Introduction: Repair Stuck Lens on Panasonic FZ5

Picture of Repair Stuck Lens on Panasonic FZ5

Panasonic have been making some kick ass digicams recently, with ludicrously good features and optics for the prices. However, this comes somewhat at the expense of build quality.

A commonly reported problem with the FZ5 is the lens becoming stuck in one position. This is because the cogs that drive it are made of plastic and the mounting for the lens motor is a bit flimsy. A Panasonic service centre will charge quite a bit just to look at your camera, let alone fix it, yet this is a relatively simple thing to fix if you're not afraid of dismantling things.

Of course, you do this at your own risk, not mine. I can't offer any guarantee that this will work for you, but a few people have had the same error and performed the same fix successfully. Work carefully and it should be fine. This may also be applicable for similar panasonic compacts, such as the FZ7.

(Note on photography: I captured the LCD screen and balanced it with the rest of the scene by bouncing a powerful flash off a white blanket on the floor of a small room, which also had a white ceiling. At around 1/80 - 1/100 of a sec, the 16 feet or so the flash light had to travel balanced the screen and the rest of the camera up well, and provided good diffuse lighting for the innards of the camera).

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools

Tools needed:
Allen key
Jewellers screwdriver
Tray (In this case just a flipped Shogi board)

I forgot to record the sizes, I just tried out tools from sets of screwdrivers and allen keys until I found the ones that fitted best. Even though the screws on the camera are posidrives, a flat head screwdriver was the best fit.

I also swapped the tweezers pictured for some round ended ones when it came to dealing with the ribbons because I didn't want to accidentally scratch or pierce anything.

Also very useful:
A torch
Scotch tape

The torch was handy for peering at secluded fixings, and I used a piece of scotch tape to hold screws as I removed them.

The tray was absolutely vital. If you disassemble stuff without a tray, small screws will bounce onto the floor and hide and break your heart.

Step 2: Disassembly: Housing

Picture of Disassembly: Housing

First remove the lens cap lanyard, any straps, the battery and the memory card.

The first fixing to remove is an allen bolt under the flash. This, along with six screws distributed around the main seam, secures the back to the front of the camera.

Remove all six screws too, and note that three are long, three are short, and both types have different threads. You're now ready to get inside this thing...

Step 3: Disassembly: Ribbons and Cables and Screws. Oh My!

Picture of Disassembly: Ribbons and Cables and Screws. Oh My!

Now we're going to remove and detach the back of the camera. It's not as scary as it might look.

The back section, which holds the LCD and some of the controls, is connected via two ribbons and two power connectors (labelled in first photo below). The ribbon connectors have fasteners at either side that slide along the same plane as the circuit board. Gently slide them out, and you'll be able to (carefully!) remove the ribbons.

The power connectors are a little trickier; work them gently, don't yank no matter how tempted you are. Working a slim object such as a screwdriver blade between the connector and the socket may help, but make sure not to abuse the connection between the socket and the circuit board.

Now you should be able to remove the back of the camera.

Step 4: Disassembly: Remove Mainboard, Etc.

Picture of Disassembly: Remove Mainboard, Etc.

The next step is to remove the mainboard. Unclip all the other ribbon and wire connectors and slide them out. You needn't touch the screws that appear to be securing the mainboard in; you'll see why in a minute.

There are just two screws holding this board in and a lot of the camera together, marked in the first image below. One is below the shooting mode dial, the other is below the left hand side of the flash unit. Unscrew both of these, and take note that one is longer than the other.

Now slide the upper control assembly out of the back of the housing, as shown in the second image.

Next, carefully lift out the mainboard, flash assembly, and SD/Battery socket assembly all in one piece, as shown in the third image.

Step 5: Disassembly: Final Steps

Picture of Disassembly: Final Steps

Now we're right down in the guts of the camera. Don't worry about the CCD, it seems to be a sealed unit. I certainly amn't monkeying with the screws closest to it...

Two of the parts shown below are secured to the inside of the camera in a rather rickety fashion. The lens is very solidly fastened in place of course, but the AF/EVF assembly and the lens motor are not. They're also made of fairly soft plastic. The lens is stuck because of these flaws.

First, remove the single screw that secures the AF lamp and electronic viewfinder assembly, shown in the first image below. Then remove the two black screws that keep the lens motor in place, highlighted in image number two. Do not pull on the lens motor, it will still be fixed to the lens assembly by the ribbon you can see stretching across it.

Next, remove the screw near the base of the camera, highlighted in the third image of this step. This is the final fixing that secures the lens assembly in place, so slide it gently out of the back. You have now dismantled the camera far enough to fix it.

Step 6: Fixify Lens

Picture of Fixify Lens

It's safe to gently bend the lens motor away from the barrel, but be careful.

The meeting point of the two cogs is highlighted in the first image below, though I didn't photograph it so well.

If you move the motor to disconnect the cogs from each other as shown in image two, you'll be able to carefully wind the lens barrel in and out. You may need to (carefully!) use a flat bladed screwdriver between two teeth of the large cog to move it at first.

Inspect the cogs to see if there are any flaws, broken teeth, obstructions, etc. In this case, I found the cog on the motor had jumped, and one of the teeth on the barrel cog was slightly worn. The damage was quite superficial, so I used the jewellers screwdriver to scrape it back into a more workable shape and get rid of some chaff that had come off the surfaces.

Do whatever it takes with you own... I'm bloody glad I didn't have to superglue any teeth back in place.

Next, wind the barrel back down, let the motor drop into its natural position and check that the motor cog and the barrel cog are meshing correctly. If so, you're ready to reassemble your camera.

Step 7: Reattach Lens Assembly

Picture of Reattach Lens Assembly

Reinsert the lens, and make sure the relevant holes are lined up with their respective pegs (one such marked below). It should be pretty obvious. Screw the motor back down with the two black screws, and also fix the screw just behind them back in (Marked below).

Next, reattach the AF/EVF assembly. Again, it should be pretty obvious how this fits, as the camera body has parts moulded to receive it.

Step 8: Reinsert Mainboard, Etc.

Picture of Reinsert Mainboard, Etc.

Now take the mainboard, SD/battery slot assembly and the flash unit and get ready to slide them back into place. There are keyways on the flash unit to line it up with the main body.

The hatch that covers the data and PSU sockets on the left hand side of the mainboard isn't secured by a screw; moulded bits of plastic hold it onto the sockets. There is a vacant screw hole (marked, image one) that meets with a part of it, but it's a springy steel plate and almost impossible to screw anything into. There wasn't a fixing there in the one I dismantled, but if there was in yours and you had to remove it to get the mainboard out, I suggest leaving it vacant. The other components of the camera hold the hatch assembly in place securely enough.

Once you get it into place, use your tweezers to lift the ribbons around and over the board. I made a mistake here: The grey wire connector that comes from the AF/EVF assembly needs to be fed under the nearest ribbon rather than over it, as shown below in image two. Also, make good and sure it's not tangled on anything and has a free course to the connector before fixing anything.

Now get ready to slide the upper controls back into place. Again, they have a keyway, and one ribbon socket to connect to, highlighted in images three and four. Use your tweezers to gently push down on the ribbon until it pops into place, then push it into the socket and refasten it with the slider.

Step 9: Awkward Ribbons

Picture of Awkward Ribbons

Some of the ribbon connectors are fiddly. Here's how to get the worst of them back in.

The first one connects on the underside of the mainboard. The first three images show how to get it in to place: push down on it gently until it pops into the socket, then push it forwards into it. There is no fastener, it just slides firmly in and out.

The fourth image shows the grey AF/EVF wires fed propery past the casing, ribbon and mainboard. I had to disconnect and reconnect the underside ribbon to do this :) Image five shows the connector plugged back in.

At this point, you should also screw in the two main fixings that sit below the flash unit and the mode dial. The longer of the two screws goes in the right hand hole.

Image six shows all the ribbons back in place. Ready for the last ones?

Step 10: Reconnect Backplate

Picture of Reconnect Backplate

The backplate has four connections that need to be restored: Power connectors for the speaker and the LCD, ribbons for the LCD and rear controls.

I found it easiest to connect the power connectors first as shown, then rest the camera lens down to put the ribbons in place. The fasteners on both sockets slide.

Now you can put the backplate in place and prepare to seal the camera back up.

Step 11: Test and Refix Housing

Picture of Test and Refix Housing

At this point, you may want to test the camera before screwing the housing back together. Not ok? Better go back and check some stuff. All ok? Great!

Now, you should have six posi screws and an allen bolt left. Notice that there are two types of posi screw with different threads. I have marked which types of screw go in which holes on the images of the housing below.

Finally, screw in the allen bolt under the flash unit and...

Step 12: Done

Picture of Done

... you're done! Bask in the glow of the LCD. Switch it on and off repeatedly, gawping like a simpleton as the restored lens action whirrs away.

Well, I did.


paperscrew (author)2015-05-30

All went well - ribbon connectors are difficult, a small 3mm bit of plastic fell out and must have been jamming it. Took 1.5hrs for a novice, but had good tools. Thanks, great tutorial, next time I will take the lens apart and clean it as shown on youtube.

TrevorCol (author)2013-10-07

Thanks for the excellent instructions. I just used them to fix the lens on my FZ7. A few minor differences, but it went well. Only real problems were the various types of fixings for ribbon cables and my fat fingers! Amazed at how flimsy it is inside. Need to take it slowly and carefully.

upende (author)2013-03-22

Does this fix work with the DMC FZ1?

Nachimir (author)upende2013-03-22

I don't know. I've never taken one of those apart.

liamconnolly (author)2011-09-04

You are a life saver! My FZ8 packed up on holiday in Ireland and its lens would not retract from the 12x position. A national photographic retailer relieved me of £25 to tell that my camera was broken and would need a completely new lens assembly unit at a cost (minimum) of £240 - they had not even been inside the camera since the the seven screws that hold the body together had never seen a screwdriver! This repair cost I was not prepared to pay. Working with my son, we dismantled the camera as per your instructions and checked the gearing on the inner barrel of the lens, all teeth were present and correct. Next we checked the gearing attached to the motor and again everything was fine although some of the cogs were very dirty and needed cleaning.

We noticed however that the transmission of the inner barrel of the lens through the outer barrel was not smooth and became stuck in a number of positions. Working at gently moving the parts, we finally dislodged some small particles of black plastic. With the application of a little WD40 to the guides, we then reassembled the camera and everything seems fine apart from the flash unit not working - we do not even get the flash drop down options on pressing the RHS menu button. We noticed that on disassembly that a spurious red coloured connector had become detached from its partner, which we assumed to be a spare connector under the flash unit - but oviously not. Does anyone have any thoughts?

I love the FZ8 but have been dismayed at the poor quality of the lens transmission system - is this just a Panasonic problem or are all cameras like this today?

Many thanks

jazzyrags (author)2011-06-12

On my FZ8, I had to put the major components back in a certain order so that things would sit properly. The flash portion had to go into its slot first, followed by the "top" panel with the turndial and zoom lever, and finally the mainboard. Also on the FZ8, the ribbon that ArkAdmin is referring to has a black "flip-up" piece that secures it, so don't forget to flip that back to the down position before settling the mainboard into its place.

calley (author)2011-02-19

The lens was stuck because the camera fell off the armrest of the couch. I was able to disassemble it with these great instructions and unjam it.
The lens motor works but when I turn the camera on I get the message "Remove lens cap and press > button,"
Then the image appears out of focus and the zoom button does not work.
So there is no lens movement at all. I thought it might be a broken connection but I have disassembled it and reassembled it several times withourt success. The lens moves into the fully out position and stays there. Does anyone have any ideas?

GraGra (author)2010-08-22

You deserve a medal or something very nice for helping others with this excellent piece of work. My camera is now working again except for the viewfinder. Thanks again.

GraGra (author)GraGra2010-08-27

Even my viewfinder worked when I had another look and found I had not plugged the circuit ribbon into the socket.

GraGra (author)2010-08-22

I placed heat shrink tubing on my needle nosed pliers. I found the allen key needs to be 1.5mm not 1/16" but this probably depends on the precision of the manufacturer. The three short screws holding the housing on go into metal and have Loctite on them. I had to apply a sharp pointed soldering iron for 20 seconds to get them off. A new No. 0 Phillips head screwdriver worked best for me

GraGra (author)2010-08-22

On my first attempt the lens was still jambed although now in a fully retracted state so into it again, this time I opened the gear box and could find nothing wrong so I opened the lens (for goodness sake mark everything before finally pulling it apart completely). A small plastic post 2mm dia x 3.5 long and chamfered one end appeared on the workbench. I could not see where it had broken off. The three plastic pins others have mentioned were intact. Encouraged by the success of others, I put it back together. Now everything works except the viewfinder which is just white.

GraGra (author)2010-08-22

I also found it unnecessary to remove (after ihad done it) and then found I could not fully tighten it (viewfinder slightly loose untill located later by back cover.

peachykeen (author)2010-08-03

THANK YOU! I did a little dance of celebration when I fixed my FZ8 with your instructions. I'm on vacation in Alaska with my small children and my camera died. Your instructions are the only ones I could find to fix the problem. I was nervous, but I did it...and now I can take pictures of my vacation again! I did a dance of joy when it was all done. THANK YOU!

Nachimir (author)peachykeen2010-08-04

Really pleased it helped :D

Whask (author)2010-06-20

Thanks for the incredible tutorial, I tried it on an FZ20 and did find multiple small broken pieces of plastic inside, can verify if they were near the cogs or not but once I put everything back together it working like I can't get the CCD to work. Only the EVF works. One of the white brackets on the CCD rbbon broke off, (I read the comment that said to use the black plastic bits to release teh ribbon too late!) but it still appears to be in all the way and snug. Anyone have any tips on what may be causing it other than twhat I mentioned? Thanks again so much for the instructions, AWESOME work, you have saved so many people so much money!

batkamachno (author)2010-06-06

FZ7: Two screws - below the shooting mode dial, and other is below the left hand side of the flash unit. Both are equal.

GraduallyGreener (author)2010-04-17

 I have this exact camera, and I would agree that these cameras are nicely priced for their quality!

I have yet to have a problem with the lens adjusting, but I haven't been able to get my flash to work for a while : ( The flash pops up, the light just doesn't flash. Any ideas?

leannes1234 (author)2010-04-17

With mine, I couldn't fine anything major wrong with any of the teeth around the outside,so tried removing the barrel, which was also fine.  On my sixth attempt (yes, I am a stubborn person!), I had a go at opening up the motor, which is done by unlinking from the lens teeth and removing 4 screws( and leaving the ribbons alone).  I found a grain of sand inside the cogs in the motor.  It is all working now!

soulmisfit (author)2009-05-03

The AF/EVF screw was extremely hard to get out on my camera, I came extremely close to stripping it after trying many different screw drivers. I highly advise finding the perfect screwdriver and lots of patience if it's tight, otherwise your hosed and the cam can't be fully disassembled. I did try heating it up a little with a solder gun but it was such a fragile tight area with ribbon and wires near by it was extremely risky. But I was finally able to remove it and get it back in.

joeyjoejoejoe (author)soulmisfit2010-03-30

You don't actually need to remove the AF/EVF the lens barrel will slide out past it. I couldn't get the screw undone either.

maisiebee (author)2010-03-23

 I was told to throw my FZ7 out (auto focus not working and not taking pictures at all - "take the lens cap off" message)  but chanced upon this site by accident and thought what the hell I'll give it a go.... The first time we stripped it down and found sand in the big cog, dusted all of that out and reassembled. The auto focus worked after that and I could take photos again but the zoom wouldn't work so a week later we had another go. This time we didn't disconnect the flash unit or battery compartment just the ribbons and connectors to get the main board out, much easier and way faster. This time we did what someone else suggested and wound the lens right out and wriggled it off the end to get right into the lens assembly - sure enough   there was sand in there too. After this was thoroughly cleaned out and the lens and camera reassembled we had lift off - one beautifully working camera with zoom, you are my new god!

nishandh (author)maisiebee2010-03-29

Great work! I own an FZ50, which i got replaced after getting a defective piece form sales counter. I digged a lot for mauals then, and got one from the internet. Step by step info about dismantling FZ50. not the model described here. if somebody thinks it would be of help, you can either mail me at pro.nims<at>gmail or do a googling for that. It do exist afterall! its a newer document than posting this instructable. The author of this instructable is sure a genuine, enthusaistic resaercher!

pavmax (author)2010-02-18

all three of the  plastic guides were snapped off and jamming the lens,i removed them and reassembled,everythings working sweet,just alittle more  float in the outer lens...

pavmax (author)2010-02-18

cheers nachimir for the info,that really sorted me it was,all three of the plastic lens guides had snapped off and were jamming the lens.everything still seems to work ok after reassembly,possably a little more movement with the outer lens but the three main steel pins should do the job still..

bryfos10 (author)2010-01-04

You instructions were awesome, Nachimir.  Thank you!  Although I'm mechanically inclined I've never really messed with electronics before.  I was able to repair my FZ7 with no problems following your instructions.  Saved me more than $150 (Panasonic's estimate to repair).  Thanks again.

john9665 (author)2009-11-21

Thanks so much for the instruction.  You just saved me from buying a new camera.  Best Buy and a camera repair shop didn't want to touch it.  Now I've fixed it having never worked on a camera before.

tewharau (author)2009-11-18

 Nachimir, That was awesome.  I fixed a dropped FZ5 after I saw your instructable and I found the same broken bit of black plastic guide that ArkAdmin and others found.  I had to do it three times and finally found a stuck cog inside the motor assembly.

BTW, if you apply 5 volts DC across the two contacts on the round circuit at the end of the motor assembly, you can get the lens to move out or in.  Reverse the polarity and it will do the opposite.  Handy for troubleshooting.

Also, by the third stripdown I managed to keep keep everything together and just remove the ribbons, screws through the main board, and the two by the flash.  Then the whole thing just slides out although back flops around a bit.  Thanks again!

butterscotch (author)2009-08-17

Thank you so much- I just took apart my FZ5 and got rid of grain of sand in the cogs. My 1/16th hex didn't work but someone else had a set from the dollar store and that worked fine. I had to do some troubleshooting when putting it back together bc I didn't seat the LCD ribbon correctly and totally broke off the ribbon lock for the upper connector ribbon but after a couple of tries, WORKING!! This is the awesomest electronic fixing gadget moment of my life. Thank you for making it possible.

Si123 (author)2009-08-05

Thanks Nachimir, Just took apart my FZ7 where lens wouldn't open. Released lens from the guides and replaced, tightened motor fixings and now it works fine. Thanks for the advice. NB: FZ7 was slightly different inside but with a little variation your instructions got me there. Cheers, Si

bananasplit (author)2009-06-29

Thanks so much for posting this Nachimir. I fixed my FZ7 which had a tiny grain of sand stuck between the motor cogs. Darn beach! I only broke 1 ribbon lock. The toughest part re-assembling the camera came on the 2 screws that hold the main board. Take note of the order of the boards they are holding before you remove the screws on step 4.

soulmisfit (author)2009-05-02

I used white out to mark when necessary.

soulmisfit (author)2009-05-02

On my FZ5 the left power connector was stubborn to remove and both are tiny and fragile. I tried tweezers and small needle nose but they kept slipping. Forceps seemed to work pretty well and I could wiggle the connector loose. Follow charliephysics above for the ribbons, they just pop right out after sliding tabs down.

phesc (author)2009-04-30

Thanks to Nachimir and all of you for the valuable comments! I adapt slightly this tutorial for my FZ8. I finally succeeded after the 3rd disassembly to clean the cogs and it finally works! However such a pain with all the electrical ribbons, I has been lucky not to break any!

toffel (author)2009-04-09

I also found a small piece of black plastic inside the lens. I just removed it, and now my camera works like a charm! Thanks a lot for the excellent instructions!!!

charliephysics (author)2008-11-08

Did anyone else get this far only to find out that your camera doesn't focus properly or at least like it used to?

jarmez (author)charliephysics2009-03-23

I've got it working again as the lens was jammed and would not retract but now I've got the same problem as charliephysics - it won't autofocus except on startup. I found a tiny piece of loose plastic inside the lens: I think the mounting of the inner most lens (nearest the CCD) should not be loose....? But Brilliant instructions - Thankyou !

anorthosite (author)2009-03-14

Everything works again ! The DISassembly photos were also helpful in getting everything fit/plugged in/screwed back together.

One of the external screws (by the strap cleat) stripped during disassembly and I had to drill the head off. But the other five and the allen bolt cinched the entire seam together.

The bad news: I had been checking out an FZ28 on sale (higher MP, resolution, zoom, and also wider angle) but now it's harder for me to rationalize buying it.
Still, I'll be going to Alaska in July, and this FZ5 IS 3-plus years old..... ;}

In any case, REALLY COOL to 1) visit the guts of this camera and 2) actually fix - or "mechanically reboot" - it !

Thanks a bunch !

ArkAdmin (author)2008-01-15

In my case the cog and teeth were fine. The motor slides the lens barrel up and down on two parallel tracks. The barrel can be completely removed if you wind the barrel to the end of the track and then pull it gently off. Fixed to the inside of the barrel you will see three short pointed metal studs that move along the first track. Near each metal stud is a short black plastic guide that slides along the parallel track. In my case one of these black plastic studs had sheared off and caused the barrel to jam. I am hoping that I won't need to buy a replacement barrel as there are still 3 metal studs and 2 plastic guides remaining.

anorthosite (author)ArkAdmin2009-03-14

My barrel would not fully retract, as I confirmed when I first tried to reassemble - it was left sticking out beyond the outer case. So like ArkAdmin I went the next step and disassembled the barrel. The secondary, movable lens is in a mount that tracks along two "long" pins. The lens mount has an arm with a pin that tracks a spiral groove INSIDE the inner barrel. After I reinserted that and realigned the two long pins, I was able to twist the assembly back together and the barrel retracted completely with no further interruption. Now to the rest !

boeger (author)2008-11-18

I have a DMC-FZ7 I was able to remove 3 screws and it looks like there is some blue loctite on them. The others are putting up a good struggle and I don't want to shred them. Is there a way to get around the blue loctite?

boeger (author)boeger2008-11-19

ah, i solved it. i heated the screws with a soldering iron for a few seconds and they were much easier to loosen.

Nachimir (author)boeger2008-11-23

Interesting, the screws with that stuff came out really easily on the camera in the photos. I'm not certain of course, but it might be a snitch measure to tell Panasonic when a camera has been opened or not; i.e. only some holes had the blue stuff in but others used the same size screws.

charliephysics (author)2008-11-08

One should know that to remove the ribbon cables you actually slide the black plastic tabs down. Don't bother with the white plastic pieces. If you do, they will break. Wish that had been more explicit. Also to remove the power connectors you may want something like pliers. And you'll want to to not try to remove the whole plastic piece. There is a male and female piece. The female stays on the board. The male piece can be noticed upon close inspection.

clind (author)2008-10-14

Thanks for this tutorial that made me able to properly open my camera :P In my case, the motor wasn't held hard enough against the lens block, so I just put a small piece of carton under the extremity of the biggest plastic guide and put the screw back again, so the motor cog is now pushed harder against the lens cog and it just work fine :D A relieve, I'll not have to buy a new one yet!

Paracelsus (author)2008-08-15

Thanks for the great how-to! My girlfriend is radiant that her FZ5 is working again!

xtomiii (author)2008-07-24

Hey .. i followed tutorial and i fixed the lens. The problem I'm having now is that the displays backlight doesn't turn on. The display works, but the backlight not so it's merely impossible to see things on it. Any idea? I tried reattaching all ribbon cables (2) leading from backpanel to mainboard but it didn't help. tx

Nachimir (author)xtomiii2008-07-26

I don't know. Check to make sure none of the cables or connectors are damaged, and make sure none of them are in the wrong way round (It's been about 18 months since I last did this, so not sure if that's possible with any of them).

Scratching a circuit board with a screwdriver or something may have also broken a conductive track. If that's the case, an expert solderer with a very fine tip *might* be able to repair it with a little solder.

ericmei (author)2008-06-25

I was able to get my FZ8 working thanks to these instructions and others comments. At first my LCD didn't work, but I tried reattaching the ribbon cable and everything was working just fine! I've also really impressed some of my friends and family.

Nachimir (author)ericmei2008-06-26

Excellent to hear. I hope they make cameras with a similar form factor for a long time :)

compops (author)2008-05-23

Thanks for the guide, I've an FZ5 which has an odd fault which results in all my photos having a semi-opaque smear, it's in the same place and at the same size regardless of the zoom, and I can see nothing on the glass nor visible looking through the lens.

About This Instructable




Bio: I live in the UK. Half my working time is spent running indie games events, the rest is spent prototyping… things ¬¬ I used to take ... More »
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