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Russell A.
Russell A., Camera and Video Technician
Category: Camera and Video
Satisfied Customers: 6000
Experience:  30 years of experience as a TV station technician gives me a unique understanding of technical equipment issues.
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CANON SX160 IS. lens will not retract, camera shuts down

Customer Question

CANON SX160 IS. lens will not retract, camera shuts down
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Camera and Video
Expert:  Russell A. replied 7 months ago.


My first inclination is to assume that a lens error is the problem itself, but first, there is one more likely possibility, for this, lack of sufficient power. Remove the battery, check the pins or connectors in the battery compartment, and make sure that they are positioned correctly to contact the battery. Then use a q-tip with alcohol to clean and dry them.

It is also a known issue that digital cameras circuitry can also become much more sensitive to the lower power level produced, so if you have been using the same rechargeable batteries for the life of the camera (more than 2-3 years), then the power capacity of the battery may not be high enough anymore to handle the increased load. Even though yours is less than 2 it may have been weak from the beginning a new battery may still be the answer.

Since I am fairly sure that you cannot use the standard warranty services, here are some "do it yourself" fixes that you can try, at your own risk.

Put the camera switch in the Off position. Place it on the back with the lens facing up and take a look at the spacing between the lens and the lens housing. If you notice that the gap is not even all the way around the lens, the problem should be easy to fix. This type of a problem usually occurs if the camera was accidentally turned on while the lens is restricted.

Next, apply gentle pressure down the lens on the side where the gap is the biggest. You should hear a "click" as it pops back into place. Try powering the camera on.

If the lens doesn't extend at all or it extends, and then retracts again, do the following. Turn the camera off. Take the camera in one hand and with the other gently take one part of the lens and gently move it round in a circular movement. Do so with both sections of the lens. You will hear a "click" as it pops back in place. Power the camera on.

Next, try to pull and twist on the largest ring of the lens while turning the camera on. Listen for a "click". If at first the focus seems to be off, turn the camera on and off and take lots of pictures, close ups and distance. Focus should slowly start improving.

If the steps above do not work or there appears to not be enough power, depending on how long you have been using the rechargeable battery, it may be time for a new one since as digital cameras age they become more sensitive to the power level.

Lens errors are a common problem. With newer cameras I am usually hesitant to suggest these options since they include some more extreme procedures that may cause further damage if not done correctly, but they may save you an expensive repair bill or having to replace it. The links below give step by step DIY instructions on troubleshooting and attempting to fix this problem. You can disregard references to sand blockages as the cause. An older Canon camera is used to demonstrate these procedures but, the lens structure of these compact cameras is the same so the examples do apply to this unit. These procedures are effective about 60% of the time. Click on or copy the link location and paste them into your browser.

If the "do it yourself" approach doesn't work out for you please let me know so that I can provide professional repair and replacement suggestions.

Please keep in mind that my diagnosis & solutions provided are directly
dependent on the accuracy of your description of the problem. As with
any "do it yourself" fixes, success is a "team effort", since I can't
see or touch the camera, and relies on the customer's manual dexterity
and ability to follow the instructions well.

If you require additional information, please use the Reply to Expert
Tab to contact me. Click the ratings only after our exchange is
complete and you are satisfied.

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Thank you