Hardware flaw in Nikon Coolpix 5000

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
October 22nd, 2003 • 12:54 am

I bought my Nikon Coolpix 5000 back in December 2001. I am still quite pleased with it overall, although the appearance of several dead pixels over time has been somewhat disappointing.

We have been driving along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in the past few days, and I have the camera and my PowerBook with me. (Until I get myself an iPod with the Belkin card reader accessory for storing digital pictures, I’ll have to bring the PowerBook with me each time I go on a trip involving a great amount of picture taking.)

At home, I usually transfer the pictures from the camera to the computer using a flash card reader. I just find it more convenient than having to carry the whole camera to the office and plug it in and turn it on, etc. But I thought I would limit the number of accessories on the road and only bring the USB cable that came with the Coolpix and connects it directly to the computer’s USB port.

At the other end, the cable has a very small USB jack (neither the flat kind nor the square kind usually found on USB peripherals) that plugs into the corresponding “mini-USB” port on the camera itself. I don’t know how common this type of USB connector is. I suspect it’s mostly used for digital cameras where space for plugs is at a premium.

(I remember going to the computer department of a FNAC store in France in the spring of 2002 after realizing that I had forgotten my USB cable at home and asking if they carried replacement cables with this kind of jack. The salesperson insisted quite rudely that what I was looking for did not exist, that only type A and type B USB jacks existed. I went to the photography department of the same store next door and, of course, the salesperson there knew immediately what I was talking about. I ended up buying a CompactFlash card reader instead, though. Needless to say, I told him that he had a few things to teach his colleague next door.)

After taking a number of pictures on the first day of our trip, I wanted to transfer them to the PowerBook at the end of the day. I tried to plug the cable in, and realized that things weren’t working right. The camera is supposed to detect the presence of the cable automatically and display some kind of animation on the LCD screen instead of the regular display. The animation was not appearing.

I checked the connection, and realized that the mini-USB plug on the camera was a bit crooked. I tried to adjust it without forcing, and that’s when I realized that it had actually become loose inside the camera. I tried to bring it back squarely into the opening with a pair of tweezers, but it was no use. The plug is broken.

How did this happen? As I said, I almost never use this plug. My theory has to do with the small rubber flap that covers the port. I remember noticing that, even when it was closed, this flap would stick out a bit. And I also remember playing with it on occasion, pushing on it in order to try to make it better fit inside the plug and not stick out as much. I think that what probably happened is that I pushed a bit too hard on this flap without noticing, in order to “flatten” it against the side of the camera. This, in turn, pushed the plug itself inside, and that’s when it became unattached and loose.

Needless to say, now that the plug has gone farther down inside the camera, the rubber flap is perfectly flat. :-(

Still, it’s a bit disappointing to discover that this plug was so flimsy. It’s not like I pushed on this flap like crazy. I was just trying to correct a tiny design flaw and make the flap fit more snuggly inside the hole of the plug.

The camera is no longer under warranty, and I doubt very much that I could get this repair for cheap. So there’s no point in even trying. I’ll just use my Compact Flash card reader exclusively from now on. But for this trip here, until I get home I can’t transfer any pictures to my PowerBook, and I’m therefore limited by the capacity of the flash card. It’s a bit unfortunate. The trees are really quite beautiful.

5 Responses to “Hardware flaw in Nikon Coolpix 5000”

  1. sacha says:

    argh.. i just bought a coolpix5000 from a friend and after hours and hours of fiddling to try and get windows OR osx to recognize the camera i realized that the camera was only recognizing the cable once in awhile.. upon closer inspection i see that my miniusb plug has receeded into the case as well. grr! what a pain in the ass.. i think you’re right in that this can’t be cheap to fix.. stupid nikon. ;(


  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Yup. I’m afraid the cheapest solution is to use a card reader instead of trying to connect the camera directly.

  3. thom says:

    You are all correct in that this is an expensive repair. My CP5000 mini-USB port also ‘came loose’ inside of the camera body. I called Nikon and managed to get the info for the repair, as well as the part replacement itself (for those DIY’ers out there… but this is a very advanced repair job).

    Nikon will do the repair (what they call a ‘major repair’) for $203 + $10 return shipping. Not all that bad when you consider that they would sell you the replacement part (Main PCB CP-1, pn# 636-062-8373) for $338.30 !

    Warranty or not, Nikon should repair each one of these specific failures at no charge. This is clearly a design defect.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for confirming this… Bad news all around, I guess.

  5. Konrad S. Rettich says:

    Same camera, same story. The port was repaired by Nikon twice within 18 months. The flaw, as I see it, is the design. The port is ONLY attached to the cct. board, not to the housing.
    Nikon’s repair tech freely admits the ports weekness and suggests to use a card reader instead, whoopee!!

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