This is how I fixed my Canon SD600 with Lens Error.

Out of the blue my Canon SD600 showed "Lens Error" after I turned it on.
The lens was normally retracted and didn't even seem to try to come out.
Even if switched to "play" mode it showed Lens Error and didn't get to the menu.

I went online and noticed this is a BIG problem for many people with Canon's.
One option offered was to push the lens back in - but since the lens is fully retracted in my (and many other cases) that is not an option.
Another option mentioned was to tap the camera on a hard surface. That didn't work either.

Since the Camera is out of warranty (just 2 weeks!) I decided to open it and see what I could do.

It turns out I could fix it!!!

The problem seems that miniscule dust/sand particles jam the gears which moves the lens.
It is possible to turn the lens motor by hand bit by bit and remove particles stuck in the gear.

I will explain in detail below, including pictures.
Note: these photo's were made with my 2002 Konica KD-400Z - still working great, while this is the 2nd (and last) Canon.

Step 1:
Remove all 6 screws with a miniature philips screwdriver (2 bottom, 2 left, 2 right). They are all the same size screws.

Carefully remove front cover, then the back cover. This is what you will see:




The lens motor is located behind the flash. With a miniature screw driver it is possible to push this rotor around bit by bit. It takes some time and precision, but you can very slowly see the lens coming out. The rotor must be rotated towards the back of the camera for the lens to open. In other words: the axle should be rotated clockwise.

When I switched the camera on after a few revolutions, it actually worked again! Problem solved!

However, I wanted to remove the root cause of the problem. I could hear the gear didn't go very smooth, little "ticks" could be heard. It seems small pieces of sand and dust were jamming the lens gear. The lens gear (well, at least 2 gears) can be seen on the side of the camera - see picture below:


I used the smallest screw driver and a needle pin to pick out particles of sand/dust which were stuck between the gear. They are easy to see on the black gear, but they were also present on the white gear. I worked the entire gear by pushing the motor rotor bit by bit with the miniature screw driver. I continued until I removed all particles. This took me 10-15 minutes.

Warning: Don't touch the Flash - the capacitor is charged with 20 kV or so - it will give you quite a shock.

After this the lens opening and closing went smooth - without odd noises or ticking.

I inspected the inside of the camera, and noticed more sand/dust particles were present. I cleaned it all up, to avoid them from jamming the gear again. There was a lot of sand stuck in the speaker (round black circle on the back) and a LOT of sand was stuck on the rectangular rubber seal on the inside cover. See picture:


I think the Canon's suffer from these lens problems because sand/dust can enter the camera - especially if they are put in your pockets. Canon should have sealed the gears so sand/dust can not enter. Maybe it's a strategy, maybe they don't like the camera's last too long or like to earn a buck on repairing them.

After fixing it and cleaning everything, the camera can be closed again. Start with the back cover.
Pay close attention to make sure the mode switch slider (play, movie, camera) is catching the switch lever correctly. After placing the back cover, but before putting in any screws check if the mode switch can be operated normally.

Then carefully place the front cover and position the piece of plastic for the carry-cord. Fasten the 6 screws.

I hope this information helped you fix your Canon.

Kind Regards, Arnoud.

email me

Update: I received many emails this solved their lens error problem. Great! On 3/31/08 I received below email from John Farran; he explains the camera can be even further disassembled to do a better cleaning job:

Hi Arnoud,

I recently used you photo sequence and descriptions to help me with a jammed lens mechanism on a Canon IXUS 60.

You instruction ect. took me so far, but the debris(sand grains) had got inside BOTH gear boxes. The larger gearbox that moves the lens barrels in and out is easy to open up and strip down to clean. Just 3 screws. That is after you have removed the flash assembly (quite easy).

The other gearbox is the one that moves the internal lens assembly for zooming and macro. It is accessed only when the lens assembly is completely removed. Not difficult if you are methodical and thorough. These gears are really small and easy to jam. They are accessed behind a metal plate that is on the front of the lens assembly. I should have taken pictures, but was too busy! Anyway if anyone can follow your instructional directions, they should be able to go that little bit further. As long as they keep track of their actions.

One note of caution, if the main PCB has to be removed(only 3 screws) care should be taken not to damage the small white switch on the rear side that is the interlock switch for the battery/memory cover.

Many thanks for your help and I hope these comments are useful also.

Regards, John Farran

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