accessory called ClearViewer. I have one and you do feel like you’re looking through a viewfinder.

  24. Gail Bjork says:

    Graham, it sounds like your camera is beginning to have a sensor problem. The only way to know for sure is to call Canon. Determine if the cost of repair is worth it. In many cases, it is not.

    If this is the case, asks tech support about the Canon Customer Loyalty program. They may be able to replace your camera with another with a viewfinder for a fairly reasonable price and with a warranty. The IXUS 100 (aka SD780) is still available for purchase at places like Amazon but, despite being older, they ask top price.

    There are a few cameras with viewfinders, such as the Canon G12, but they are usually larger. Good luck!