Saturday, September 07, 2013

Canon S100 Camera - "Lens Error"

Last year I purchased a Canon Powershot S100 camera for a trip to the Far East.  The S100 is a compact, lightweight, pocket camera with a 12 megapixel sensor, a wide open F2.0 lens and a 5X zoom.  I carry it in a small belt pouch, it whispers tourist but it never shouts it.  I've taken some wonderful pictures with my Canon S100 but that's over, at least for now.

Today I got the dreaded, "Lens Error - Will Shut Down Automatically - Restart Camera" error that the Canon S100 (and the Canon S95) is infamous for.  The lens is stuck in the extended position and for all intent and purpose my $400 camera is now a crippled brick.

The good news is that Canon USA acknowledges the problem, an embarrassment that according to the many user complaints that I've read in researching the problem has sometimes greeted customers at the new purchase unboxing or left the unfortunate customer high and dry while on an vacation.

So in a way I was lucky, my S100 stroked out while I was trying to take a picture of a sleeping wallaby at my local zoo.  I was left to walk around the zoo with my Canon S100 in my hand with the bulging lens in flagrante delicto.  We're planning an Asian vacation in a few months, at least the error didn't reveal itself 14 time zones from home.

My father was a Minolta guy and so was I.  My Dad shot my baby pictures with a Minolta Autocord.  I have purchased several film based Minolta SLR's but Minolta is now kaput, done in by a lawsuit by Honeywell, the camera division was purchased by Sony.  I had purchased a Panasonic Lumix digital camera 10 years ago and a Nikon before that and liked them both but wanted something more compact than anything that Canon's competition was offering when I decided to upgrade.  Last year the Canon S100 seemed like a good bet by a long established camera manufacturer but I had been warned by a coworker, a lifetime Canon guy, to stay away from Canon. He had purchased a Canon SLR for a European vacation.  Upon arrival in Germany the camera wouldn't work and when he returned home Canon immediately dismissed his warranty request claiming that he had gotten his new camera wet.  He's a happy owner of a Sony camera now.  I'm sure I'm in for a good old, "I told ya so", when he hears about this.

For now I'll give Canon USA the benefit of the doubt, they've owned up to the lens error problem with a "Product Advisory" and I've contacted Canon USA.

I'll update this blog when I either hear from Canon or when my S100 is functional again.  In the meantime, if you've had this happen to you I'd be interested to hear from you no matter what the outcome.  Please feel free to leave a comment regarding your experiences with the S100 or with Canon's warranty service.

Update 9/7/2013:
Canon replied in an email and after I had submitted the S100's serial number to them they emailed back with a prepaid UPS label and a tracking number.  My camera is now on its way to Newport News, VA for repair, hopefully at Canon's expense.  I've read that other S100 owners with the same stuck lens problem had 1 week turn around but UPS says that it'll take one week for my camera to even arrive in Newport News.  Assuming at least a few days at Canon's repair facility and then another week to mosey on back to the west coast it'll be the better part of a month that I'll be without my Canon S100.  Not a good ownership experience with my first Canon camera.  

Update 9/21/2013:
My S100 is back!  Canon repaired it at their cost and shipped it back to me from Newport News by 2-day Fed-ex.  It seems to work just as before and I'm happy with the way that Canon has handled this. Unfortunately I've been reading about S100 owners who have had to send their cameras back to Canon for the same stuck lens problem up to 4 times.  But the next time I travel I the Achilles heel of the Canon Powershot  S100 will be lurking in the back of my mind, as well as the next time I shop for a camera.