Recently I was looking for a cheap pocket camera with a big zoom range to keep handy in my pocket for going to the dog beach with Gimli and other adventures. I happened to spot one of my candidate cameras, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8, in “Not Working” state on eBay. The camera problem was that it had the lens stuck open in the extended position. As a result, the camera was nonfunctional and the display showed the error message “System Error (Zoom)”.
A stuck lens is a very common problem with modern digital cameras with telescoping zoom mechanisms. Having acquired this broken camera, mainly as a personal repair challenge, I set upon trying to fix the apparently stuck lens. What I’ve documented here is probably quite applicable to these other very similar Panasonic models (DMC-ZS3, DMC-ZS7, DMC-TZ10, DMC-ZS10, DMC-ZS15, DMC-TZ20) and possibly other cameras from other manufacturers, especially those using similar Leica lenses.
I had a few key clues as to what the problem with this one was. Apart from the error message and the out-of-position lens, when I put my ear to the camera, I could faintly hear the zoom motor running when I switched the camera from playback to shooting mode, so I knew that the zoom system was getting power and the motor was at least somewhat functional. Use all your senses! None of the usual tricks of power cycling and pushing various buttons and rotating and holding the zoom lever to reset the lens and camera worked, so I began disassembly to have a closer look for the problem. Here’s what I did to fix it. (more…)