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help with disassembly of coolpix l3

wm fennell , Feb 07, 2007; 05:45 p.m.

my story is the same as many others

-Nikon coolpix L3

-camera dropped

-lens permanently stuck

-"lens error" on display

-out of warranty and factory repair is likely more than replacement costs

-not a fan of just pushing,pulling banging to see what happens.

but as long as i've got nothing to lose i would like to identify the 'failed components and see if i can locate replacement parts on the cheap.

any advice in 'popping' open the case w/o any further damage would be appreciated. i have removed the 8-9 screws around the perimeter and can easily separate the grey/silver joint. however, i am uncertain how to procede with the chrome trim piece housing the shutter release. i would appreciate any help continuing with the dismantling process. thanks, -bill


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Morris Gambo , Feb 12, 2007; 10:38 p.m.

Same problem here.

I just figured out how to get the back off and the chrome trim off.

There is a tiny arc-shaped hole by the USB port when the rubber cover is moved. stick a tiny screwdriver through there and you can pop the cover MOST of the way off. THere are still two little catches on the chrome trim though. You can twist slightly and use your tiny screwdriver to pop off the catches. The catches are evenly spaced about 1/3 across the top of the camera.

Now the chrome trim. THere are a couple more little catches and THREE tiny screws (one in the corner, one by the power LED, and one at the bottom end of the chrome trim) to be removed. WHen you remove the chrome trim, the power button, the shutter button (and a spring), and the LED cover will fall out.

That's as far as I've gotten. I need to get the other half of the case off so I can see what's obstructing the lens.

Morris Gambo , Feb 12, 2007; 10:41 p.m.

NOTE: Let the camera discharge without the batteries for a few days! Or you will zap yourself when you touch the flash leads. I did this. Ouch.

I also took off the little bracket that holds the strap. I don't know if this is necessary to do.

wm fennell , Feb 13, 2007; 01:23 p.m.

thanks you are a Prince!

i remember to access hole you describe. i feel like i'm defusing a bomb :)


Morris Gambo , Feb 13, 2007; 09:09 p.m.

Okay, I've managed to get the whole thing apart. My wife and I were up until about 1 am doing this, probably because we're crazy.

Remove ALL of the visible screws on the circuit board. The metal ground plate will come off in a couple pieces, and the screen will be loose.

Lift the screen and there will be more screws underneath. If you remove all of these, and release a couple little grey plastic catches on the circuit board, you will be able to tilt the circuit board up. It is still attached by the battery leads but you can bend these.

You can now take out the lens assembly with a few screws. The lens assembly is all one unit and is attached to the circuit board by a ribbon cable. You can carefully pull out the ribbon cable from the connector on the circuit board so the lens assembly is free.

Now for the REALLY tricky part.

There are a bunch of screws on the lens assembly and a piece of thin, black tape that holds it together. Remove the tape. Now CAREFULLY remove the screws. Two (one on the side of the barrel and one on the small ribbon cable) are VERY tiny! But getting them off is necessary because they hold down parts of the ribbon cable which gets in the way of the repair.

WARNING! When you remove all the screws and tape, the lens assembly will come apart and several small gears may fall out! My wife and I spent much of the night figuring out the order the gears went back in and how to properly put them in. I can give you that information if you end up needing it. My wife was smart enough to write it all down.

At this point I recommend wearing nitrile gloves or something to keep fingerprints off the lens parts.

The problem you probably have: The actual lens is in a little round, black holder that sits in the middle of the zoom assembly. It it held into place by three little metal "points". You have to line the points up with the grooves and you find out it doesn't quite fit. But you can shove it in until it clicks.

Now you can carefully put the lens assembly back together.

DISCLAIMER: We quit about 1 am and didn't finish putting the camera back together yet. We probably won't get to it tonight, but when we do I'll let you know if it works.

wm fennell , Feb 15, 2007; 02:14 p.m.

excellant! i am hanging onto every word and cant wait for the next installment.

i'm still a bit behind you. i have gotten down to the lens assembly but the ribbon cable is still attached. the ribbon appears to wrap around the lens housing in 2 places. the tiny screw on the side that you described and at the motor drive ( with another tiny screw.

Does the second tiny ribbon pop off the motor casing? I can open the gearbox enough to see what a mess i'm in for.

Without being able to 'cleanly' separate the two halves i will be toast.

you were right about the lens. its just flopping around inside the housing.

thanks and good luck, -bill

ps apparantly it take alot more that a couple of days to discharge the flash capacitor :( i think i shorted it with the LCD frame while accessing the screws behind( hopefully no additional damage)

John Jerred , Feb 16, 2007; 06:03 p.m.

I completed this very repair a week ago, on my younger sister's camera, and I'm happy to say she is using the camera as I write taking pictures on a cruise in Jamaica. Few tips:

-If you have any kind of voltmeter, measuring the voltage on the flash capacitor gradually drains it, takes about 5-10 minutes(this can also be done with a large resistor, however you have no way of knowing when the cap is fully discharged). I zapped myself real good with it the first time.

-Make sure the lens is clean BEFORE you put it back together. It's a simple thing, but a complete pain if you put it all back together and you have a fingerprint inside.

-When all was said an done, the picture was still blurry, zooming in and out several times, and pushing on the lens mechanism while focus helped the autofocus to work again.

Other than that, i lost a few screws(i'm not the best at documenting my work....and I didn't have a camera to take pictures as I disassembled), and I broke a couple soldering joints as I removed the circuit board. But after resetting the gears, resoldering, unsoldering, cleaning the lens, resoldering again, and putting back together....it worked. Which is good for me because I promised her I'd buy her a new camera if I couldn't fix it.


Edward Du , Feb 26, 2007; 10:27 p.m.

I have gotten the same problem and I want to repair it by my self too. I have removed the 8-9 screws around the perimeter, but I found it quite difficult to separate the gray/silver joint. Is it easy to take it off? About how to dismantling, you can reffer to the photos below: http://www.ccw.com.cn/dc/yyjq/wzxj/htm2006/20061110_222402.shtml Is there anyone having repaired it and it works now.

-- Edward

wm fennell , Feb 28, 2007; 09:36 a.m.

edward. with the valued help of those mentioned above the surgery was a success but the patient died :(

i neglected to discharge the flash capacitor before attempting to remove the display screen. the resulting short was quite spectacular but apparantly fatal.

my mistake was pretty basic and i see no reason others with a bit more respect for the relatively fragile electronics will not be successful.

the pics you referenced will be very helpful. i wish i had them. can you translate the text.

by now, you've figured out that very tiny screws come in many shapes and sizes. there are more to follow so keep track of the size and locations. pics, bags and labels will all help.

the silver/grey back cover will be the first to be removed. after the screws are all removed around the perimeter, gently pry open the exposed joint with a narrow flat blade. each side appears to have 2 concealed snaps approx 1/3 the distance from each corner. the snaps attaching the backplate to the chrome trim piece are the most difficult, but they are there. be patient, wiggle and pry a bit at a time. use something softer than the camera case to cover your prying tool to protect the case from dings as much as possible.

as indicated in your pics (maybe). once the cover is off. drain the cap with something appropriate ( resistor, bulb, meter, etc). remove the grounding plates. unsolder the battery leads to the circuit board. gently, remove the ribbon cables to the board (power switch, lens and screen) refer to the comments from morris and john above about dealing with the lens assy.

good luck -bill

Malia Wilson , Mar 27, 2007; 07:44 p.m.

OK, so I got the whole thing apart and the lens fixed (i think). i went to go start putting back together and all of the gears fell out. does anyone know how to put them back together? a gear diagram or something like that would be extremely helpful to me right now. Thanks for any help that can be provided.

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