If You Didn’t Make It…

“If you didn’t make it, don’t try to break it!”

That’s my motto for this story I’m about to share. A tale that only ends in woe, as I strive to replace an important piece of my Nikon Coolpix S8200 digital camera… A quest of penny-pinching, that eventually ends in achieving the greatest debt possible.

Scratches on the outer lens cover.

You should be able to look above and see the scratches that have plagued my lens since an evening walk last summer. I dropped it in a pile of dirt, of all things. Who’d have thought that dry mud could cause so much damage?! It adds a blur or distortion to the centre of my images. It seems be bother me more than anyone else and I wanted to try and rectify it without paying a great expense… I wanted to fix it myself.

Less than 2 weeks ago on eBay, I purchased an item listed as a “Lens Front Bucket Barrel Tube Tub” for my camera, from a seller based in China. It was less than £18 including postage so, I wasn’t concerned about paying import duty and it arrived late last week. It looked genuine but it took a while for me to decide to sit down and look at fitting it.

Dead pixels.

I also very recently lost or created a few dead pixels on the LCD screen in a freak accident, involving a set of hook where I frequently hang my keys and the kitchen worktop. But I can live with this as it’s only imprinted on the screen; not my photos.

Ironically, if you’re looking to replace the screen on your camera, it’s not too hard and there is a really good video on YouTube that’ll show you how to do that. Sadly, I couldn’t find any directions towards replacing the lens “tub” so I had to dive in with caution.

Getting the front cover over is straight forward. You basically have to work your way around the perimeter of the camera’s narrow edge removing the minute screws as you find them (I have a cheap set of tiny jeweller’s screwdrivers for this).

From memory, there was only one screw along the top edge. You’ll find others behind the flaps that conceal the plug-in ports (USB, etc.)

Access from the back, maybe.

But after much scrutinising and chin-rubbing, this wasn’t going to give me the access I required and so, I decided I would have to also look at removing the back cover.

That comes away as easily as is displayed in the video on YouTube.

Freeing the complete lens assembly.

Once that round-ish silver plate is remove, you should find the complete lens assembly pops out easily and can then be safely detached from the rest of the camera.

Actually, I think the assembly can be freed without removing that plate (just looking at the order in which I took these photos). I would also STRONGLY recommend taking photographs at every stage, if you’re ever attempting something similar yourself.

I did uncover one final screw holding the silver plate which had already been rounded out or chewed up before I could get near it! After turning to my Facebook Page for some suggestions, I ended up fetching my drill bits and decapitating the screw.

So, this is what I was left with. My hopes were that, with the plate out of the way, I’d be able to lever out the old “bucket” and slide in the new… But I still couldn’t find a way in. There were no apparent screws. There was no way I could find of slipping a screwdriver in to left it apart. Somehow, something was still holding the back casing in place near the bottom of the assembly…

It was inevitable, really.

Well, I couldn’t have gone this far without something breaking, could I?

Irreparable, is the word. I don’t know whether you call these orange things ‘printed circuit strips’ or what but it broke in two, almost as soon as the gear cover was lifted away and flexed too far.

Currently, the remains of my camera lie within a jiffy bag, complete with every last screw I could find. There’s still power going through but whatever I’ve damaged, it prevents the lens from opening. I hear it click when the camera is turned on but, with that strip no longer continuous, I doubt I’d be able to do anything more than view the photos and video footage I’ve already recorded.

With some spare cash lying in my PayPal account, my initial temptation was to buy a second-hand  version of the same model and to just scrap this one (I don’t see the point in buying a different camera when I like this one and already have the accessories, regardless of the expense). But having slept on it and browsed eBay once more, I’ve found that you can buy a complete zoom lens assembly for around about £45… That’s still less than one-third of the price I payed for this camera when new (they’re even dearer today).

Good news is that, from the additional photos these sellers have provided, you can see that the part I broke IS included. All I have to do then is to put it all back together correctly… I might even end up with a few spares screws!

There’s also the question of origin… Do I buy one from the American, Russian or Chinese sellers? I’m sure I’d be potentially liable for import tax in any case, given the item’s value.

My smart phone’s camera can get me by in the mean time but I’ve always found it to be limited in anything other than natural daylight. There are things I’d like to record in my workshop but my phone isn’t really up to it. I was actually planning on a walk today, to the very same as where I scratched the lens last year but I woke up to find that the weather had other ideas.

Speaking of my phone… I’d like to dismantle that sometime to clean the inside of the lens cover. BUT, while, I can get by without a camera, I do not feel as though I could live without a phone! 😉

So, if you didn’t make something and it’s not working for whatever reason, please don’t assume to know how it went together!!

Thanks for reading.

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