I used the camera after 14 days, the last time I used it was on 12 Oct, the camera was working fine without any trouble and the picture quality was good. This morning I switched it on and to my surprise the lcd was giving a smudged look. All the colours diplayed were bleeding a lot and the display was inaccurate ie, the objects appear different. Even after I took a photograph the photo was completely out of focus( even on the autofocus mode) and the colour reproduction was wrong. This camera was kept in the case for the entire period and I was completely shocked to see something wrong. I tried to reset the camera but apart from the date and other settings the LCD and autofocus didn't show any difference.
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Check the settings of the camera. Put the recording mode for stills (photos) to auto, so the setting can't stop the camera from taking a picture. If you are in one of the manual modes, and the system calculates it won't be possible to make a picture (to dark, to light, or out of focus and so on) it won't react when you press the shutter release button.
Please use the manual, so you will be able to solve this every time it happens to you. The manual is still online.
You will need to check if the brightness is in the LCD of the camera or is in the picture.
If the pictures on loading to your PC is good then the fault is in the LCD of the camera.
If not the CCD of the camera is faulty as there are errors in the main processor or CCD.
Problem now solved. I switched the camera on and off a few times and took several test photos. After a few minutes the problem resolved itself. I suspect the cause was condensation, but cannot be sure.
This is probably THE most common failure among digital cameras. There's a halfway chance of fixing it yourself, described here: http://camerarepair.blogspot.com/2007/12/fixing-lens-error-on-digital-camera.html
If the LCD is "smeared" in record mode, it isn't the memory stick or any of the other solutions you've been offered.
It's one of the following, I would guess:
1) condensation in the camera
2) loose or bad connector to the CCD or power supply
3) Camera is history. Hit eBay and get a new one
BTW, It costs about $175 for repair by Sony (at least the last time I had a repair done on a 717). It's probably worth it as long as the rest of the camera is in good shape. Definitely cheaper than buying a new one or a used one.
Sorry about your problem...