Troubleshooting: problems and solutions

Last updated 15 June 2001


Every so often I get inquiries from folks who are having a problem with their QuickTake 200/Fuji DS-7/Samsung Kenox SSC-350N camera and want to know where they can get it repaired. The short answer is "I wish I knew!" These cameras are so obsolete that finding a place that can repair them is next to impossible. And let's face it—a 0.3 megapixel digital camera is not worth spending a lot of money on today, when anything with less than 1 megapixel is considered a toy. Your alternatives are basically: 1) if possible, fix it yourself, using the hints on this page and the Disassembly page; or 2) give up and buy a new camera. If you take the latter route, a word of advice: the nearest modern-day equivalent to the QuickTake 200 is Fuji's FinePix 1300, a very nice camera with triple the QuickTake 200's resolution, a fast USB port, a built-in flash and other niceties, which can be had for less than US$200. Add another $50 and you can get yourself a FinePix 1400 Zoom, which adds a 3x zoom lens—a very useful thing to have and well worth the small increase in price. (There are also cameras from Kodak and Olympus that are worth considering, but as of this writing Fuji's low-end models offer the best value for your money.)

Fuzzy pictures

There are two main causes for blurred pictures:

  • Slow shutter speed. The QuickTake 200's image sensor is not terribly sensitive (about ISO 100), and there's no built-in flash—so if you don't have enough light, the camera will drop its shutter speed down to as low as four seconds in order to try to get a properly exposed picture. Obviously you can't hold a camera steady for that long—in fact, most people can't reliably handhold a camera at speeds below 1/30. What can you do? See the Lighting page for lots of tips on how to cope with these situations.
  • Focus left on macro. It's all too easy to shoot a closeup and then forget to move the little focus lever back to the normal position. This can cost you lots of mysteriously blurred pictures. Double-check!

There's one other possible cause for blurred pictures, though it's a rare one: a dropped camera. This has happened to a couple of my readers...the camera takes a dive onto the floor and from then on all pictures are blurred, no matter where the focus lever is set. Cause: The internal optics have been jarred out of position. Solution: go to the Disassembly page for instructions on taking your camera apart. Then check that all optical parts are correctly seated, and carefully reassemble. Several people have cured their dropped, chronically blurred cameras this way.

Can't run on external power

A few readers have run into a puzzling situation: the camera runs fine on its own batteries, but when you try to use it with an external power supply (AC adapter or battery pack), it won't do anything—the power just doesn't seem to be getting through. There's an explanation: a tiny surface-mount fuse (shown greatly magnified below) inside the camera, meant to protect it from power surges coming in from external devices, has blown.

the fuse

The fuse can be replaced—but unless you're very confident of your skills in working with small surface-mount electronic devices, I recommend against trying. You could do far more harm than good. (If you don't know what an SMD is, don't even think about attempting to fix one of these!) If you're willing to risk it, here are instructions for disassembling the camera and replacing the fuse.

If you're not an electronics wiz, you may be tempted to send the camera back to Apple or Fuji for repair. From what I've been hearing, this can be a $200 repair job—more than the camera is worth at this point!—and can take several months to do, so I recommend against doing this. Instead, take your QuickTake 200 or DS-7 to a local radio/TV repair shop. If you print out the information on the Disassembly and Fuse pages, they'll have no trouble in performing the repair for you. Ron Mueller ran into a blown fuse and took his camera to a local electronics repair shop. "The case is easy to open (I showed him) and he replaced the fuse for just ten dollars."

The good news is that the problem is avoidable! Charlie Teufert has blown a few of these fuses, and he says that "each time, it happened when the adapter was being plugged into the camera (already in the wall socket) and the camera was already on. Since then I have been careful to make sure the camera is off first, and have not repeated the problem."

Got that, everybody? Never plug in an external power source when the camera is turned on! Hopefully if everyone follows this advice, we'll see no more of these blown-fuse problems. Thanks, Charlie!

MacOS problems

Professor Dana Nau reports that when he installed Mac OS 8.5 on his PowerBook Duo 2300, the QuickTake software stopped working. The problem turned out to be a conflict between the QuickTake software and the Express Modem software, which Dr. Nau was able to fix by opening the Express Modem control panel and un-checking the 'use internal modem rather than modem port' option.

If you have a recent Mac that lacks a serial port, and are using a serial-to-USB converter as a solution, you may be interested in Juri Munkki's CamerAid shareware utility. It downloads images from most digital cameras, including the QuickTake 200 and Fuji DS-7, and also has batch processing commands, the ability to name photos automatically based on the time and date they were taken, and an "image enhancement expert." Of special interest to owners of recent Macs: version 1.1.4 and later "works around certain problems that MacOS 9 caused with many USB-to-serial adapters."

If you run into software trouble and can't resolve it, there are three alternatives. The bad news is that they all cost money (though not a lot). The good news is that they are both much faster than transferring files through a serial cable. The best way to move image files—assuming you have a recent Mac with USB ports—is a SmartMedia card reader (about $30). These handy little gadgets have a slot that you can slip a SmartMedia card into, and they move data into the computer about sixty times as fast as the old serial cable that came with your camera. If you have a PowerBook, on the other hand, a PC card adapter (about $50) is even faster. Finally, if you have a really old PowerBook that lacks both USB and PC Card slots (e.g., a PowerBook 165c), you can still use a floppy adapter (about $75). It's not as fast as a USB or PC Card connection, but it's still several times faster than a serial-port hookup. All these alternatives are covered in detail on the Adapters page.

G3 Mac compatibility

Got a brand new G3 Macintosh? You may have run into problems connecting your QuickTake 200 to your Mac. Fortunately, there's a new version of the QuickTake 200 software—or more specifically, the QuickTime IC extensions that do the work. Reportedly if you call Apple, you can get them to send you a new G3-compatible version of the QuickTake 200 software package. Alternatively, you can click here to download the QuickTime IC Developers' Kit (1,002K) and use the updated versions of the QT IC extensions that it contains.

If you have an internal modem on your G3 Mac, there are some things you'll need besides the new software. Paul Christensen supplied these tips:

  • The G3's built in modem uses the modem port, and Apple covers over the modem connector in the back. This means you're forced to always use the printer port for transferring images.
  • In order to use the printer port, you need to disable AppleTalk. Unfortunately, MacOS8 seems to leave the printer port in use even after disabling AppleTalk, forcing you to reboot the system with AppleTalk disabled.
  • Apple's Camera Access software always polls the modem port first (you can't set preferences, as you can with Fuji's Mac software). This means that if you happen to be connected to an online service when you launch Camera Access, it will drop your modem connection!

The G3 Macs also have some special needs when it comes to digitizing live video—see below under "Videoconferencing."

Trouble turning off AppleTalk

If you need to connect your camera to the printer port for some reason, you may find that the Mac OS can be extremely reluctant to let you turn off AppleTalk, which normally uses that port. A recent Apple tech note explains what to do in this situation. (Rather than try to summarize here, I suggest you read Apple's explanation.)

An additional tips: in some cases you may find that turning off AppleTalk from the Chooser doesn't "stick." The AppleTalk control panel is a more certain way. Here's how to do it: open the control panel and then pull down the Edit menu. Choose "User Mode..." and set the user mode to "Advanced." Now you should see an "Options..." button at the bottom of the control panel that wasn't there before. Click on it, and you'll get a dialog that lets you turn AppleTalk off (make it inactive).

Mac serial-port problems

If you have a Power Macintosh 4400, Power Macintosh 5500, Power Macintosh 6500, Twentieth Aniversary Macintosh, Power Macintosh 7220, Power Macintosh G3, PowerBook 2400, PowerBook G3, or PowerBook G3 Series, you may have experienced problems trying to get your QuickTake 200 or DS-7 to communicate with your computer via a serial port. Apple has a fix: the SerialDMA 2.1 extension. According to Apple, "This new driver fixes an incompatability that prevents certain serial devices, such as digital cameras, from establishing an initial connection. If you are using one of the Mac OS computers listed above, and you are using a serial device which cannot establish an initial connection, you should install this update." SerialDMA Update 2.1 is available from Apple's Software Update area.

Installing on older Macs

Apple's installer refuses to put the QuickTake 200 software on your hard drive if you have an older Mac. (Are we being snobbish here or what?) Fortunately, there's a way to get around this limitation: find a PowerPC or 68040 Mac, install the software on it—then copy it onto a floppy and thence to your faithful old IIvx or whatever. The essential files you need are :

  • QuickTime IC (in the Extensions folder)
  • QuickTime IC Extras (in the Extensions folder)
  • Camera Access
Not enough ports?

A chronic problem with Macs is not having enough serial ports. You have your printer plugged into the printer port, your modem plugged into the modem where do you plug in your QuickTake 200? You need an A/B switch, a device that lets you alternately connect two different serial devices to one port (usually the modem port). There are many kinds available, but the one I've used is from APS Technologies. switch cable It's a switch with two inputs and one output on the end of a cable, which puts everything on your desktop where you can get at it easily. It's item #1007-022 and sells for $29.95—not the cheapest A/B switch out there, but a very good one. With it, you can easily switch between your modem and your QuickTake 200. (It's generally best to leave the printer port alone, especially if you're using AppleTalk for networking or printing.) By the way, if there's a Fry's near you, check there before ordering from APS—one reader found the identical switch cable there for about half APS's price!


Of course there are less expensive alternatives. For example, Paul Christensen found a very good 4-position Apple serial switch at MacZone (MacZone item #M82599) for $17.98. Even with a short male-to male mini-DIN cable added to the bill, he ended up with a 4-position switch for the cost of APS's two-position switch. You can find inexpensive serial switchboxes with two or more positions at most computer stores. (The one shown here has two positions and cost me $11.98 at the annual Trenton, NJ Computer Festival.) And Travis Rivers points out that MatchMaker's Geo/Serial switch box (MDL 264-8S), which sells for about $40, connects to both serial ports and offers three outlets per port for a total of six! It only works on Macs with GeoPorts, though.

John West has another solution: "I'd like to heartily recommend a more elegant (and also expensive) solution: the Power Port Juggler from Momentum Inc. It takes up one serial port and adds 4, for a net gain of 3. Their software is very nice and automatically switches the port based on the software being used (e.g., when Camera Access is launched, the serial port is switched to the one with the QT2K). I have a modem, QuickTake 200 and MIDI box running from mine. Everything works flawlessly, and initial setup took less than 5 minutes. They're about $115 from just about every store that sells Mac-related products." Justin Miyamoto is also enthusiastic about the Power Port Juggler, and adds that "They also make a two port version, Port Doubler, that's around $50 (only $15 more than the manual A/B switch from APS that has no software)." Another reader adds this caution, however: "Don't attempt to use Port Doubler via the printer port on a 6500. Even with the software updates, it just won't work."

Global Village modem software

Don't forget to disable your modem software when you switch over to the camera! Mark Booth offers the following advice for Global Village users:

To disable your Global Village modem/fax software so the Camera Access software can find your QuickTake 200 camera: after disconnecting the modem serial cable, open the TelePort control panel and click on the "Modem Reset" button. Since no modem is connected, the Teleport control panel will change to "Unknown Modem." Now you can connect the camera to the computerand start transferring images. When you're finished, simply reverse the process. Reconnect the modem serial cable, open the TelePort control panel and click Modem Reset again. You should be back in business.

Using a QuickTake 200 with a PC

Lots of PC owners have bought Apple's QuickTake 200 even though it comes with Mac-only software—the low price was just too much of a temptation. If you download Fuji's PC software from their website (see this site's Software page) and buy or build yourself a serial cable (see the Cable page), you certainly can use the QuickTake 200 with a PC. Here are a few things to look out for, courtesy of Paul Christensen: for one thing, you should know that Fuji's "SD-T7" camera software for PC's works only on Windows 95. It's incompatible with Windows NT, and Fuji has no plans to support NT in the near future. Also, you may have trouble getting this to work unless you change the software's default communications parameters from "AUTO" to 57,600 bps.

Get those numbers off the screen!

The QuickTake 200 displays, among other things, how many pictures you have left and how you are recording (STD or FINE) on the LCD, (although this information isn't visible in the pictures you take, thank goodness). but if you're using the camera's video output to display images on a TV (or for videoconferencing—see below). Hold down the Action button for about a second, and the text in the display (and in the video) will disappear!

Video systems: NTSC, PAL and rubber plugs

As far as I've been able to determine, all QuickTake 200s and DS-7s use the NTSC standard for their video output. NTSC (sometimes jokingly called "Never Twice the Same Color") is the system used for television in the US, Mexico, Canada and Japan. Most other countries use one of two other (and incompatible) video systems: PAL in most of the UK and western Europe, and SECAM in France and much of eastern Europe. Trying to output video from a standard QuickTake 200 or DS-7 to a PAL or SECAM television just won't work (well, in the case of PAL you might get a distorted b&w picture). Unless Fuji has a stock of PAL and SECAM format cameras hidden somewhere, users in non-NTSC countries are out of luck when it comes to showing their pictures on TV—unless their TV sets can handle NTSC as well as their native format (some newer sets and VCRs can do this).

Gloria Neilson purchased a DS-7 in New Zealand, where PAL is the standard, and discovered that its video output jack (the yellow one) had a rubber plug glued over it. Upon prising off the plug (Americans pry; New Zealanders prise) she found that the camera had a working NTSC output—and fortunately she had a dual-standard TV set that could use either PAL or NTSC video, so she was able to display pictures on her TV after all! Seems that Fuji's quick-and-dirty way of producing a DS-7 for export to PAL countries was simply to cover up the video output, so owners wouldn't try to use it with their incompatible TVs. But the video circuitry is till if you have a multistandard TV set that can display NTSC video, go ahead and pry off that plug!

A bad camera...or just a fat connector?

Several readers have pointed out that the mini-DIN 8 end of the QuickTake 200's serial cable is too big to fit properly into the serial ports of a few Mac models. The problem is that it almost fits—close enough that you think it's in there...but then you may have intermittent trouble getting the camera to talk to the Mac. If this has happened to you, try shaving down the plastic connector body a bit so that it goes all the way in. A simple fix for a perplexing problem!

Mac software for the FlashPath floppy adapter

Most versions of the FlashPath floppy adapter come without Mac software, but the latest software for both Macs and PCs is available for downloading on SmartDisk's website. Reader Paul Christensen reports that although the 'ReadMe' file for the Fuji FlashPath software tells you to disable the PC Exchange control panel. Under Mac OS 8.5.1, this has been replaced by FileExchange. However, Paul discovered that the FlashPath software works fine even with FileExchange enabled. The only minor annoyance he found is that after the FlashPath software ejects the device, the Mac prompts you to reinsert the floppy named "^^^^^^^". But Paul found that dismissing this alert with command-period works fine.

Viking PCMCIA adapter problems

The Viking and Kingston PC Card adapters (which let you read SmartMedia cards directly into your laptop) can fail to function if you insert the card upside down—or in the wrong sequence. These adapters can read either 5V cards (the kind we use) or the newer 3.3V cards used by some other cameras. Trouble is, the two types of cards look alike but have their gold contacts on opposite sides. Since the adapter can use either type, it's easy to insert the SmartMedia card wrong-way-up...and then wonder why nothing works. Here's reader Flip's prescription for successful operation:

The adapter will accept SmartMedia cards even when they are inserted incorrectly. The correct insertion (for a 5V card) is with the gold connector facing the front of the adapter. The SmartMedia card has to be inserted before inserting the PC Card adapter into the computer. The SmartMedia card should only be removed after the PC Card card is removed from the computer. Having the adapter inserted at any time without a SmartMedia card in it will render the adapter invisible to the computer, and require the user to force-eject the adapter.

One other thing: you must have Apple's PC Exchange extension (in addition to the PC Card extensions) installed and active in order to use one of these adapters. If you don't, the Mac will try to format the card!

Hugh Caley adds some tips for those using PC card/SmartMedia adapters under Windows NT or Linux:

"I just got my Viking PCMCIA card. My laptop, an NEC 6030, runs both Windows NT 4 and Linux. I had to fix problems with both:

"NT: The Viking card insisted on being drive C, shifting my main drive letter to D, which caused a lot of problems with Windows. I had to open the Disk Administration utility and manually reassign the card to a different drive letter and reboot. Once I did this it worked fine.

"Linux: PCMCIA hard drive support needs to be compiled into the kernel; once this was done the card showed up as another drive (hdc, in my case, after hda the internal hard drive and hdb, the cd-rom), and I was able to mount it normally."

Dust...or dead pixels?

Image sensors are complex devices. If just one pixel out of several hundred thousand goes bad, the result can be an unusable camera. Several readers have discovered white specks in their images and asked whether this could be dust in the lens or on the sensor array...or something more serious. Here's a quick test you can perform: Put your hand over the lens and take a picture, or take a picture in a completely dark room. Dust can't be seen in the dark. If you see white dots in the resulting image, you have "stuck" pixels and should probably get your camera repaired before your warranty runs out...unless you like to spend your time retouching blemished images in PhotoDeluxe or Photoshop! On the other hand, if the problem is internal dust and you're feeling brave, you might want to try disassembling the camera and blowing out the dust.

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