Sunday, January 13, 2008

Death of a CCD: RIP SD110

About a month ago I turned on my Canon SD110 and could see that something was very wrong. This took me by surprise, as I hadn't dropped it, or even taken it anywhere since the last time I took pictures with it, in my living room. I guess it just died of old age after 3 years (and 7000 pictures). The interesting part is that it was clearly the CCD that was failing. In some ways it actually looked pretty neat.

One way you can tell it's the CCD is the streaks in the images. The way data is read from a CCD is by copying off all the pixels along one edge of the CCD, and then shifting all the pixels in the image one pixel toward that edge. The line read off "falls off" the edge, and now the next line of the image can be read in. Part of the trick with CCDs is reading off each line in this way, without causing artifacts by the repeated pixel shifting. Clearly, something is going wrong with that process in my camera.

Click on the pictures to get full sized images.


Unknown said...

Wierd. I have the same camera (and same paint issue) and found out today that my CCD has the same problem. I wonder if it's another defect with this model?

Alan Robinson said...

Could be - but it's a pretty old camera, so having it fail at this point doesn't necessarily suggest poor design, disappointing though it is.

Jim said...


Go to the Canon support page. This is a known ccd defect and canon will fix or replace your camera gratis!

Google canon sd110 ccd problem and you will see we are not alone.

Alan Robinson said...

Here's what Canon has to say:

Important Notice About Your Canon Product:

It has recently come to our attention that the vendor-supplied CCD image sensors used in this Canon digital camera may cause the following malfunction: When the product is used in recording or playback mode, the LCD screen and/or electronic viewfinder may exhibit either a distorted image or no image at all. While reports of this malfunction have been rare in the United States, we have determined that it may occur if the product is exposed to hot and humid environments.

Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, products exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair.

U.S. residents are kindly directed to contact the Canon Customer Support Center for further assistance at 1-800-828-4040. Support hours are Monday thru Friday - 8:00 AM to 12:00 midnight; and Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM (all times EST). Alternatively, if electronic support is preferred, please send your email to

This information is for residents of the United States of America and Puerto Rico only. If you do not reside in the USA or Puerto Rico, please contact the Canon Customer Support Center in your region.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this issue, and appreciate your understanding in this matter. Thank you for your support and patronage of Canon products.

Too bad I already took mine apart.

Alan Robinson said...

In case anybody was wondering, I tried to get Canon to replace the camera, even though I had taken it apart. They were unwilling. Not too surprising, but worth a shot.