When switched on, this FZ10 will try to extend the lens and then will give SYSTEM ERROR. Just like here:
Even though the procedure I'll describe now is specific for Panasonic FZ10, I am quite sure the lens mechanisms of other Panasonic series (especially FZ series), and even maybe other camera makes are designed with similar features. So you may find this guide useful for finding out your way to fixing another digital camera. You need to be skilled in disassembling an electronic device to follow the next steps.
All photos are taken by me, sorry for the lousy lighting and maybe some blur. Well, when you are concentrated on the job it takes a lot of determination to take good photos of the steps.
For this instructable you need:
- 00 Philips screwdriver
- Super glue (crazy glue, etc.)
- Epoxy putty
- One 3V lithium battery with two thin cables connected to terminals (if you want to test the lens assembly before putting it in the camera)
No disclaimers, except:
- there is a slight risk of receiving a strong electric shock from the flash capacitor if you poke your screwdriver here and there,
- risk of battery explosion if you don't follow my instructions,
- a risk of rendering the whole camera useless...
So I don't accept any responsibility for your bad luck in those issues (from my hindsight, talking from experience).
Before starting, a rich repository of service manuals for many Panasonic digital cameras can be found here (as of instructable publish date).
Step 1: Disassemble the Bastard...
This step is quite straightforward, but of course there are tricky parts. Look a the photos on this step, I am providing tricks and hints as an overlay notes on each photo. Please read them carefully...
Step 2: Remove the Rear Cover Out and Strip the Camera Off Its Sub-components...
Again, please follow the photos with the notes on them!.. It is a good idea to discharge your static electricity by touching a metal radiator pipe or a ground line. You'll work near electronic circuits now.
Step 3: Figure Out What Is Wrong With the Lens Mechanism
Now this is the tricky part. In most cases the lens is malfunctioning because you knocked it on a hard surface. Because of the impact force:
- some gears may be stripped (deformed, lost tooth),
- guide rails/grooves may be damaged,
- some little tabs, grooves or edges might be damaged leaving the lens loose.
If your lens have especially the first kind of damage, then you really need replacement gears/cogs which you can salvage from another damaged camera (i.e. with a electronic damage). This repair option is also possible for the second and third kinds of damages.
However, for the second and third kinds of damages, you can also use some other techniques, i.e. you can use epoxy putty to sculpture and replace the missing part (this is what I did). You can also use super glue to put broken bits together if you still have parts.
But before all that, you have to successfully (i.e. without breaking) put the lens assembly apart. You have to find out what is wrong and you have to decide what to do with it. Be patient and don't push/pull any part if it requires too much power. There may be snaps, clicks, grooves that you have to pay attention to, so watch out!.. :-)
Step 4: Take Corrective Action!..
In this step you'll repair the damaged parts. Use fresh (yes they degrade over short time) good quality super glue for parts where you have the broken bits. In my case, one little edge was broken and the plastic it is made off has very fibre-like structure, so super glue worked great.
Tip for glueing: try not to stain the parts with your body oil, don't touch them with your fingers etc. Just some tiny drop of super glue, put pressure on the part and keep if for a few seconds. When done, let it dry for a few hours.
Tip for epoxy putty: this is a wonderful material to work with. It is just like play-dough. Keep kneading, wet your fingers with some water and you can form it to any shape you like. Yes it works OK even when it's wet. I moistened a blade to form it into the shape I want.
Step 5: Put It All Back Together!.. Well, I Failed.
Now we'll clean all the parts, lubricate the important points and put it back together (previous steps in reverse order).
Well, now the unlucky part for me, it turns out that the grease on the lens zoom rail was a special one. Substituting it with regular grease didn't work. There was too much friction for the tiny step motor to move the little lens group. I tried all kinds of grease, a lithium one, a Teflon one, a blue one, nope none of them helped. It turns out that Panasonic uses a special lo-friction light grease for that part, and I cannot get it anywhere (VKF1829)...
Anyway. It was a good exercise. I tried various grease types throughout 3 weeks. :-) At the end I decided that it was not worth working on it anymore, and the camera went back to ebay for other guys' parts needs. End of story.
So, lesson learned: do not wipe the original grease on mechanical parts, as you may not be able to replace them.
I hope this helps someone. :-)