Out of Warranty, Out of Luck?

My Good Old Canon Digital Ixus V3 Compact Camera


Late last month, I took an old digital camera in for repair; I have this little old Canon Digital Ixus V3 (a.k.a. Powershot S230) which had served me in good stead since it was bought way back in December of 2003.

Last Christmas 2007, it stopped taking pictures, there was just a blob of red dancing across its little LCD screen and every time I clicked the shutter it would only register that blob of red. Clearly, the image sensor was dead.

I set it aside in my drawer and there it rested, while I was trying to figure out what to do with an old camera which gave up the ghost. Recycle? But it was too pretty to throw away; it was cute and very sturdy, I also liked the feel of its metal body in my hand. This thing was built like it could last forever. It also took very good pictures of the family.

Replacing the image sensor would be an expensive proposition. That’s a major part replacement which would cost me almost the price of a current brand new compact with even better features.

Should I just let it rest in my drawer for a while and maybe take it out later for display (it still was beautiful outside)? I tarried on that decision and really did not mind at all that my Ixus V3 was not functional. I have other cameras after all.

Finally, I decided that I should take it to Canon for repair. Maybe I was wrong about the image sensor being dead. Maybe it was just some circuitry that had come loose or maybe just some dirt or moisture or whatever that might go away after a thorough cleaning at the service center. But if it entailed replacing the image sensor and it would cost me anywhere near the price of a new camera, that would be the end of it, goodbye Ixus V3.

With that in mind, I went to Canon. I live in Manila and Canon is represented here by Canon Marketing Philippines. The guy at the counter immediately recognized my camera’s problem; he confirmed that the image sensor was indeed dead and said the most pleasant surprise I ever heard in a year: Canon is going to repair it for free. What? My 4-year-old camera is still under warranty?

As it turned out, my Ixus V3 had an image sensor made by Sony, the Canon service technician explained, and it came from a batch with an inherent defect: under certain hot and humid conditions, the image sensor could malfunction. Yes, I remember now. It was covered by a product recall. All camera brands that used the plastic-backed CCD sensor –¬†Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon and Olympus –¬†offered to replace the image sensor for free.

The brands affected issued product advisories. Canon’s advisory for my region was posted here. I checked with Sony’s advisory regarding the matter, and it turned up this notice: “Sony will offer a free repair from October 3rd, 2005 to October 2nd, 2007.”

It was January 23, 2008 when I was at the Canon service center but my Ixus camera was taken in for repair with no further questions asked, they did not even ask for the purchase receipt of my camera. They took it in with a smile (thanks, Jonathan Orbe) and gave it back to me after about a week, good as new and even prettier than when it came in.

The point here I think is that you might have one of those cameras using that potentially defective Sony image sensor but you did not know that it is covered by a product advisory. Check your camera model. If you have a similarly dead Ixus V3 or Powershot S230 or equivalent models from Konica, Nikon and Olympus, you may still have a chance to bring it back in harness, even years after it conked out and you thought the warranty has ran out.

And with service like that from Canon Marketing Philippines, you can’t help but feel a little more loyal to the brand. Thanks again.

[Site: Canon Philippines]

Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.