Sony Handycam issue - repair/replace?
In the first half of October, 2005, a number of digital camera and camcorder manufacturers issued service advisories involving a range of digital camera models (as well as some digital camcorders and PDAs that incorporate image sensors). In each case, the story was similar - CCD (image sensor) failures, particularly in conditions of high heat and humidity, led to cameras capturing images with either no picture at all, or with extreme distortion and severe purple or green color casts. An example of the latter symptom, courtesy of the Konica Minolta Europe website, can be seen further down this page. We first started hearing about this problem in late September and early October, 2005, with a significant increase in reader emails about it in the first week of October. The problem understandably caused considerable concern among our readers, with many wondering whether this was an ongoing problem that could affect current cameras.
Initial service advisories by Sony, Canon, Fujifilm and Konica Minolta were soon followed by announcements by Nikon, Ricoh, and Olympus. Affected cameras were all manufactured between 2002 and 2004, the underlying problems have apparently been found and corrected, so no cameras currently on the market are affected. (We are assured by sources that new cameras purchased today will not be affected by this problem. See the "What caused this problem" section at the bottom of this document, for a more detailed discussion of possible causes.)
We here at Imaging Resource did a little digging into the problem, and it appears that the problems trace to certain models of image sensor chips manufactured by Sony between 2002 and 2004. (Fujifilm has stated that they manufacture their own CCD chips, so it's not clear whether or not the problems with their cameras are in fact related to those of the other makers.)
What the problem looks like
The problem can take any of several forms, but all involve severe color shifts and/or severe distortions of the image. The images below show two examples (courtesy of Konica Minolta) of what the problem might look like, if your camera falls prey to it. In the early stages of the problem, the camera may still capture recognizable images, but with a washed-out appearance and a strong magenta or green tint.
(images courtesy Konica Minolta)
(Image courtesy Tara D.S. Willgues)
What products may be affected?
Quite a number of products may develop this problem, including digital cameras, camcorders, and even PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) that incorporate an image sensor. The following is a list of affected models by various manufacturers that we are presently aware of. We will update this list as new information becomes available. We recommend that you check the site regularly for this and other breaking news.
Here are lists of the affected products, grouped by manufacturer:
Digital Cameras Camcorders
PowerShot S230 Digital ELPH / Digital IXUS V3 / IXY D320
PowerShot SD100 Digital ELPH / Digital IXUS II / IXY Digital 30
PowerShot SD110 Digital ELPH / Digital IXUS IIs / IXY Digital 30a
Elura 40 MC
For repair instructions, visit the Canon USA support website. To read the specific service advisory for your model, use the pulldown menus to browse for your specific model, or simply type the model number into the box provided at the bottom of the page and click the "Search" button.
The Canon support website holds no forms or other needed documents, so you can save yourself some time (if you live in the US or Puerto Rico by just calling the Canon Customer Support line at 1-800-828-4040. Support hours are Monday-Friday 8am to 12 midnight, and Saturday from 10am-8pm. (All times EST.) Alternately, you can send email to: email@example.com.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Canon advisory.
Model Serial Number Range(s)
? FinePix A303 3JA4**** to 3JA5****
? FinePix F410 32A1****,
32A6**** to 32A7****,
? FinePix F700
3JA4**** to 3JA5****
? FinePix S2 Pro 31A127**~31A143**
Serial numbers can be found on the bottom of the cameras. From the Fuji service advisor, the following applies to US customers:
IF SERVICE IS NEEDED:
Package the camera carefully using ample padded material to prevent damage in transit. Include your name, address and phone number with the shipment as well as a general description of the problem. Keep a record of the camera's serial number and shipment tracking number. Ship your camera to the Fuji Service Center noted below:
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc.
1100 King George Post Rd.
Edison, NJ 08837
Attn: Camera Repair Dept./CCD Advisory
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Fujifilm advisory.
The Konica Minolta support website has a PDF file posted on it that in turn links to a PDF service advisory form, and a Support FAQs area. We had difficulty following the links in the main PDF file from our web browser, so have reproduced both of them above. The most relevant one is the PDF service advisory form.
European Konica Minolta owners are referred to the Konica Minolta European support page.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Konica Minolta advisory.
There's a button on the Nikon USA Photography home page, labeled "Coolpix Service Advisory: 3100-5700-SQ" that displays information in a popup window. Here's a link to it in a standalone window: Coolpix Service Advisory. Here are links to other pages from the Nikon site, namely the Coolpix Advisory FAQs, and the Service Advisory Product Return Form.
For more details, read Nikon Europe's service advisory if you're a European customer, or Nikon Japan's service advisory if you purchased your camera in Japan.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Nikon advisory.
Camedia C-5050 Zoom
Camedia C-730 Ultra Zoom
Olympus is distinguishing themselves by offering to repair affected cameras, even if they aren't displaying the problem yet. Their free repair policy is extended for up to four years from the original purchase date. They do ask that, if your camera is currently operating properly, you hold off on sending it in until after January 2006, due to the high volume of repair business during the holiday season. To determine if your camera is affected, call Olympus repair at 888-553-4448, Monday-Friday, 8am -10pm EST, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the Olympus PDF file explaining the above for further info.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Olympus advisory.
Pentax USA have published a brief note on their Customer Care & Support homepage which refers customers to a separate PDF file for further information. This document pledges repair of the problem free of charge, regardless of warranty status, as long as the camera doesn't have other symptoms not described as part of the problem.
This PDF document in turn refers customers to a separate PDF form which must be filled in, and includes instructions on how to return a camera for service. The return address from the form is:
PENTAX Service Department
12000 Zuni Street ? Suite 100B
Westminster CO 80234
We couldn't find any details regarding the duration of the free repair offer, nor of serial numbers affected. We suggest you simply contact Pentax for clarification of these points.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Pentax advisory.
Caplio G3 model M
Caplio G3 model S
Caplio G4 wide
Caplio 400G wide
Ricoh US support took a little digging to track down. Ricoh Global issued the service advisory itself. Service centers for various regions around the globe are listed here. US, Canada, and South American service for Ricoh cameras is handled by:
C.R.I.S. Camera Services
Phone: 800-22 RICOH
We couldn't find any details regarding the duration of the free repair offer, nor of serial numbers affected. We suggest you simply contact C.R.I.S Camera Services directly to learn how to proceed.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Ricoh advisory.
Digital Cameras Camcorders, CCD-TRV models
CD Mavica MVC-CD250
CD Mavica MVC-CD400
CD Mavica MVC-CD500
FD Mavica MVC-FD100
FD Mavica MVC-FD200
Camcorders, DCR-DVD models
Camcorders, DCR-TRV models Camcorders, DCR-IP models
Camcorders, DCR-PC models
Camcorders, DCR-VX models
Camcorders, DCR-HC models
CLIE Handheld Computer Models Professional Camcorders
DSR-250 & DSR-250/P
DSR-PD150 & DSR-PD150P
DSR-PD170 & DSR-PD170P
DSR-PDX10 & DSR-PDX10P
As Sony is the original sensor manufacturer for all of the other manufacturers' products listed above (and given the vast array of products that they manufacture themselves) it should come as no great surprise that Sony has by far, the greatest number of affected products. This should not be taken as indicating any inherent deficiency in Sony products beyond the now discontinued sensors involved.
The original service advisory was posted on the Sony Asia Pacific Support site. The Asia Pacific post lists all affected models in a concise format. On the Sony US website, the advisories are only listed on the support pages for each individual product. To see the information for your product, go to this page, enter your model number and click "Search" to find all relevant information. If your product is one of those listed above, you should see a link (probably dated 10/3/2005) under the "Product Alerts" section, titled "Important Notice about your Sony Product."
Regardless, in the US, the story is the same (at least it is for all the products we checked): "From October 3, 2005 through October 2, 2007, Sony will repair, free of charge, affected products exhibiting the above-mentioned problem where it is caused by the image sensor device. Sony will also cover the cost of shipping and handling to service to correct this issue."
No service forms or mailing addresses are provided on the Sony US site. Rather, owners are instructed to contact the Sony Customer Information Services Center for further assistance at 1-866-703-7669.
For your easy reference, here is a link to the original IR news story on the Sony advisory.
What to do if you have an affected product:
In all cases, the manufacturers involved are offering free repair of affected products, even if the original warranty period has expired. If you have a product that displays the problem described here, you must contact the manufacturer to arrange for the repair. This is important. -- None of the manufacturers involved are contacting consumers to announce a blanket recall: It's up to the consumer to contact them to take advantage of the free repair service.
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