Introduction: Fixing Dropped Compact Cameras
This isn't a complete guide to compact repairs, however you have a good shot of fixing it if it wasn't completely destroyed from the fall.
If it turns on, twiddles the lens then dies you've probably knocked the lens a bit and that's surprisingly fixable.
Before grabbing your camera read this all the way through carefully, it might stop you from just randomly attacking the steps and skipping directly to the issue you're having.
*Disclaimer* This is not a guaranteed fix for your camera, if it is insured or under warranty you should return it to the supplier for repair or used an approved repairman. I cannot be held responsible for the risks you take with personal property and your own body by working on your camera, components inside can hold a lethal charge, specifically the capacitor for the flash, which is likely to be charged during this.
I hate disclaimers though in comparison to caps in disposables the spark from shorting one is deafening, rather blinding and implement wrecking.
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Step 1: Take It Apart
If you like you could use a little screwdriver, however here is a list of things I have taken apart and repaired cameras with:
- Corkscrew, the little knife on it
- kitchen knife
- A strange triangle of metal
- My mind
Go around the outside, looking for screws, there's usually a hidden one under the battery cover.
The cameras all tend to have to faceplates and an inner body, only unclip and remove the front side with the lens on it at first, depending on the inner construction the back may be able to stay on. Make sure not to lose the buttons. Leave that black tape in place, especially at the head of the capacitor.
Step 2: Inspect the Lens
If it looks perfectly fine and is closed properly or almost completely then look around the lens assembly for screws holding it in and gently loosen them a little.
Put the battery in without the case on and test the camera, if it works you can reassemble it, if it doesn't continue to the next step.
Step 3: Remove the Lens Assembly
This is where things get trickier, removing the lens assembly may mean taking the LCD off the back to remove it, though don't fear the ribbon cables too much, they're mostly the kind with the flip up clip holding them in as opposed to the evil ones that just push in and out.
If the lens assembly can be lifted out and removed with the ribbon cables attached it's easier to tell if it's fixed.
On the back of the lens assembly there are usually around four screws holding the back on, slightly loosen these, no more than a full turn.
Hit the power again and see, sometimes this is enough to ease the pressure on the gears and get the lens moving again.
Step 4: Spinning the Gears
This is a tricky step that sometimes works by simply resetting where the gears in the lens meet, it's pretty hit or miss but requires a bit of care.
You need to loosen but not remove the back of the lens assembly just enough to let the gears not meet fully.
Power the camera on and you'll hear the lens gears grinding and jumping, only let it happen for a second, literally a second then yank the battery because the camera will sit and do it until you do.
Tighten the back again and attempt a power up.
By now the measures are getting to be a bit extreme and less likely to work without destroying the camera and it only gets worse from here on in, unless you happen to have schematics and proper tools. Actually before doing anything google that, it's probably a great idea.
Step 5: Scary Biccies Time.
When it comes down to removing the back of the lens assembly you're getting down to the figurative wire, along with exposing the CCD sensor - it's actually very pretty by the way, but keep it covered, a speck of dust will wreck it because they're much smaller than an SLR sensor and designed to never be exposed to the outside world, like Wow players.
Anyway once you've taken the sensor out the most likely broken thing is the strange lens on a spring loaded swing arm, that can pop of the rail very easily and getting that spring back in place is insanely difficult, like consume a glass of wine in the process difficult.
At this point I'd like to just ask what the fuck? Anyone who can give me a decent reason for throwing such a pointless fragile element in to the middle of a compact camera instead of the plethora of technological options that could easily and cheaply replace such a nuisance piece gets a patch.
If it's not that little swing arm inspect for misaligned gears and pieces sitting skeewiff, try and realign them, sewing needles are handy for the poking.
If there's nothing visible then you're free to attempt complete lens disassembly, granted it's nigh on impossible and putting it back together is an endeavour I simply couldn't complete without losing my patience, sanity, will to live and probably a digit or two.
However there's other stuff to try yet.
Step 6: Helping With Force.
Only do this is the lens is stuck open, with the little end shutter open that is.
fire the camera up and watch which way it tries to turn, wait until it goes back and turns off then turn it on and help it move that way, start gently and build up to a still gentle but firm twist, if you can get it to turn through and go on normally put an arrow on the lens barrel to show which way to turn it, put the thing back together and do that each time it jams, after a while it may well work normally again.
Step 7: The Little Shutters
If these are jammed closed even as the lens opens forwards then they're likely broken, depending on the mechanism they work by, which does change removing them can solve the problem, unless the damage is inside the lens barrel.
These are wretched little things to work with and if they're just knocked off the pivots then putting them back on and reattaching the tiny, miniscule little springs to them is a nightmare, if they're bent or broken chuck them and reassemble the lens front without them or the springs etc. inside.
Step 8: The Limits of This Instructable
The camera below had been fixed before, however my friend decided she would then destroy it for good by standing on it after dropping it, so it features twice in the 'ible, this was the end for it.
I still had a crack at it but the actually rails that the lens parts spin on were destroyed so it wasn't going to work.
However a solution to this could be to spoof the sensors on the side of the assembly with a clever bit of soldering or some such, you'd probably lose the ability to zoom but essentially the camera could function again if the firmware can be made to believe it's not broken.