You have to unscrew the left side of the camera (if you're looking at the back of the camera, the side that is right beside the flash). Then, at the very top, with a tiny screw driver, just gently tap the black flash compartment and it should work after that. I've had the flash problem twice in the past year and both times I got it to work again by taping on it. Hope it helps!
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See this blog article. If you don't notice any gaps, and tightening all the loose screws doesn't help, then the next likely problem is the flash unit itself is burned out. If so, this would require professional repair to correct.
First of all, the flash can not be turned off in "Auto" mode. You can turn it off in any mode other than Auto. Would recommend Program "P" mode, which is very similar to Auto, but allows you to modify certain minor items such as flash and white balance.
Rotate your mode dial to "P", then press the button on the back with the "lightning bolt" icon. Press until the lightning bolt with a slash shows up on your LCD screen. The flash is now turned off in Program mode. Try taking a picture.
Remember, if in low light conditions you'll need to keep the camera extra steady without flash to get a clear picture. Recommend placing the camera on a table or chair (or even better, use a tripod), then using its autotimer to snap the picture.
Try a mode other than auto, and turn off the flash. Then try taking a picture. Did it work? If so, then your flash is either burned out, or the flash safety circuit thinks that the camera is open. If the flash is burned out, then professional repair is required, as a flash change-out is not trivial (Call 1-800-OK-CANON). However you mention the flash works sometimes, so a totally burned out flash tube is unlikely.
It's more likely to be only a break or bad connection in the safety circuit. Many Canon cameras use some of the screws in the camera case to serve as a means of detecting if the case is open (and thus disables the flash to prevent shock). Examine all the screws around the perimeter of your case. Are they all there and tight? If not, tighten loose screws and try moving and replacing any missing screws with one of the others that are still there.
The LCD screen may be overtaxing your batteries, resulting in shutdown. Are you using alkaline batteries, or worse yet "super heavy duty" batteries? If so, some brands of regular batteries just don't have the power for more than a few pics in a digital camera. Some may even have problems just powering startup of the camera. Performance varies by brand and shelf life of the batteries (how long were they on the store shelf before you bought them? Their expiration date may be listed on the package.).
Digital cameras for the most part should only be used with rechargeable NiMH batteries. Many retailers sells these for around $7 for a package of four (about $15-19 for the batteries with charger). Keep in mind they'll save you big bucks in the long run over alkalines, AND they'll last for at least 100 pictures per charge (and probably many many more). You'll be very pleased with their performance, and may slap yourself for not buying them sooner. When at the store, look on the package for a power rating of at least 2500 mah.
well i did some scouting and this is what i came up with on canon's site - http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=SuprtKnowledgeBaseAct&fcategoryid=113&modelid=14108 - in the question box put flash and hit search - the first result should give you your answer. hope this solves your problem.