Error 99

I was misearable for about 8 hours today. My camera (Canon Rebel aka 300D) stopped working, and was giving me the dreaded “Error 99” message.

I Googled and found that this is a very common problem.

Then I found this page.

After reading it, I was convinced my problem was a faulty shutter mechanism.  I only ever use Canon accessories and lenses.  Also, I had followed the step by step instructions by removing the lens and CF card out of the camera, and try to fire of a frame. All I got was a pathetic “shlink” sound. Not the normal “clickity-clack” sound.

I read that page again (and some of the kabillion other error 99) and came upon the idea to try the sensor cleaning function.

I guess fortunately for me, I grew up with a bunch of really old Pentax film camera equipment around the place, and used to spend literally hours pulling it all apart, watching the internals move, and putting it all back together again. I knew that the shutter mechanism is very complex, and that the shutter curtain itself is not solid, but a folding thingy. Also fortunately for me, I have observed the sensor cleaning function in action on my Rebel, and therefore knew what I should see.

So, I activated the cleaning function, and got the same result. The “shlink” sound.  But I noticed that the mirror stayed in the “down” position. Odd.  On a whim I decided to lift the mirror manually to see the shutter curtain behind. Lo and behold, the shutter curtain is still closed! I looked closer, and wouldn't you know, it seemed “kinked” as if it was stuck or something. Taking my life in my hands, I very gently poked at it with a clean jeweller's screwdriver, and …. “clickity-clack”! Hurrah!

I believe this is what happened:

The night before I got the error I was doing some time lapse photography. After a shoot, I popped the camera (with no case) under the seat of the scooter and went home. Whilst downloading the pictures I noticed maybe 6 completely black frames at the end of the set. Odd, but I put it down to the last few pictures I had taken simply not turning out. However, in light of what I now know, I think that the camera had shifted during the trip home, fired off a frame, and then was jostled when I had gone over a pot hole or something, and the shutter curtain was foiled when it tried to move.

So there you have it. The camera has been around the world several times, and it died under a scooter seat in the 'burbs!

The moral of the story: it's always worth putting the camera back in the bag after each shoot…

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