Tip & How-To about Cameras

Camera Lens Stuck or Won't Retract

These fixes are safe provided you are careful in how you implement them. However if you have a high end expensive camera or you do not feel confident about trying all of these fixes or are worried in any way about causing further damage to your camera then please send your camera to an agent for professional repair.

That being said - most of these fixes are simple straightforward procedures and can be carried out without any problems. These fixes are listed in order of simplicity and least likelihood of harm to your unit.

Firstly - often a stuck lens is caused by batteries which are either poorly charged or alternatively not maintaining a proper charge and are not strong enough to operate the lens mechanism.

Dirty terminals on the batteries or dirt on the contacts inside the battery compartment is also problematic - if cleaning the contacts and replacing the batteries does not work it is likely that there is a problem with the lens gearing mechanism itself. This is often associated with sand or other debris getting into the lens gearing mechanism and causing the fault.

There is a report with some Canons that if you turn the camera on whilst pressing and holding the set button this may have the effect or resetting the lens mechanism. However this only seems to work with some Canon models but certainly worth a try.

Fix 1: Remove the batteries from the camera, check both the contacts on the batteries and the contacts inside the camera itself to make sure they are clean. Use a simple pencil eraser to remove any stubborn residue from the contacts. Put a fresh set of batteries back in (preferably rechargeable NiMH 2500mah or better) and turn the camera on.

Fix 2: If this fails remove the batteries, then remove the memory card. Install fresh batteries and see if the unit powers up the lens mechanism. If the camera powers up at this point this indicates a potential fault with the memory card

Fix 3: Insert the cameras Audio/Video (AV) cable, and then turn the camera on. Inserting this cable ensures that the camera's LCD screen remains off during the start process. Thus extra battery power is available to the camera's lens motor during startup. This extra power can be useful in overcoming grit or sand particals that may be jamming the lens.

Please note: Do not keep the AV cable installed during Fix 6 as you may damage the AV port while tapping the camera. Reinsert the cable only AFTER tapping the camera.

Fix 4: Place the camera flat on its back on a table, pointed at the ceiling. Press and hold the shutter button down, and at the same time press the power-on button. The idea is that the camera will try to autofocus while the lens is extending and this can realign the mechanism.

Fix 5: Use compressed air pointed into the gaps around the lens barrel to in an attempt to blow out any sand or grit that may be in there jamming the lens.

With Fix 6 and 7 there is some potential for damaging your camera in conducting the fix so please be careful with these.

Fix 6: Repeatedly tap the padded/rubber usb cover on a hard surface with the intent of dislodging any particles that may be jamming the lens. Remember, there is also some potential for damaging or dislodging internal components with this method, such as dislodging ribbon cables, or even cracking LCD screens.

Fix 7: Forcing the lens. This is the final method to try but can be the most effective. Try gently pulling, rotating, and/or twisting the lens barrel while hitting the power button. If the barrel is misaligned or twisted look for uneven gaps around the lens barrel, and then push on the side of the lens barrel that has the largest gap. While doing any of the above, listen for a click that indicates that the lens barrel guide pins may have reseated in their guide slots. If you hear this click, immediately stop and try the camera. Do not simply force the lens in the whole way as it can become stuck - the secret is manipulation of the lens until hopefully you hear that satisfying click.

These approaches are successful in many cases but are dependant on the severity of the problem and the components effected. If all of these fixes fail then unfortunately the camera will have to go for service inspection as it is likely to be a total component failure that is causing the problem.

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Many thanks for using FixYa.

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