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My Canon sx110 IS makes a slight grinding sound when I start it up (which means lens comes forward). Also, the picture quality hasn't bee very sharp of late . Can anyone advise if this needs a lens clean-up, repair, or do I need to replace it?

PS: The camera is 5 years old.

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    It's very hard to answer this question. It might help if you post an example picture to show what the problem is. It's probably not worth paying for a repair, but it's only dirt on the lens it might be possible to salvage the camera. – Håkon K. Olafsen Aug 29 '13 at 10:54
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The sound on startup might be the result of worn gears in lens assembly. It also might affect picture quality if focusing is done with same gears.

If there is visible dirt / smudges on the lens, by all means clean it. But there is not much you can do about sound / sharpness. If it affects you photographs, it might be the time for you to consider replacing the camera.

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It's normal for the lens on a compact camera to make sound when the camera starts and the lens extends into its operating position. What you didn't say is whether it's making a new sound that it didn't make previously. (Question has been updated)

From what you describe, it's a good indication of a mechanical issue with the lens which may or may not affect its operation. If this wasn't a compact camera I'd say that it's worth getting it cleaned out anyway to protect your lens for years to come, but since it's a compact you may be interested in upgrading the camera instead.

A common cause of such a mechanical problem would be fine sand or dirt caught in the lens mechanism. It can be difficult to remove this without disassembly.

Non-sharp pictures may be a symptom of mechanical focusing issues but they could also be unrelated. Have someone at a camera shop look at it to get a second opinion.

But I'm going to have to say, your camera is an old compact camera inferior to newer cameras that are much cheaper. Paying any money at all to fix this would be, in my opinion, not worth it. You may as well think about upgrading.

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It does sound like it may be an internal mechanical problem if image quality is being impacted, it may mean that the focus mechanisms are no longer working correctly or a lens element may be out of alignment. Either way, there is a good chance that paying for a repair on a 5 year old camera may be more expensive than simply buying a new one and getting the upgrades that 5 years of advancement have brought.

You could try sending it in to a Canon service center for a service quote to see if it is worth it.

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While it is risky, and only something you may want to do if you don't mind breaking your camera, I have had sucsess taking apart and re-assembling an old camera.

I setup a clean work area, and if it is complex may even take a picture with another camera to document what it looked like in certain states. If nothing else it can be fun. I dont know if any flashes still use capacitors, but be ware that if it does it will keep a charge even without the camera battery in place.

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