What To Do When Your Camera “Can’t Communicate With Lens” (and other errors)

Oh No! My camera is broken!

Every photographer’s nightmare: equipment failure. What do you do if your camera is not communicating with your lens when you turn on the camera? Or it won’t write to the card you just placed inside? Or it shows an error on your display? Panic!!! Wait – don’t panic. There are a few simple things you can try that may just fix the error.

What was the last item you attached? A different or new lens? A memory card? New battery? Start there. Remove the item you last attached to the camera.

If it is a lens, try attaching another lens (if you have one) to determine if it is the camera or the lens causing the problem. If the camera works fine with another lens, then you know it’s the lens causing the problem and you can try the steps below to troubleshoot the problem.

Check the Lens

Let’s start with checking the lens giving you trouble. First, remove the battery from the camera. (It’s always a good idea when beginning any troubleshooting procedure to remove the battery or power source. Leaving the battery out for a few minutes will help clear the electronic circuits inside the camera body, and could potentially resolve the problem as well.)


Next, remove the lens and set it aside. Look at your camera body where the lens mounts to the camera. Even just a tiny particle of dust can be enough to cause communication problems between the lens and camera. Check very carefully that no pins are damaged and that the mount is clean. Check your lens as well to be sure its pins and mount are clean and in good condition. Next, take your small bulb blower and gently blow some air on the part of the camera and lens where they attach. Do NOT blow on the camera or lens with your mouth or compressed air. Both contain moisture and will shorten the life of your equipment.


Take care to blow the from the inside out. (Blowing from the outside in will only blow dust particles inside of your camera!) The same applies to the lens: blow away from the glass. Try not to touch this area with you fingers; oil from your fingertips can cause communication errors between the lens and camera as well.

Reattach your lens, making sure your lens is seated correctly and that it does not feel like anything is catching or like you have to force it to attach to the camera body. Once the lens is in place, put the battery back in the camera and try it out. Did this solve your problem? If not, it may be a memory card issue.

Check the Memory Card

DSC_0672Is this a brand new card? Before you go searching for your receipt to return it to the store, stop. Have your formatted the card to the camera? Formatting before using a new card helps the card and camera communicate correctly. Is it an older card? Check to see if your computer can access it. If your computer can access the card and there are files on it, copy them to the computer immediately as this can be a sign of a failing card. Now try to format the card. If the card still isn’t working and your computer can read the card, try another card in the camera. Once again this tells you if the problem is the camera or the card.

If the problem is the card and you have purchased a name brand memory card, contact the manufacturer. They can often help provide a solution. If your computer can’t read the files on the card, there is software available to recover the files (handy to know in case your card does fail).

Check Google

Is there an error listed on display? You could check the back of your camera manual, but if you are anything like me and are not sure where that infernal book is, a Google search for the error and camera model may bring up some useful information. Sometimes if your camera model has issues, other people will post about the error online and share what they did to resolve the problem.


Camera Repair

If your troubleshooting reveals that neither the lens nor your card are causing the error and indeed your camera does need repair, it is time to contact someone qualified to service your camera. If your camera is under warranty, contact the manufacturer. If your warranty has lapsed, please contact a reputable service center.

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