What happens when an extending lens is blocked?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jon Danniken, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest


    I recently purchased a small digital camera (my first one, an HP r607), and
    I am wondering if it is common in digital cameras to have a clutch in the
    lens mechanism. In other words, if there was an obstruction which prevented
    the lens from fully extending upon powerup, would there likely be damage to
    the gears, or is this sort of thing thought out and compensated for with a
    clutch or other type mechanism?


    Jon Danniken, Dec 4, 2005
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  2. In the last few years, I've had a few cameras that have a lens that deploys,
    or extends, when you power it up. One in particular, a Canon S1 IS, I
    managed to power it up while still in the case one time. It made a funny
    noise and stopped. I powered it down so the lens would go back in, and then
    it was fine. I would hope that cameras that have this kind of lens can
    tolerate this at least a few times in their life.

    David Sommers, Dec 4, 2005
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  3. The cameras that I am familiar with do indeed have some protection (if not a
    clutch, perhaps an over-current sensor in the motor circuit).
    Charles Schuler, Dec 4, 2005
  4. On the Nikon 5400 (the only camera I've had this happen with, because I
    bought it with a non-standard lens cap which prevented the lens from
    extending), the display says "LENS ERROR" when the camera is powered up in
    this way. Happened a couple of times before I was able to get an original
    type lens cap. No harm or damage, evidently. The display message indicates
    the camera knows what's wrong and has accommodated it. :)

    Neil Harrington, Dec 5, 2005
  5. Jon Danniken

    Sheldon Guest

    I've never seen a camera harmed by this problem, and I've seen it happen to
    quite a few, but I guess there's always a first time. My experience has
    been that if it happens not to worry, but don't keep doing it. :)
    Sheldon, Dec 5, 2005
  6. Jon Danniken

    ASAAR Guest

    My Canon PS10 once was powered on while in a tight fitting case.
    With some effort I got a finger inside the case, powered it off and
    removed the camera. No damage done, but I stopped using that case.
    My Fuji S5100 has a long extending lens that seems quite delicate,
    yet the few times I powered the camera on before removing the lens
    cap, it stopped extending without popping off the lens cap,
    displayed a warning message, and there was no harm done. I imagine
    that some cameras wouldn't take this slight abuse as well. But my
    guess is that the real damage done to extended lenses happens when
    they're not zooming or focusing, but while extended they happen to
    accidentally hit a solid object.
    ASAAR, Dec 5, 2005
  7. Jon Danniken

    Frank ess Guest

    Ask a Nikon CP5700 owner. Shucks, ask me! That camera has an on-off
    switch particularly and notoriously vulnerable to unintended turn-on.
    When it starts to engorge, no stopping it. Strips its gears, requires
    a trip to the fixit-factory, shipping paid by the victim. I mean
    customer. Users quickly learn to put the camera in "Review" or "View"
    mode before stuffing it in its receptacle, a condition which does not
    erect the lens if inadvertent turn-on is applied.
    Frank ess, Dec 5, 2005
  8. Jon Danniken

    U-Know-Who Guest

    On the S5100, if you'll leave the lens tube on it, it becomes a non-issue.
    U-Know-Who, Dec 5, 2005
  9. Jon Danniken

    Jer Guest

    I really hadn't considered this "protect" mode... great idea. Thanks.
    Jer, Dec 5, 2005
  10. Jon Danniken

    ASAAR Guest

    Nifty solution and the lens cap even fits on the tube. But then
    the camera no longer fits in the small Kodak camera bag it's usually
    stored in. Correction. With a slight rearrangement of the divider,
    everything still fits. Thanks for the tip.
    ASAAR, Dec 5, 2005
  11. Jon Danniken

    Jon Danniken Guest

    Thank you to everyone who responded. I emboldened myself to find out, and
    on my camera, the motor slows to a stop, the lens retracts, and the camera
    turns itself off. There isn't even very much pressure pushing the lens out,
    so the gears are likely to remain okay. I won't make a habit of it, though,
    but it certainly does seem to have the provision for this to happen without
    the camera breaking (nice to know things are idiot proofed to a certain

    I wanted to know because I am going to make a tight case out of some
    deerhide to keep the camera happier while it bounces around in my pocket,
    and I was afraid of what would happen if the camera turned on while still in
    the case.

    Thanks again,

    Jon Danniken, Dec 5, 2005
  12. Jon Danniken

    ASAAR Guest

    I once had a radio that could be easily turned on, so a small
    rubber ring was glued around the too-easily-pressed power button,
    making accidental contact less likely. If you do something similar
    by gluing or sewing a small foam or leather block or two to the
    inside of the case, it might also make it more difficult to put
    pressure on the case and accidentally turn the camera on.
    ASAAR, Dec 5, 2005
  13. On the Panasonic FZ5 you get a message on the EVF/LCD screen asking you to
    remove the lens cap (which is what prevents normal extension).

    On the Nikon 5700 you might need to send the camera back for repair. It
    is essential to store the camera with the mode switch on Playback.

    The Nikon 8400 may suffer from the same problem, but is a lot more
    difficult to switch on by accident. I try to leave mine stored in the
    Playback mode.

    David J Taylor, Dec 5, 2005
  14. "David J Taylor"
    That's to prevent accidental lens extension when in some case or enclosure
    (i.e., not the lens cap) that would block it, right? I've never had a 5700,
    but on the 8700 the lens cap clips on to the lens itself, not the body
    barrel, and does not interfere with extension. I assume the 5700 is the

    I bought a 5400 (refurb/display/salesman's sample/whatever) which is like
    new but didn't come with the original lens cap, had a 46mm cap instead which
    clipped into the body ring and prevented the lens from extending. Before I
    was able to get a proper replacement cap, a couple of times I
    absent-mindedly turned the camera on without removing the cap. The monitor
    indicated "LENS ERROR" and the camera just shut down, as I recall. I would
    think that all subsequent Nikon models would have some similar accommodation
    built in.

    So that is just storage in the case that you're concerned about, not the
    lens cap, eh? Since the 8400 also has a cap that clips onto the lens itself
    and does not prevent extension.

    Neil Harrington, Dec 5, 2005
  15. Jon Danniken

    Bill Funk Guest

    I can imagine the problem:
    "Is that a camera in your pocket, or ..."
    Bill Funk, Dec 5, 2005
  16. Neil Harrington wrote:
    Probably, yes. Like many others, I had a closely fitting case for my
    Nikon 5700, so needed to be careful. I sold my 5700 after I bought the
    Panasonic FZ5 with its image stabilised 36-432mm f/3.3 lens.

    David J Taylor, Dec 5, 2005
  17. Jon Danniken

    salgud Guest

    Another reason I like my Canon A520. The on/off button is recessed,
    making it highly unlikely it will accidentally turn on, and it has to
    be held down for about .2 sec before it comes on, making it VERY highly
    unlikely it'll turn on by accident.
    salgud, Dec 5, 2005
  18. "David J Taylor"
    Very nice. I bought a Lumix FZ15 quite a while ago, 35-420mm and f/2.8 from
    end to end, which really impresses me. First Panasonic camera I've ever
    owned. First camera I've ever owned with a Leica lens, too. (I suppose I
    should put "Leica" in quotes since I'm sure it didn't come out of Wetzlar,
    but that doesn't matter to me.) Also that was my first image-stabilized
    lens, and it sure made a believer of me, being able to get sharp photos
    hand-held at 420mm (equiv.), especially at my doddering age. I'm most
    impressed with Panasonic's build quality too.

    Neil Harrington, Dec 5, 2005
  19. Jon Danniken

    Marvin Guest

    Going back 3 or 4 years, I saw many posts on this NG about cameras damaged when a lens was
    blocked from extending. I accidentlaly did that with my Oly camera more than once in that
    time periond, with no damage. I haven't seen such a report lately, so the problem seems
    to have been solved.
    Marvin, Dec 6, 2005
  20. Jon-

    I have a tight case for my Pentax Optio S. It has been accidentally
    activated a couple of times. It sounded bad, but seems to still work.

    The problem is that the power button is easily-pressed and gets touched by
    accident when trying to remove it from the case. I solve the problem by
    inserting the camera into the case with the power button on the bottom.

    Fred McKenzie, Dec 6, 2005
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