Canon 10D Err 99

Posted Aug 21, 2005
Last Updated Aug 16, 2013

I fell in love with my Canon 10D the second I got my hands on it over two years ago. It’s an impressive camera. I’ve shot hundreds of thousands of photos in a wide range of environments with it: low-lit, foggy concerts; weddings; deep woods; windy hills; in air-conditioned homes, blazing-hot football fields, and icy winter storms. Overall I would say that it has impressed me every single day that I have used it.

But just a couple weeks ago I started having problems with the camera. Intermittently, it will fail to capture an image but instead flash a "Err 99” message. The only way to get rid of the message was to turn the camera off.

At first I ignored it as a simple glitch. But as the problem became a regular issue over the next week, I started doing some research. First I went to Canon’s website for information. Canon’s step-by-step troubleshooter was not helpful as it simply said the solution for Err 99 is to turn the camera off then on, or to reinstall the battery.

The issue become more troubling when I searched Google for this issue and found that it is a widespread dilemma. Worse, there is little consensus on what the Err 99 problem is.

According to what I have found on the Net, the main cause of the Err 99 problem is dirty contacts between the body and the lens. Most sites recommend cleaning the contacts. I did this with a cloth and cleaner, to no avail.

Today I contacted Canon technical support. The lady on the phone said that I may have damaged my camera by using a non-Canon lens. (I have a Tamron 28-75mm lens in regular use). I marveled at this, since the lens has served it well in the last two years. She suggested I mail the camera in to the service center for a quote.

I said that if third-party lenses really are dangerous for Canon cameras, Canon ought to warn customers that using those lenses is unhealthy for the camera. She said two things that seemed to contradict one another. The first thing she said is that Canon won’t claim that third-party manufacturers are not working properly because that would potentially offend manufacturers that create products that support Canon technology; she then said that Canon warns about using non-Canon lenses in product manuals. She also discounted the remarks from 10D users in web forums; she mentioned the 10D in her support department that has worked flawlessly for a couple years—using Canon lenses of course.

I accepted her explanation and went on my way. But I opened up all my Canon documentation that came with the 10D and I could find no mention of third-party lens dangers in the product manual. The closest thing I could find in the 183-page book was the phrase "It is compatible with all Canon EF lenses.” The only other precautions in the manual that came with my Canon 10D (printed February 2003) regarding lenses is to keep the contacts clean. Regarding "Err 99” the manual simply says, "An error other than the above has occurred. Remove and re-install the battery.”

An associate of Cord Camera, a large photographic retailer in central Ohio, told me over the weekend that I was lucky to have used the camera for over two years flawlessly. He said that the "Err 99” issue is widespread, and that some users have had the problem out-of-the-box. He said, "I think this is an issue that Canon is being very quiet about.”

After more research I found a solution that caught my eye. A few sites I found mentioned that cleaning the contacts ought to be done using a pencil eraser. I found this interesting, since I had only used a cloth.

I vigorously scrubbed the lens contacts with an eraser. Then I gently used the eraser to clean the camera contacts (holding the contacts face-down to prevent eraser rubber from falling into the body). I put the lens back on… and the camera shot a couple hundred frames without an Err 99.

While I have not yet tested the fix in a working environment yet, I am hopeful that this has solved the problem. If I don’t get the Err 99 in the next couple thousand shots, I will close the case.*

I still love the Canon 10D as a wonderful piece of photographic technology. I just wish that Canon would be a little more open and honest about this issue… not to mention stop using the scapegoat of third-party lenses. While there may be some issues with reverse-engineered, third party products, I don’t really buy the third-party argument. Some sites have stated that Sigma is remaking some lenses to be more compatible with Canon Digital SLRs… but Sigma’s website states, "All current production Sigma lenses for Canon autofocus cameras are fully compatible with the new Elan 7, Digital Rebel or EOS 10D camera.” I’m sure Sigma would not make such a bold claim if there were real reasons to believe that Sigma lenses cannot be used on Canon bodies.

I am especially concerned that Canon knows more about this problem but is not sharing it with its faithful consumers. I will remain devoted to Canon for some time… but the company owes some of the same devotion to those who use and promote Canon.

*Update 2005-09-09) : I have now tested the camera out with several thousands of shots and the Err 99 problem has not returned. It has not had a problem since I scrubbed the contacts with a pencil eraser.

*Update (2009-03-18): Since I first cleaned my contacts with an eraser back in 2005, I have not seen the Err 99 issue again. However, I do not use the 10D as much as I used to as it is now a backup camera. I now use the Canon 30D. The 30D that I own has never displayed the Err 99 message since I bought it a few years ago.

*Update (2011-11-08): The Sigma link above no longer contains the quoted information.


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May 11, 2012

Many many thanks for this simple solution. I already purchased a EOS 500D but could not compete with the 10D photo's. Thanks for this now I can revive the 10D as my primary camera again.


May 23, 2011

Err99 also appears when you use a CF card that exceeds 2GB. I just experienced this over the weekend when I tried to format a 8GB CF card. It takes it, begins formatting, but fails almost at the end of it.

I thought this might be useful nowadays since it is kind of difficult to get smaller memory cards.

Happy photography! :)

Timothy Lee

Mar 27, 2011

I've been puzzeled by the ERR99 for months thinking it was just "operator error" . Something I'm very familiar with. Finally got fed up enough to look it up . I cleaned the contacts as you suggested and the problem was solved. I started snapping off shots one after another just for the fun of it and never got the error. It may not be a permanent fix but it's working now and at least I know where to put the band aid if it happens again. Thanks.


Sep 4, 2010

Hey! It's been five years since you posted this article, but it's still helpfull. I own a 10D, too, but hadn't this error message over the years. Until yesterday. I'll try that pencil rubber thing later, too. But it's a shame Canon can't handle that error until now. Even the “An error other than the above has occurred. Remove and re-install the battery.” made me kinda angry.

I mean is this an error they added by their own? They know it won't be easy for you to switch to Nikon if you allready bought equipment and that stuff. Anyways, again I'll try that later and thanks again! Cheers


Apr 23, 2010

Thanks for the article.

Just bought an XSi yesterday and now have ERR 99. Removing battery etc., doesn't help. It appears that the shutter is stuck. Camera seems fragile. Are Nikon cameras any sturdier??

10D Relief

Feb 28, 2010

Thank you so much for this tip. It has worked so far and by reading the other users' comments, it seems to be the fix. I also use third-party lenses.

Much appreciated, Shawn. Thanks for organizing research and saving people headaches and money.

Lotte Holterman

Feb 5, 2010

Wow. This actually works.


Joe King

Nov 28, 2009

If cleaning the gold contacts fixes your problem, it will likely reoccur later. Gold is plated over nickel as the normal electroplating process. Most gold plating normally always has small pores in it that expose the nickel underlayment. These tiny pores allow nickel oxide to form/grow. Nickel oxide is an insulator. When it grows up through these tiny pores in the gold, it prevents the intended electrical contact between gold to gold connector surfaces. Gold plated to 30 microinches or thicker is usually immune to this as the aspect ratio of these pores won't let the nickel oxide to grow up to the thicker surface that the 30 microinch gold presents. The pore problem takes large magnification to detect.

This problem can also occur if the gold plating has been scored by repeated make and unmake of the gold contacts (repeated installation and removal of the lens) down to expose the nickel plating underlayment. This type of damage should be observable under reasonable magnification.

Hope this helps out.

zahari baharum

Nov 8, 2009

I own a Canon 1000D kit and experience Err 99 within the warranty period besides faulty auto focus. Canon kit does not come with third party lens, do they? (As the lady mentioned)

tom Fox

Aug 8, 2009

Thanks for the great accurate comments , will try and see if it works .

Scott Eicholtz

Jun 27, 2009

Using the erasure worked!

I have been dealing with this issue for the last year on and off...eventually last month my camera would only give the err 99 message. I hope this does the trick long term. I was told that it was a digital issue that would cost at minimum of $600!

Ron Goodison

Mar 23, 2009

I had the same problem with my canon 40D, (error99) and tried everything, all the tricks switched lenes turn camera on and off memory card in and out,cleaned contacts, all that BS. Nothing fixed it!!! Then I sent the body to the factory. (Camera is 8 months old) It was back in my hands in a week. Great job Canon!! The fix was, according to my invoice, replace shutter ass'y, adjusted exposure & cleaned C-mos, Update filmware. Checked all to factory specs. You can try all that crap but it's like putting a band-aid on a broken arm!!!

It's not the lens or the memory card or the battery!!! don't waste your time!!!


Mar 10, 2009

I have read tons of articles on the web about this issue... I have tried everything and non of it works. I have the canon xti and only have canon lenses. i tried a new memory card and a brand new battery... No go!

Contacted Canon and they said it would be a minimum of $210 to fix it. Maybe I should have gone with Nikon? But I like the canon lenses better.

D LaPlant

Aug 24, 2008

I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT with the persistent Err99 problem. I have never used any other lens but the included 18-55mm lens. I have tried cleaning lens contacts with an eraser. Recharged the battery. Cleaned the battery contacts. Nothing fixes it.

bas paul

Aug 6, 2008

Hi, I had a Canon 10D, a wonderful piece of equipment until the camera became useless because of a fault which generates code ERR99. After trying all suggested solutions (I had only Canon lenses) and sending the camera to Canon for servicing the ERR99 problem persisted.

My solution in the end was to sell all my equipment and buy a Nikon D300 and a new set of lenses.

One lives only once and I dont want to wait for Canon to solve its problems. My advice to all who want to buy a DSLR is to look around, there are now so many other solutions.

Magnus Fa

Apr 28, 2008

I recently bought a Canon EOS 400D(3 days ago) and I have already got the err 99 message. It came only when I used an old Sigma zoom lens and took photos outdoor in daylight. I searched on the net and tried the pencil eraser method, but it didn't work.

After trying for some time, I found out that the message didn't come if i used an aperture level lower than f5.6. I then checked my lens and also found out that the lens was only made for aperture levels between f4 and f5.6. I switched to the manual modes and set the aperture level lower than f5.6 and it all worked fine.

I think it may be a communication problem between the old lens and the brand new camera that caused this problem. Maybe the camera didn't know that the lens couldn't get higher than f5.6.


May 9, 2009

i think the err 99 could be a error with aperture control. My ef 75-300 4-5.6 III broke down with a noise when zooming and after that i could only take pictures with 300mm (f5.6). Every time i tried with smaller zoom&aperture, err99 appeared. I disassembled the objective and found out that the electric connections into aperture control were broken loose. So everything except aperture control was working and the result was err 99 when shooting with "wrong" aperture.

Mike mike

Oct 25, 2007

I am looking to buy a Canon Rebel XTi and I read a review about the Error 99 issue. I am wondering if everyone would still recomend me to purchase it with the real potential of having this same problem, or if i should look for another DSLR.

Marshall Wade

Jun 25, 2007

Hi Shawn,

I'm staff photographer and equipment manager for an event photography company here in California. We use all Canon equipment from 10Ds, 20Ds, and Rebel XT's. I've encountered the same error 99 that you have mentioned. Just to share with you, I looked up on Canon's website regarding this issue with the Rebels and found the pencil eraser solution. Knowing it has worked for you on the 10D's I will now be sure to apply it to them as well. Thanks for the info and happy shooting.


Marshall Wade

stephen leonard

Sep 18, 2007

thank you so much.

you just saved my life...

not literaly.

but... saved it all the same.

nick D

May 28, 2007

I have a Canon 400D and experience this problem with my Sigma lenses. I have cleaned up the contacts as suggested but to no avail

D David

Jun 23, 2007

Some older Sigma lenses have electronics that are incompatible with Canon digital cameras. Sigma will re-chip most lenses with newer electronics for a fee.


May 7, 2007


I do have a Canon 10D myself. It's a great camera. Once in a while I do get the famous ERROR 99. I have cleaned the lens' connections using alcohol.

And periodically, I still get the same problem. I have yet to try the pencil strategy.

I have doubts that it will fix the problem. I seem to get it most of the time when I'm using my flash.

I'm not sure if that's your situation. IT's quite annoying

colin walsh

Aug 5, 2008

I have 10D and 20D i gather the problem you are experiencing would also come from your camera settings and i suggest you check your flash card i.e 4gb+ cards compatability, if the TTL and camera settings + card arn't right when you take the shot you may get a clash with the camera's CMOS hope this helps


Mar 5, 2007

For what it's worth, I started getting the same error on my 300D yesterday. Doing a search on Canon's Digital Rebel KnowledgeBase for "error 99" brings up the recommendation to clean the lens contacts with a clean pencil eraser. It doesn't come up if you search the KnowledgeBase for the 10D. So it seems that Canon needs to get their act together with respect to giving consistent advice throughout their KnowledgeBase.

nick teti

Nov 4, 2006

Hello Shawn Olson, may I have your email address? I'd like to discuss my problems I have had with error 99 messages on my canon cameras as well ( I have 2 canon cameras ). Seems widespread, perhaps a class action message to canon from all suffering from error 99 would remedy our problems, Nick Teti,


P. K. Misra

Oct 26, 2006

I appreciated reading your comments about the Canon Error 99. I am one of those unfortunate ones that also gt the ERR99 message all of a sudden with my 3-month old 30D with Canon IS 17-85mm Lens. Unfortunately it happened while I have been in a small town in India for 2 weeks during my 3 1/2-month vacation in INdia. I scanned the web and did try everything that was suggested, but still can't get rid of ERR99. Also, I did not bring a second lens on my trip. Canon has not been very helpful - wants me to send the camera to USA service center. Considering the postal service in INdia and other potential complications, I don't trust mailing the camer a and the lens.

I just wish Canon would be more open with this error and have a "reset" function or something a customer can use to fix this problem! At least Canon should publish this potentially camera-shutdown problem in BIG and BOLD letters on the cover of the Owner's Manual and their printed brochure!

When I spend in excess of $2000 in a Canon system of this caliber, I expect better return on my investment.


G.Ray Haire

Nov 6, 2006

I just experienced the ERR 99 thing. I cleaned the contact with eraser -- no good.

Put in freshly charged batteries, and it is working for the moment.

Mine is an old 10D that I bought Feb 2005 from a wedding photographer who was moving up to a 20D. I've used it a lot, and I love it.

Robin Baker

Dec 19, 2006

I too have had problems with my rebel. I have used the tameron lens for 3 years and recently on vacation, in the town I bought it in, my camera died with the error 99. The camera was sent to cannon and they said the shutter needed to be replaced. It was $200. I have had it back for 3 months and it is starting all over again. I love this camera. Has cannon done anything else to take care of this problem?

Mary Luis

May 14, 2007

Hi, I found a great solution for my Err 99 in a good tech support site it is a very simple solution and they explain how to do it with details.

Here is the solution for the err 99 problem

Good luck

Linda Mason

Sep 16, 2007

I have been suffering the past four months with error 99 and have been told it is this and that and it has cost me around $400. to "fix" the problem...however it is not fixed. I have not used the pencil eraser bur intend to do so....why does Canon allow this to happen. I was told that I took too many photos and I wore out the Canon Rebel - it is 2 years old.

I cannot believe the number of people with the same problem. I do have and use Canon lens. I feel much better now that I know there are others who have experienced the same difficulties..I was beginning to think that it was just one big lemon. I hope Canon fixes this problem - I will not buy another until they do.

Linda in Canada

Mike Smith

Dec 17, 2007

I am experiencing the same err 99 message with my Canon 30D and it is not a lens, CF or battery issue as I have also performed all tests. For a camera that I have invested well over $1200 in, this is totally unacceptable. The error message is vague in that they do not give you any options, nor solutions in clearing the message.

Had I known about all of the people out there with similar issues I would never have purchased this camera as it is a significant investment. If there are all of the issues present, I believe that Canon should issue a recall and repair the problem at their expense. Make sure you do extensive homework before investing in a Canon as it is risky at best!


George Gecik

Mar 12, 2009


I'm getting the Err 99 message on my 10D. I've had it for years and it started slowly. But now it is persistent and very aggravating. It's even more aggravating to read this message board and find that Canon has been less than forthright about the issue. I've been a die hard Canon fan for years but this may change thins. What I want to know is what dates the most recent posts are. I'm posting on March 12, 2009.

Bob Heinzl

Apr 10, 2009

Hello, I'm from Dublin, Ireland, and I also received the dreaded ERR 99 message on my Canon XTi. I'm using a Canon EF 24-105 Lis lens with a spuroius battery grip that doubles battery life (two batteries!). Camera was set to fully auto when I got the error. I tried all the pre-mentioned remedies but the error remained. I did notice that when I started the camera up and tried to review pics I'd taken some of the files were corrupt and protected, so I couldn't delete them. Tried formating on the Canon and got the ERR 99. I also tried formatting on the computer and returning the card to the camera but still got a constant error. The card I was using was a SanDisk Extreme IV 4GB CF Card. I'd never had a problem with this card before. I exchanged the card with a Transcend 2GB CF Card and low and behold the error was cleared!! Happy Days!! Just a note though .........I bought the Camera in New York in the USA, the card I purchased on the net, (genuine card!). Please note that I'd performed all the other remedies prior to exchanging the Memory Card. Hope thiss info helps..........I was delighted to have found the above information in my hour of crisis!! Happy snapping! Bob.

Ramon Cabron

Apr 30, 2009

I first experienced the Err 99 (completely shutting down my camera) on a shoot in Mexico. I have a Canon XSi (450D) and was using a Canon L lens (28-70mm) at the time. The last two shots had what looked like a black ribbon across them, so I suspect it is a shutter problem, not a lens contact problem.

On this forum alone, there are at least 5 different models of Canon camera afflicted with Err 99, so it seems obvious it is a design flaw, not a result of using 3rd party lenses.

Perhaps the suggestion for a class action suit is a good one and might force Canon to come clean about this issue. I sent my camera off yesterday to the service center.

My trip to Cabo was ruined before it ever started because of Err 99. Shame on Canon.

Perhaps we could write en masse to the professional magazines and lobby for an article quoting us on just how much damage Err 99 has caused photographers. It is unconscionable for Canon to pretend it is the users' fault, or that dirty contacts are responsible for a manufacturing defect.

Ramon C.

Daniel Condurachi

Jun 1, 2009

Last week I went to Egypt together with my wife for our honeymoon. Right before going into a submarine my Canon EOS 450D stopped working. When I opened it up it told me Err 99. I had the kit lens on. I tried my other lens a 85 1.8. It still didn't want to work. It was so disappointing. I tied the other batter. Still the same Err 99. It ruined my honeymoon. I was down and upset the entire journey to Egypt. Canon let me down.

Coming home I found that all the other Canon dSLRs have the same problem. Before I was thinking to an upgrade to 40D or 50D. But now I am thinking of an upgrade to NIKON. The camera broke just after 13 months from purchase +-a few days.

When I got home I looked at the photos. The last 2 of them had a huge black diagonal ribbon from bottom left to top right. It is very disappointing.

I am sending the camera for repair. I hope it will not be expensive to repair. If it is I'll just throw the camera out of the balcony and switch to NIKON for life. D700 here I come


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