Broken Lens Provides Deep Dive Into Camera Repair

While most of us are probably willing to pick up the tools and void the warranty on just about anything, often just to see what’s inside, many of us draw the line at camera gear. The tiny screws, the complex mechanisms, and the easily destroyed optical elements are all enough to scare off the average hacker. Not so for [Anthony Kouttron], who tore into a broken eBay Sigma lens and got it working again.

Now, to be fair, modern lenses tend to have a lot more in them that’s amenable to repair than back in the old days. And it seemed from the get-go that [Anthony]’s repair was going to be more electronic than optical or mechanical. The 45-mm lens was in fantastic shape physically, but wouldn’t respond to any controls when mounted to a camera body. Removing the lens bayonet mount exposed the main controller PCB, which is tightly packed with SMD components and connectors for the flex cables that burrow further into the lens to its many sensors and actuators. By probing traces with his multimeter, [Anthony] found a DC-DC converter on the main PCB with an unknown component nearby. This turned out to be an SMD fuse, and as luck would have it, it was open. Replacing the fuse got the lens working again, and while there’s always the nagging suspicion that whatever blew the fuse the first time could happen again, the repair seems to have worked.

Despite the simplicity of the fix, [Anthony] continued the teardown and shared a lot of tips and tricks for lens repairs, including where he would have looked next if the fuse had been good. One tip we loved was the use of double-sided tape to organize parts as they’re removed; this is particularly important with camera gear where screws or different lengths can make for a really bad day on reassembly.

Feeling the need to dive deeper into lens repair? This step-by-step repair should keep you satisfied.

18 thoughts on “Broken Lens Provides Deep Dive Into Camera Repair

  1. The only notable camera repair that I have done was to replace the solenoid in my Pentax K-something. Fortunately, I had instructions from those who had done it before me.

    1. Nice! That reminds me, I should get around to investigating the very delayed shutter response on my dad’s Pentax K1000 film camera. I believe the service manual is floating around online. The pentax lenses are fantastic but the body is unfortunately gathering dust….

      1. The shutter lockup bug that seems to afflict a lot of people I’ve found to be down to old/weak/poor quality batteries.

        Big fan of Pentax, the lens interchangeability is such a great thing.

      2. Pentax mount lenses are very adaptable to Canon APS-C DSLR bodies. A lot of Pentax film lenses have a funky tab/lever on the back that protrudes too much for full frame bodies. You can perform “surgery” to remove that tab, which makes the lens usable on a crop body, but still too iffy on a full frame. I put no-lint gauze in the rear cavity to protect the lens, then used painter’s masking tape to cover everything except the tab, then just snipped it off. I did this with two or three Pentax mount lenses (not genuine Pentax brand) and bought a K mount EF adapter ring for each. They worked great! If they don’t make K mount to mirrorless adapters, I would assume you can use the K mount to EF ring in combination with an EF to mirrorless adapter. Of course, snipping the tab/lever likely renders the lens unusable on a Pentax film camera, so it depends on how much you want to preserve the integrity of older equipment.

  2. The best I’ve done is replace the main chassis in a Sony HDR-FX1 video camera.
    Turns out there are designed-in weak points in the magnesium chassis around the tripod mount that will shear if the camera takes a hit while mounted.
    Bonus points for a blown SMD fuse due to a metal fragment bouncing around inside…

    1. Wow, that’s an interesting failure point. I’ve seen Magnesium alloy shells fail in other ways – reactive ways. I tried repairing a salt water damaged canon 5DII and the shell literally crumbled on me in 5 spots by just unscrewing the rear shell from the camera frame. Metallic sand poured out all over the work table. That one was a truly a goner.

  3. The only camera repair I’ve done was with Sony P200, it had design flaw that allowed dust to get inside and contaminate the sensor. That was the most complicated repair not to mention sensitive, I didn’t have a high quality clean room to really clean out the dust.

    Right now I am using a 14 years old Canon 550D and a few lenses. No way would I be able to perform any difficult repair, too many little parts for me.

    1. That definitely sounds like an involved repair! It’s not uncommon for integrated zoom cameras to gather dust between elements or on the sensor over time. The leica q and lumix Lx100 both have these issues, but it’s decently mitigated through stages of felt dust seals.

  4. Brave man. I tried to repair a Sony DSLR lens once .. once I got it apart I realized that it’s above my pay grade. A lot of micro components and tight tolerances.

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