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Canon 20D lockup

Hi. One of my 20D is out of commission. It gives me “Error CF” message and does not fire. It fires when I take the card out. I used several different cards and lenses on them but same results. I have another 20D, and all the cards and lenses I tested with works fine on the other body. I tried to format the card, but when I do that, I get “Error 99.” I tried to reload the firmware (I have 1.1), the camera doesn’t even recognize the card. I wonder if anyone has suggestions… I am in Congo… so I cannot fedex it to Canon to get it repaired…..

My thanks in advance,


by [a former member] at 2005-04-21 03:17:35 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Brazzaville , Congo (RC) | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hi Jiro:

I remember reading that what you have experienced is not all that rare. Has to do with turning the camera off to switch lenses or something like that & then when you power back up — you experience the lock-up. A few folks said that you might want to take the battery out & then replace it again (something with electrical contacts? discharge? — don’t know, but…)

I went to find the link I’d read — think it might have been this one:


Hope this helps you to sort it out,

by Didi S. Gilson | 21 Apr 2005 04:04 | New South Wales, Australia | | Report spam→
Yeah Jiro:

I looked around some more. Two things. Take out your battery & replace it. For starters. It’s a known glitch that Canon has tried to resolve.

to that end, there’s been a few firmware updates since your 1.1 was released. Get the latest one online?

by Didi S. Gilson | 21 Apr 2005 05:04 | New South Wales, Australia | | Report spam→
Oh man Jiro,

Not you too… I have had both of my 20D’s go out of commission in the four months that I have owned them….

Maybe we should write a joint letter to those folks.

Hope all is well there (besides the camera trouble that is)…

by [former member] | 21 Apr 2005 11:04 | delhi, India | | Report spam→
Sounds like you could of fried the motherboard in the camera? I’m not a Canon shooter but I have had the same problem with a couple of my Nikon Ds.

It just plain SUCKS!!

Good luck.

by [former member] | 21 Apr 2005 11:04 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Hey Jiro,

what… did you pour some of that precious soy sauce in there or something? that sucks. if you have to, ship it to me and i can move it to canon for you.

hope all is well!

by | 21 Apr 2005 13:04 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
I am distraught to hear these 20D stories. I have one as well, and it has not acted hinky in the 4-odd months I have owned it (just watch, now that I have said something, it will spontaneously combust or something)

Is there a list of errors posted somewhere? I looked on Canon’s site to see what “Error 99” meant but don’t seem to see one.

by [former member] | 22 Apr 2005 08:04 | noo yawk, United States | | Report spam→
It means something is so wrong that you cannot fix it by yourself….


by [former member] | 22 Apr 2005 08:04 | delhi, India | | Report spam→
I wish the errors were less cryptic.

I would prefer it to say “HOSED” or somesuch.

by [former member] | 22 Apr 2005 10:04 | noo yawk, United States | | Report spam→

by Fernando Gaglianese | 24 Apr 2005 06:04 | Philadelphia, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the reply and “encouragement?” guys! No, no. I did not pour that precious soy sauce, Craig… in fact my shippment including my precious soy hasn’t arrived yet (still somewhere between New York and here). Scott, yeah, man! We do need to get all the photogs together and write to Canon!!!! I was hoping for a miracle cure… but doesn’t seem to be any… I am coming back to US briefly in June, so hopefully I can send them in for repair to CPS (it’s still under warranty) before I head back here. I am going into the woods (probably jungle is more proper term) tomorrow for a week for a story on refugees. Hopefully I won’t see any blinking massage. I am taking my Leica just in case (hope I remember how to put films in it).


by [former member] | 24 Apr 2005 09:04 | Brazzaville, Congo (RC) | | Report spam→
Hey Jiro, how you doing? You probably won’t see this post until after you return from your week in the jungle, where I guess your Leica might have performed better than the ailing 20D… How is that Leica these days? I miss it, man…

Sorry to hear about the digi lockup… the firmware updates that Canon released last year seemed to have solved the problem, so it’s puzzling that you’re facing these difficulties.

Did you also try removing the internal backup battery found in the body itself (not the regular lithium ion battery that resides in the grip and powers the main operations of the camera, but the button-sized CR2016 battery that retains the camera’s parameter settings)? Not sure it would help, but you could try that…

Alternatively, you could try updating to firmware version 2.0 but be sure to follow the directions posted on http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/eos20d/eos20d_firmware-e.html closely (e.g., remove lens from body first, then remove main battery from camera for at least two seconds after firmware upgrade). If your camera refuses to recognise the cf though, even with the lens off, it could be a job for Canon servicing…

Good luck buddy,


by [former member] | 26 Apr 2005 22:04 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
Anyone have any idea how Jiro or Scott Eells went with this fault and if repaired, has it repeated? 

I’m interested in the solution to this specific problem and seek assistance from anyone who had it resolved. That is, seemly random cf err  that renders the camera useless, even when religiously following the manual and when fresh CF cards are inserted with battery drop/reformat attempt etc.  

Canon have had my 20D on 4 occasions totalling >2 months over the last 6 and replaced 1 CF unit in May. They have my camera now.  The latest quotation is for a replacement CF unit and digital board.  (Yeah, they sent me a quote for a warranty rework after I paid for a sensor clean.)  This is probably unrelated to the dirty lens/firmware Err99 issue and the Lexar CF matters.  I have noticed an increasing number of users with identical problems. It is not card brand related but appears to only effect >1GB high speed cards.

For those reporting this hardware fault have Canon indeed repaired it or should I be briefing my lawyer?  Apart from the time delays and blood pressure effects, they have failed to rectify supply of faulty equipment and blamed me for the fault ( On the 3rd attendance, the report claimed "tested OK, then a capitalised NB:  PLEASE FORMAT CF CARDS ONLY WITH THE CAMERA.- I had never done otherwise and had told them so on every occasion.)

I know my camera is a dog, but I’m getting an impression the 20D hardware may have a high failure rate. Great camera when it works but maybe I should be cutting losses and either going Nikon or negotiating an upgrade.


by Dave O-Me | 12 Sep 2005 03:09 | Perth, Australia | | Report spam→

When I sent my camera to CPS in New Jersey, they just updated the firmware and sent it back… of course… same problem… (died on me when angry folks are throwing chunks of concrete at me in Kinshasa)… So I gave my camera to a nice agent with Redux when I saw her in Perpignan, and it is on its way back to Canon…. so as you can see, I haven’t be able to use 20D for over 6 months… thank god that the other 20D I have is hanging in… 


by [former member] | 12 Sep 2005 03:09 | Brazzaville, Congo (RC) | | Report spam→
My pre-ordered Canon 20D and vert grip (both very low serial numbers) started giving me trouble after a couple of months. I called Canon, they said a firmware upgrade should solve the problem (NOV 2004.) It did, briefly.

I brought it in to Jamesburg (I live right up the road) in March 2005, explaining the same battery-flash lockup problem was going on. They checked it out, upgraded the firmware again and sent me on my merry way.

I saw the Press release about the issue with the vertical grip (released April 2005) in mid-May, and brought the vertical grip in for repair. They wanted to keep the camera as well, but I had assignments that weekend. So they ‘fixed’ the vertical grip and it acted up on the very first shoot after the repair.

I shot without the grip when possible, but that wasn’t really a fix.

So, I brought the 20D and grip to Canon, June 12th, managed to get it to Error out in three tries at CPS, they ran a diagnostic and determined that there was also an issue with the camera, and that’s why the vert grip fix was ineffective. They told me it would be 7-10 days to get it taken care of…which was great, considering I was leaving for a week in Portugal on the 20th…I had to make a bit of a ruckus and get the site manager involved for them to rush the repair, since, well, really, they’ve had the camera a number of times, and after much discussion, they promised to have the camera back to me before I left for Europe.

It worked mostly OK on the trip. I was shooting mostly scenics and AF in One-shot mode, or manual focus.

Got home from the trip, and shot a sports assignment in AI servo. LOCKUP.  Did the whole battery, CF, lens, Vertical grip strip-down and reattach routine and after five tries managed to fire off a couple more shots before it happened again.

This was a Friday afternoon.

I called Canon Jamesburg monday morning, spoke to a CPS rep, explained everything, and asked her when I could come down to Jamesburg and pick up a new 20D and vertical grip. I was told it didn’t work like that, and that they would have to run the whole diagnostic to determine if it could be repaired, and that no one at Jamesburg could authorize a replacement unit. Based on a previous conversation, I had the name of the person at Jamesburg who was authorized to order a replacement, and then I asked to speak to the Repair supervisor. I got the same runaround.

I asked for the telephone number of the Director of Repairs and Customer Satisfaction at the CUSA corporate office.

I left a detailed message, with every repair number and explained that I expected a replacement authorization to be expedited by the end of the day.

Then I called back and asked to speak to the CUSA CEO. I didn’t get to talke to him directly, but I did cause a bit of a ruckus with his Admin and she put me through to the "Presidential Complaint Call Center…" whatever that means. I once again retold all my camera and repair woes and the guy promised to look into it.

Meanwhile, the Director of repairs at Lake Success called back and told me that he had authorized the replacement, and apologized for the runaround.

Two days later I dropped off my old malfunctioning 20D and grip and picked up a brand new camera and grip. The service record stated: ‘4th Repair attempt. Replacement unit issued.’

I’ve had zero problems with the new gear so far (about 8000 shots…); however, I do feel that the camera is a little bit ‘slower’ all around than the original, but that’s just a feel, not quantifiable.

Cause a ruckus, see what happens.

by Jack Howard | 12 Sep 2005 08:09 | Somerville NJ, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the responses.  Jiro,  you need an assignment on one of our beaches!   The worst the 20D did to me was fail when I was hanging out of a chopper about to shoot a flying Jabiru (black headed stork)- No Kinshasa rock throwers!

I am definitely on the replacement route but I might try and negotiate an upgrade- I’ll update with Canon’s response.  The 20D is getting a reputation for unreliability compounded by shoddy support.

Thanks again,


by Dave O-Me | 12 Sep 2005 20:09 | Perth, Australia | | Report spam→
My experiences with the pre-ordered 20D are a big reason why I have not preordered a 5D or a 1dmiiN…I’m going to let everyone else test it out for a while, and see what issues arise with either of these two cameras…

by Jack Howard | 12 Sep 2005 21:09 | Somerville NJ, United States | | Report spam→
Canon Australia just called and are acting pretty quickly once the problem was confirmed and are replacing my 20D.   Jack’s thinking is sensible considering any new technology and Canon’s apparent use of customers as crash-testers.   In this case I’m back at square one  on my 20D so I have asked for a 5D upgrade price.  I might be swapping a lemon for a cumquat but I’m hoping on a mango.  (Apologies for the fruity analogy).


by Dave O-Me | 12 Sep 2005 22:09 | Perth, Australia | | Report spam→
Yes. I defnitely need an assignment on the beach!  Wait! I am at the beach! I am in Point Noir, coastal town in Congo for a few days, decompressing and looking for the way to photograph off-shore oil platform. No one here so far are angry enough to shoot at me or throwing me anything. Thanks for the advice, guys! I am going to see if I can get my 20D get replaced or upgrade… 

by [former member] | 13 Sep 2005 04:09 | Brazzaville, Congo (RC) | | Report spam→
I have had a 20D since May and it has now gone back to Canon three times!  It has had a number of focussing issues and has been recalibrated twice.  It would appear that the quality control on these cameras is not what it should be.  I was interested in buying a 5D but will want to wait at least six months to see how they pan out…….. we never used to get these problems in the good old film days!

I know the trend has been to move to Canon but I may well look at some of the alternatives, if they don’t sort my camera out this time..


by Martin Shakeshaft | 13 Sep 2005 09:09 | Staffordshire, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

I was in Sint Maarten a few years back, and the Dutch barmaid at the little hotel I was at made these amazing slushy Mango and Banana drinks with rum and banana liquer.

I’d rather have a mango than a kumquat any day…

by Jack Howard | 13 Sep 2005 15:09 | Somerville NJ, United States | | Report spam→
my 20D has had malfunctions as well, most annoyingly, during a 2am rainy anarchist march through the Scottish countryside to take the highway during the G8 this summer…. popping the battery out and back in a few times finally got it back into working order (anyone know why this is?)

if anyone is thinking about writing Canon a letter, count me definitely in!


by Erin Siegal McIntyre | 13 Sep 2005 15:09 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
I have corresponded with many people worldwide on a variety of issues relating to 20D lockup, so we are not alone.  The hardware failure is one thing but there is a common theme with the separate companies that operate as Canon in various countries.   It appears  the warranty service process leaves repair testing to the client.  Hence repeated reworks and lengthy delays.  

Which gives rise to another problem of who do we write to?  The buckpassing between Canon.jp and the subsidiaries would go on ‘til hell freezes over.

I got some good advice from a Canon specialist, Stu Simmonds at qualitycamera.com.au.  Amongst other things,  I will not upgrade to the 5D in the short term, primarily because of supply delays and doubt Australia will have them available in large numbers soon after release.

Another common theme within these separate Canon companies is how thick their skins are.  One customer on the east coast went ballistic in the service section and threatened media coverage and legal action but met with the same response, delay and follow-up process.

The delay impact costs me, not them, so taking an adversarial litigative path would not be profitable.  Grit your teeth and don’t have an aneurism.  But when I think of where some of you operate I am embarrassed for wetting my pants over this.    Afghanistan?  Congo? Land-mines bullets and Ebola!  Canon Service is about 300 yards from my airconditioned office.  I hope you guys have good agents! 

I don’t want to give someone a shameless plug, but Stu Simmonds seems to have capitalised on Canon’s apparent lack of post supply ‘customer satisfaction’. I am sure others world-wide are also picking up on this market.  And  Stu does it from one of our most beautiful towns on our south coast, Albany.

Thanks again for all your comments and best of luck with your 20D’s.  Hey Jack,  Mango and tequila slushies get ya dancing- Mangoes in the freezer ‘til almost frozen (the tequila’s always there too) and blend till slushy!


by Dave O-Me | 13 Sep 2005 18:09 | Perth, Australia | | Report spam→
So here I am, night before elections here…..

Just hit the streets and got off about 20 frames before I got the “error 99” on my 20D, and it of course, stopped working (keeps shooting frames).

This is the second time since December (when I bought two new bodies) I have got that error/problem and the forth time one of my 20D’s has stopped working on me while on assignment. Just got my other body back that was in repairs for months because of the same problem.

Good stuff………..

by [former member] | 17 Sep 2005 09:09 | Kandahar, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
Reason 12,213,343 why people should use film.

by Nicholas | 18 Oct 2005 06:10 | Auckland, New Zealand | | Report spam→
A few general comments. I have two 20D’s bought in March. I’ve had one error 99. Also, perhaps one other error. Removing the battery, waiting a minute, and replacing the same battery cured the problems. Rare problem for me. I have heard speculation that the contacts in the lens can cause the problem. Two scenarios. One is use of non-Canon lenses. Other is letting heavy lens such as 70-200 hang from the camera which pulls the lens down in the mount. I have never, however, really read that anybody can nail those two scenarios down. Always turn off the camera when changing lenses. Always reformat the card in the camera before using. Be aware that the 20D isn’t sealed as well against weather as the “pro” cameras. Remember, too, these are prosumer cameras, not pro cameras. I back my 20D’s with a 1DmkII but only use when necessary (sports, etc.) because of the weight. The Canon 5D may well have issues as the 20D since it, too, is not a true “pro” camera. Oh, and my Leica M is always with me. Heh.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 18 Oct 2005 07:10 | Fort Worth, United States | | Report spam→
I’ve heard there may be two reasons for Error 99’s.

I’ve had a couple in the past and the turn off/battery out/pause to use favourite curse/battery in/turn on method has always worked.

One is the gold contacts on the lens mount (or your lenses) simply need a clean – the Error 99 is because of some communications glitch between the lens and camera.

Or in Jiro’s and Erin’s case, maybe it’s humidity or moisture causing the error? Or maybe the 70-200 ‘pull’ mentioned?

The other more depressing reason is it could be a warning that your shutter is about to die : ( Not straight away…but its kinda like playing Russian Roulette from then on.

This could be an urban myth (God knows I hope it is) but if you’ve really been hammering your camera with thousands and thousands of shutter actuations, it’s maybe possible as there’s a limit to the number of shutter actuations in these things before failure.

If it makes you feel any better I’ve had a 5D for just over a week and had my first corrupted CF card yesterday. DOH!

Just for reference, if you don’t have it – get Photo Rescue software by Data Rescue if your cards fail.

It’s saved me several times…including yesterday…phew.

by [former member] | 18 Oct 2005 08:10 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
wow! any such bad news with the 1ds Mk2????

by Eric Don-Arthur | 13 Nov 2005 01:11 | Accra, Ghana | | Report spam→
The only times I’ve gotten Error 99s was when I was using a broken 100-300 f4.5-5.6 cannon.  I’ve also gotten an Error 1 before when using a 70-200L IS f2.8 shooting a sports event, took the lens off, put it back on, no errors since.

by Christopher Guess | 20 Feb 2006 19:02 | Madison, United States | | Report spam→
if you are using a booster, it could get loose and gives 99 also. so i taped it up to make sure it doesn’t get loose.

by [former member] | 21 Feb 2006 01:02 | Brazaville, Congo (RC) | | Report spam→
I had the same problem when I first got the camera.  I just took the battery out with the camera off and put it back in and then it seems to work.  I’m not sure what the issue is but only a minor inconvience in my own experience.

California stock photography, fine art prints, photo blog:

by Richard Wong | 21 Feb 2006 14:02 (ed. Feb 21 2006) | Mount Baldy, CA, United States | | Report spam→
me 2..

by HotNYC News | 22 Feb 2006 07:02 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
I’ve heard such terror stories about the 20D I’m really hoping that it doesnt happen to me! I’ve been really enjoying using it as a hold me over till I can afford the 5D! I’ve heard the CF section of the 20D is the most breakable part of the camera…I hope they fixed this on the 5D.

by Paul Caudell | 07 Feb 2007 14:02 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
dont know about 20D but i use the 30D…and it died on me, just like that, went kaput! dont know what happened. i didn’t drop it. just changed cards. followed all the usual instructions. turned off the camera before changing the card. and when tried turning it on, it just wouldn’t. went to canon guys, and they handed me a piece of paper that renamed by dear cam – ‘dead’. they said they’d take a week-ten days to daignose (usual canon jargon) so, there you go. no error 99. no error at all… plain death. so all i am left doing is catching up with my reading these days. friday, day after is when i know the verdict. fingers crossed. oh, did i mention its from the open market so not under warranty as well. fingers crossed again.

by [former member] | 07 Feb 2007 18:02 | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
Sanjit, did you check the battery levels? Flippant question, I know…
All the best with the repairs.

by Robert Go | 08 Feb 2007 08:02 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
I have a 20D, Error 99 was lens contacts. Get some cleaning solution and clean the grease off the camera lens mount conacts, clean your lens conacts and then do the battery conacts whilst you’re at it. Bingo.

by Edinburgh Photographer Ben Collins | 23 Feb 2007 17:02 | Edinburgh, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I take that back – my 20D locked up again this weekend and I had to take one of the batteries out of the battery grip to fix it.

by Edinburgh Photographer Ben Collins | 28 Feb 2007 18:02 | Edinburgh, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
There were a lot of responses to this and I only read a few, but this has happened to me twice. All I did was format the cf card and it fix it. I was without a camera for a while until I tried this.

I’m obviously posting this for others that have this problem, since I’m sure you’ve fixed the problem by now.

by Michel Hulsey | 14 Aug 2007 05:08 | Okinawa, Japan | | Report spam→
yes, Jethro above is right. i was getting the Error 99 thing too. until a friend pointed out it’s about lens contact. you need to clean the contacts on the body as well as on your lenses. then there’s just the plain old fact that gear wears out. up to you to decide how much you put up with til you spend the dough to buy a new one. i’m waiting for one more problem with mine and it’s going straight into the back of the cupboard…

by Peter Stuckings | 14 Aug 2007 07:08 | saigon, Vietnam | | Report spam→
My 20D gave out after around 120,000 frame count last Friday. The shutter fires by itself and I had to take out the batteries (I use a vertical grip) to stop it. That’s the first time it happened in the two years since I bought it. Right before that happened I got “Error 99” messages several times and I rebooted and it was okay for a while until it finally conked out. The Canon factory repair center (in Jamesburg, NJ) said the whole mirror-shutter box needs to be replaced and it will cost me a mere $155 and the fix will take five days. That is, unless there are other serious issues with it that will drive the repair costs up and it might not be worth it. Canon will let me know whether it will be just $155 or more. FYI.

by Max Pasion | 14 Aug 2007 18:08 (ed. Aug 14 2007) | | Report spam→
Had to skim a bit, a lot of posts here, but all error codes are in the manual, no? I’ve had two 20Ds for two years now, and on occassion in humidity, especially when leaping from air conditioned car into hot humid conditions I’ll get an error… not sure which error code, its been a while, but I’ll pull out the batteries (or battery grip) and wipe down the connectors, as well as lens connectors if necessary, and it seems to resolve things. Error 99 means lens problem I think, check manual, but when my lens crapped out it gave an Error 99.

by Joshua Kraemer | 15 Aug 2007 11:08 (ed. Aug 17 2007) | Pohang, Korea (South) | | Report spam→

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