I've been rolling up my sleeves and getting right into some DIY lately. I lot of things that I would have either given up on, or paid someone else to do, I've been taking the time to learn and do by myself. It's been enlightening, and may I say, fun.
My latest project has been a camera lens that stopped working after I dropped it on a concrete pavement. I was recording a video (which I still haven't finished editing after almost a year) on the north bank of the Thames, when suddenly the camera dropped out of my hand and plummeted unto the sidewalk.
Pieces of the camera did chip off, but nothing major. The camera turned on fine, but the lens was coming up as "unrecognised". Other lenses worked fine with the camera, and the lens wouldn't work on other cameras, so I isolated the issue to the lens.
I was about to list it "for parts" on eBay, but then I wondered if I could give fixing it a go. I figured it was broken anyway, I couldn't make it any worse. And so the project began.
The kit lens in question, the Sony 16-50mm zoom (SELP1650) that came with my A6000, cost about £170 new, and about £70 used on eBay if you're lucky. I could probably tear it down and sell the motor, circuit board, lens cap and shell for more than 70 quid but it would take longer to sell that way.
Since I decided to try fixing it first though, I did what I'd normally do - play with it a bit to see what the physical reaction was to turning it on and off. I shook and jiggled it and tried applying a little force to make it work, but to no avail.
My next stop was the Internet forums where I discovered that this was quite a common thing with this lens, judging by the dozens of people posting the same questions about it. In each case, they'd dropped it much like I did - some just on a carpeted floor.
It seemed any kind of above average impact on this lens would cause it to develop this fault. To be fair, I dropped it quite severely, so it's a miracle the camera didn't break as well. There were many solutions offered on the forums - some effective, some not, depending on the severity of the damage.
I finally came across a suggested solution that seemed plausible. The reason being, the person said they had fixed their issue, and that they'd also dropped their camera from standing height unto a concrete surface. None of the jiggling and poking had worked for them either.
I tried following the very long and detailed fix on the forum, but it all got a little complex. Besides, there's a limit to how well words can describe a process when it comes to electronic devices. At this point, I did what I should have done from the start - search YouTube for someone who'd done the fix, and follow along with their video.
I found a few videos, but the best one was by Technology Mafia, whom I already followed and whose videos I already enjoyed. I wasn't surprised that he had the most clear and well illustrated video I found.
This is the power of YouTube. I keep saying it, but there's almost nothing you can't learn how to do on the Internet now - especially on YouTube. It's like being an apprentice if you can find a good enough video. I hope that one day DTube can have as many creators making such valuable videos, then we can have consumers that don't necessarily create content themselves
So what was the problem?
It turns out that the reason Sony is able to sell this relatively good lens for cheap, is because they cut costs on some of the internal components.
An example is the plastic ring which allows the front element to rotate while the lens zooms out which in my opinion should have been made of metal. There are little plastic tabs that are very brittle and break with relatively minimum impact.
That's what happened to my lens - not one, but two of the three tabs broke off, leaving the tiny pieces floating around in the lens.
Since the ring couldn't rotate effectively without being properly attached to the rest of the lens, the lens couldn't zoom. After a coupe of tries, the circuit board software would return an error message to the camera, saying "not recognised" (which is a somewhat misleading error message).
The fix was to super-glue the tiny pieces back to the ring, and re-attach. Gluing such small pieces back accurately was the most difficult part for me, and it took almost two hours to do.
Once successfully glued and cleaned, the lens could be put back together again very delicately. Throughout the process I had to be extremely careful because any of the delicate parts could be damaged in the process.
It took me way too many hours to complete this fix, but I am glad it worked in the end. If I ever had to do it again, it would probably take me less than an hour, since I now know what to do and every step quite intimately. There is a business idea there somewhere. Perhaps I should buy these broken lenses for cheap, fix them and sell them on for profit.
There is also an opportunity for you 3D printers out there. This piece could be easily scanned and printed to sell. Mind you Sony might have something to say about that.
Are you a DIY buff? What fun project did you work on recently?
Peace and Love ✌🏿
All copy and photos are original content by me.