Thursday, April 09, 2009

My broken Canon Powershot S2IS

I would show you a picture of it, but obviously I can't.

Many of the best pictures I've taken have been done with my much-loved Canon Powershot S2 IS. It has been a wonderful camera for me, and a nice step up from the 'point & shoot' cameras, giving me control over exposures and ISO settings that I never had a chance to experiment with before.

But a couple weeks ago it started giving me a black screen intermittantly. So I thought my rechargable batteries weren't up to the task anymore, and I decided to replace them. Yesterday I finally got them, installed, turned it on and ...nothing. The black screen of death. I get an LCD where I can view the menu and settings, but no picture.

Fortunately I had run across many discussions of this on the net when I was researching the intermittant problem. Seems there's a problem with the Canon S series which has to do with the optical assembly. Some people reported that canon was fixing the problem at no charge, so I contacted canon and they quickly replied that they only repaired the S1 for free, not the S2. That was going to cost me $130! This is annoying because it's the same problem by description, and there's many many people on the net discussing this problem with their S2, and many who managed to get it fixed for free, but canon still wants to get out of fixing it. I expect better when I spend $350 for a camera, even if it was three years ago. To me a known problem that effects a whole line of cameras is the company's responsibility to fix.

But maybe all is not lost. Because while reading a discussion of this problem on flicker I found the following advice:

==I set the camera in TV mode, set the shutter at 15 sec, click to take a picture and during that 15 secs (like, after 7 seconds) I open the battery cover.. When the battery is inserted again the camera works and I can take pictures. Maybe it needs a little exercise.. If you don't succeed the first time, just keep trying. It has worked for me, and it made me feel so relieved!===

Now, as a software engineer this sort of thing makes me cringe. How could that possibly 'fix' a bad optical assembly? However, since my camera was essentially a paperweight at this point I gave it a try...

And it worked. Ok, that annoys me even more than the camera not working in the first place. But actually it only sort-of worked, because now the camera is back to working intermittantly. So it works roughly every other time I turn it on.

I'm considering sending it to canon and just arguing with them about it until they fix it for free - that seems to be what has worked for other people. At this point I'm not prepared to spend $130 fixing it, or to spend hundreds on a new camera. I could buy a broken s2 on ebay with a different problem and attempt a repair myself (It can't get any more broken than it already is).


Goofy said...

My neighbors had a Canon Powershot S2 IS that broke and when they took it in, Canon replaced it with the S5 IS!!! NO CHARGE!

I have the S3 IS. It broke and gave me the black screen of death, too. But Canon didn't replace mine, even though many owners have had the same trouble.

My neighbor let me play with their S5. I didn't care for it because to get to the SD card, you have to open the battery cover.

StefRobrts said...

I think I'm going to try and send it in and see what happens once they have it in their hands.

MJ said...
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MJ said...

I've been dealing with this as well. Loved my S2, got the dread lens lock. Finally couldn't *fix* it. A friend loaned me her S3, which I don't like nearly as well. Those long distance shots that with the S2 were so clear are grainy with the S3. I looked at the S5 and am not impressed. (plus, I can't afford it). I'd about pay 130.00 to get my S2 fixed at this point, it's a MUCH better camera IMO. Does anyone like the S3 better?

StefRobrts said...

As Goofy said, she had the same issue on her S3, which makes me worry about getting one of those either. The 'pop out the batteries during a long exposure' fix haskept mine working enough to take a few photos, but it's getting worse. It's to the point now where I can only take a picture or two and then it blacks out again until I pop out the batteries. So I guess I'm going to send it in for the fix and try to get them to fix it for free. I've also heard you can bargan them down to a reduced repair price if you talk to the right person. The trick is moving your problem up the chain of command, and asking for a 'courtesy repair'. Good luck!