First, the bad news: Five popular makers of digital cameras and camcorders have acknowledged a defect that could cause hundreds of thousands of units manufactured from 2002 through 2004 to stop working correctly.
Now, the good news: All of the companies have agreed to fix the problem for free -- even if your camera or camcorder is out of warranty.
The defect can occur in more than 150 different models sold by Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji and Konica Minolta that use image sensors, called CCDs, made by Sony's semiconductor group.
The glitch involves the "glue" that holds the image sensor in place, says Rachel Branch, a Sony spokeswoman. Heat and humidity can cause the glue to deteriorate, disconnecting the sensor's wiring. This results in the camera capturing distorted images or no images at all.
Sony estimates that the problem has occurred or will occur in only one-half of 1 percent of cameras sold with the company's sensor in the United States because "it's not as hot or humid here as it is in, say, Singapore," Branch says.
But with digital camera sales alone pegged by research firm IDC at 150 million worldwide from 2002 through 2004, thousands of U.S. camera and camcorder owners might have to have their units repaired. Canon and Sony have ranked as either No. 1 or No. 2 in digital camera sales annually since 2002, according to IDC.
Sony declined to give specific numbers about how many sensors it manufactured with the potential defect or how many of its cameras and camcorders might be affected. The other manufacturers that use Sony image sensors also say the defect may occur in a small fraction of their cameras.
"You should only be concerned if your camera isn't taking pictures the way it should be," says Chris Chute, senior analyst for IDC's Digital Imaging Program. "This is by no means inclusive of all the cameras that any of these vendors have sold over the past couple of years."
Because the glue that holds the CCD and wiring in place deteriorates over time, Sony will fix cameras for free for two years from Oct. 3, when the company announced its repair program, Sony's Branch says. The other camera manufacturers haven't specified timeframes for their repair programs, but indicate on their Web sites that they will repair all defects caused by faulty CCD wiring on affected models.
While the repair programs are good news for camera owners who are experiencing issues or might in the future, at least one Sony customer says the global electronics giant should have alerted camera owners sooner.
What to do if you suspect a problem
All of the digital camera manufacturers affected by the possible CCD problem have issued service advisories on their Web sites that list which models are at risk and explain how to identify, if your camera has a problem .. and, what you can do to get it repaired.
In most cases, you should contact a company's technical or customer support to confirm that the camera is eligible for repair and needs to be fixed. If this is the case, you'll be instructed where to send it for service. The manufacturers generally pick up the return postage.
Here's a list of Web sites where manufacturers have posted service advisories:
Sony: http://www.css.ap.sony.com/consumer/template/ANDetails.aspx?Id=45536. Sony also has set up several phone numbers for assistance. Professional customers in the eastern United States can call 201-833-5300. Professional customers in the western part of the country can call 866-766-9272. Consumers in any part of the United States can call 866-703-7669.
I have the E550 and I just love it. I'm not using even a tiny portion of it's capabilities...which reminds me, I ought to take the manual with me...but, the pictures are crisp and clean and whatever size I want them to be.
I think I've seen you mention it before, but I don't remember, which one do you use?
If you have one of these and have problems with image distortion, you should check out the support or repairs section of the manufacturer's Web site. All of the manufacturers are providing free repairs for these models, if the CCDs have the problem, even if the camera is out of warranty.
This is great to know! Just the last month or so, I've noticed a problem with my Minolta DiMAGE A1. A bit of the lens ring shows in the corner, and the anti-shake mechanism's light blinks - something I've not been able to track down in troubleshooting stuff. If I turn off the camera and tap the lens barrel a few times, it is okay when I turn it back on. If the CCD is loose, that would explain the problem being intermittent. It might indeed be related. I'll check it out!
I have a cannon A60 and am having no problems with it. Does this affect all cameras - do I just wait for something to happen? We bought two, one for us and one for our son - his just bit the dust!! They have a cannon video cam that went kapoot too.
* sarv48 ... ALERT * ..
Read the info below .. about the digital still cams AND the video cams !!! * *
Image Phenomena Due to CCD Malfunction
Thank you for using Canon products.
A problem has been discovered in some of the CCDs used in Canon digital camera and digital video camera products that causes images to appear distorted or not to appear at all. We apologize for the considerable inconvenience this represents for our customers. Along with our respectful apology, we would like to advise our customers of the details of this issue and our policy for handling it, which are as follows.
The CCDs in question are used in the following models . . .
PowerShot A60, PowerShot A70, PowerShot A75, PowerShot A300, PowerShot A310, Digital IXUS V3, Digital IXUS II, Digital IXUS IIs
Digital Video Cameras
MV600i, MV630i, MV650i, MV700i, MV730i, MV750i, MV5i, MV5i MC, MV6i MC
ZR60, ZR65 MC, ZR70 MC, ZR80, ZR85, ZR90, Elura 40 MC, Elura 50
Among the CCDs used in the affected products listed above, it has been confirmed that, especially under high-temperature/high-humidity environments, the internal wiring may come undone in some places.
If this defect occurs, the signal is not output from the CCD correctly when in shooting mode, which results in symptoms like the following in captured images. These symptoms can be confirmed on the LCD monitor. The same symptoms may also occur in recorded images.
• Images do not appear
• Images appear distorted
With apologies for the inconvenience involved, we ask that users who have confirmed these symptoms contact the nearest Canon Service Center. Free repairs will be made for affected products in cases where it has been confirmed that the internal CCD wiring has come undone in some places.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by this issue. We strive to make even greater efforts in our quality control to provide products that our customers can use with confidence. We hope that these efforts will earn your continued patronage.
Hope it reveals some help and a fix for ya .. for all three of you guys' items!!
gardenwife ... perhaps your A1 is in the beginning stages of failure. Most folks don't pay a lot of attention to the blubs and mess ups, till things have well advanced. Wish you well .. and things work out to your best advantage!!
* gw .. Tis good fer ya now, 'ey ? * .. if not, then I'm truly stumped !!
I heard back from Minolta in the form of a terse e-mail saying I need to send it in for repair. The e-mail didn't give any specifics, just said replies would not be seen and pointed me toward their repair center website.
Blankety-blank blank. :( It's financially a low priority (or should I say impossibility) with everything else we have going on, so I hope the sporadic problem my camera has just stays that way.
Minoltas' response .. is no 'clear' resolve for ya ...
But, who knows! .. It's a bit early yet, in the recall stage. Heck, jes maaaaaaybe .. your Minoltas problem, is presenting itself a bit differently .. and could be deemed fixable within the parameters of the [recall] repair protocall ...
Merely urgin' you to not 'write it off' jes yet. You've got a bit of time - so, keep your eyes peeled to the details of how she 'behaves' (like I'm sure you've long been doin') ... and be prepared to send her on in, should the problem become more than sporadic.
At any rate .. I'm surely wishin' ya guys, the very best !!
Well, I did indeed end up sending the Minolta in to Sony's Laredo, TX repair facility. They did it all under the recall. I got the camera back today and it seems to be in perfect order! The lens barrel slides a little tighter, so I think they did something to it, too. It's so clean it looks brand new. LOL Best yet, it no longer has the anti-shake button blinking and the lens looks straight with no more edge of the lens showing up in the corner of my shots.
I am thrilled beyond measure. I love that camera and am happy to have a new lease on its life.
Quoting:What products may be affected?
Quite a number of products may develop this problem, including digital cameras, camcorders, and even PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) that incorporate an image sensor. The following is a list of affected models by various manufacturers that we are presently aware of. We will update this list as new information becomes available. We recommend that you check the site regularly for this and other breaking news.
Thanks so much for giving us this info. I had used and enjoyed a Sony 717 for some time when it seemed to just die! I then purchased a used 717 on ebay, and w/i a short time it developed the very same problem!
I found this thread just a short time before the recall expiration. To my great surprise, Sony even agreed to fix the 2nd hand camera free of charge.
The first one had fallen from a thin shelf at the bank shorty after purchase, and the LCD was fractured. (purchase of an LCD protector, other than thin film, was unavailable at the time) Sony called me w/ a good price to repair that also, but never billed me and paper work returned w/ camera said n/c for ALL repairs. Surprise, surprise!
Thanks again for supplying us with this information!