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FrogOnFire's avatar

Are camera cases/bags actually harmful to cameras with retracatable lenses?

Asked by FrogOnFire (719points) August 6th, 2009

I have a Canon PowerShot SX110 IS. It’s an advanced point-and-shoot digital camera. Like many digital Cameras, it has a retractable lens that slides back inside the camera when not in use. I love the camera, but the lens seems to be very sensitive and I get “lens error” messages (indicating the lens gets stuck while extending or retracting) more frequently than I would like (it’s already made one trip to Canon factory service).

I read somewhere that the problem is I’m using a camera bag for the camera. Apparently, the inside of a camera bag is an easy place for dirt to collect, which can get stuck in the lens, making it unable to extend/retract. I also read that if the camera is accidentally powered on inside the back, the lens cannot fully extend and the gears/motor will break.

It makes sense, but is there any credibility to this information I have read? Do the benefits of carrying a camera around “naked” outweigh the risks? Are there any alternatives to camera bags that will afford my $250 device some protection while preventing lens damage?

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9 Answers

deni's avatar

i really dont think thats true. i worked at a camera store for years and though i heard thousands of complaints, i never heard a single one about a camera bag actually damaging a lens.

but what kind of bag do you have? i personally like the little hard cases. you could probably find one to fit that camera since its pretty small. i have a hard shelled case for mine and i love it, never had any problems.

tramnineteen's avatar

In theory this makes sense (though I also worked in camera store that did repairs and never heard of it), but what kind of container or lack there of would block dust and dirt?

If this is the problem it would seem that you could not prevent it. I think the case probably helps more than it hurts (if it hurts at all), both regarding impact damage and keeping it clean. I wouldn’t change anything and find out if your warranty has a lemon clause. I would guess you just got a dud if it’s a big problem.

Cameras like yours have a sensor that detects if anything hits the front of the lens while it’s extending and triggers the error you mentioned. They are sensitive but yours may be overly sensitive.

FrogOnFire's avatar

Thanks for your answers everyone!

@tramnineteen I’ve owned the camera for about a month and half and it’s had 3 bouts of lens errors. After the second one the lens wouldn’t move so I sent it in for repair. I got it back yesterday and today I got another lens error, which went away. If I get another lens error this week, I’ll definitely look into the lemon clause. Thanks again.

dynamicduo's avatar

Ok. I’ll be super honest here. The death of my last camera, while I claim it was due to taking a picture of feisty ducks, was actually caused by me bumping the lens while it was retracting back. You see, I was rushing to catch a bus, and didn’t have the time to wait till the lens was back before putting it into its (zippered) case. Sure enough, it was dead when I tried to open it on the bus.

I really don’t consider it to be the case’s fault, it was my fault for being so fast.

As a result though I now have the Canon Powershot SD1100IX. Which I keep in a Roots case which has a magnetic seal, no zipper. And I always make sure the lens is fully retracted before putting it in the case.

I do not think the chance of dust in the case getting into the lens is high enough to not use a case. Because without a case it’s just a matter of time until the nice LCD screen is scratched up, if not the lens itself via some freak incident. I will continue to use a camera case like this until I get a DSLR, in which case I greatly enjoy the backpack model of camera carrying case.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I have the same camera actually (awesome camera isnt it?) I usually keep mine in a bag and havent noticed any issues. Like dynamicduo said though, just make sure the lens is in all the way before putting it into the bag.

FrogOnFire's avatar


Though the initial lens error was a defect with the camera, all the new lens errors were ended by replacing my 3-year-old rechargeable batteries with new ones. Now the camera works like a charm. I’m guessing it might have to do with the fact that the old batteries weren’t producing enough amps/volts/watts or something to properly open/close the lens (I don’t know much about electricity).

@uberbatman I agree, it’s an amazing camera (despite the lens problems).

El_Cadejo's avatar

@FrogOnFire i have problems with using rechargable batteries in my camera too. I mean the camera chews through batteries as it is, but when i use the recharables, my god…. its like 3 pictures later the damn thing is dead.

got any pictures online? heres mine

FrogOnFire's avatar

@uberbatman No, I don’t have any online yet. I just haven’t gotten around to creating a flickr account.

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