message: "Lens error, restart camera" on my Canon SX 120 ?!?!?

preceded by a few beeps. The lens seems stuck on the “ON” position, I tried reinserting the batteries, shutting the on switch a few times, reinsterting fresh batteries. Nothing. WTF?

I had this problem with my Nikon 5700. This happened after the camera turned on when in the camera bag, and the lens jammed when it extended. I fixed it by (carefully) jiggling the lens while turning the camera on. You might have a piece of grit stuck in the lens zoom helix. You can try my method, or bring it in to a camera shop.

Pretty much any camera with a retractable lens is suceptible to this phenomenon. The lens mechanism jams due to some reason or another, and then you get that error. A rebuild of the lens structure may fix it, but it will probably colst upwards of $100. On e-bay, some people sell the lens assembly and you can put it in yourself and save a few bucks…but mess it up, and you’re out a good chunk of change.

I sympathize, as I have had more than one camera with this problem.

My camera, a Canon just did this. I kept hitting the power switch while putting pressure on the lens and twisting it slightly. It eventually retracted as normal, but I did notice some grittiness in the action.

Canon point and shoot cameras seem to have that problem a lot. I’ve encountered it a couple of times on my 790IS…the lens got hung up trying to autofocus on a non-reflective subject. I could hear that little AF motor working away…and it just gave up and died. In my case, I was able to power cycle it and it came back okay.

power cycle? What’s that?

You’ve already done it (turn it off and back on again).

You might want to give this or this a try. I dropped my A620 and the camera started having this same error (“Error 18” on mine) while in South Africa. Following the guides there got me to use it for 4 more days.

I sent mine in to Canon to have it fixed (the drop dislodged a leaf in the lens cover, too); they replaced the whole lens assembly, cleaned, lubed and checked all electronics for $85 (out of warranty).