Thursday, September 16, 2010

DIY Camera Lens Repair

I am ashamed to admit that a couple months ago I dropped my camera.  Here is what happened:  it was dark out.  I noticed someone had moved my camera bag to a new location.  I had previously left the camera in the bag, unzipped, on a picnic table, and it was moved to the deck to avoid sprinklers.  Ok...no big deal.  I incorrectly assumed (without even really thinking about it) that the person who had moved it had zipped it shut in order to do so.  So I grabbed the bag and turned to walk away, as my D80 dropped from the bag to the concrete only a couple feet below.  Sadly, the damage was done.  Thankfully it wasn't as bad as it could have been. 

The body of the camera has a small amount of damage, and the door hinge to the battery was half broken.  It still closed and held the battery in, however when I opened it, it would fall off.  The worst damage was done to my 18-55mm VR lens.  The plastic mount (why in the world do ANY Nikon lenses have plastic mounts!!!) was broken.  I could use the lens on the camera, but if it was jostled even a tiny bit, it would fall off.  This was a sad thing for me.  So I looked into buying a new/used lens.  Even though this is a cheaper "kit" lens, it still runs over $100 (and more like $150) on ebay.  I don't throw around that kind of cash, so buying a new lens was absolutely out of the question. 

So then I looked into self-repair.  I found instructions on this website: Fun With Stuff.  It looked easy enough, so I bravely ordered the part.  While I was at it (and paying shipping anyway), I went ahead and ordered a new battery door cover as well.  I did not order directly from Nikon, and I sort of wish I had now...the place I ordered from had the lens mount back-ordered.  They had to wait until they got it in stock (from Nikon, ironically), then ship it out to me.  Live and learn! 

So after over a month of waiting, my new mount (and battery cover) arrived in the mail today.  I nervously started the project, but it took me less than 20 minutes to complete.  In fact, I think it took me longer to write about it, than it did to fix my lens!  For me the hardest part was worrying that I was going to break the cable (then what would I do?) and even though he said to pay attention where the long plastic comes from when I removed the old mount, I still didn't pay good enough attention.  So I made the best logical guess, and when I put it all back together I only loosely tightened the screws at first until I knew for sure it was right and I didn't need to take it apart again. 

All in all, the total repairs (for both parts) cost less than $40, which is not too bad.  The lens is a fantastic lens, and I look forward to using it for years to come.  I did read some reviews that claimed the lens wasn't worth repairing...I believe those people have NO idea what they're talking about.  It absolutely was worth repairing, and I'm glad I took the chance and did it!  In the future, I hope my fingers aren't as buttery and I don't ever, ever drop my camera again!

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