Saturday, July 7, 2012

Err 30 on my Canon 7D

A month or so ago, my primary camera body (a Canon 7D) started locking up on me and throwing an "Err 30" message.  I was instructed to pull the battery and try again, which worked only for a couple shots before the error reappeared.  The battery being used would then show up as being dead.  After going through a couple batteries in just a few minutes, I removed my aftermarket vertical battery grip (a Flashpoint / MeiKe).  With a battery inserted directly into the camera body, the problem went away.  The problem was solved... for a few weeks.

I shot my next event without the vertical grip, and everything worked flawlessly.  When I later put the vertical grip back on, the problem reappeared, so I took it off again.  This time, the problem didn't go away.  It plagued me on and off for the next week or so even without the vertical grip.  The problem appeared with all of my batteries (both Canon and Flashpoint), and with two different lenses (Canon 10-22mm and Sigma 17-70mm).

When I finally had the good sense to look up what Error 30 meant, I found that it was a problem with the shutter, either electrical or mechanical.  It's not an uncommon error.  People have reported getting it with the 50D, 7D, and 5D.  Nobody ever claimed to be able to permanently fix it on their own.  It does appear that if the problem pops up, you can fix it temporarily by whacking the bottom of the camera soundly with the heel of your palm to dislodge the stuck shutter.  This worked for me the one time I tried it, but it surely can't be good for the camera, so I wouldn't recommend using it long term.  Still, if you need to get through your current job before you can send the body in for repair, beating your camera is better than having no camera at all.

People that did send their cameras in to Canon reported a US$200-300 repair cost.  Depending on where you live and how you get the camera to Canon, it generally takes about one to two weeks to get a working camera back in your hands.  It hurts, but what else are you going to do?  It's not so much that you'd just scrap the camera and buy a new one, certainly.

One person claimed that Canon reported finding a loose screw on the circuit board.  Despite how willing I usually am to dismantle things and fix them myself, I wasn't willing to tear into a $1500 camera on my own.

On a whim, I tried updating my firmware from 1.2.1 to 1.2.5, but the Err 30 problem still popped up again later that evening (as I fully expected it would).  Still, it never hurts to be running the latest firmware.

The next morning, I packed up the 7D and sent it to Canon Factory Service in Jamesburg, NJ, via FedEx 3-day ground.  Living in Nebraska, I'm equidistant from all three US repair centers.  I've used all three of them, and have never had any complaints.

I sent the camera away on Wednesday.  If Canon made good on their claim of 7 business days to return my fixed camera, I would have it back in my hands in less than two weeks.  That's good, because I would shoot a golf tournament that week, and I really didn't want to limp along with just my 50D and 400D (Rebel XTi) for that job.

Canon did receive the 7D on Monday, and emailed me a request for repair authorization late that afternoon.  The charge for the standard out-of-warranty repair, including shipping, tax, et al, was US$249.31 (not including my own shipping costs to Canon).  The PDF they emailed me contained a link to a web site whereat I could authorize the repair.  Alas, Canon doesn't upload the case information to the web site until sometime after they send out the email.  If you're quick to respond upon receiving the email (as I always am), you'll find that the web site can't find your repair request.  I've always had to phone Canon directly to authorize the repair, which takes only a couple minutes thanks to their friendly staff.

The camera arrived on my doorstep the next Thursday (three days later) -- plenty early for the golf tournament more than a week later.  The repair receipt confirmed that the circuit board was loose.  In addition to tightening it down, they also cleaned and calibrated everything, which can't hurt.  My only complaint is that I had packaged up the 7D in the original retail box & foam.  When the camera returned, it was wrapped in bubble wrap inside a generic box, which means I no longer have the retail box if I choose to sell the 7D someday.

But most importantly, the camera now works flawlessly.

For an explanation of all of the various error codes that your Canon DSLR might throw at you, you should definitely read this Canon knowledge base article on the subject.

I'd love to hear your stories with Canon Factory Service, so please share them in the comments below.  You can read of my other experiences in an earlier post.


  1. Wondering...are you a Canon Professional Services member? Wasn't sure if the price you listed including the 30% discount given to gold members (or 60% for platinum members) or if the time frame reflected being ether a gold or platinum member.

    1. These are the every day consumer prices and timing. I am now a CPS silver member--something I signed up for immediately after this happened. Silver is a free membership, but you don't save anything on service and it's only slightly expedited. Learn more about Canon Professional Services in this post.


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