This will sound crazy, but I just read the section under "Tips and Tricks" entitled, "Freezing". Users there recommend dropping the camera (gently) about an inch down onto your mousepad, or squeezing the casing of the camera, expecially around the battery. I squeezed the camera around the lens and Viola!, no more problem.
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Oh dear. Unfortunately this is common with many lenses that extend and retract on these cameras. Fuji is also known to have similar issues.
At some stage, the camera has been knocked while the lens has been extended. You may deny this, however - it doesn't take much to knock those little suckers out of alignment. Even as simple as putting it down on the table will do it! It cannot be fixed with 'layman' fingers and needs to be seen by a technician. Cost can be >$50 and may take a week or more to be returned...worse case - still UNFIXED!
Try to find out if there is something else obstructing the free movement of the lens barrel. And then try to find out if your battery (yes) are still ok. If they can't give enough power, the motor to drive the lens, can't work and the camera also "thinks" the lens got stuck.
Sometimes, a gear that is involved with moving the lens became broke. If that happens, only a repair shop can help.
Could be sand particles getting into the seams around the lens barrel, binding it up. Unfortunately, many cameras that fall prey to lens error problems can only be corrected by professional repair. But, here are some last resort troubleshooting steps that you can try that may correct it. They only seem to work for less than 40% of the lens errors, but if the camera is out of warranty (or repair cost approaches that of the camera), they're worth that try.
The lens is jammed in, either the unit has had a knock or there is debris (sand/grit) in the unit, been to the beach lately. Check to see if the lens is sitting level with the front of the camera. Unit will probably need to go in for servicing.
If you're getting the 18-4489-957-000 error code, then give it a good tap on the corner where the lens cap is. A little tapping and the lens cover should pop closed. When you turn the camera on again it will probably work just fine.
I was just about to junk my camera when I googled the error code and found this very tip in another thread. It worked like a charm.
Rang a few repairers & was advised by all that it is a common problem & that it relates to the CCD chip, which will need to be replaced. I am now waiting for the camera to return to me(it's only been 2 days).
I have the same camera, and had the same problem. Make sure the camera is switched off. Then take 2 hard pieces of plastic with sharp ends. Carefully try & jam the outer ring with one, and try turning the converter with the other. I used a mini screwdriver, and left some marks on my camera. Thats why I recomend using plastic of some kind.
When you use the converter, switch off the battery saver in the camera. That way the converter won't jam again, as the camera won't switch off automatically. There is also a programme in the menu that is used for converters and external lenses. It also prevents the lens from retracting completely.
Hope I have helped you.
I believe the FZ7 determines that the lense cap is still on when it can't extend the zoom lense because the lense cap is in the way. I would check to see if your zoom lense housing is somehow stuck (could be sand or dirt in it) which is creating enough resistance to make the camera think the lense cap is impeding the zoom lense from extending.