BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002

Error 99 on Canon Digital Rebel

Has anyone gotten this error and been able to correct it? The user guide says to take out the battery, however that didn't work. Every time I try to take a picture, the camera flashes Error 99. I even took out the small watch size battery and left it out for 10 minutes. All other functions work on the camera and it will auto focus, but it just won't take a picture.

This happened a few days after I first bought the camera when I tried to use a non-Canon 2x Extender. I took the camera back to Ritz Camera and they gave me a new one and told me not to use the Extender because that probably wasn't compatible. Now I have shot about 1100 photos using the Canon lens from the package and my Quantaray 70-300mm zoom. Today when I was using the Quantaray lens after several shots I got the Error 99 and now I can't take a picture.

I had driven an hour and a half to a beautiful Victorian town called Cape May, NJ where all of the tulips are in bloom and the camera stopped functioning after an hour. I did not have my film camera there for back up so the rest of the day was wasted. I was so angry. I can't bring the camera back to Ritz until Monday and I am sure they will have to send it out for repair so I will be without the camera for weeks.

I would like to know if anybody else has had this problem. Thanks!

To love this question, log in above
4/23/2004 7:34:11 PM

Dave Cross   Hi Kelly.
You are not the only one with this problem, try a Google search on 'digital rebel error 99'.
Unfortunately this error is a 'catch all', this means that it gets displayed when the software can't work out which of its other messages to display.
Before you return the camera, try this: remove the lens, remove both batteries, remove the flashcard. Charge the battery. If you have a spare flashcard put it in, carefully clean the contacts on the lens and camera body, then put everthing else back together.
Blast off a lot of shots and see what happens. The only other fix is to return the camera.
You MAY be able to return the camera as 'not fit for purpose' (2nd example, only 1100 photos) and get a refund. Then buy a 10D :-)
If find it highly unlikely that your extender damaged the first camera (well if the design is sensible anyway), I've been using non-Canon accessories with my EOS cameras for years with no significant problems.
Sorry to be so negative here, but there is very little that the average user can achieve with these complex little beasties.
Let us know when you solve your problem.

Dave C.

To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2004 11:09:31 PM

Dave Cross   Hi again.
There is a firmware update for the digital rebel, this may help, go here:



To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2004 11:22:28 PM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
  Check your CF Cards (swap them if you have to and make sure the seated correctly) and check the focus rings...


To love this comment, log in above
4/24/2004 11:28:59 AM

Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002
  Thank you all for your suggestions. I tried everything that Dave suggested and it didn't help. My firmware version is the latest as well. I posted this question on another site as well and this is one of the responses I received:

Here is what I recieved from Canon about the err 99 on my 10D using a Quantaray tech-10 24mm macro. It works in my D30 but not in my 10D.

"On all of Canon's EOS cameras, any Canon EF series lens is designed for
the camera.
Canon does not support non Canon equipment. It has not been tested and
we do not know the effects. It could cause malfunctions with the camera.

A variety of lenses from third-party manufacturers - Sigma, Quantaray,
Tamron, and others - are available in Canon EF mounts to fit Canon EOS
camera bodies. However, contrary to popular belief, these companies are
not "licensed" to produce these lenses; instead, their designers must
basically take apart and analyze EOS cameras and lenses, and then
"reverse-engineer" them to fit and operate on EOS camera bodies.

Lens to body communication

All Canon EF lenses have a microprocessor within the lens that provides
a number of items of information to the camera. When you turn on an EOS
camera (film or digital) the camera and lens communicate, and the camera
"knows" the lens's focal length, if it's a zoom lens the actual zoom
setting it's currently set to, and the maximum and minimum apertures,
among other things. When the camera is activated, this basic information
is transmitted to the camera body's main processor.

When the autofocus and light metering are activated by pressing the
shutter button halfway down, additional communication is carried out,
chiefly signaling the aperture control motor within the lens to stop the
diaphragm down to an amount determined by the camera (or the user, if
the camera's used in Av or Manual exposure modes), and a start signal is
sent to the lens's built-in focusing motor to begin driving the focusing
elements of the lens for autofocus. This is only a thumbnail sketch of
what occurs between body and lens. Many additional items are
communicated back and forth between the time the camera is turned on and
the moment the shutter button is fully depressed.

Communication errors

Whenever an EOS camera cannot complete electronic communication with a
lens, or detects an internal disturbance, the camera is designed to
lock-up on the first attempt to fire the shutter. Usually, a
dead-battery icon blinks in the same manner as a "check engine" light in
a car. This assures that there's almost no possibility of a user
shooting an entire wedding or vacation, for instance, with a lens that's
not stopping down its aperture properly or otherwise not working with
the camera properly.

Third-party lenses

The makers of third-party accessory lenses are not given this
information when Canon introduces new features or improves the
performance of its cameras and lenses. It's up to them to continue to
"reverse-engineer" their equipment to enable it to continue to work on
new EOS bodies as they're developed. Since Canon designs our own
processors and all electronics within the body and lens, we have been
able to maintain backward compatibility. This is one of the many
advantages of choosing a Canon EF lens.

When changes in communication result in a third-party lens that now
produces errors, it's up to the makers of that lens to update the
equipment to work on the EOS camera in question. Again, Canon's own EF
lenses work without modification.

The meaning of "fully compatible"

Many third-party lenses with EF mounts are sold to customers with the
claim by store salespeople or even the lens manufacturer that they're
"fully compatible" with all Canon EOS cameras. Canon, Inc. in Japan and
Canon USA offer no rebuttal to those claims.

Any compatibility is based on the reverse engineering we described
earlier in this document. And if a user mounts this lens on a certain
Canon EOS camera and it locks up, it's up to the user to contact the
lens manufacturer (after verifying it's a lens issue; see below) and
tell the lens maker's service department, "make it right."

Thank you for choosing Canon.


Product Support Representative"

To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2004 6:06:35 AM

Irv    I received error 99 with a Canon lens that I haven't used in a couple of years but only when I was shooting outdoors.

I tried the lens in my film-Rebel and noticed that only when shooting in bright light the mirror stayed up for a couple of seconds and the indicator showed that the battery was dead. I had to remove the battery to take another shot.

So something is wrong with the lens when it's stopped down and not the digital Rebel. Interestingly, both the film and digital versions required me to remove the batter to reset the error condition.

To love this comment, log in above
5/27/2004 4:15:44 PM

Robert Sturm   I found the Rebel 300D locks up when you stop down in bright light or when you follow the camera's recommended settings in forest light. I returned my Rebel 300D to Ritz for a full refund. I sent my Sigma 28-300 zoom lens back to Sigma for rechipping. My guess is that there are quality control problems with the camera and the firmware in the camera. It's too bad because it's a great camera. When Canon fixes their quality control problems I will buy the camera.

To love this comment, log in above
6/11/2004 9:26:29 AM

Josh S.   I had the same problem w/ Q-ray 75-300.
Put it on the shelf. Bought a Cannon lens and no problems. I would assume that Cannons response is right. I understand some 3rd party lens makers can rechip, but the nice people at Sigma (Q-ray) told me they could not rechip my lens. My conclusion is that you can hardly go wrong w/ Cannon lens, so I upgraded to a 75-300 IS. I love it. Cannon may have engineered this in?
But either way you gamble w/a 3rd party lens. Most people seem to agree Cannon cameras work best w/ Cannon lenses and most of the time you get what you pay for. No problems since I switched lenses :) except finding time to use my new gadget:(. By the way my Q-ray acted up only in bright conditions so more than likely Bobs problem was not the camera at all, but maybe I should have taken my camera back too because its caused me to spend too much money. Nahh,
I,m hoooked. You only live life once, gotta have good pics of it!

To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2004 6:56:31 AM

Steve McCroskey   I have used Quantaray lenses for over two years without any problems!
Why does averybody seem to want to criticize aftermarket equipment???????????????????

To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2004 8:00:30 AM

Dave Cross   People.
To quickly respond to Steve's comment.

I don't believe that there is any 'anti 3rd party' feeling in this group.

There are well documented problems with 'compatible' lenses and the latest crop of digital SLRs from Canon. If Canon were to actually licence their mount and communications protocols these problems would vanish.

Personally, I never had any problems with 3rd party kit and my D-60. The same lenses have difficulties on both the Drebel and 10-D.


To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2004 10:48:15 AM

Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002
  Well, I just got back from a trip to Lake George with my Digital Rebel and 2 Canon lenses both new this year. I shot almost 1,000 photos and toward the end of the week I was getting Error 99 every second or third shot. I have only had the camera since Feb and have shot 5,000 photos so far and I am very dissapointed that I am going to have to put the camera in for service now. The error 99 clears when I turn the camera off and back on, but it is a terrible nuisance. Not to mention I have missed some good action shots with the error.

Additionally, I have had problems in some of the manual modes. I shoot mainly in AV (aperture priority) and the DOF preview buttons sometimes sticks stopped down, even though I didn't press it and the camera is locked up. I have to switch to one of the auto modes to shoot. Eventually I can switch back to AV mode but it is really annoying. Anybody else had THAT problem???

I guess the bugs just aren't worked out of the Digital Rebel yet. Needless to say I am dissapointed in my thousand dollar investment.

To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2004 7:17:29 PM    I should have bought the nikon d70, I'm so stupid....this mysterious err 99 is pissing me off. I spent 1600cnd on this thing it should work flawless. I bet the nikon does. sigh...ebay here I come.

To love this comment, log in above
7/12/2004 12:40:13 PM

Nathan L. Golab
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/29/2003
  Wow I have had my Canon Digital Rebel since Dec. 2003. I have never had any problems with any error 99. I have used the Quantaray 70-300mm lens and the 2X converter with no problems. I have so far taken about 15000-17000 pictures without any problems. This camera is the best camera that I have owned. I takes sharp pictures, with really good quality. Nathan

To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 6:26:06 PM

Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002
  Funny thing is just about the time I was completely fed up with getting error 99 once every 2 or 3 shots, all of sudden it just stopped. I get it once every few months now and that is about it. Pretty weird that it just went away on its own.

To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 7:10:31 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  dont touch the lens, the contact points move when you put too much pressure on it

To love this comment, log in above
3/11/2005 9:09:09 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.