Sony A7iii Screen Repair

Sunday, June 30, 2019

If you know me, you know I love to precariously run around with my camera in my hand with nothing securing it to me. I'm pretty sure-footed and have a good grip so I'm confident in my handheld abilities; however, the unexpected can and will happen. While hiking in Ireland, I stepped on a loose rock on a slope covered in shale. My leg slipped downward and my body rotated to catch myself. Next thing I knew, I was on all fours sliding downward. It wasn't serious enough for me to be worried about getting hurt but when I landed on all fours, one of those fours had a camera in it. So, as you can imagine, I scraped my camera down a shale field, screen first.

I was actually surprised to see that the only damage was a tiny scrape on the LCD screen and a bit of the protective UV filter on the lens was also scraped. To make sure everything was good, I turned on the camera and that's when I saw it. The screen had been cracked under the plastic top coating. The screen still worked and I could see part of the image that was on the non-cracked side so I was hopeful that a screen replacement would be simple and inexpensive.

Fast forward a week, I'm back from Ireland and decide it's time to get it repaired. To my surprise there is little to no information online about how to repair it yourself or if anyone else has repaired theirs. As a former Electrical Engineer, I'm big on DIY so my first thought was to look up a repair guide and do it myself. My go-to, iFixit, only had a guide for the A7s ii and although it is similar to my A7 iii, I couldn't be sure it was the same.

I did follow the guide a bit though and took apart the screen to see what was required to repair it. Since the screen was working, just cracked, I figured I only needed to replace that part. After doing some research I found a screen on Ebay that fit the bill. I also found the official replacement parts website on Encompass, but they didn't list a screen. Through more research it appeared that they used the same screen model as the one on the A9 so theoretically I could use that screen. The A9 screen was way more expensive than the Ebay one but also came with the plastic surrounding piece on it. I decided to buy the Ebay screen because they allowed returns if it didn't work out and it was the cheaper option.

When it came time for the repair, I tried to replace the screen myself but struggled to disconnect the ribbon cables from the existing screen. They really didn't make it easy to do so. There are many things in the way. I figured I would have to take apart the entire camera to remove a particularly delicate ribbon cable that comes from the main board. At this point I decided it wasn't worth it and instead found a local repair man to get it done.

iCamera in Oakland was recommended from a few camera stores I called. It also seemed like the only repair place in the area. The guy who worked there wasn't much for talking and definitely made me nervous that he could repair it; however, it was the cheapest option at the time so I let him have it.

A week goes by and I feel naked without my camera. When I call back he says it didn't work and that he couldn't fix it. My gut sank. When I went to see him though, it was working. He explained to me that one of the ribbon cable housings was broken although the cable stuck in there nicely, he wasn't sure if it would last. He decided to keep it another week to test it a few more times.

Another week goes by and this time I'm hopeful that it will be working since I saw it working just fine. I call back and he confirms that it has been working. So the next day I pick it up and all is good. I'd say it's back to 98%. The screen isn't really glued into the plastic case as it use to be so it pops out a bit. After a few weeks of use, the screen popped out completely from the plastic housing. I put some super glue around the edges to hold it in place. Also I'm uncertain to my camera's weather proof ability now that it's been taken apart and the screws' Loctite seal broken. All that being said, I have my camera back and all feels right in the world.

If it happens again, I think I'll attempt the repair myself and if I do, I'll document it for y'all. Although, if I happen to be sitting on a pile of money at the time, I'll send it off to Sony for an official repair. It can take many weeks but I can rent in the meantime and I'll feel more secure knowing it's been officially repaired.

Has anyone else gone through this process? Curious what your experience was like and how satisfied you are afterwards.