How to Replace a Digital Camera’s LCD – a Walkthrough
A very common camera repair performed today, no matter the type or manufacturer, is the replacement of the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen. At the outset of this walkthrough a few things must be stressed; a disclaimer if you will. Trying to replace an LCD without proper knowledge and experience can be very difficult and sometimes hazardous. Pulling electronics apart and seeing how they work can be fun for some, but it can easily result in further damage and far more costly repairs. Nine times out of ten, when an LCD is being replaced, it is physically broken due to damage that was likely caused by some sort of trauma (from dropping etc).
Cameras are very tightly packed little pieces of technology and generally the LCD is attached to and/or part of a lot of other integral components. Because of this, there is a high probability that there are other things broken that only a trained professional can diagnose/fix easily. Also, having spare parts on hand doesn’t make economic sense for your average consumer because the costs of replacement parts for cameras are not in proportion to their selling price.
Furthermore, camera repair facilities have the necessary testing, calibration and adjustment equipment to get cameras fully operational. Bottom line, if one does attempt this at home, there is very little to no margin for error. Keep in mind this is a general walkthrough NOT a repair guide, I take no responsibility for any damage to property or personal harm that may occur from anyone making use of this information. With that said…
The first things first, parts and tools are necessary to doing this job right. Obviously the part needed is a replacement LCD. It has to be for that particular make and model; this ensures the connections align and it fits properly. The essential tools for “most” LCD replacements are:
A set of small Phillips Head screwdrivers (preferably magnetized)
A straight pair and a curved pair of ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) safe tweezers
A lint free cleaning cloth (microfiber)
A shallow container or a flat refrigerator magnet for screws and parts
*In more complicated configurations, a few additional tools may be needed, such as a soldering iron and solder.
And now for the show, replacing the LCD! Please keep in mind this is a general many camera models are more complex and will require additional disassembly in order to remove and replace the LCD.
Battery and memory card are removed. Inspection for any additional accessories that might get in the way is also done.
Location and unscrewing of all housing screws to remove the necessary housing cover(s).
It is easy to strip out the tiny screw heads; many manufacturers “glue” the screws in place. If the LCD was damaged due to impact, the housing may have shifted, making the screws problematic to remove.
Proprietary screws can also be a problematic; the screwdriver may have to be special ordered from the manufacturer. Screws may also be hidden behind stickers or panels.
The cover is loose now. The LCD is either attached to the rear cover or bracketed to the main circuit of the camera.
There is a very real risk of shock from this point on. DO NOT TOUCH ANY CIRCUITRY. The flash capacitor circuit on some models is located nearby and will give a painfull serious jolt if one is not careful.
Flexible Printed Circuits (FPC) and wires attach buttons on the external housing to the main circuit board; pulling those out accidentally is bad.
The screws securing the LCD to the rest of the camera are now removed. These are fairly easy to find but there may be additional clips or seals to watch out for.
Connecting components (generally wires or FPC’s) that run from the LCD to the rest of the camera are disconnected using the appropriate set of tweezers.
It will be clear whether or not a soldering iron and solder is needed at this point. Proper soldering techniques apply here.
Once those connections are severed, removal of the damaged LCD is easy. The damaged LCD is discarded after any important components are removed.
The new LCD has a protective plastic sheet that is removed before installation. Touching it with bare hands must be avoided, potential damage could be done. It’s also in bad form to get any oils on the nice new LCD screen.
Using the compressed/canned air, dust is blown out that may have settled on the new LCD or inside the camera.
Care is taken to not blow dust into the wrong spots (viewfinder, lens, sensor, etc).
Work in reverse; re-connection of the connections/wires and re-securing with the previously removed screws to the new LCD is done.
Beware: It is very easy to bend/crack the connections.
Special attention is paid to the FPCs and connections. They must be secure and seeded.
Screw size is very important here. Using the wrong size can short or damage other components in the camera.
Housing Cover(s) is/are re-fastened onto the camera and secured with the housing screws.
Things may not line up properly at this point, something has gone wrong. It will have to be taken apart for evaluation and reassembled.
Wires can bunch wrong here and there is a risk of pinching wires.
The Battery and memory card are replaced and the camera is powered on. This only tests if the LCD was installed correctly. If the camera/LCD is not working there are countless other things that could be going wrong and are evaluated. As mentioned in the beginning, there is a high possibility that something else is broken and/or needed to be calibrated/adjusted. Further testing of the entire camera must be done to ensure the camera is fully operational.
Just to stress again, trying these kinds of repairs at home, can be a great hobby for some, shouldn’t be taken lightly. Professional photographers always have a backup camera in case of any type of equipment malfunction; it’s not a bad idea.
Kevin Gornto is a Factory Trained and Authorized Technician at C.R.I.S. Camera Services, a digital camera repair company located in Chandler, AZ. Kevin has an electronics degree that provided him with his advanced hardware knowledge and digital imaging expertise. He also enjoys writing about his technical experience and is a major contributor for the company’s camera repair blog; focused on care, maintenance and repair tips for digital cameras and imaging equipment.