Category: Photography

Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM Lens Repair

After looking for some information on line about how to repair this lens, I didn’t find a good disassembly guide, so I thought I’d write some instructions.  Apologies for the standard of the photos – if you take some better ones, please share them with me and I’ll update the article.
This lens is designed with a deliberate weak point at the rear of the lens which is designed to break off to prevent more expensive damage.  The one I got from eBay had been bodged after this had happened and was sold as new (scumbag!)  You can see the the 4 plastic lugs around the circuit board in the pictures – these are designed to break off if damaged, and the front of the lens will partly separate from the rear if this happens.   The replacement part is about £90 and I was quoted £120 for fitting.  Since by this point I’d already stripped the thing down, I opted for them to ship me the part.   The replacement fixed barrel assembly includes the switch pack and the zoom ring (see notes at the end on removing the zoom ring if you are going down the ’spares for repair’ route).
Tools needed: #00 philips screwdriver.   Two very small straight screwdrivers
Blunt ended tweezers
Soft plastic pick
A rubber band.  No, really.
Before you start, a word of warning.  Some of these screws will be very small and very tight.  You will need a precision screwdriver and even with that you run the risk of rounding off the heads.  If this starts to happen, you can use this tip to try and get the screws out.  If that doesn’t work, give up, send it off, and know you will pay extra for getting the damaged screws out. 
I also strongly recommend working in some kind of tray, and in bright light.  The tray is in case you drop a screw!
1) Put the lens cap on the front.  You’re not going there, and you don’t want to damage anything.   
2) Before you go anywhere, check the heads of the 4 screws.  If they are damaged at all, order some new screws when you order the assembly.  Extend the lens and pull out the rectangular cover in the centre by hooking a finger behind and pulling.  It will seem to need inordinate force, but does just pull out.  The body contacts will remain in place.  This is shown with the green circle below.
3) Remove the two tiny screws holding the contacts in place.  These really, really are tiny.  
Lens small
Don’t drop them.
4) Undo the 4 screws through the mount and remove the mount, water seal, and rear cover.   These are shown in red on the top image. 
This is what you will see. 
5) Work your way around the connectors.  There are three types:   Flip up catch, pull out catch, and one that’s a push fit, best done with a couple of small screwdrivers.   The flip up catches are highlighted above.   For these gently flip up the coloured piece and the cable will lift clear.   For the ribbon cable top right you will need to push against the tabs on the table to pull it out of the socket.  This is the only one that should have any resistance.  The final ones need you to pull forward the clips at the side very gently to release the cable. 
6) Remove the 1 screw holding the circuit board in place (orange arrow). You can then lift it clear. 
7) There are 4 screws holding the rear fixed barrel to the lens.  Remove all 4 noting positions, and also that one of them holds one of the ribbon connectors in place.  Do not touch the screws on the inner most ring of the assembly. 
8) Carefully slide off the rear barrel making sure you don’t trap any of the ribbon cables.   Note alignment to main lens body.
To reassemble, you will need to line things up – it’s not quite the reverse of disassembly, but isn’t far off. 
1) Gently pull the front of the lens out to 105mm, and set the zoom ring on the new barrel to 105mm.  
2) Check the ribbon cables on the new barrel are routed the same as the old one, then lower into place, lining up the window in the barrel with the focus distance scale. Use a plastic hook of some sort to make sure all eight ribbon cables come up into the rear of the lens. Be gentle. As the barrel drops into place, you need to engage the mechanism to drive the zoom, and with a little juggling of the zoom ring and the lens itself, the barrel should drop fully into place.    Make sure all ribbon cables are clear and not being crushed, then replace the 4 screws holding the barrel in place. 
3) The next trick is to get the circuit board back in the right place. All 8 ribbon cables go around the outside, so if this isn’t the case you’ve routed something wrong.  Look at the image above. 
4) Line up the biggest connector (at the top in the diagram above) and screw the board into place.
5) Refit all the other cables with reference to the fastener mechanisms.  They will pretty naturally fall in the right place apart from the two new ones which will point up more.  This is now a good point to get all the greasy finger prints off the rear element. 
6) Separate the rear cover, mount ring and weather seal.  The rear cover will go on in two orientations, but only one will leave the screw holes in the right place to re-attach the camera connector.   The words “image stabilizer” should line up with the 24 number on the zoom ring with the lens at 24mm (or 105 at full extension).
Lens rear cover
7) Place the weather seal on the rear cover, and sit the mount on top, being careful to line things up so you don’t have to rotate it to get the screws in.  If you rotate them the seal will get caught up and not sit right.
8) Insert the 4 screws holding the cover and the two tiny ones to locate the camera connector.  Make sure all 4 main screws are in tight and not sitting proud or they will foul on the camera mount when you attach the lens.  I’d test at this point.
9) Replace the inner cover (just snaps into place)
Further disassembly of the old barrel:
1) Carefully prise away the ribbon cable leading to the switch unit where it’s held to the inside of the barrel.  Undo the screw on the outside and prise off.
2) Undo the two screws holding on the level that engages in the zoom mechanism.  Twist past the end stop and lift off the zoom ring.  Note alignment for refit.
The zoom ring is hard to get in place without damaging the spring contacts.  I suggest putting a piece of plastic (like flash gel) over the contacts as you slide it back together,  then pull the plastic out.  I’d already damaged the contacts on my old barrel before I figured out how fragile they are. 
Usual caveats apply.  I am not a qualified Canon service engineer and this will definitely void your warranty.  But I figured this out in a couple of hours and saved myself a £120 service cost.
Part Number for the rear barrel is…

Aperture – moving photos between computer

There’s a great video up at ApertureExpert on how to do this in detail, but this is the quick and dirty version.

For the “on the road” library, work in Managed mode, where the photos are stored in the library.  It keeps everything in once place, but for the main computer with 30,000 photos and growing, I need to work Referenced so that I can keep Aperture file sizes manageable.

Import from Laptop to Desktop

So, after importing and editing on the Macbook (working managed):   File->Export->Project as New Library.  

Then, on the base machine, File->Relocate Original… 

Export from Desktop to Laptop

Select what you want, then File->Export->Items as new Library

Select Copy Originals into exported Library – use the originals, and copy previews into exported library.  You can just export the previews if you don’t want to edit the images, just add keywords etc.

When you bring them back, use the merge option to merge back to existing project folders.

Photography Dilemma

When I got my Canon 400D a year ago, the intention was to have a minimal travel camera that had the option of having some more sophisticated accessories for less portable times.

To be honest my initial purchase of the camera and a 28-135mm lens (along with the “kit” lens of 18-55) has been excellent value and I’ve taken lots of pictures with it in the last year or so.

The biggest limitation turned out to be the built in flash.  There were three occasions in as many weeks recently when I’d wished I had a “proper” flash to light up a larger area, and so I decided into invest in a flashgun.  After much deliberation I went for the top of the range Canon 580EX II and the external mounting bracket.

There whole combination is fairly weighty – I wouldn’t like to drag around a 1D with that lot – but it does elevate the 400D into being a pro-looking camera that I can use anywhere.

I also want to increase the zoom options for the lens, both at the wide and telephoto ends of the scale.

For the wide end I’m looking at the Canon 10-22mm or the comparable Tamron.

For the telephoto end there are a couple of options but not much that’s a good compromise between price and performance.  For the longer zoom I really want Image Stabilisation, and Canon’s near-silent USM makes a big different in usability and feel.

Most likely option is the 70-300mm IS USM, though another option is to go with their new 18-200mm lens which would make a fantastic travel lens (just take the one).


“Where’s that?” has been one of the most common replies from people learning of our latest holiday destination. Kerala is the smallest state of southern India, and is a popular holiday destination for hippie types and package tourists from the UK.

10 hours flight from London Gatwick gets you to the state capital, Trivandrum. The airport was the usual tedium, and we emerged at about 7am local time and got our first shock of the holiday, in finding out that the coach transfer to the start of our tour was going to take FIVE hours.

With a brief breakfast stop en route, we arrived in Kumarakom for two nights there. This turned into a not-so-free upgrade to the Radisson, since our expected hotel was full. “not-so-free” because our bill for two lunches and dinners was about three times what it would have been at the Backwater Ripples.

It was rather nice, though.



The tour included a so-called “sunset cruise” on the lake, but we were back before the sun actually set. At least it gave me a stationary position to take some sunset pictures from!


Yvonne’s review of the hotel, and the others on the trip, can be found on Trip Advisor – essential reading for any trip!

This stop was our introduction to the bizarre alcohol licensing that exists in Kerala.

Officially it’s a “dry” state.

The bottle shops are run by the government.

It’s very difficult for hotels and restaurants to get a liquor licence – hence even at the Radisson the bill showed “Open Food” for the drinks. Other places had the beer bottles left on the floor under the tables wrapped in newspaper, beer served in coffee mugs, and even brought to the table in teapots! Various bills showed “Special Soft Drinks”, “Pop”, or something similar. Suffice to say it wasn’t a problem getting a few beers with dinner!

Once we’d recovered from the travelling, we get back on the coach for another five hour journey, heading east into the foothills of the Western Ghats, the mountain range that marks the boundary between Kerala and the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

The destination was Thekkady, and after some impressive driving (I wouldn’t like to drive a 50 seater bus up those narrow roads), we arrived safely at the Cardamon County Hotel. From here we visited the spice gardens, rode an elephant, and went to the Periyar Tiger Sanctuary.




We didn’t see any tigers – there are just 43 of them in the reserve, and they’re largely nocturnal. But we did see wild elephant, lots of birds, and a playful otter family.


The next leg of the trip was possibly the slowest – taking 2 hours to travel the first 40km (25 miles or so) over the hills from Thekkady to Munnar.  At an altitude of 6,000 ft with rolling hills, Munnar is called the “Scotland of India”.


Not much of the Scottish glens are covered with tea trees, though!  The taller trees dotted around are white oaks – which provide shade and a natural windbreak for the crop.



Yvonne surrounded by tea – some might say a tea-drinkers paradise.  Personally I can’t stand the stuff!


Tea picking is still a largely manual activity.  These fields are owned by TATA, a huge Indian company who own Tetley tea in the UK.  It might be hard work, but 80% of the profits go to the workers.


After Munnar, we drove back to the coast to the city ofCochin, home to the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the Commonwealth, and got treated (and I use that word in its widest sense!) to a display of Kathakali dancing.  It might be an ancient tradition, but it bored me silly and the dancers looked like pantomime dames!


The highlight of Cochin for me was the Chinese fishing nets on the beach there – some of these have been handed down through the same family for 500 years, though I suspect a few running repairs might have been made in that time!


We also saw a snake charmer on the streets of Cochin.  While Trivandrum is the capital, Cochin is the more cosmopolitan city and more industry oriented. The legacy of the spice trade is clearly visible – it’s still the home of the Pepper Exchange, where the world price of this valuable commodity, known as the King of Spices, is still set.


The shortest day’s travel took us to Alleppy to board our houseboat for the next night.  15 years ago, some enterprising soul converted three rice barges to houseboats to take tourists around the backwaters.  There are now 650 of them, and another 200 in construction – my advice is to get there before they build too many more!


One slightly bizarre sight on the route was this duck farm – thousands of them covering the waterway from bank to bank!


Sunset over the backwaters was stunning!



The final leg of the trip was down to Kovalam for our stay at the Leela Kempinski hotel there. The beaches at Kovalam were something of a disappointment after the clean golden sand of Goa – here they were covered in dirty-looking black mineral deposits and not as welcoming.  The weather was also something of a disappointment during this week – it rained every single day, sometimes for as much as 7 hours without stopping.  At one point it was raining so hard we walked back to our room in our swimwear!

The weather did break enough to allow us to venture out to the restaurants along Lighthouse Beach – excellent dinners and decent toasties for lunch, and a fraction of the price of the hotel food.



From the M3 course…

The HF station ready for our first HF contact … or QSO as it’s known.


Harry doing the Morse Assessment, assisted by Dave G3YMC.


Dave learns the intricacies of UHF operation from Dave Ferrington, M0XDF.


While Bill Sefton G7PVZ explains HF operation.


Boston Skyline


One of the often overlooked features of photoediting software is the ability to correct perspective. These buildings looked like they were falling backwards because of the camera pointing upwards when I took the picture. A little tweaking, and all looks great again.

Purists might say I should correct the overexposure in the sky as well… but how far should I take editing this?

Sometimes you’ve just got to be quick


Sometimes, photography is about taking your time to compose a shot and make sure every detail of the image and camera settings are prefectly adjusted before hitting the button. Othertimes, you just have to have the camera in your hand, switched on, and in something that approximates the settings you need before hitting the button. This was one of those times, I just turned and shot the picture as soon as I saw what had happened.

This was taken on Boston Common, where a bunch of people were feeding the pigeons, and I just took pictures.

There’s a whole bunch of things “wrong” with this image. Most notable the sun on the grass at the back is completely blown white, and the image isn’t as sharp as it might be. That still doesn’t mean it’s a bad photo.

Sometimes the photo opportunity is literally in the palm of your hand


I’m in the US on business right now, and had some time to kill in Boston this weekend. I decided to spend part of the morning wandering around Boston common taking pictures. I had a great time, which lead to some introspection. It’s very easy to think that being on your own means you have less interaction with other people, but I spoke to several people during that morning that I’d probably never have taken the time to speak to otherwise.

First up was this guy, singing along “Spare change, can anyone spare some change” while feeding the squirrels.


Something struck me as odd about this guy: though it sounds hugely dismissive to put into words. He seemed far to clean to be setting in the park begging from passers by, and the squirrels seemed to be doing better than he was – he was feeding them. I put a dollar into his cup, took his photo, and took a few of the squirrels as well, because they’re cute. I have visions of him going home to his wife with his profits from his morning in the park!