BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005

Camera Not Working At All

Hi! I was asked to help take photos at a conference in Manila, and when I arrived and turned on my Rebel XT, it was dead. Just plain dead, no sign of life at all when I turn it on. It's not the battery, because I had two fully charged batteries with me, and I know my battery charger is working normally. This has never happened. I have gotten a couple error messages in the past month or so, but nothing serious, just turned it off and on again and it worked.
My problem is that I know of no camera shop in my relatively small town (Japan) that has someone who could look at it - everyone sends cameras away for repair. I'm wondering if there's anything I can do before taking that step. Thanks so much for any advice!

To love this question, log in above
12/3/2008 12:17:46 AM

Alan N. Marcus   The problem could be as simple as a lifeless battery. If true, the best plan is to find another owner or perhaps a camera shop with a replacement battery, or better, a working camera that accepts the same battery. If you are in luck, you can try a direct replacement. If this solves the problem, you can order a new battery.
Another approach: Any repair shop (TV – radio – VCR etc.) can check your battery, battery terminals, camera connection points and confirm whether your battery is good or bad. Take your battery charger along.
If the battery and/or charger is bad, order a replacement. Otherwise, it will be necessary to ship the camera away for service. Hope this helps!

To love this comment, log in above
12/3/2008 6:51:04 AM

Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
  Thanks Alan. Can't imagine that it's the battery, as it would be most unlikely that both batteries would go dead at the same time (one is a year newer than the other) and the charger appears to be in good working order: red light while charging, green light when done). But, I'll try another battery anyway at the camera shop and perhaps find a place to check all the connections. Thanks again.

To love this comment, log in above
12/3/2008 6:56:23 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Also, you should attempt to polish the battery contacts on both the battery and inside the camera and on the charger. Get a coarse cloth and rub it vigorously to polish the metal connectors. Inside the camera is difficult to reach. I use an old-fashioned pencil-style typewriter eraser. This is a wood pencil but instead of lead, the center is filled with a coarse rubber ink eraser. Likely you won’t have one, so the next best is an ordinary pencil with eraser. Also a fingernail buffer tool can do the job. The pencil type makes a wonderful banisher as you can apply some pressure as you clean the inside metal battery contacts.
As to battery life: Rechargeable batteries fail suddenly. Normally they fail slowly as each time they are charged their potential to hold a charge is diminished. Say, the first time used, they power the camera for 500 exposures; next time 475; then the next 450, etc. As time goes by, their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Also, the battery contacts are metal and subject to corrosion. Soiled contacts are poor conductors of electricity.
Direct substitution is the best tool for diagnosing battery problems.
Hope this helps.

To love this comment, log in above
12/3/2008 7:48:02 AM

Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
  Yes, thank you, it certainly sounds like help. I'll run out and buy a pencil in the morning!

To love this comment, log in above
12/3/2008 7:50:54 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Another thing you can try is to remove the lens, check those contacts as well for dirt, bent pins, etc. Some of these cameras will not even power up without communication between lens and camera. Silly question, but do you have the CF card in?

To love this comment, log in above
12/3/2008 8:39:43 AM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2003
  As with most computers one way is to reset the computer. Turn off the camera and removfe the bttery and leave it out for at least 24 to 48 hours. This will allow the capaciters to totally discharge and for the in camera computer to be completely reset. merely removing the batteries will not reboot the computer. After the discharge period replace the battery this will cause the camera to fully reboot. You will have to redo any custom settings and of course the day and date etc. I have had to this with oter cameras at the suggestion of the ir tech support people suggested it.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 5:47:55 AM

Mark Theriault   I just had a similar problem 2 days ago. My Rebel XT flashed an Err 99 on the lcd panel and locked up. I then shut it off and turned it back on to reset and it was dead. No life whatsoever.

I pulled both batteries (the main and the "date keeper") and let it sit overnight. Put the batteries back in to try again and it was still dead.

It turns out the battery contacts in the camera were not making firm enough contact with the battery. I simply used a paper clip bent into a hook shape to reach into the battery compartment and bend the contacts out so they push on the battery a bit harder.

I popped the battery back in and on it came. It lives!

Hopefully you problem is no more serious than that.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 5:59:01 AM

Paul D.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/25/2006
  Here's a possibility, if this scenario is true: the Canon 10D has a switch in the CF Card slot door, that if you open that door with the camera turned on, it shuts the camera down. Does the Rebel XT have that same "feature"? If so, maybe the switch went bad. If your XT doesn't have that, then it's 99.9% a battery issue. Being you charged both batteries and they both don;t work, the charger may be to blame. Hope you solve it!

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 6:27:27 AM

David E. Bunkofske
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2007
  Do you have a vertical grip on camera If so take it off and put back on. that has happened to me in the past and solved the problem

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 6:41:02 AM

Michael D. Miller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/26/2006
  What struck me was that you said you had problems before with the camera but they were not serious and you could do a cold restart. You -shouldn't have ANY problems- with a DSLR. There -can be- something wrong with your camera and aside from the above fixes, I would certainly make arrangements to send it into Canon and tell them what's been happening. I know this doesn't solve your current event.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 6:53:40 AM

Marc D. Bell   You've received some great advise on things you can try to get your camera up and running again. However, if none of the above steps worked. I would highly recommend finding a reputable Cannon dealer (of course you will have to ship them the camera)and have them check it, they will be able to fix it, or at least let you know for sure why your camera isn't working.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 7:10:23 AM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
Contact Bunny
Bunny's Gallery
  That exact thing happened to me last month. In fact, I called my former teacher, a local pro, and he had the same thing happen to his Canon 40D as what happened to my 20D and your Rebel XT.

What we did was: turn off the camera. Remove the batteries. Set all functions back to default including those custom functions. Change lenses. After a few hours, turn the camera back on again and reset all the functions previously used.

And, the camera worked again. But, neither of us have any clue as to why it froze up. Danny (the local pro) said this happened to him last year. He turned off his camera, went through the whole routine, but the camera did not turn on again that day. So, he used another camera. Big inconvenience for a pro.

Twenty-four hours later without batteries encased, he put the batteries back in again and his camera began working with no problem. It wasn't the batteries.

His best explanation, along with explanations to me at was that the digital camera is a computer, which sometimes has glitches. Best solution is to turn it off (removing the batteries) for 24 hours. Then turn it on again.

This seems to occur in Canons. I don't know if it occurs in Nikons, or other manufactured cameras as well.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 7:18:04 AM

Michael D. Miller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/26/2006
  Ok. Now that I have read all these problems with "Canons", perhaps you should also consider a Nikon.

Ok. Don't strangle me. It's just a Canon/Nikon joke. I do hope you get it resolved quickly. I am a passionate photographer. Not necessarily good but passonate (for 51 years-Petri 1.9, Rolleicord, Pentax, Olympus (35 years), Koni-Omega 6X7, Nikon N90S film, D70, and now D300). I just love the art. The rest are just tools. You know what the most dangerous part of a car is (or the most important part of a camera?)?

The nut behind the wheel (behind the lens).

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 8:03:45 AM

Cheryl Ann Gould
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/30/2008
  I had the Error 99 message on my 4 month old Canon 40D when I was in Rome last month. I emailed Canon and they responded with a trouble shooting routine. Unfortunately it did not work in my case and I had to send the camera to Canon service when I got back to the US. It required several parts to be replaced. The positive: the service was free, it was fast, and they cleaned the sensor.

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 8:09:18 AM

Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
  Wow, thanks everyone! What a surprise to wake up to all these new suggestions! I had tried the other things and was resigned to sending it in. Today after work, I'll try these new things! Thanks!

To love this comment, log in above
12/9/2008 3:06:38 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.