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E18 error

The E18 error is an error message on Canon digital cameras. The E18 error occurs when anything prevents the zoom lens from properly extending or retracting. The error has become notorious in the Canon user community as it can completely disable the camera, requiring expensive repairs.

A quick internet search for "E18" + "canon" quickly reveals hundreds of similar complaints. reports that the "lens has a feature called bellows claw, which is a gear that physically extends and retracts the lens. A piece that holds the lens, the barrier plate, is not large enough and can sometimes cause the bellows claw to malfunction, resulting in a stuck lens". The result is a black screen that only contains the error message, E18. Another problem mentioned on the site blames a sticky iris in the lens, caused by grease entering inside from the microphones built into the lens. The buildup freezes up the ability of the lens to open.


According to Canon, one may get an E18 due to any of the following:

  • Camera activating and lens opening while in a confined space
  • Extracted lens getting jarred
  • Low battery condition as the unit is turned on or off
  • Dropping of the camera
  • Foreign substances, such as dust, sand or dirt entering into the camera body.
  • General jarring of the camera
  • "General camera malfunction"

According to many on-line forums, most complaints come from users that have taken good care of their camera. The camera just stops working. However, Canon refused to 'own up' to the problem. Often, the camera just needs to be reset.

Repairing the E18 error

Two different types of problems are reported:

  • 1) The camera can take a couple of shots (clear and in focus), then stops working. Removing the batteries and replacing may produce 2-3 extra shots.
    • Canon's instructions (by phone) are to 'remove the batteries, rotate the on button and hold for 5 seconds, and then replace the battery'. The few lucky pictures are clear and in focus.
    • A better solution (not provided by Canon) is to connect the camera to the TV or a computer. This may completely solve the problem. If not, it may at least allow an extra 10-15 shots. There are several forums on the net that mention that connecting the camera to the TV completely resolved the E18 error.
  • 2) A camera lens is out-of-focus. Some users have been able to manipulate the lens back into place (see reference links below). To fix the problem, it is often necessary that the camera and optical assembly is disassembled, realigned and reassembled. A non-warranty repair at an authorized service center reportedly costs between US $79 to $250.

There are a number of online guides to repairing E18 errors oneself, from simple guides on tapping the lens back into place to complete disassembly/realignment/reassembly instructions.

Consumer response and class action

Much of the consumer anger results from feeling that the failure is not their fault, and that Canon is leaving the consumer to pay for the repair. Canon reportedly examines cameras received for repairs looking for signs of consumer negligence, thereby making the repair non-warrantable; photographs of scratches and dents have reportedly been sent to consumers as proof for such arguments as to why the repair is not under warranty. The consumer is then left to have the unit sent back to them at their own cost or pay to have it repaired.

A Chicago law firm, Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, has already filed a class action, while the law firm of Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo LLP are investigating this camera flaw and may issue a class-action lawsuit against Canon. There is at least one other. Although the suit was dismissed in a court of law, the plaintiffs are appealing.


  1. Digital Camera Disasters: Will Yours Get Fixed? One widespread camera problem gets out-of-warranty repairs, another gets a lawsuit. (Grace Aquino, PC World, Tuesday 21 February 2006)
  2. Repair guide
  3. IXUS 40 aka SD300 Repair Guide
  4. E18 quick fix (CNet Digital cameras forum)
  5. Action by Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates
  6. Investigation by Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo LLP (currently accepting users to help with the investigation)
  7. Amazon review blog forum

External links

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