Monday, October 31, 2016

The Vacuum Trick (Fix For Malfunctioning Camera)

This commentary is a followup to my 10/18/2016 post "Rising Water" (PPP #40). This was a post written 13 days ago, immediately after receiving the 10.2 megapixel camera that I purchased used on eBay for $16.

Purchased because I slipped in mud and my old camera got dunked in water (the exact same model). Then wouldn't work. So I stuck it in a bag of rice (which I read on the interwebs might fix it). So today I took the camera out of the bag of rice... which it had been in for 18 days (5 days waiting for the "new" camera to arrive, then 13 days of using it).

I chose today because I took the the "new" one on a walk. A walk on the nature preserve I live near. Well, after taking a few pictures it malfunctioned. What happened was that I took a pic, then pushed the power button to preserve the batteries. When I originally purchased the camera (the original camera) back in 2007, I found that leaving it on drained the batteries REALLY fast.

I was concerned about the lens going in and out would wear it out, so I'd leave it on while using it. But, as it turned out, the batteries didn't last long leaving it on. So I decided to turn it off between shots, and that fixed the problem (at first I thought there was something wrong with the camera, as the batteries were draining so fast).

So, what happened was that I turned it off... after which the lens is supposed to retract and then the protective shutter over the lens closes. But the lens only retracted part way, the shutter didn't close, and the camera beeped twice (indicating a malfunction). I turned it on and off a few times, but it kept doing it.

Oddly, the camera lens would fully retract when I turned it on (completing the action it was supposed to have taken when I shut it off), then extend again. So... broken, I thought. I never should have purchased a USED camera. I had worried that this might be the case (that it would malfunction within a few days). But I decided to cross my fingers and hope to get a good one.

Anyway, being without a camera (and absolutely HAVING to have one for my eBay business), I decided to first try the old one. I took it out of the bag of rice when I got home, transfered the batteries from the malfunctioning unit into it, and pushed the power button.

The lens extend part way, then beeped twice. DAMN! I tried it again with the same results. I tried it a 3rd time and the same thing happened. So it's junk I thought. I was going to give up, but decided to try it a 4th. And this time it worked! The lens is no longer fogged up (water in the lens) and it appears to be working.

Now back to the other camera. I decided to use the vacuum trick. Perhaps some grit was preventing the lens from extending? Who knows? I have used this trick to fix my camera previously (the first one. the one that got wet). Years ago I noticed a spot on pictures I was taking. Looking at the lens closely, I noticed something INSIDE the lens.

No way to get that out, I thought. Anyway, I decided to try the shop vac. Placing the hose over the lens, I HOPED to suck out the speck. Not that I thought it work, given the fact the speck had somehow gotten inside the lens. Well, it did work!

Not that this situation was similar, but both situations did involve a problem with the lens. Anyway, I tried it, and the camera (the one I purchased on eBay and then malfunctioned), now appears to be working as well. Not that I trust either one. I'll go back to using the eBay purchased one for now and see if it keeps working.

When it malfunctioned the FIRST thing I thought was that I'd contact the seller about a refund. I figure that 30 days is a reasonable amount of time to test it out... and get my money back if there is a problem. I mean, a camera that works for 13 days surely isn't acceptable. Not to me, anyway.

But to the point of the story (the title of the post). If you find yourself with a lens problem (dirt in the lens, lens won't extend), you might want to try the vacuum trick. Note that I used a powerful shop vac (lots of suction). It's worked for me twice now.

Although, if the malfunctioning camera continues to work remains to be seen. I certainly hope it does. Also note that, as far as the "rick trick" working goes, I also opened up the camera (removed the back panel) and the screen. And there was some water there. Which I used a tissue to absorb. But it still didn't work after putting it back together.

Apparently the front can be removed (and I'm sure there was some water in there), but I've never done that before and was leary about trying to force it. It didn't appear to want to come off. So I decided to try the rice. And it worked. It may malfunction later, however. Who knows if the water damaged the camera in some way that won't be apparent until some later date.

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PPP #43

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