Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Resurrecting a Nikon S8100 from "Lens Error" death (that is, S8100 "Lens Error" fix)

Nikon S8100 "Lens Error" fix

A friend of mine came back from vacation and handed me his P&S (which supposedly stands for "Point and Shoot") camera - a Nikon S8100.

Ostensibly a nice, compact camera, it seems to have earned a bit of a reputation - namely that if dropped from a short distance (say, a kitchen table) onto the floor (a carpeted one, for example) while in its padded, protective case, it will henceforth turn on with a cryptic and useless "Lens Error" diagnostic  It will then refuse to turn off with the power button, but turn itself off after a while.

Unlike other point-and-shoot cameras that I have seen with problems with their retractable lenses, this one DID NOT make any noise at all - other than a musical "bling" - when it was powered up:  No clicking, whirring, or anything else to indicate that the lens was even trying to do something.  This was highly suspicious and I guessed that a connection might have dislodged preventing the motor from operating - but I wasn't sure.

A quick Google search revealed many hundreds of comments about other owners having suffered this issue - many within 3-6 months of buying the camera new and lots of useless information from a site called "FixYa".  Apparently, Nikon originally did offer in-warranty repair, but the anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that they soon ceased doing so, citing what many posters referred to as "normal wear and tear" as "out-of-warranty" damage and socking them with a bill that was typically around $110 U.S.  - roughly half of the camera's original purchase price!

So it was with this camera, presented to me in June 2013 - well out of warranty.  Unfortunately, no-one that I could find on the web offered a clue as to what caused this problem, much less a solution to it.

Until now.

IMPORTANT:

Before you go any further, please read the following - and then read it again:
  • NO, I will not fix your camera!  That's just not a business that I want to get in to at this time.
  • NO, I will not fix your camera!  (I just thought that I'd say it twice!)
  • The details on this page apply only to the S8100.  This same problem may occur on other, similar models, but I don't know that for certain.  Having said that, this is the fifth camera that I have "repaired" (all of them different makes and models) where the "failure" was just an internal cable coming loose, so I know that it's a common problem.
  • I do not own an S8100 - I just fixed it for a friend and gave it back, so I don't have it around to look at!
  • Unless you are familiar with the delicate work on miniature electronics, you probably can't fix it!
  • DO NOT attempt this without at least some knowledge of electronics and mechanical systems.  Many of the parts are fragile and tiny and need to be handled appropriately.
  • This camera contains a flash capacitor that may have hundreds of volts on it.  If you accidentally touch this, you will, at the very least, receive a very unpleasant shock.  At worst, this discharge through your skin can destroy other camera electronicsIt is also possible - although unlikely - that such a discharge can stop your heart and kill you!
This potential solution describes ONLY where the camera exhibits the following traits:
  1. The lens is fully retracted (e.g. IN).  If your lens is stuck while extended, this probably doesn't apply!  Having said that, you may have nothing to lose by trying this.
  2. When you turn the camera on, it does NOT make any mechanical noises such as motors whirring, clicking, whining.  The ONLY noise that it makes is a musical "bling" from the speaker.  If you hear ANY motors whirring and clicking, you may not be experiencing the same problem.
  3. It says just "Lens Error" with an exclamation point on a mostly white screen.  Nothing else.
  4. It will not turn off with the power button, but it will eventually turn off by itself.
  5. With the camera, you cannot access the images stored on the memory card to review them.  (You could always remove the card and read it directly via a card reader, of course!)
Having said all of the above, let's get on with it.

Disassembly:

First, remove the battery and memory card!

What you will need:
  • You will need to read - and re-read this entire procedure before starting.
  • A clean work area that is well-lit.
  • A magnifier and/or a set of strong reading glasses.
  • A pen/pencil and paper to make notes and drawings of how things came apart - and how they go together.  Taking pictures at each step wouldn't be a bad idea, either!
  • Small containers to hold the screws and various camera parts.  A container used for holding eggs with pieces of paper describing where the individual parts come may work for you.  (Just make sure there aren't holes in the bottom of the sections!)
  • A thin, plastic blade to pry pieces apart.  If you are really careful not to cut/short anything, a thin metal blade can also work, but you are more likely to break something this way!  (You'll notice in the pictures that I used a metal blade - but I've done this before...)
  • A very small "Philips" type screwdriver:  I used a size "000" of the sort that might be found in a set of Jeweler's tools that I bought some years ago from Harbor Freight.
  • A pair of tweezers.
  • Patience, a steady hand, and some experience with successfully having done a similar thing before.
Figure 1:
Bottom of the camera showing the 7 screws.
Click on the image for a larger version.
 
There are six different types of screws holding the portions of the camera together that need to be removed and I arbitrarily labeled them types "A" through "F".  All of these screws should be removed as noted.
  • Bottom cover:  Four black, flat-head screws of "medium" length around the tripod mount - I called these type "A".
  • Bottom cover:  Three black, flat-head screws that are very short - two to the left of the battery door (bottom-up, lens facing you) and one by the upper-right corner of the battery door.  I called these screws type"B".
  • Left side:  (The side without the HDMI connector/wrist strap).  Two "B" type (short, black) screws.
  • Right side:  (The side WITH the HDMI connector/wrist strap).  One "B" type (short black) screw near the bottom of the camera, and a long black screw (what I call type "C") UNDER the HDMI cover.
Remove the wrist strap (if attached) and very carefully remove the panel on that side while carefully noting how the HDMI cover attaches in its slot!  Under this panel you'll notice 5 screws of two different types:
  • Two short silver-colored flat-head screws that hold on the wrist strap.  Note carefully how this mounts and draw a picture if you have to!  I called these type "D" screws.
  •  Two more "D" type screws holding edge of the black plastic of the camera's rear panel, one on each side of where the wrist strap was connected.
  • With the camera on end and the lens facing you, there is another screw in the lower-right corner under the HDMI connector.  It is a long-ish silver screw with a machine head.  I called these type "E" screws.
At this point, you can very carefully snap off the rear panel.  The back of the camera which includes the LCD (display) bezel (but not the display itself!) and the knobs stay with the camera and not the bezel while the four buttons on the back (the one with the red arrow, the "play" button, menu and "trash can") stay with the bezel.

You can also carefully pop off the panel on the other (left) side of the camera if you wish - but it is not necessary although it may make it easier to put the back panel on again, later.

Note:

There are a number of plastic catches/tabs that hold the rear panel in place and removing it is a bit tricky.  I would suggest the use of a thin plastic blade to press between the gaps of the connectors to try to release the catches.  Do not force the panel to come off!

This is a bit of a pain and other than be patient and observant, I don't really have any other advice on how to remove it except to assure you that all of the screws holding it in place have been removed by this point!

Once you have removed the rear cover/bezel:

Removing the panel with the buttons and rear-panel wheel:

Once you have successfully removed the camera's back, place it lens-down, preferably on a clean, soft, lint-free cloth, with the bottom facing you.  In the upper-right corner, tucked almost underneath the metal panel with the rear-panel knob and buttons, you'll see a screw (type "E") that needs to be removed - and you'll probably need tweezers to remove it when it is loose.  See Figure 2, below.
Figure 2:
The screwdriver (upper-right) points at the screw that holds the wheel/button assembly in place.
This panel slides out to the right.  You may need to push in on the panel slightly to release it.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Now, the panel with the four buttons and the rear-panel knob needs to come out.  Pressing down on it slightly, slide it to the right (away from the LCD) to allow it to clear the one tab at the top and the two at the bottom, noticing carefully how it went in.

Be careful to not pull on the flat cable attached to this panel.


Figure 3:
The screwdriver is pointing at the "upper" tab holding the panel in place and two other tabs hold the
bottom edge.  Once the screw is removed, this panel slides out of position - but be careful to with
the cable attached to it!
Click on the image for a larger version.


Now, to remove the cable from the connector on the circuit board, using your fingernail to flip up the black plastic cover on the connector.  To do this, you slide your fingernail under the same side that the cable enters and when it flips up on its hinge.  It is only after flipping up this door that you will be able to easily remove the cable, noting carefully how far it went into the connector!

Note:  The on-board connectors to which the cable attaches are a bit tricky.  These particular connectors have a black (or very dark brown) "door" that flips up, the hinge being on the side opposite where the cable comes in or, in other words, it is the side where the cable comes in that flips up.

You will need to remove two cables with this type of connector:  The fairly small one coming from the control panel, above, and the much larger one connecting the LCD.  You are cautioned to lift up from the center of the flip-up portion with only a fairly soft item - such as your fingernail.  If you break this door off you will not be able to secure this cable into position and your camera will probably not be usable! 

Removing the main LCD panel:

Comment:  You may be able to complete the repair without having to disconnect the LCD panel from its connector, but rather carefully laying it over the side of the camera with the HDMI connector.  Remember that this cable is extremely fragile and can be easily torn or partially pulled out of the connector.

Removing the LCD panel from its connector - and getting it back in again - is probably the trickiest part of this procedure, so pay very close attention.
 
Figure 4:
LCD cables.  The black flip-up portion (which is hard to see) locks the large cable into place.
The smaller cable for the LCD's backlight may be seen to the left:  It just slides in/out of place.
Click on the image for a larger version.

At this point the LCD is only held in by snap-in points around the edges.  Using a thin plastic blade, work your way around the LCD and work it free.  At this point all I can suggest is that you be observant and carefully note where it is hanging up if it doesn't come free.

Once you have freed the LCD, take a close look at its large cable and you'll see that it, too, has a "flip-up" connector - a sort of black "door".  Using your fingernail, flip this up and you should be able to flip it up and free it.

Note:  Pay very close attention to how far the large LCD cable went into the connector.  Re-inserting this cable is rather tricky and is very critical!

For the smaller cable, it is held in place only by friction so carefully pull it straight out of the connector - but note how far in it slides.

Removing the LCD mount:

Now that you have removed the LCD (or not - see the comment above) you are left with the LCD mount and metal cover/RFI shielding for the imager.  Under where the LCD was sitting you'll see four screws.  With the lens facing down and the bottom of the camera facing you:
  • The two upper screws and the lower-left are what I called type "F" - longer that "E" and silver with a machine head.
  • The lower-right screw is a type "E".
Figure 5:
This LED, which is indicates that the flash is fully charged and ready, must be "un-stuck" from the
metal frame and moved out of the way.  Don't forget to put it back later!
You can see from the picture that I used a metal blade, but I'd recommend that you use a plastic
blade unless you are really careful.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Now locate where the upper-right corner of the LCD would have been and you'll notice an LED on a small, flexible cable that is stuck to the metal with double-sided sticky tape.  Carefully pull this off by sliding a small, plastic blade under it and move it aside, noting its exact placement.  See Figure 5.

At this point, the metal frame that held the LCD is fairly loose, but note carefully that parts of it wrap around each side of the camera, held in by some of the side-panel screws.  Remember how these tabs are arranged and where they go!

Now, while pulling up on the metal mount that held the LCD you'll see that it is now held in place with two pieces of copper foil tape.  Using a thin, plastic blade, reach between the metal and the rest of the camera and use that to pull and release the tape.  Once you have managed that, the metal frame will come out easily.

Figure 6:
The LCD mounting frame/shield with the 4 screws already removed.  The knife is pointing at one of the
two pieces of self-adhesive copper foil.  Just above it is another piece that must be carefully detached
as the frame/shield is removed.  Again, you see that I used a metal blade, but I'd recommend a plastic
blade unless you are really careful!
Click on the image for a larger version.
At this point you are looking at the backside of the lens and the imager.  With the camera facing down and the bottom facing you, look at the connector coming off the lens assembly at about the 2-o'clock position, being pointed at by the red pen in Figure 7,  and you'll observe that it is probably loose, if not now floating in space.

This is the problem!
 
Figure 7:
The pen is pointing at the connector that comes loose and causes the "Lens Error" problem.
The connector just below it carries the image (picture) signals and if this is loose, one can
experience image quality issues.  Both connectors should be properly re-seated!
Click on the image for a larger version.

At this point I would recommend popping off this connector and the one next to ("below") it (at the 3-o'clock position) - which also comes from the lens body and contains the imager's signals - and firmly, but carefully, re-seating it.

Note:

It may be that reports of degrading image quality are the result of the other connector - the one below the one pointed to in Figure 7 - coming loose.
 

What seems to be the problem is that while there is some foam on the backside of this connector to hold it in place between the LCD support frame, there seems to be a slight "bias" and the connector appears to be being compressed with this foam at a slight angle.  When the camera is jarred - say, by falling a short distance onto a padded surface while in its protective case (or something worse!) this connector tends to pop off!

It may be that one could put a piece of thin plastic in there to hold it in position, or perhaps, a dab of tacky adhesive or small bit of RTV ("silicone" - the sort that does not smell like vinegar!) - and if you do, that's up to you - just make sure that it doesn't get anywhere it shouldn't (such as inside the connector!) or on anything else and that it has cured/dried before reassembling the camera.

Reassembly:

I hate it when I read it elsewhere, but I'll say it now:  Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly!

In a nutshell:
  • Make sure that the connectors from the lens assembly are firmly and properly seated - and check other connectors while you are at it!
  • Slide the metal LCD mount back into place, noting the proper placement of the "fingers" that extend along the sides of the camera.
  • While installing the metal LCD mount, make sure the LED that you moved out of the way (the one picture in Figure 5) is clear and isn't being sandwiched under the metal mount.
  • Reinstall the 3 "F" type screws (top, lower-left) and the 1 "E" type screw (lower-right).
  • Put the adhesive-mounted LED (the one in Figure 5) back where it had been (just beyond the upper-right corner of the LCD.)
  • Make sure that the pieces of copper foil are again pressed down on to where they were originally stuck.
Reinstalling the LCD and its cable:

If you haven't dealt with this type connector before it can be really tricky to get right!  You'll recall that to remove the cable, you had to flip up the plastic lid on the wide LCD cable and simply pull the small cable out of the compression-fitting connector.

With the LCD facing down, toward the table and its cables going to the left of the display (e.g. flipped over to the right from its normal mounting position) you'll see that you can arrange the large cable so that it more-easily fits in the connector.  You must have the lid/door on this connector flipped open at this point!

You can now align the cable so that it slides into the connector - but this is quite tricky.  One thing that is not obvious to the casual observer is that the very end of the cable must slide partway underneath the hinge of the flip-up door in order for it to properly make contact - but it only moves about 1-1.5 millimeters when it does this!

Once you have inserted the cable, use your fingernail or a piece of soft plastic (or a pencil eraser) to carefully close the door.  If you have done it properly, the cable should look perfectly straight and as you shut the door, you should see/feel it compress against the flat cable as it locks it into place!

Assuming that you have done this, use a pair of plastic or bamboo tweezers and carefully slide the small connector - used for the LCD's backlight - into place.  If you are dextrous - or have very small fingers - you may be able to do it that way as well.

Once the connectors are installed, you can now snap the LCD back into position in its metal frame.

Testing the LCD before final assembly:

At this point - before you go much farther - it would be a very good idea to verify that you have, in fact, installed the LCD connector properly, even if you did not disconnect the LCD's cable(s).  Insert the battery (but do not install a memory card) and power up the camera while holding it in your hands, off the workbench so that the lens can extend.

If all goes well, the lens will extend and your LCD will display an image or menu.

Whether the lens does/doesn't extend and/or you do or do not see an image on the LCD, turn the camera back off (to retract the lens) and remove the battery.


If the lens doesn't extend:

All I can suggest is that you go back and make sure that the connectors depicted in Figure 7 are firmly seated!

If you don't see an image on the LCD:

If you see the LCD light up (e.g. the backlight turns on) but there is no image or menu displayed, you probably didn't get the LCD's large cable properly seated in the connector.  You don't have to remove the LCD from its mount to attempt to re-seat the connector, and having it improperly seated probably won't damage anything - but it just won't work!  If the LCD's backlight did not turn on, make sure that the smaller cable is properly inserted.

If you experience a problem you'll have to try to re-seat the connector.  You may want to use small pieces of plastic or wood (toothpicks) to manipulate the large LCD cable so that it properly seats within the connector.

Remember:  Make sure that the "door" on the connector is flipped open and that the edge of the cable slides just a little bit under the door's hinge!  The cable must be perfectly straight in order for it to fit and mate properly!

If you can't get it to work, you might want to set it aside and try again later - or have someone else try it.

In my opinion, this can be the trickiest part for someone who doesn't know exactly how these connectors go together!


Final reassembly:

Remember:  Remove any fingerprints from the surface of the LCD using a soft piece of cloth or lens tissue (but NOT a paper towel!) before reinstalling the rear cover panel/bezel.

Note:  At this point, the lens and the LCD are assumed to be working and you should have turned the camera off to retract the lens and also removed the battery!

Now, continue with the "reverse-disassembly."  The only tricky parts that I noted were:
  • The HDMI connector cover.  The tab of the HDMI cover goes in the slot on the plastic side trim piece.
  • The rear edge of the top cover.  I had a bit of difficulty getting the edges of the rear panel and the top cover to mate and snap together, but a bit of pushing on the joints successfully re-seated them.

If all goes well, your S8100 should be working again!


Note:

Please read, and then re-read the warnings and comments at the top of this page!  Again:
  • I won't/can't fix your camera!   If I did, I'd probably have to charge you as much as one would cost on the used market!
  • This is for the S8100 only!  Some of this advice may apply to other cameras, but I don't know!
  • Unless you are skilled at working on small electronics, you will probably not be able to do this repair!
  • This camera contains dangerous voltages that can result in damage, injury or even death!
  • If you do this, consider your camera to already be lost and that you aren't going to be successful.  That way, if it does work, you'll be happy but if not, you won't!
 You have been warned!
  
Best of luck!

As of July, 2014 when I write this addendum, my friend is still using this camera, regularly!

 Tags: 
  • Nikon S8100, Lens Error, Lens won't extend, Nikon S8100 Lens Error, Nikon S8100 Lens won't extend, lens won't move, Nikon Lens Error, lens doesn't make a noise, camera turns on with "lens error", camera chimes and says "lens error!"
 [End]

This page stolen from ka7oei.blogspot.com

8 comments:

  1. Nice piece of work. While I repair about anything electronic, mechanics scare me off easily.

    After seeing this, Nikon's "normal wear and tear" remark could be easily challenged.

    Hans

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much! I thought I was going to have to throw the camera out but it works great now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Or, just tap the camera body against your palm. Fixed the lens error for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ran across an S8100 where this had happened - and the fix was the same, but temporary. What *did* fix it was the application of a very *SMALL* amount of extremely fine, teflon-based lubricant along the edges of the telescoping rings (after cleaning them carefully, of course!) and then operating the unit several times. *NO* lubricant was put ANYWHERE near the (optical) lens itself - only near the concentric rings that extended/retracted!

      Once doing this, it operated much more easily and "quickly": There really was a marked difference in the speed at which it deployed and retracted after doing this!

      After doing this, there was (inevitably) a bit of excess lubricant, so the lens extend/retract (with full zoom in/out) cycle was run several dozen times and the small remnant was wiped off each time.

      Once put back into the case, a small tissue was placed in front of the lens and the camera stored lens-down (as all digital cameras should be!) in the event that additional lubricant works its way out.

      What this showed was that the lubrication of the lens mechanism had exhausted. The "proper" thing to do would have been to completely disassemble the lens and lubricate the various pieces, but having taken it partially apart before - and since the owner would have just gotten another camera if I'd spent much time on it, anyway - I had nothing to lose.

      I hope that it doesn't happen again, but just in case...

      Delete
  4. Just fixed my camera thanks to your help. Much appreciated

    ReplyDelete
  5. My S8100 broke after after a fall. It started having the following problem: when turned on, the lens opened normally, then after taking 1 picture, it would not take no other picture (the OS was unresponsive). The OS would freeze also after zooming in (even without taking any picture). Even though your blog was very specific about the "LENS ERROR" message, I decide to take a bet and try your fix, even though I did not show any error message. Your disassembly instructions were very useful to me by the way. I went further and removed the entire lens barrel to be able to disconnect/ reconnect the small flat cables located around the camera (since I guess the fall could have affected the proper contact of those flat cables). Then I reconnected all lens flat cables back to their original locations, assembled the lens in the camera body, attached the lens connectors to the mother board, and assembled everything back. I even got electrocuted a few times during the fix operation (after touching the flash circuit). For my surprise, after putting everything together, the camera worked like a charm!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If nothing else, I'm glad that the posting was at least a source of "successful inspiration"!

      Delete





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