Sunday, 28 August 2011

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Canon Digital Cameras Showing Black Images or Distorted Images

This problem may be corrected by Canon for free if you suffer the above symptoms. But before reading further, first verify that you didn't just accidentally turn off the LCD. To check, turn the camera on and press the "DISPLAY" or "DISP" button once. One other thing to check is that black pictures can sometimes be caused by a stuck shutter. Continue reading below, but if your camera is not on the list of affected cameras, please see this other article for self-fixing a stuck shutter.

Potential symptoms may also include purple scratchy lines showing up on the LCD monitor and the camera's pictures. Other reported symptoms may be extremely distorted images (one reader likened them to the movie "Grudge"). Or blank or black pictures or black videos with good sound being recorded on the camera's flash card. You may suspect that the camera's shutter is not opening, but this is not the case. Note that the camera's menu functions should show up without any problem.

A large batch of potentially faulty CCD image sensors (from another vendor who shall remain nameless) were installed on a large number of Canon cameras over the space of a few years. The sensors may go bad prematurely with time, especially if you live in humid areas. A big thumbs up to Canon in that they recognized this problem, and are willing to fix your camera for free if it is experiencing CCD problem symptoms, especially for the free shipping and handling both ways :-). Under the recall advisory this is regardless of the cameras warranty status! I recently got an old A300 fixed this way. They are not going to ask for receipts or any of that.

Please note that your camera must be experiencing these symptoms due to a faulty CCD, and not due to other problems. If the problem is due to your dropping the camera, you might be out of luck. Note that they're going to look for dings and dents. They also are not going to repair your camera just to change out the sensor. If your camera is working fine, they don't need to (and won't) fix it.

The list of problem digital still cameras include:
A40, A60, A70, A75, A80, A85, A95, A300, A310,
S1 IS, S60,
S200, S230, S330, S400, S410, S500, SD100, SD110,
IXUS V2, V3, 300, 400, 430, 500, II, IIs,
IXY Digital 200a, 300a, 320, 400, 450, 500, 30, 30a

Canon's United States advisory listing the program's details may be found at this link.

UPDATE (October 3, 2010)

Canon has posted on their website that they are gradually phasing out the free repair for SPECIFIC CAMERA MODELS. The phase out schedule for the specific cameras is as follows (and may also be seen here):

PowerShot S40 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S200 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S330 - 3/31/2010
PowerShot S230 - 7/31/2010
PowerShot A70 - 2/28/2011
PowerShot S400 - 2/28/2011
PowerShot A60 - 3/31/2011
PowerShot A80 - 6/30/2011
PowerShot A300 - 7/31/2011
PowerShot A310 - 7/31/2011
PowerShot SD100 - 8/31/2011
PowerShot SD110 - 8/31/2011
PowerShot S410 - 10/31/2011

Note that many cameras on the advisory list are NOT mentioned in the phase-out schedule, and they are STILL ELIGIBLE FOR FREE REPAIR under the advisory after 3/31/2011. These include A75, A85, A95, S1 IS, S60, s410, S500, SD100, SD110, and their IXUS / IXY counterparts.


Note that for other countries, go to and click on "Support" in the left column. Then click on your region on the map and select your country. Go to the Digital Camera "Support" page for your country, and find the page describing support for your specific camera model. Your country's CCD advisory should be included somewhere on this page. If not, contact the official Canon digital camera support office listed on the Canon website, as they will be knowledgeable on the advisory. Again only contact the "official" Canon support centers listed on the website. If you go anywhere else, they may charge you for the repair, and merely ship the camera to Canon for the free repair.

This is a worldwide advisory, and as you can see in the comments below, there's yet to be a country that sells Canon products that has not honored this advisory. Unfortunately, some country's websites are poorly designed, and make it very hard to find their advisory (as example, this link may help save some time searching for those living in Australia).

For those in the U.S. or Canada (other country's procedures may vary slightly), you will be directed to call 1-800-828-4040 for further assistance. Or if you wish, you may also contact Canon via email at Make sure you print out the above advisory and have it in hand when speaking to the customer service representative. State the problem you're experiencing with the camera. If for any reason it starts to sound like they want you to pay for shipping or repairs, MAKE SURE that you let them know that you are aware of the advisory for your camera, and quote the following paragraph from the advisory:

"Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, the products listed above exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if Canon determines that the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair."

You should receive several emails from Canon. One includes a short repair evaluation form that you'll need to include with the camera, along with a free UPS shipping label that you'll print out and tape to the camera's shipping box. In addition to Canon's repair form, make sure you print out a copy of the advisory and include it in the package. Also include a short note stating that you're aware of the advisory, and that you're submitting the camera for free repair as per the advisory. Just drop the box off at any UPS drop off point.

If instead of the above you receive an email that infers that it's your responsibility to arrange shipping and/or pay for the repair, REPLY BACK IMMEDIATELY again quoting the above paragraph from the advisory, and also include the above link to the advisory in your email. (Note, free shipping applies for the U.S.. Other countries may vary on shipping arrangements/payment for this advisory).

One important note. Some readers have been reporting that Canon had offered them as a replacement a refurbished "upgrade" camera, BUT at an inflated price. Not sure what this is about, but if this happens, recommend turning them down. The upgrades that have been reported seem to be older model cameras at much higher prices than the going price on ebay. Recommend pushing for and demanding the advisory dictated free repair with free shipping on your old camera. If offered a replacement, it should also be free.

Another reminder for you owners of cameras that are not listed in the advisory list of problem cameras, including other non-Canon cameras. If your camera is not listed in the above list of problem cameras AND it is taking black pictures, there's a good chance that your camera is experiencing a stuck shutter. Don't fret, as there are some simple fixes for this, albeit it may be a temporary fix. Please see this article instead for some tips on how to unstick that shutter.

Hope this helps some of you out there. Canon really does make quality cameras and stand behind their products. Please remember to come back and leave a comment below on how things went. We're all curious, and your feedback may help others!

And finally, the following videos may help you understand what you're getting with this free CCD repair. An SD100 (IXUS II) is the camera being repaired. Don't try this at home (I know I won't):

Part 1 SD100 CCD Repair

Part 2 SD100 CCD Repair
Camera Repair


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