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Repair Stuck Lens on Panasonic FZ5

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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).
 
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TrevorCol9 months ago
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.
upende1 year ago
Does this fix work with the DMC FZ1?
Nachimir (author)  upende1 year ago
I don't know. I've never taken one of those apart.
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
jazzyrags3 years ago
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.
calley3 years ago
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?
GraGra3 years ago
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 GraGra3 years ago
Even my viewfinder worked when I had another look and found I had not plugged the circuit ribbon into the socket.
GraGra3 years ago
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
GraGra3 years ago
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.
GraGra3 years ago
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.
peachykeen3 years ago
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)  peachykeen3 years ago
Really pleased it helped :D
Whask4 years ago
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 new...EXCEPT...now 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!
batkamachno4 years ago
FZ7: Two screws - below the shooting mode dial, and other is below the left hand side of the flash unit. Both are equal.
 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?
leannes12344 years ago
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!
soulmisfit5 years ago
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.
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.
maisiebee4 years ago
 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!
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!
pavmax4 years ago
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...
pavmax4 years ago
cheers nachimir for the info,that really sorted me out.as 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..
bryfos104 years ago
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.
john96654 years ago
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.
tewharau4 years ago
 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!
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.
Si1234 years ago
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
bananasplit5 years ago
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.
soulmisfit5 years ago
I used white out to mark when necessary.
soulmisfit5 years ago
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.
phesc5 years ago
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!
toffel5 years ago
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!!!
Did anyone else get this far only to find out that your camera doesn't focus properly or at least like it used to?
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 !
anorthosite5 years ago
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 !
ArkAdmin6 years ago
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.
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 !
boeger5 years ago
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 boeger5 years ago
ah, i solved it. i heated the screws with a soldering iron for a few seconds and they were much easier to loosen.
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