Fixing Sony RX100 "Turn camera off then on" message

I’ve had the RX100 as my “daily camera” for a couple of years now and it survived many trips and environments. But after all these years there was getting more and more sand and dust between the buttons and dials, causing all kinds of issues. It would randomly select different scenes or change the exposure while shooing pictures.

To fix this I opened up the camera to clear out all the dust and sand. At first this operation seemed successful, because all the buttons felt smooth again and the camera turned on. But that was about as far as my luck went. After switching on the camera an error message appeared: “Turn the camera off then on”.

Googling this message quickly revealed that this mostly seemed to happen, because a certain ribbon cable would fail as it’s bent in a weird angle and the pressure from it being stuck between the print plate and the body causes it to break.

To fix this issue you’d have to send your camera to a repair shop that quotes about $300,- to fix the issue. Since the camera was about $450,- new when I bought it in Japan I didn’t feel like spending almost as much to fix it.

After some more searching I found out that you’re able to order a replacement cable on AliExpress and you could replace the cable yourself. (I bought the cable at this AliExpress store for $14,-)

Time to replace this puppy.

First I opened up the camera by removing the bottom plate that is attached with screws and a click system, after unscrewing all the screws gently pry it from the body.

After that I removed the backplate and screen by unscrewing a pair of screws on either side and also gently prying it loose from the body. Be careful to remove the speaker from the backplate on the bottom left corner (just pry it out), before bending the backplate over.

It should end up looking something like this:

Start prying of the black plastic cover by gently pulling it from the lens unit. There will be a lot of glue-like stuff stuck to it.

The lens unit is attached to the print by three ribbon cables. A small one is attached at the top left. Then there’s a wide cable at the middle right of the lens. And finally our culprit on the bottom right of the lens unit.

You can loosen these cables by using a flat screwdriver and gently pushing against the notches on the cable, away from it’s connection point.

With a little bit of wiggling you can remove the lens unit from the body.

It seems Sony is a big fan of origami, because the ribbon cable is folded in all kinds of ways around the lens.

Lets start with the motor, you can detach it from the lens unit by pulling it up. Chances are a long cogwheel will fall out, just don’t forget to put it back after replacing the ribbon.

Around the plastic gearbox attached to the motor is a metallic clip, you can pry it loose it on one side, and it will reveal two connectors attached to the ribbon cable. Carefully pry them loose from the gearbox.

The ribbon splits in two near the motor, follow the other path and you’ll get to a connector at the side of the lens. Carefully remove the connector and then lift the ribbon cable up from the round notch. There will be another part of the same ribbon cable below that, also remove that from the round notch.

The last step of removal is to remove the white tape and follow the cable to the end, carefully remove the two cables coming from the connectors and remove the cable entirely. It’s attached the the lens unit with two little notches at either side, gently bend the cable in the middle between the two connectors and it will come off.

The only part of the ribbon you have to solder yourself is the attachment to the motor. Heat up the old solder and remove the cable. Then attach the new cable and solder it in place.

Be careful to make sure it’s soldered in the right direction and with the metallic parts on the ribbon facing outward.

Connect the two connectors to the gearbox and re-attach the metallic clip. One of the connectors will have a 180 degrees bend in the ribbon cable just before the connectors in order to attach it (it goes around the metallic clip).

Next up, start at the end of the ribbon cable with the two connectors we removed in the last removal step. Gently bend the cable between the two connectors to get the notches back into the lens unit and don’t forget to re-attach the two cables there.

Then guide the cable around the lens and attach it at the next notch, first wrap the hole in the cable around the square notch and then stretch it over the round notch. Do this for the lose end with the other connector as well, it should look like the picture below.

Then attach the gearbox back to the lens unit, just push it on, making sure to check that the very long cogwheel is in place first.

Finally guide the cable around the back of the lens unit. Attach both parts of the ribbon to the square notch at the top left of the unit below and then stretch it over the round notch at the right of the lens.

Now wiggle the lens unit back into the body and re-attach the three ribbons (top left, middle right and our culprit on the bottom right).

Then snap the LCD back on and the two covers. Re-do all the screws and if all went well your camera should start up without the pesky “Turn camera off then on” message.