Quick Fixes + Do’s and Dont’s

This section will go over some quick fixes that you can do which will sometimes clear a lens error.

After trying some of the Quick Fixes on this page, please feel free to post a comment below.  Your comments not only document your issue / model, they can help others who are in the same predicament.

Now let’s get started…

Before we go over the Do’s, let’s first cover the Dont’s to avoid causing further damage to your camera.

 

DO NOT

 1. DO NOT use a compressed air canister to blow air into the lens area of the camera.  Many people try this and then discover a heartache when they realize they have caused further damage to the camera.  Air Canisters are typically vapor based and this is a big no no for the camera. At the back of your lens assembly is the Imaging Sensor (aka: CCD) which is extremely sensitive.  It’s biggest enemy is moisture.  Spraying an air canister into the lens often sends the vapor directly onto the imaging sensor.  This can cause bigger problem in that when the lens error is corrected, the imaging sensor may only display a distorted image or sometimes no image at all due to the damage from moisture.  THE BOTTOM LINE, AVOID SPRAYING AIR FROM AN AIR CANISTER INTO THE LENS ASSEMBLY.

2.  DO NOT force air into the lens by use of an air compressor.  While this is a safer bet than using a vapor based air canister, the air pressure if too high can damage the imaging sensor in the camera.  If nothing else, what you are doing is sending any dirt or debris from within the lens assembly to the back of the lens and onto the Imaging Sensor, in turn this can cause spots or other marks to show up in your images once the camera is up and running again.  THE BOTTOM LINE, AVOID SPRAYING AIR FROM AND AIR COMPRESSOR INTO THE LENS ASSEMBLY

3. DO NOT use cardboard or a similar product by inserting into the edges of the lens assembly in an attempt to clear any blockage.  While this seems like a good idea, the cardboard or similar product can come off and become lodged inside.  As an added note, when these cameras experience a lens error, the problem is most always within the gear assembly or with the lens motor itself.  This paper / cardboard method rarely helps anything and present risk of causing further damage to the camera.  THE BOTTOM LINE, DO NOT INSERT CARDBOARD OR A SIMILAR PRODUCT INTO THE EDGES OF THE LENS ASSEMBLY.

4. DO NOT attempt to apply oil or any other type of lubricating product to the lens.  While many people do try as it might seem like a good idea in theory, this is a major do not do!  There is no oil in the lens assembly for a reason, the lens does not require lubration to function and more importantly, oil attracts dirt!  Plus this can leave oil residue on the imaging sensor if it makes it’s way to the back of the lens.  It can also end up in the lens glass itself, all of this will affect the picture quality later.  If you’re going to avoid any of the do not do’s here, this oil theory is the one to avoid more than anything!  THE BOTTOM LINE, DO NOT ADD OIL OR ANY OTHER LUBRICATING PRODUCT TO THE LENS ASSEMBLY.

5. DO NOT attempt to bang the camera or use excessive force when trying to free up a lens error.  This method of madness can often cause further damage to the internal components of the camera to include the lens assembly, the lcd display, the flash assembly, along with the card reader in the camera.  THE BOTTOM LINE, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BANG THE CAMERA OR USE EXCESSIVE FORCE WHEN TRYING TO FREE UP A LENS ERROR.

Now that we have the Don’t Do’s out of the way, let’s get to some of the Quick Fixes which will sometimes help to free up a lens error.

Some “Quick Fix Do’s” to try

1. Make sure that your battery has good power.  Plug in the Audio / Video Cable that came with your camera into the A / V Port.  While this cable is connected, try powering on the camera as you normally would.  On many Canon Powershot models, having the cable connected will turn off the lcd display in the camera.  This provides the maximum power available to power the lens motor.  This has been known to clear many of the lens errors that come up on these cameras.

2. Another method is to try to gently wiggle the lens assembly while powering the camera on.  This will sometimes free up the lens errors on these cameras.  It is important that you do not push nor pull on the lens.  Just a few wiggles of the lens is generally all it takes if this method will fix the issue.

3. Another method that has been know to work is to hold both the Menu Button down along with the Function Set or Set Button (depending on the model).  While holding these two buttons down, press the power button on the camera.  This is a method that will also clear these lens error codes on many of the Powershots.

4. Another popular trick is to apply light pressure to the lens while powering on the camera.  Do not apply excessive pressure, just some medium pressure from your hand is sufficient.  It is best to apply the pressure and then quickly release, then do this again all while the camera is attempting to power on.  If the lens error clears itself, move your hand away immediately to avoid damaging the lens assembly at that point.

5. If none of those fixes solved your lens error, trying taping the camera in the palm of your hand and at the same time as you power the camera on.  Do not use excessive pressure when tapping the camera, medium pressure is generally sufficient.  Excessive banging or tapping it to hard can cause further damage to the camera.  Please use reasonable judgement when doing this, if you are unsure as to how much pressure to use when tapping the camera, resort to less pressure.  If and when this method works, it is more often the constant light taps in the palm of your hand that will free up the lens.

6. Give up and pull out your hair (just kidding)!

Another Option

If none of the methods described above solved your lens error issue, there is likely a failed component inside the camera.  If the lens motor is worn out, a sensor has failed, there is sand or dirt in the lens assembly, the camera would need to be professionally serviced by a technician.

If you do need to have it serviced, it’s generally not as expensive as many might think.  Please visit our Recommended Service Facilities page for some of the Best Service Centers available to you who have the experience to professionally service your Canon.

Recommended Service Facilities for the Canon Powershot Digital Cameras can be found by “clicking here

69 thoughts on “Quick Fixes + Do’s and Dont’s

  1. Very good, the 2nd tip got my SD990 IS to work again. Thanks a lot. This was a very informative and helpful website. I am appreciative of this.

  2. The 3rd tip made mine work, but then seconds later it said the lens error problem all over. I will just have mine repaired. I believe there might be sand in my lens but I’m not for sure.

  3. Canon G1X doing this. None of the fixes got mine to work. Actually the second thing made it work for a few seconds but then it did the lens error again.

  4. I was able to fix my G15 using your helpful tips for fixing a lens error. I really appreciate the help with it. All the best to others having the lens error problem on their Canon camera. It seems some can maybe be fixed with the tips and some can’t depending on the severity of the problem. My camera is the Canon Powershot G15. Digital. It’s working fine again. I am grateful.

    Barry

  5. Hooray, the 3rd fix on here made mine work. Thank you very much for the helpful site. This is great that I can use my camera again.

  6. My Canon SX40 is doing this. One of the tips above got it to work but it showed the error again within seconds. Oh well, was worth a try. Going to have it repaired instead. Thanks anyways for the help

  7. I tried the things above but no luck. This sucks. My camera is a G12. It fell from a desk and broke with the lens error. I’m going to get it fixed. My camera is my life. Thanks for the tips though.

  8. My Canon is the SD870 with the lens error problem. The 3rd tip above worked to fix mine. It’s been working for an hour, I’m holding my breath it stays working! I’m sure it’s better to get it properly cleaned and serviced but for now it’s working for mine. Thanks for your helpful suggestions.

  9. I dropped my Canon SX20 and now it has this famous lens error. The steps for fix in it here did not get my camera going. I’m going to get it fixed. Advice, use a strap to carry the camera, I didn’t and that was how it dropped when someone bumped into me in line at an amusement park. Needless to say, I left home not too amused.

  10. I dropped my Canon G16 on a cement surface. After turning it on it said the lens error problem. I gently pushed the lens and it started working but it got stuck again and now it won’t move at all. Off to have it repaired, I need my camera for my job. It’s a bummer when these things break.

  11. I’ve got the Canon G9 with this problem. Nothing is working to get the lens to go back in. I also read that the G7 and G9 model (mine is the G9), get screws inside that come loose causing a short and then no power. Could the loose screw issue, short circuit, no power problem be causing the lens error. I would think a short could cause anything to malfunction. There are a lot of complaints online about the loose screw problem on the G7 and G9 cameras. Any thoughts?

  12. I lightly tap canon power shot sd1300 is digital elph wail holding down the power down I try several other things on his camera thank you so much for your help now everything works on it again. I love my camera

  13. I have used all the tips on here to fix a Canon G15. The second tip worked but the lens got stuck again. It won’t free itself at all. Is there anything else I can try? I dropped the camera when this happened and I think I can here a rattle in the lens but I’m not sure if it’s normal. Is there anything else I can try myself to get it to work. I need to use my camera this sunday.

  14. I have Canon Powershot G11 and it was giving Lens Error, Restart Camera for some unknown reasons. I did all the steps except step 1 as i was lazy/skeptical to find the cable which i never used in 3-4 years. But when nothing worked i found the cable somehow. Then i plugged in the cable ..switched on and off…..still.nothing … then I also tapped on the lens and VOILA.. the lens went in and i could take snaps!!
    But after i took out the cable and tried using it the DAMN error came back.
    I repeated everything and and it was fine again… but i am sure its going to give errors again… PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

  15. Hi……

    Step 2:- It worked for me when i wiggled the front part.

    Thanks a lot for these steps.Its really useful.

    When i went to a shop to findout the problem he said that the lens is gone and it cost 250 bucks which made me shock and at once i got heart attack.

    But now am really happy with normal heart beat.

  16. Tried everything with my Canon sd780 IS… had a lens error after a day at the beach. The lens would not open and extend. Tried the air, tried lightly tapping it, tried a screwdriver to try prying the lens out, took the whole camera apart and put it back together, tried every single step listed on every single website out there. Finally, I threw is across the room where it landed on a very hard floor. I put the battery in, and it opened! Works fine now! I kid you not!

  17. I have a Canon Power Shot. I tried wiggling and putting pressure on the lens with no prevail. I walked out of the room, my husband dropped the camera first 2 inches. Still did not work. Then he dropped it 4 inches twice, once on the bottom and then on the back. He called out “Honey, it works!”

    • Nobody here has posted a price for this fix on the canon s3is, to me that is one of the most important things to brag about. My s3is lcd works fine, I see all menu’s, motor works fine, just no picture! I have tried all these tips, I was hoping they would work, but they did not. I think I have a bad ccd but it could be a stuck shutter hard to tell with these things. It is a great camera but costing 550 new I can’t see putting another 100-200 into it It might be time to let this camera go and by a fuji or a nikon, canon has had way to many problems with all there cameras.

  18. I tried all of the suggestions above to fix the SD750 I use at work for quality purposes. I had just finished taking pictures of a project and the lens got stuck. I kept hitting the on/off button becoming more frustrated at the stupid beeping noise that kept coming out of the camera. The thing that actually fixed it was plugging it into my computer and hitting the “playback” button. The lens retracted and works just fine now. Go figure! Thankfully the idea had popped into my head to upload all of the pictures from the camera before I threw it at the wall. I think it felt its end was near and decided to behave. :)

  19. I’ve owned a Canon Powershot sd780 and I haven’t had any problem with it until this error on the lens. I dropped it which is when I got the error on it. I tried the things above it it retracted the lens and worked but it was so out of focus. Not the lens error came back up and the lens doesn’t retract. Hopefully I can get it fixed.

  20. My Canon G9 digital camera took a spill off my bike. I had it in my backpack and I was riding my bike through rough terrain. When I fell off the bike my backpack hit the ground but the camera should have been well padded in there. My screen is cracked and now when I power it on it extends the lens all the way out and then beeps and turns off. I can’t see the screen because it broke but I’m pretty sure it is doing the lens error message. That ain’t right since it barely fell and it was well padded in a bag.

  21. I have a Canon powershot S90 and the lens won’t retract. None of the things here made it work except that when I did that step by holding in the two buttons it worked for a second but then got stuck again and I still have the lens error. What can I do now, I need me camera to work?

  22. Thank you. With the help of your tips above I was able to get my Canon SD450 lens error problem solved. I’m shocked but it’s working again. I really thank you very much for the help and suggestions. The second suggestions was what got mine working. Thank you once again. I am very appreciative of this.

  23. I am extremely upset with this lens error, restart camera stuff, nothing seem to work from all the tips used in this site, and I regret a zillion times that I purchased this camera over a Nikon Coolpix that I owned before. Apparently this is not going to work, plus at the Canon world link, are not the best people to try get things done.

    Please advice if something new have come up to fix this issue, I live in the Caribbean, and perhaps buying a new camera will come cheaper than sending this one to get fix elsewhere.

    Something was wrong before this happened, nobody touches that camera but me, was never dropped and it was already behaving badly. Has been a huge disappointment this Canon Powershot SD900 model, and for sure last Canon I ever will own.

  24. Tip number three worked for me and then after I started using it on just the third picture the lens error came back again. I can’t get more than a couple of pictures before it gives me the error message again. I had dropped my camera prior to this and I think something is broken inside. Oh and my Canon is the Powershot S3IS.

  25. I have the Canon SX20 with a lens error. The tips here were appreciated but they aren’t getting my camera to work. I’m going to have it fixed because I can say with confidence, this is the best damn camera I have ever owed (if it weren’t for this lens error thing)!

  26. My Canon G9 had a lens error. I used the third step by holding the two buttons and following that step. It did clear up the lens error for a moment but after using the camera for less than a minute the same lens error came back. I think mine needs to be repaired. None of the other things above fixed mine, the closest was that third step. So if you have a Powershot G9, try all of the things above, especially that third step. I’m not saying it will work but it got mine working for a minute. I will admit I dropped my camera which is what gave it the lens error but I don’t see any damage aside from a very small dent in the bottom corner on the side of the flash. I’m geeing to get it repaired since the G9 has and always will be one of the best Canon has made!

    • The error comes from particles that may be blocking the lens from opening and closing. firmly tap the camera against a mouse pad several times from both sides of the camera and try to power it up again. There is a 50% chance it will work. The next camera consider an extended warranty. For digital cameras they are really not expensive. Extended warranty coverage at North America Coverage is the cheapest I have seen online.

  27. My Canon is the SX10. It was working fine in the morning for our zoo trip. After lunch we went to take a picture and the camera displayed the lens error message. We didn’t do anything that I can think of that may have caused this. We did try each of the tips here but there was no positive response from the camera. Thank you anyways.

  28. My husband went through the tips again and it started working now. Holy cow, this is wonderful and I wanted to update. If the tips don’t work, be patient and try once more. My camera is working again and I’m too happy right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

  29. I got the E18 error on my Canon Powershot S400. The camera has flawlessly for years and then whammo, I get this E18 error while on an outing at the museum over the weekend. None of the remedies above have helped but were worth a try. None of the newer cameras work like my older Canon so naturally I’m not thrilled about this. I’ll be looking into having it repaired since it has been a really wonderful camera otherwise. I hope everyone finds a remedy to this E18 lens error problem.

  30. I tried each of the tips here on my G10. The third tipped worked but after a few pictures the lens happened again. I’m going to have it serviced by a shop. Thanks for the tips though. I’m pretty sure mine might have a grain of sand blocking a gear.

    • Good to hear you got your SX20 going with the tips posted. Mine did actually start for a second with the same tip, the 3rd tip but the lens error started right back almost instantly. These cameras are awesome, I’m getting mine fixed for sure!

  31. ixus 430-fixed by minimal jiggle of the closest to camera of the two parts of lens……..thanks to your website and the power of the internet!!

  32. Pretty Amazing! I’m very grateful that the third step with the buttons brought my SD1100 back to life. To everyone, try each step here, I kept going with little expectations and by the third fix, my camera came back to life.

  33. I got my camera working with the tip BUT the issue came back. It seems to have cleared the lens error code and got it working short term but within a day of using it, the lens error is back. I took it apart and found sand in the lens. I guess it needs repair. My camera is the Canon S95 camera.

  34. I got my S95 working using the second tip on your list. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, no problem since though. Thanks a lot for the helpful advice.

  35. My SD900 Powershot did this and moving the lens as described above worked like a charm. The tips here are awesome, a very sincere thank you.

  36. My powershot s3is has the lens error. It sounds like the lens motor is going back and forth but it won’t move. The tips here didn’t solve my problem though they look like they did help others. I appreciate the effort anyway, I’m going to look into having it repaired since the camera has been the best I have owned otherwise. I’ll admit I wasn’t keeping it in a case but I don’t know if that brought the lens error about or not. Regardless, I just miss my camera and would like to get it working again.

  37. SD870IS with a lens error. I did the thing above with the menu and set button and it worked. I noticed someone below has the same model and the same steps worked. Thanks for the advice. I’m back to normal and I am able to take pictures again.

  38. I think I got sand in my canon sd850 and now the lens is stuck. The tip 3 above worked but then the lens error came right back. I can hear sand grit in it.

  39. My Canon G12 feel about 4 feet on the lens and immediately it got a lens error. The lens is now bent and nothing here is helping. I’m mad at myself for dropping it but what are you going to do. I tried the tips but didn’t expect them to work because of the dent in my lens. I hope others can get their going. Hopefully mine can be fixed.

  40. My Canon SD600 gave me the E18 error. I did the wiggle technique with the lens and what do you know, it started working. These are great techniques and fixes. I quite happy with getting my camera going so easily. Thanks to those who helped offer the posting. It helped me a great deal because it’s my nephews birthday on saturday and that would have sucked to not have a camera for it.

  41. I dropped my G9 and I got the lens error. The lens looks undamaged so why does it have to have a lens error. Nothing is working to fix it so I’m going to get it fixed. This is still one of the best canons they made.

  42. Great information! My camera is the Canon SD870IS and the lens error popped up on the camera.

    The third tip with those two buttons being pressed worked on mine. The error isn’t there anymore and the camera is working fine now. That was pretty simple.

    I’m sure that won’t work for every lens error but it worked like a charm on mine. I am very grateful for the information provided, this is a great site and was very helpful for me.

    • I have the same SD870IS model. Funny, the third tip worked on mine too just like yours. I wonder if it’s a flawed design. If it happens again, we know what to do. Canon should put this in the instruction manual for us.

  43. My canon SD990 has this lens error headache and I did nothing at all that could have caused it.

    I tried the suggestions here which were great and the tip #4 got my lens error to free up on the camera.

    The same day I’m using it, I get the same lens error again. I didn’t drop it or anything like that.

    Now it sounds gritty like it might have some sand in it.

    Get with it canon and fix this headache please.

  44. My Canon G9 is having this problem. It was dropped on a tile floor. The message is “Lens Error, Restart Camera”. I have tried restarting it with no success and I also tried the tips above and no luck. It had a hard fall so I’m sure it’s damages inside. Thanks for the help anyway, it was worth a try and hopeful for a moment anyway.

  45. The tip above with holding those two buttons together actually got rid of the lens error on my Canon SD1200. You guys rock, thanks for putting up the tips. I really appreciate it.

  46. I dropped mine on carpet from three or four feet and this lens error happened. A minor drop and now this, what gives! Will try the techniques, thanks for posting.

    canon powershot sd950

  47. Canon S3 IS is giving me the lens error after plenty of good service. None of the things above helped get my camera aging but thanks for the suggestions anyhow. I’m going to get it repaired and be done with it. This is the best camera that I have yet to own.

    • I have the same canon powershot s3is model and the tips didn’t fix mine either. It looks like it works on some models but not ours. Do you know a good place to have it fixed? I’m lost without my camera since I need to use it for work.

      • Hi Doug. I can highly recommend http://www.camerasandparts.com for this model. The tips here likely won’t help because mine needed it’s motor replaced. No tip is going to supplement a part needing to be replaced. That place does excellent work. That was where I had mine repaired.

  48. My camera is a Canon SD900 and the tips didn’t work to fix mine. I know my lens got sand in it because it happened at the beach and I could hear the grainy sand inside. I really like my camera so I am going to get it repaired.

  49. I received this lens error after nothing but normal use. I used the tip above and wiggled the lens while it was starting. It’s working again which blows my mind. You saved me having to get it repaired. Thanks a million!

  50. My Canon SD1100 encountered the error with the lens. To my surprise, the step above with pressing the function set and the menu button together at the same time and powering it up worked. It seems to have cleared the error code. Thanks for the tips!

    • I have the same sd1100 model as you have. Mine freed up the lens from wiggling it as was described in the self help tips above. I just thought to share that with you in case it happens again.

  51. I am happy to say that my camera is working again, yay! I followed the suggestions here and the second suggestion about wiggling the lens worked and the lens started moving again. I was rather surprised but it’s taking pictures mine and the lens is opening and closing again. If it helps, mine is a Canon Powershot SX100. Thanks you so much for the helpful tips. I wasn’t having much hope but it started to work. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen again.

  52. Pingback: So your Canon is displaying a Lens Error message… We’re here to help! |

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