Fixing a Digital Camera

My brother was talking about buying my Canon Digital IXUS 750 Camera off me. (or PowerShot SD550 for Americans) He had an identical camera and waterproof housing for it (this costs significantly more than the camera). But said waterproof housing had not been properly closed once…

My camera wasn’t having any of that, and the next time I turned it on, it half-opened the lens, groaned, and said “E18”. Bugger. Googling E18 turned up a few sites showing other people with the same problem, lots of other people:, E18 Error on Wikipedia. It appears to be a generic error for lens problems in Canon cameras, and occurs so often that class action suits have been filed against Canon.

I read the tales of woe, and tried the suggested remedies of shaking, banging, prodding, and otherwise mauling my poor camera. Nothing helped. I put it in a pelican case and forgot about it for a few weeks.

Reading on, I discovered a few tales of brave owners disassembling and repairing their cameras, mostly successfully. As a geek, I knew I was going to have to give this a shot. I’ve taken things apart since I learned how to use a screwdriver, so I can normally put them back together again (these days), and they normally still work.

Eventually, I got around to this, last week. Nobody has posted disassembly instructions for any camera near my model, so I had to work it out for myself. Now, let’s remedy that:

My Symptoms

My camera’s lens was open, and wouldn’t move at all. Turning it on gave an E18 error.


My equipment

I’d recommend the following:

  • An afternoon & evening to yourself
  • A large, empty desk (preferably with a lip, to catch dropped screws)
  • A lino floor (carpets can lose dropped screws)
  • A good desk light
  • Lens tissue (or better yet, the wet-wipe version)
  • Meths and ear-buds (or other solvent of choice)
  • Superglue (in case you break something or something is broken)
  • Tweezers, pliers, leatherman, etc. (you are dealing with lots of little things)
  • Screwdrivers: small philips-head drivers for screws, and a few tiny flat ones for prying.
  • A torch (to help you find dropped screws)
  • A third-hand (or at least its magnifying glass)
  • A blower/brush (to get rid of dirt)
  • A working camera (to document the procedure, so you can put it back together)
  • Patience - dropped screws can be hard to find

Warnings: You need to have a willingness to part with your patient’s life. You also need to be aware that camera flash assemblies contain high-voltage capacitors, that usually hold a small residual charge. Stay well clear of them and their circuitry. If possible, discharge it as soon as you see it, with a heavy-duty resistor.

Tips: Lay out the removed parts in the order you disassembled them, together with their screws. That way you won’t have the “left-over screw” problem or put things together in the wrong order.


Remove the battery and SD card.

Unscrewing the case

To remove the case, you need to undo all the exterior screws: 3 on the base, 2 on the left, and 2 on the right (one is under flap C). The side plate A is loose, and B is a plastic sheet that can be pulled out, revealing an additional screw. Flap C is attached to the body, not B. When reassembling, take care to insert lip D under the back panel.

There are no clips on the bottom or sides, but there are 3 along the top, between the front and back halves. One to the right of the shutter, two to the left. Pry up on the front half.


There should be a black O-ring on the outer part of the lens. Lift it off and store.

Parts and Connectors

The three main modules are now visible. Motherboard and battery (A), Flash unit (B), and Optics (C). While we won’t undo these connectors quite yet, as the LCD is currently attached to both sides, but this is a good opportunity to explain the connectors that you’ll be encountering.

The ribbon cable E plugs into the white connector with a black lid. The black lid needs to be folded back for the ribbon to be removed. It simply pulls out along it’s axis. To re-insert: open, push in ribbon as far as it’ll go, and close. These connectors are quite delicate, be careful.

There is another type of ribbon connector which simply relies on friction. The LCD back-light cable is an example. You just pull it out with tweezers, and push it back with tweezers (without bending it, if possible).

The flash power lead D must be pulled up, away from the camera. Insert a tiny screwdriver underneath the wires at the point indicated, and pry up.

LCD and back

The buttons are a loose piece of rubber. Lift off.

The LCD needs to be removed first. Pull out the backlight power ribbon (A). Unscrew the screw above the LCD, releasing a bar. The left side has a small clip that needs to be released, and then the LCD-backlight assembly should lift upwards. The right hand side has a lip under the keypad module, so lift the left side first. You won’t be able to disconnect the LCD ribbon until you remove the keypad plate.

Unscrew the 2 screws at the top of the keypad plate. There are a few clips holding the bottom in place (arrowed). But you should be able to pull the plate away, revealing the ribbon connectors for both units. Unplug them both.

Flash Unit and Optical Assembly

The Flash unit can now be removed. Unplug the cables shown earlier, as well as the screw on the bottom right-corner. The ribbon plugs into the flash unit, unplug (C).

The left two screws on the back (red) will release the flash unit.

Before unscrewing the optical assembly, open the CCD ribbon connector (A). When re-attaching the module, the cable should again be inserted first, and locked last.

The three (green) screws on the metal frame will release the optical module. Beware a tiny spring hiding under B. Lift it out, and store it.

Optical Assembly

Before we can take the Optical assembly apart, the focussing LED has to be removed. Unstick ribbon A, and pry up the LED (B). Continue lifting the ribbon, unsticking the status LED section (C), too.

While we are here, the focussing servo’s cogs are under D, if you are cog-cleaning. Don’t open if you don’t need to.

Unplug (pull) the shutter-ribbon from E, and unstick E’s ribbon from the lens-body.

The lens and viewfinder assembly can now be removed from the base-plate with the CCD and motors. Unscrew the 4 screws and one on the base. The long screw comes from near F. Lift up the lens carefully. A small black cog will be loose near F. Remove and store.

The green screw gives access to the zoom servo’s cogs. Don’t open unless you need to.


On the CCD base, the sharp bit (A) activates the lens-cap mechanism in the lens, when it’s closed. The lens element (B) is for focussing, and in my case it’s sitting at an odd angle, because the short pin (circled) had broken, and had to be glued back in place. This pin passes through an IR light-switch when the lens is at a certain hight, allowing the camera to calibrate its focus.

Check that the focussing element moves up and down smoothly when you rotate the thread below A.

While you are here, blow any dust off the lens and CCD below it.


To disassemble the lens: Un-thread the ribbon. Roll the big cog on the side until it’s fully closed, and clicks, revealing the pins of the inner rings, and push the outermost interior ring of the lens backwards from the front. It should pop out.

Lens Rings

The rings either simply pop out backwards, or have a track leading to the surface. Clean all the tracks and pins.

If you are having shutter-trouble, you can open the innermost module, but beware it’s delicate. If the lens-cap is jamming, operate it a bit with a screwdriver (wiggle), blow air at it, etc until it works cleanly.


Finally, if you found your problem, reassemble.

Remember to rethread the lens ribbon before you attach the outermost ring. The lens should operate smoothly when zoomed with the big cog. It’s easiest if you attach it to the CCD plate in the opened state.

The camera behaves well, and can be tested disassembled. If you are having E18 trouble, you can just connect the lens to the motherboard, insert the battery, and turn it on. If it’s working, the lens should open, and close when turned off (and the power button LED should go out promptly, if it doesn’t you haven’t found the trouble yet).

Enjoy your newly fixed camera. I am, mine.


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How did you take pictures

How did you take pictures for your post while your camera was open :P

Another camera

In fact, I used Jonathan Carter’s CLUG Video Camera. It takes very nice pictures (at 640x480).

I fixed a second, Sony, camera (pictured in equipment) at the same time, but photographed it’s insides with my Canon when it was still out of focus, so they are no good.

OMG. you’re a life saver.

OMG. you’re a life saver. almost, well, once i attempt to do this, or make my brother do it.. but i have almost the same camera, but mine is SD500 and they look similar. and i thought i was going crazy when mine said E18, but i guess i wasn’t.


I sorted out another camera in the same session (the sony camera in the equipment picture). It was full of sand.

But I’ll have to say that the Canon was much nicer to work on - they are quite easy to service. Kudos to Canon…

E18 gone for good

I had erratic E18 error on 750 also. Repeated battery removal sometimes did the trick. Then a severe user error occurred at 42 meters underwater…


[...] - bookmarked by 1 members originally found by hierophantus on 2008-07-22 Fixing a Digital Camera - bookmarked by 1 members originally [...]

Wow very interesting post,

Wow very interesting post, but for me I would rather leave it to the professionals.

any tips on how to reassemble

any tips on how to reassemble lens? i've found your tips very usefuly so far, but am having issues re-assembling the lens!


Can’t really help, as I don’t know where you are stuck. But when you’ve got it right, turning the big cog will zoom the lens.

I put it together again with a bit of logic - just know what you are aiming for, don’t force anything, play around and work out what’s going on. Then you should be OK.


Thanky for disassembling guide !I will give a try on my IXUS 750 cause the ZOOM LENS is stuck.

fixing digital camera.

Hi, I read this in prep for disassembling a Panasonic FZ20. I'm electronics tech trained, but haven't practiced in years- what with circuit boards being simply replaced on computers instead of repaired.
A tip for screws- tape- lay out a broad band of tape sticky side up- secured at both ends, and lay your screws on them.. Do everything all in one go if possible, or you may forget what screw went where.

Well thanks for tips- hoping to find a manual... It's either open it up myself -or trust a camera tech to do it.. They said they'd immediately power it up to see if it works. It fell in the ocean- ( attached to me) only an inch below the surface of water and was immediatley pulled out, and battery immediately taken out, then rushed and rinsed in filtered fresh water, and dried thoroughly with circulating air.

I'm thinking a good open and complete clean looking for areas of possible corrosion, THEN powering it up, would be a better idea, than simply powering up and it possibly blowing some circuitry..

Any ideas?

It's this or chuck it basically.


The ocean is normally a disaster for electronics. If you whip the battery out immediatly and clean every circuit-board thoroughly, you *may* be able to save it. Be careful with the flash, discharge the capacitor with a high-power resistor, say 5W 1Ohm. But it's vary rare that one hears of anyone succeeding with a camera that's had a swim in the sea.

Where does the clear rubber thing go?

So I have now stripped my Ixus 750 down. I have fixed the problem ( a guide pin had jumped a thread in the barrell when the kids dropped the camera). I am now reassembling. When stripping, a clear rubber thing fell out. It looks like a fat L shape about 8mm x 6mm with the join being thicker and rectanglularly recessed.
Any ideas where it came from?


No clue

Can you post a photograph of it somewhere? I can’t recall anything like that, but it’d help if I saw it.
Try above link. As mentioned I have put the rubbery thing on the black battery to give you a view of scale. Any ideas welcome. Thanks. Chris

The rubber piece is a cover

It may be the cover for the square-ish chip that you can see directly to the left of the lens, on the circuit board (i.e. there are ribbon connectors above and below the piece I'm talking about).

I'd love to but I am not very

I'd love to but I am not very technical. Let me talk to someone who knows how to post a photo and I'll come back to you. Of course, I could ask my 9 year old but he is abroad on hols at moment....

So I have now stripped my

So I have now stripped my Ixus 750 down. I have fixed the problem. I am now reassembling. When stripping, a clear rubber thing fell out. It looks like a fat L shape about 8mm x 6mm with the join being thicker and rectanglularly recessed.

I have photographed it. Try above link. As mentioned I have put the rubbery thing on the black battery to give you a view of scale. Any ideas where it came from?


No idea

I can’t place it at all. If you can’t find somewhere that it looks like it might fit, I’d hold onto it in case you find something obviously wrong with the camera later.

Thanks. Will let you know if

Thanks. Will let you know if I can fathom where it comes from.

I had the same small rubber

I had the same small rubber piece fall out of my camera when reassembling. Did anyone ever figure out where it goes?

small rubber

if you look at the front of the camera there is a small hole looking at 10 o clock to the lense, on the pcb there is a small square thing with a hole in it, it goes there with the tab touching the lense body in the 10 o clock pos. hope that helps.
still can't get my lense to retract what a bummer.

Excellent. That said, I can't

Excellent. That said, I can't figure it out. Any chance you could expand the description a bit or post a photograph? What's a PCB? Thanks.

By Jove, I think I may have

By Jove, I think I may have it. PCB - printed circuit board! Like I said, I should have asked my 9 yr old in the first place.

little white rubber

i can not show a picture. go to the 7th picture in this page. Just half way between A and C it is a light rectangle with a dark spot. The little hole in the rubber goes in that spot.

Canon ixus 750 Dismantling

That little piece of rubber should be put back on the microphone (white metalic little rectangle with a hole in it on the front next to the optic block; it's referenced 5520)
Sorry the answer is late but i just discovered this site) By the way , thanks a lot Stefano! God bless you M8!

repaired lens on Powershot SD550

Kudos to you!!! A friend dropped my camera on the lens (open) while we were hiking. The lens was permanently stuck open, the dreaded E18 error. Ready to discard the camera, I found your post. Literally HOURS later, I have a working camera. Thanks for the guided instructions; they were right on. The drop onto the lens had caused a guide inside the telescoping lens to jump the track. I was able to move it back into position by disassembling everything and, with luck, nothing broke in the process. The most difficult parts? Getting the lens assembly to reseat properly required walking away from it for a few hours and trying again a couple of times. Getting the menus to read properly required repeated attempts at getting the large cables on the LCD and on the keypad plate completely inserted. Last night at 11:30 I fired it up and, finally, it worked great! Thanks for the help.


Glad it worked for you :)

Can't uncover it! Help!


I had the darned E18 error and tried to fix my IXUS750 the way you wrote but I've encountered a strange problem: I turned all those 7 screws and the front cover easily came loose but the rear cover didn't get off at all. I don't see any other fasteners but it looks like it's attached very firmly somewhere inside the camera.

What can it be???

Re: Can't uncover

I turned all those 7 screws

I count 8 for the covers in the first set of photos. My guess is that it’s sticking around the screen.

IXUS 750

Hey Stefano!

Super big thanks to you and your super nice detailed post about fixing the E18!!!
Your help has reached all the way to me in Sweden! :)

I had the same problem as comment poster Dick Shelford (26/8 -09).
But my E18 came along about 2 years ago after owning my IXUS 750 for a few days. Had literally lost all hope on it until yesterday.
So I celabrated New Year's Eve with champagne and dismantling the camera thanks to your guide ;)

The camera seems to work fine again apart from one thing... the flash isn't working. I've double checked all the cables and ribbons. I'm starting to think something delicate has broke on the flash unit?

Anyway... Cheers again and I wish you splendid new year 2010!


i found the problem thank u .

so i just took everything apart layed it all out and when i finally came to the end with the lens i found that there is a white wheel that spins to a smaller black wheel that finally spins the gold wheel that makes the lens focus in and out. the black wheel was missing some wings on it that had broken off and actually came right out . .. now the only thing i have left to do is find where i can buy this little tiny black plastic wheel . . . any suggestions. thank you for the help. very good explaination.

My tip for making sure you

My tip for making sure you don't loose the bits (and remember where they came from) is to have a tape dispenser and a large sheet of paper.

Tape each piece/screw you remove to the paper and sketch or describe the location it came from alongside it. Also take photos (if you have another camera) for reference.

This still doesn't help my Ixus 900i which won't power up and must have a problem either with the power switch, the battery cover power switch or the battery connections, although all look OK.


Thanks! Great pics and instructions. Damn E18 error was caused by some grit in the focus gears.

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