Is there Camera Service and Diagnostic Info Available?

Updated 9/2015

Use this information at your own risk. However, this can be a fast way to find out information about a camera, in particular shutter count.

I'll use an E-M5 as my example, but other Olympus cameras are similar:

  • With the power off, hold down the Menu button as you move the Power Switch to On. Continue holding the Menu button until the display appears.
  • Press the MENU button.
  • Navigate to the SETUP menu, and pick the monitor brightness adjustment (third item).
  • Press the Right button, then press OK. You'll see a screen showing Olympus and the camera model number.
  • Press the following sequence of buttons: Up, Down, Left, Right, followed by pressing the shutter release, followed once more by pressing Up.

There are four pages in the diagnostics, which are reached by Up (page 1), Right (page 2), Down (page 3), Left (page D). Yeah, it didn't make a lot of sense to me either until I realized that someone was too lazy to code a navigation method: they just assigned the four pages to four buttons. 

The first page lists critical information about CPU, memory, and firmware status:

  • U = Main user CPU area
  • B = boot area
  • L = four digit firmware number
  • F = four digit flash firmware number

On the second page you'll find a number of pieces of information:

  • R = shutter release count
  • S = flash use count
  • C = cleaning mode count
  • U = ultrasonic cleanings count (typical number of power cycles)
  • V = Live View count (not used on E-M5)
  • B = shots using in-body stabilization
  • L = ?

On the third page you'll find:

  • CS = camera's serial number
  • MCS = CPU code and serial number (first four digits are model #, fifth digit is year of manufacturing, 6-7 are month of manufacturer, e.g. 4138 for Pen E-P3, 204 for March 2012)
    • 4001 = E-1
    • 4007 = E-300
    • 4011 = E-500
    • 4016 = E-330
    • 4046 = E-510
    • 4151 = E-M1

Page 4 lists error codes that the camera has encountered.

Turn the camera off to leave the diagnostics. 

I'll use the GH3 as an example:

  1. with a card in the camera, take at least one image.
  2. Move the Drive mode lever to Single.
  3. Turn the camera off.
  4. Hold down the Display and AF/AE Lock buttons while turning the camera on.

The camera should be in service mode. There's a new menu item on the SETUP menu called ROM BACKUP, which is used to save and restore user settings.

  1. Simultaneously hold the Left Direction pad button and the Menu/SET button and then press AF/AE Lock again. You'll see any error codes the camera has reported (up to the last 16).
  2. Simultaneously hold the Left Direction pad button and the Menu/SET button and the press the AF/AE Lock button again. You're now in an information screen that shows the software revision, the digital logic board's serial number, the number of power cycles, the number of shutter activations, and the number of flash activations. 

To get out of service mode, power down the camera and start it up normally.

Older Panasonic cameras tend to have some variation on this, using the Film Mode and Display buttons  instead of the AF/AE Lock and Display buttons for the first step, and Film Mode instead of AF/AE Lock (G1, for example). Basically, the camera has to be in Single shot mode, and two buttons pressed simultaneously when the camera is turned on trigger the service mode. Since different cameras have different buttons available, the actual buttons used differ between some models, but not the overall sequence. 

You can access the test menus on the Samsung NX200 (and apparently other NX models) via the following sequence:

  • Turn camera on
  • Select Smart Auto Mode
  • Press Up
  • Press OK
  • Press Down
  • Press OK
  • Press Right
  • Press EV + OK simultaneously

So what can you do with this test menu? Amongst other things, perform a factory reset, set PTP mode for USB connections, and disable the movie record time limit.

Most cameras have debug or test modes built into them. On some cameras these are accessed via holding one or more specific buttons while turning the camera on, others use the Samsung method of button sequence, still others use external triggers through one of the ports (e.g. 10-pin on some Nikon DSLRs). 

Some of the things that live in these hidden menus or functions are useful to users and I don't see why the camera makers hide them (e.g. shutter counts). Others are useful to users but there's a reason the makers hide them (e.g. movie record time limits, because of European tariffs on "video" cameras). Still others are potentially dangerous (lifting of shutdown and error messages, complete factory reset, etc.). 

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