Pentax Optio S failure mode

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by William M. Miller, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S. Specifically,
    when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. The green LED
    beside the viewfinder would illuminate for perhaps a quarter of a second, the
    green LED ring around the power button would stay on for 2-3 seconds, but the
    lens would not extend. Similarly, sometimes if I did manage to get the lens to
    extend, it would not retract when I pressed the power button.

    I sent the camera to the authorized service center in New York City, and they
    told me that the mechanism had been damaged by dropping the camera and that it
    would cost nearly $200 to repair. I didn't see the value of putting that kind
    of money into a used camera, so I had them send it back unrepaired and bought a
    new Optio S.

    Recently, the new Optio S has developed the same failure mode. (No, I haven't
    dropped this one.) As I've played with it more, I've noticed that the failure
    is temperature-sensitive: if I allow the camera to cool down to ambient room
    temperature (after having been in a pocket and thus closer to body
    temperature), it will usually work. Sometimes the camera will power off
    during the attempt to retract the lens -- it will retract a couple of
    millimeters and then stop. I've also noticed that it will occasionally power
    off if I attempt to zoom the lens in or out.

    I've also played with the old camera that I sent in for repair, and it exhibits
    exactly the same behavior, so I'm almost positive that the problem is the same
    in both units.

    Several questions:

    1) Has anyone else seen this particular set of symptoms?

    2) Is there anything I can do about it myself? I'm not afraid of opening up
    the older camera that is not under warranty (it's a gray market unit) and
    fiddling with its internals. I tried opening it up a couple of days ago, but
    I wasn't completely successful -- the top rim remained attached and I wasn't
    able to figure out how to free it up, as it doesn't have any visible screws.

    3) If I do have to send it in for service, can anyone recommend a good
    authorized Pentax shop where they've gotten reasonable treatment? I don't
    have any confidence in the place in New York after my previous experience.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 16, 2004
    #1
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  2. << Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S. Specifically,
    when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. >>

    William-

    Since the same unusual problem has happened with two copies of the camera,
    there may be something you are doing that causes it.

    The first thing that comes to mind, is that the battery may be defective. Do
    you use the old battery in the new camera? That might explain how the problem
    migrated.

    I accidentally pressed the power button once while mine was in its case. It
    seems to have some kind of fail-safe process where it quits trying to open the
    lens when it encounters resistance. Although mine seems to have survived that
    episode, damage might accumulate if it happened frequently. Do you carry yours
    in some kind of tight case in your pocket? If so, I can imagine that the power
    button might occasionally activate when pressed against something in your
    pocket.

    Was the first one still in warrantee when you sent it in? The particular
    repair center may have accused you of dropping it just to avoid a warrantee
    repair. For all they know, it might have been dropped in the store before you
    bought it, and should have been covered regardless.

    Fred
     
    Fred McKenzie, Feb 17, 2004
    #2
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  3. "Fred McKenzie" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > << Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S.

    Specifically,
    > when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. >>
    >
    > Since the same unusual problem has happened with two copies of the camera,
    > there may be something you are doing that causes it.


    Well, that was one of the major motivations for my posting --
    to see if it was, in fact, an "unusual problem." For all I
    know, 10% of all Optio S units might fail the same way and I
    just happened to be lucky and go two-for-two. Or maybe someone
    has observed some correlation between some environmental factor
    and this particular kind of failure ("don't ever carry it
    upside-down or the lens will stop extending!" :).

    > The first thing that comes to mind, is that the battery may be defective.

    Do
    > you use the old battery in the new camera? That might explain how the

    problem
    > migrated.


    Yes, that occurred to me as well, although I haven't performed
    the obvious test of trying the new battery. I keep intending
    to put all the duplicate stuff from the new kit onto Ebay to
    get some of my money back, and I think it will sell better if I
    can say "new, in unopened original packaging."

    However, after some consideration I don't think it's the battery.
    The main reason is that the new camera worked fine with the old
    battery for over six weeks before it began manifesting the
    problem. If it were the battery, I'd expect that the new camera
    would fail the same way immediately after I put the battery in.

    > I accidentally pressed the power button once while mine was in its case.

    It
    > seems to have some kind of fail-safe process where it quits trying to open

    the
    > lens when it encounters resistance. Although mine seems to have survived

    that
    > episode, damage might accumulate if it happened frequently. Do you carry

    yours
    > in some kind of tight case in your pocket? If so, I can imagine that the

    power
    > button might occasionally activate when pressed against something in your
    > pocket.


    That's another interesting thought, but I carry mine in an Altoids
    tin. Given the geometry of the case, with the rounded corners and
    the rolled lip, as well as its rigidity, there's no way anything
    could be pressing the power button, especially as it's slightly
    recessed below the lip of the power indicator ring.

    As for the mechanism involved, you might be right that it's the
    resistance sensor that's cutting out, which might indicate
    something like dust or corrosion inside (although I can't see
    any indication of that). The fact that it sometimes powers off
    while zooming or after starting to retract the lens would lend some
    credence to that idea. However, most times when I try to power on
    the camera and it fails to extend the lens, I don't hear _anything_
    before the power shuts off. I'd think I would hear at least a brief
    whirr or something as the camera tried to extend the lens and failed
    because of some resistance, if that were the case. Also, the only
    thing that seems to affect whether it works or not is the temperature;
    if I let it cool off, it always (so far) eventually responds to the
    power button. If it were dust or corrosion, I'd expect at some point
    during the dozens of times that it's failed that it would get wedged
    and never respond again, but that hasn't happened.

    > Was the first one still in warrantee when you sent it in? The particular
    > repair center may have accused you of dropping it just to avoid a

    warrantee
    > repair. For all they know, it might have been dropped in the store before

    you
    > bought it, and should have been covered regardless.


    No, as I mentioned the original camera was gray market, so it wasn't
    in warranty in the U.S., and I didn't make any warranty claim when I
    sent it in. And, to be honest, I had dropped it a couple of times
    onto a carpeted floor, although it worked fine for weeks afterwards.
    (I have not dropped the new one [yet].) I got the impression,
    perhaps unjustified, that the repair center just had a generic
    explanation for failures they didn't understand.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 17, 2004
    #3
  4. William M. Miller

    Fred Martin Guest

    My Optio S has had no problems, but a close friend bought one after
    I showed him mine and it started having problems after only a couple
    of weeks. His seemed to work in every way except it wouldn't take
    a picture. When the shutter was pressed it focused and nothing else.
    It sure seemed like a switch problem. He sent it in to Pentax since
    it was still in warrantee. After keeping it for a month, he finally heard
    from them that it had been damaged by water which wasn't covered
    by the warantee and it would cost nearly $200 to fix. He of course
    had not gotten it wet. He had them send it back unfixed and bought
    a Canon and of course will never buy Pentax again.
    One wonders if the Pentax warrantee is any good.
    .....Fred



    William M. Miller wrote:

    >Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S. Specifically,
    >when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. The green LED
    >beside the viewfinder would illuminate for perhaps a quarter of a second, the
    >green LED ring around the power button would stay on for 2-3 seconds, but the
    >lens would not extend. Similarly, sometimes if I did manage to get the lens to
    >extend, it would not retract when I pressed the power button.
    >
    >
    >
     
    Fred Martin, Feb 17, 2004
    #4
  5. "Fred Martin" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    > My Optio S has had no problems, but a close friend bought one after
    > I showed him mine and it started having problems after only a couple
    > of weeks. His seemed to work in every way except it wouldn't take
    > a picture. When the shutter was pressed it focused and nothing else.
    > It sure seemed like a switch problem. He sent it in to Pentax since
    > it was still in warrantee. After keeping it for a month, he finally heard
    > from them that it had been damaged by water which wasn't covered
    > by the warantee and it would cost nearly $200 to fix. He of course
    > had not gotten it wet. He had them send it back unfixed and bought
    > a Canon and of course will never buy Pentax again.
    > One wonders if the Pentax warrantee is any good.


    Ouch! That's a glowing recommendation... NOT.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 17, 2004
    #5
  6. William M. Miller

    GLC1173 Guest

    William wrote:
    >For all I know, 10% of all Optio S units >might fail the same way and I
    >just happened to be lucky and go >two-for-two.


    I've used an Optio S in even bitterly-cold weather without any trouble.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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    official newspaper of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy</A></b></i>
     
    GLC1173, Feb 17, 2004
    #6
  7. << After keeping it for a month, he finally heard
    from them that it had been damaged by water which wasn't covered
    by the warantee and it would cost nearly $200 to fix. He of course
    had not gotten it wet. He had them send it back unfixed and bought
    a Canon and of course will never buy Pentax again.
    One wonders if the Pentax warrantee is any good. >>

    Fred & William-

    For William's out-of-warantee camera, the $200 estimate is most likely the cost
    of replacement. I don't think they would (or could) fix such a camera locally.

    What bothers me is the tendency to blame a malfunction on the user. Unless
    they sent it back to the factory, it is unlikely a local repair person would
    have known with any certainty, that the camera had been dropped or gotten wet.

    For the in-warantee camera, Pentax would come out ahead if they just went ahead
    and immediately replaced the camera. If they had, your friend would have been
    a Pentax fan for life!

    The other Fred
     
    Fred McKenzie, Feb 18, 2004
    #7
  8. "Fred McKenzie" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > For William's out-of-warantee camera, the $200 estimate is most likely the

    cost
    > of replacement. I don't think they would (or could) fix such a camera

    locally.

    I don't have the paper in front of me so I don't have the
    details, but the estimate they sent me was for replacing the
    guts of the camera, including labor.

    > What bothers me is the tendency to blame a malfunction on the user.

    Unless
    > they sent it back to the factory, it is unlikely a local repair person

    would
    > have known with any certainty, that the camera had been dropped or gotten

    wet.

    Yes, that was my feeling. It's a pretty safe bet that everyone
    drops or otherwise shocks a camera at some point, so they figure
    they can get away with blaming just about any malfunction on the
    resulting damage.

    > For the in-warantee camera, Pentax would come out ahead if they just went

    ahead
    > and immediately replaced the camera. If they had, your friend would have

    been
    > a Pentax fan for life!


    Well, we'll see what happens to mine. I sent it off Priority
    Mail yesterday to the central facility in Colorado. It's worth a
    gamble on the price of postage, I figure.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 18, 2004
    #8
  9. "Fred McKenzie" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > << Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S.

    Specifically,
    > when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. >>
    >
    > The first thing that comes to mind, is that the battery may be defective.

    Do
    > you use the old battery in the new camera? That might explain how the

    problem
    > migrated.


    There may be more to this battery idea than I indicated in my
    post yesterday. I decided last night to give the new battery
    a try, so I charged it up, popped it into the old camera (the
    new one is on its way to Colorado to see if Pentax will do
    anything with it under warranty), and *bingo* -- it worked like
    a charm. I tried it several times and never had a problem.

    I was well on my way to feeling like a prime chump, when I
    pulled out the camera this morning, turned it on, and -- it
    failed once again, just like before. I pulled out the battery,
    blew a couple of flecks of dust off the contacts, reinserted
    it, and *bingo* -- the camera worked again. The same exact
    sequence happened to me again just now, a couple of hours
    later: camera doesn't work, remove the battery, blow on the
    contacts, reinsert the battery, and the camera works.

    My current, very tentative hypothesis, is that the battery
    contacts inside the camera have a thin film on them (perhaps
    the residue of condensed perspiration -- I carry my Optio S
    with me all the time, that's why I got it, and the Altoids tin
    I use for a case is not air-tight), just enough to limit the
    current from the battery to right at the threshold needed by
    the lens motor -- sometimes it's enough, sometimes it triggers
    the safety cut-out.

    I don't know whether this is a reasonable hypothesis or not. I
    can't see any visible residue on either the contacts on the
    battery or the contacts inside the camera. I'll pop over to
    Radio Shack at lunch today to pick up some contact cleaner and
    see if that makes a difference or not. I'll let you know.

    Thanks again for the suggestion.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 18, 2004
    #9
  10. "William M. Miller" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "Fred McKenzie" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > << Last fall, I started having problems with my Pentax Optio S.

    > Specifically,
    > > when I would press the power button, the lens would not extend. >>
    > >
    > > The first thing that comes to mind, is that the battery may be

    defective.
    > Do
    > > you use the old battery in the new camera? That might explain how the

    > problem
    > > migrated.

    >
    > My current, very tentative hypothesis, is that the battery
    > contacts inside the camera have a thin film on them (perhaps
    > the residue of condensed perspiration -- I carry my Optio S
    > with me all the time, that's why I got it, and the Altoids tin
    > I use for a case is not air-tight), just enough to limit the
    > current from the battery to right at the threshold needed by
    > the lens motor -- sometimes it's enough, sometimes it triggers
    > the safety cut-out.
    >
    > I don't know whether this is a reasonable hypothesis or not.


    My feeling at this point, after a couple of days of fairly
    intensive experimentation, is "not". As far as I can tell
    currently, my camera has become allergic to Altoid tins. If I
    keep the camera out of the Altoid tin, it works without fail.
    If I put it back in for an hour or two, it stops working until
    it's been out for a few minutes.

    This may (or may not) be related to an alteration I made to the
    tin a couple of weeks, as I recall, before the symptoms first
    appeared. I noticed that I had somehow gotten a dent on the lid
    of the Altoids box and on the front of the camera, so I epoxied
    a plastic card (my just-expired driver's license) to the inside
    of the lid to give it more rigidity and provide more protection
    for the camera. I let the box air out for a couple of days, I
    think, before putting the camera back in, but maybe the camera
    absorbed some harmful fumes and now is slowly outgassing them,
    so that they concentrate inside the box and cause the problem.
    (I'm using a different Altoids tin now with ordinary business
    cards Scotch-taped to the inside to prevent scratching, so if
    fumes are the problem, they're not coming from any epoxy
    directly.)

    If this sounds like I'm grasping at straws, you're absolutely
    right. However, at least I have the use of my camera back
    again, at least for the moment and as long as I stay away from
    Altoids tins. (Too bad, the Altoids tin was sturdy and
    convenient.) I wonder what the Pentax folks are going to tell
    me when they get around to looking at the unit I sent them with
    the same symptoms?

    Anyhow, thanks to everyone who contributed to the thread.

    -- William M. Miller
     
    William M. Miller, Feb 20, 2004
    #10
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