Canon S2IS – the Black Screen of Death (Update 2015)

I thought I’d repost this article from a few years ago as it has been one of the most popular articles on my blog. Since I changed the name of my WordPress account from techastro.wordpress.com to digitalwaterfalls.wordpress.com (bringing it more in line with my other web activities) I realise that a number of links will break. So I’m going repost the more useful and popular articles over the next few weeks with updates where appropriate. I hope my visitors will continue to find them useful!

Update March 2015

My Canon S2IS is continuing to work well with continued, regular use. Well, when I say regular use, I mean a couple of times a year to exercise the motor and lens, which occasionally exhibits the ‘black screen of death’ problem. However, it does seem to get better with age and I regularly use it for long intervalometer runs to produce some time-lapse photography. I did use it with a CHDK script to capture a lighning storm last July, I have quite a dramatic photo from the run which I’ll have to find for this blog later!

Original Article (2nd June 2010)

The Canon Powershot S2IS digital camera is getting a bit long in the tooth now, having first come out in 2005. Unfortunately it suffers from a design fault that seems to affect the camera, increasing with age.

Known as the ‘black screen of death’, it is a disconserting fault that effectively renders the camera usless. The problem manifests itself when the camera is switched on and nothing no view appears on the LCD screen. Only a black screen with the OSD is displayed. When the shutter is pressed, the camera takes a black image.

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This is a design fault with the camera where the ‘iris’ of the camera fails to open, sticking in the closed position, due to lubricant that starts to thicken over time. If the camera is not used for some time, this oil causes the iris to stick and the CCD sees the back of iris, being black.

However, there is a way around the problem which costs nothing, though it does not cure the problem permanently.

I hope this tip may prove useful to other S2IS owners, though I should say I take no responsibility for any damage incurred for any advice given in this article – use at your own risk.

1. Turn the settings dial to ‘Tv’ mode.
2. Use the left cursor control button to set the Tv value to 15″.
3. Press the shutter and wait about 7 seconds.
4. Open the battery cover and let the batteries out of the camera, the camera will ‘bleep’.
5. After about 30 seconds, re-insert the batteries back into the camera and close the battery cover. The lens will retract and the camera will power off.
6. Power the camera back on in ‘record’ (ie. take a picture mode) and press the shutter several times, taking some pictures.
7. If the black screen reappears, repeat steps 1-6 until the camera takes pictures repeatedly and reliably.

Note you may have more luck in running the camera in ‘Tv’, ‘M’ or ‘C’ modes (taking multiple images), it seems to take longer to get out of the black screen problem rather than switching immediately back to ‘Auto’ mode.

By taking some pictures, probably every day then less so, this will keep the iris ‘exercised’ and stop the lubricant from gumming up.

One method I use to keep my camera in working order is to use the CHDK script ‘ultra intervalometer’ and let it run for 100+ shots, which will give the camera a good work-out.

Canon and photographic companies can ‘repair’ the camera, though I don’t know what form this takes.

Posted by Wordmobi

Lumia 820 Denim Update Now Available?

A very quick post to let visitors know that it appears that the Lumia Denim update has been released for the 820 and it is currently downloading to my O2 variant.

It also appears that this has been released by Microsoft in India as its their intention that Denim is available to all (CV versions at least), according to WPCentral.

I’m going to leave it running overnight as it appears to be a very slow download / install. I’d advise 820 owners manually check for updates to see if its available for your respective phone.

Snapcam App Review

Snapcam is currently a Windows Phone exclusive app which enables you to upload a gallery of images and have them printed in a matter of a few days, as a photo book.

I read about the service on the Lumia Conversations blog as Snapcam were promoting the service with a discount voucher for Valentines Day. I thought it would make a nice personalised present for my wife to have a couple of books printed with photos of our two greyhounds, from the images stored on my Lumia 830 and laptop.

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At the moment, the service has two options available – a hardback book or a glossy softback book. Once received, the images are printed on high quality Xerox paper and the book is posted out to you.

The service costs £4.99 for the softback book and £9.99 for the hardback book with a nominal amount of about three quid for shipping.

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You first create an album by importing images from your camera roll or OneDrive. I found the easiest way to get all the images into the album was to copy and sort my images from the different sources I had into a folder on OneDrive and then import them in one download. Contrary to one app reviewer, I was able to use images stored in a nested folder on OneDrive. Once in the album, the images can be swapped around and Snapcam automatically fits them into the page depending on the number of images and their orientation. This can result in some portrait images being stacked on top of each other (if you have more than 24, there is a minimum of 12 images to complete an album) which isn’t necessarily making the most of the available space on the page. However this can give the pages a bit of variety instead of the same format repeating across each page. The front page image does need a bit of consideration in its layout, in that the image can’t be moved up or down to get the correct placement at the top and bottom parts of the page. Therefore you have pick an image where you know that the top and bottom parts of the image aren’t going to get chopped off. Hopefully this flexibility can be introduced in an app update.

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You also have some limited options to set what the album title is, colour and background (eg. Red letters on a white background) Once the album is ready you choose what print format you want where the cost of the book is advised. The app then asks you for delivery, invoice and credit card details. Once confirmed the app starts to upload the images to the Snapcam servers – I would strongly recommend that you use wireless to perform the upload as an album is likely to be a couple hundred megabytes in size.

I did hit a couple of issues during the upload process, Snapcam recommends that you leave the app open during the upload to ensure the images are uploaded successfully. However image eight seemed to get stuck and after twenty minutes of nothing happening I closed the app down and restarted it. Image nine then continued to upload and image eight had its status changed to ‘SubmittedToBts’. I guess that this means ‘submitted to background transfer service’ so there is an upload process that continues to run once all the other images have been uploaded in the foreground; roughly half a dozen images seemed to get stuck in the upload queue out of around thirty so I left the phone sat on top of my wireless charger overnight.

Checking in the morning, I noticed that all the images had been uploaded and the album had been printed! Looking for a bit of reassurance, I submitted a log file via email (this can be done in the app) to the Snapcam tech support contact to make sure all my images had been submitted successfully. I received an acknowledgement later that day but before my query could be progressed, the albums were delivered the next day! Well packaged in a hard-backed envelope, both albums contained all my submitted images as I’d sent them.

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Overall I’m thoroughly impressed with the Snapcam service; I can’t fault the quality of the prints or delivery. The app has a few rough edges and could do with a few changes to make the process of creating your album easier to customise, but there are no showstoppers here. I’d give it an 8 out of 10 overall – thanks to Lumia Conversations for bringing this to my attention – my wife was very pleased when she had the albums as one of her presents this morning!

The Many Cameras of Lumia

One of the strengths of the Lumia series is the camera technology and variety of ‘lenses’ available to the smartphones. However, to someone who has just bought a Lumia, this can lead to a little confusion. To be honest, I had this problem when I changed from the 820 to the 830, because I was expecting the latest camera software to be installed, called Lumia Camera 5.
To help those beginners, here’s an overview of the camera software that comes with the Lumia and a few tips which is the best to use. Out of the box on the Lumia 830 of you look through the apps list, you have:

Camera
Nokia Camera
-or- Lumia Camera (more of which later)

The Camera App

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This is what you call your standard Windows phone camera app, which I assume its also installed on order brands of Windows phones (HTC, Samsung etc). It offers a number of ways to control the camera such as ISO value, exposure, burst mode, picture or movie and flash. It also has a link to the other lenses that are installed – such as Nokia Camera. You can pinch-zoom on screen to zoom in on something (note this is only a digital zoom) and press the shutter button. Tapping the shutter button on screen takes the shot without the focus assist light, pressing the physical camera button engages the focus assist light if it’s enabled in the settings. You can then see what you’ve taken by tapping on the icon in the top right corner which will open your shot in the photos app.

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If you want to make changes to the photo settings (for example manually controlling the ISO values) you have to go to the three settings ‘dots’ -> photo settings and make your changes there. This method is a little clunky compared to..

Nokia Camera App

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This is one of the free ‘lenses’ that are offered with Lumia phones that have some controls over the standard camera app. This can be started by accessing it through the Camera app or from the app list and can also be pinned to the start screen. It’s different in the respect that the common camera controls can be found on screen, instead of having to go through the menus described above. Personally I find Nokia Camera the best to use, simply because the camera controls are on screen, so I’ve added it as a shortcut to my start menu. In addition, you can set the default camera to launch when you press the camera button in ‘settings’ (go to the settings app, swipe to the right so the ‘applications’ list is shown, find ‘photos+camera’ and set the ‘Default Camera App’ to ‘Nokia Camera’.

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Lumia Camera 5
Because Microsoft is gradually replacing the Nokia name with the Lumia brand, the Lumia camera app is designed to replace Nokia camera. It’s being rolled out as part of the Lumia Denim update, which in the UK has been rolled out to the Lumia 930 and 1520 at time of writing. However, Lumia Camera 5 as its called, has no release date for the Lumia 830 for the SIM-free (country variant). Unfortunately, though the Lumia camera app is also available in the Windows app store, 830 owners can’t install it because it needs the Lumia Denim update – which is already installed!?! The situation is confusing to say the least! Putting things into perspective, I still have a fully functioning camera phone, an update would be very nice but it doesn’t stop me from using what is a very good camera phone. I’ll keep an eye on the update rollout and post any news I find.

Update Monday 9th February
I spotted a tweet from @AA_WP (the very nice chaps over at www.allaboutwindowsphone.com this evening stating that the country variant (CV) Lumia Denim update was rolling out here in the UK. It was also stated that it included an update to the problem where Netflix streams won’t play. I’ve installed the update which took about 50 minutes in total to complete, the main difference is that Lumia Camera 5 is now available. A separate app update is also made available – initial impressions are that it has an incredibly fast startup, takes some very nice low light images and has had a bit of an interface change.

Unfortunately it seems that either there is still a problem with Netflix as the stream still won’t play, or the report from @AA_WP was wrong and the Lumia Denim update hasn’t fixed it. If you want to take a look at their report, click on this link.

I’ll post more details over the coming days specifically about Lumia Camera 5 and if there is any further update to the Netflix issue.

Update Tuesday 10th February
Very bizarre – Netflix is working fine this evening! Only changes I made last night were to reinstall Netflix which didn’t resolve the issue. Then MeTweets broke, so I reinstalled that I left the device for the night. I’ve just caught ip on the All About Windows Phone thread above and I checked Netflix, oddly it started working fine! No idea why but I’m more than happy this has been fixed at last!

Evernote vs Office on Windows Phone

I’ve been using Evernote on a variety of devices to help keep notes, blog posts and study material in sync for a couple of years. What helped pique my interest was the O2 customer special deal of a free year on their premium service plan. This includes offline data and a few other services. Its been very nice, I’ve sync’ed between Evernote on Windows Phone, my iPad and my Nokia C7 using the third-party client Notekeeper.

However, one thing that has annoyed me with Evernote, no matter whether you have offline access or not, is that the sync service isn’t quite 100%. Its fine when you have wifi and a good data connection everywhere, but here in the UK I do travel to some places where the quality of the data connection isn’t 100% and this can lead to some problems. In particular, if you are updating a document and want to save a small edit; I was updating some notes for the CP-123 review the other day and I was in a bit of a black spot for mobile coverage. I had a few minutes to kill, so I added another paragraph to the review and saved the document. Evernote went through the motions of syncing and because I’d had experience of this before, I went back into the document to make sure my changes were there. Unfortunately not – ten minutes of note-taking gone into the ether.

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As I said, Evernote has got ‘previous’ in this area for me and this has been the final straw. In addition I usually sync between my Lumia and my iPad and I’ve had problems when Evernote has said its sync’ed my document (via wifi) from the phone to the cloud (or from the iPad to the cloud) and neither device will pick up the changes. Eventually after much stabbing of the ‘sync’ button it would complete, but this isn’t the best way to keep your documents upto date.

So I needed a way to sync documents between my iPad and Lumia and for the Lumia to store documents locally until I could sync the changes with a good data connection. I’d never really used the Office suite supplied with the Lumia, but it offered a way forward; I could sync with OneDrive (which I have both on the Lumia and iPad) and I can store files on my MicroSD card on the Lumia. I’d also read a lot about Microsoft Word and Excel on the iPad but didn’t have an Office 365 account. However, a closer read through the Apple app store revealed that I could have limited editing facilities by simply using my Microsoft account.

Word and Excel on the iPad take up quite a bit of space (about 450Mb apiece) but you get pretty well fully functional word processing and spread sheet apps, on the iPad. The iPad version can be linked to both OneDrive and Dropbox. Though the Lumia doesn’t support Dropbox integration from within the app (one for an update Microsoft?) the recently announced DropBox app does allow you to download files (but only upload photos – so one way transfer at the moment) so if you needed a file and it was residing in your DropBox folder, there is a way to get the file.

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This way I can keep my documents in sync by using cloud storage as a transfer system and if I’m out and about save it to MicroSD card if there is poor mobile / wifi coverage.

Another couple of advantages of using the Office suite is that the Word app on the iPad is very functional – there are a lot of features available and its not just some cut-down RTF text editor. Something else that has always irritated me about Evernote on the Lumia is that that it doesn’t support landscape typing, you have to use portrait mode all the time. For someone that has large hands, this just reduces the functionality of the application – so when I found that I could use Word on the Lumia in this mode, that sold it for me.

Don’t get me wrong, Evernote is a very good application for keeping notes, but the irritations I’ve described have just pushed me towards the Office suite. Until there is good connectivity everywhere, for me having the option of local storage in an app is a must and that’s where at the moment, Office is a win for me.

Lumia Satellite Navigation Practicalities

One of the key things that I needed from a New smartphone when I decided to move from Symbian was good satellite navigation. I looked at alternatives such as the Apple iPhone and it’s Satnav solutions, reading the reviews carefully, but unfortunately there didn’t seem to be anything that hit the mark and everything was a compromise. When I looked at HERE maps (or Nokia Maps as it was then), I didn’t have to make any major changes and it was something I was familiar with. When I bought the Lumia 820, I eventually settled on a Nokia car mount (the model escapes me – CP-115 I think) which I had to modify by cutting the rubber grip with a scalpel knife as it was such a tight squeeze. Other third party Satnav mounts never seemed to stick to the screen, so this worked for me for a good while.

Because the Lumia 830 has a 5 inch display, I would need a brand new mount. Thankfully the Microsoft / Nokia website has clear specifications which includes the dimensions of the device, I was able to compare this to the available jaw grip specs of the CP-123, which confirmed that it would do the job. So I ordered one for Christmas and tested it in the New Year once my Lumia 830 was back from being replaced due to the manufacturing fault.

The mount itself is huge – a large plastic arm with the sucker grip at one end and the phone holder at the end, connected via a universal joint. The phone holder clamps can be adjusted by moving the clip at the bottom of the holder, so that the phone is firmly held in place. There is one big disadvantage in using the CP-123 with a large Lumia phone such as the 830 or 820, is that one of the grips presses the camera shutter button. The only way I’ve found to get around this is to clamp the phone into place, the camera app starts, press backspace to exit it and then start HERE navigation and there isn’t any further problem. I tried different orientations including where the volume button gets pressed, but this was more than the phone could cope with so I went back to gripping the camera button instead.

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To secure the mount in place, there is a lever which when pushed into place, clamps it to the windscreen – and it really does hold it into place. I’ve driven up and down side roads and motorways and the phone is reassuringly secure – no chance of it falling off the screen because the sucker loses grip. In addition, there is a tab on the rubber sucker to help the release of the mount from with windscreen.

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There is a small hole where the MicroUSB charging cable can be plugged into the bottom of the phone (Lumia 820), in the centre phone clamp. A useful tip if you are using a Lumia phone for Satnav for any sort of distance navigation, is don’t bother with any of the third-party 12 volt chargers, such as ones designed for the iPhone, because they don’t provide a Lumia with enough charge to offset the discharge rate when using the phone for navigation. Typical third-party chargers only supply about half the one ampere needed to keep the phone topped up. I went through a number of these before I finally ended up with an Nokia DC-20 dual USB port charger (supplied with MicroUSB and 2mm coiled cables) which does the job perfectly. I bought my DC-20 from Amazon, as it doesn’t seem to be listed on the Microsoft / Nokia website.

I now have my perfect satnav system using my phone and my old TomTom PND has been retired to the bottom of the study drawer.

Overall, both the CP-123 and DC-20 are excellent products and well worth seeking out if you want to use your Lumia for satellite navigation.

More Power!

…is one of Jeremy Clarksons favourite sayings on the TV series Top Gear. However, its something that todays smartphone batteries are always in need of and there never seems to enough. My Lumia 820 has a 1650MAh exchangeable battery, which I had to buy a replacement after about 14 months of ownership as the original battery was losing performance quite rapidly. When I was using the device heavily, I could end up topping up the juice three times a day. Which is why upgrading to a Lumia 830 and its 2200MAh is a revelation in only needing to top the device up once a day, so far.

However, I want to get a reasonable estimation of what the battery life is like in daily use, from full to nearly zero. I’ve been carefully topping it up since I had the phone by either charging it up on the wireless charging plate over night or via the MicroUSB connection during the day. So I’m going to run a battery endurance test this weekend, starting from when the battery app said that it was fully charged (1.15pm today) and I’ll note roughly what I use it for and how long it lasts.

Friday 23rd January
Some 4G data usage late afternoon (Twitter, Google Maps), approx 15 minutes use and some texting. About 40 minutes playback of a podcast via the 3.5mm headphone socket. Data use on wifi during the evening lasting about a hour in total.

I’m going to shut the phone down over night so I can get some ‘proper’ use from it during Saturday (for the record, 67% battery level at 11.30pm) – I’ll post the results here tomorrow.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Update – Saturday 24th January
I switched the phone on at 9am and ran it on wireless internet for approximately an hour reading RSS feeds, Twitter and news apps. This ran down the battery to 48% at 12pm, I then went out for the afternoon (switching off the wireless) taking approx 20 photos using Nokia Camera and Panorama, with some occasional texting and using HERE maps. Back home with some more internet access (on wireless) for about 20 minutes and then out and about during the early evening (with only occasional use of the phone). This eventually caused the battery monitor to hit 10% capacity at 8.15pm. The phone finally started to splutter at 8.50pm with 5% battery left.

I then plugged the 830 into my Proporta Pocket Power straight in at 8.50pm, which charged the device up to (with no use) 17% in 40 minutes, from full to completely exhausting the Pocket Power (which is rated at 680MAh.

Conclusions
Total running time for the phone switched on performing all these day-to-day functions is 22 and a quarter hours (near enough), which I reckon is pretty damn good. I think I’ll have to purchase an extra battery sometime in the future, simply because the number of recharge/discharge cycles will run the total capacity down, like my Lumia 820, but having the flexibility of swapping the battery out gives me that option. Top marks to Nokia for including a phone with this feature in the Lumia range!