These messages normally appear on the LCD screen when a mechanical malfunction occurs on a Panasonic Lumix camera. They are fatal errors, and will not allow the camera to continue operating, it must be restarted. Below I’ll detail fixes for the different messages:

“System Error”

This is a generic error, and can be caused by a sensor error (lens barrel gearbox or extend sensor, O.I.S sensor (Optical Image Stabilizer), software error, or a loose connection inside the camera, there are several ribbon cables connecting the lens motors, sensors and the CCD sensor unit to the main control board. It can also appear alternately with one of the other errors I’ve listed below.

“System Error (Zoom)” and “System Error (O.I.S)”

These messages appear due to a mechanical error with the lens system gearbox and sensors, pertaining to the focus, zoom and O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilizer) motors and gearing. The locating pins that keep the timing of the lenses has most often than not slipped out, and the gear teeth are out of sync, resulting in the zoom not working correctly, or the barrel not extending and retracting properly. I’ve had this similar problem when repairing Nikon Coolpix cameras with the “Lens Error” message due to it being dropped. Here’s an image of a Lumix DMC-S1 and the timing pins:

The locating lugs drop into the slots and then have to be aligned to get the timing right. This should ONLY be done by a professional repairer like me, as they are precision, and need to be disassembled in a clean environment, the CCD sensor and mechanisms are easily damaged by static and careless inexperience. I have thousands of service manuals and professional skills for cameras, I’ve been fixing them for many years and am highly mechanically skilled and experienced.

CAUTION: There is a HIGH VOLTAGE AC MAINS CAPACITOR that fires the flash that MUST be discharged when the case is opened and the camera disassembled for repair. The shock from this can KILL, DO NOT attempt repair unless you know how to safely discharge high voltage capacitors with suitable resistors, as simply shorting them WILL RESULT in a VIOLENT explosion, they become highly pressurized and explode. The metal body will rupture violently sending shards of metal flying at high speed which can cause injury and blindness if they get into the eyes at such speed.

I’m an experienced professional, you’ve been warned. It is safer to have the work done by a professional for a few quid than risk your safety trying to think you can do it to save money.

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21 Responses to ““System Error”, “System Error (Zoom)” & “System Error (O.I.S)” Messages on Panasonic Lumix cameras”
  1. Lewis Corner says:

    My Panasonic Lumic ZS3 started to show SYSTEM ERROR (I.O.S) about 10 seconds after switching on the camera.

    Until this happened the camera was usable: menu items could changed, zoom worked, picture could be taken. The playback was unaffected.

    All the sites I googled said the message was fatal, the camera needed to be repaired.

    Much to my surprise, the camera returned to normal after two days and is presently fine.

    Was I lucky? Did I have a fault that will recur, this time terminall?

    In the meantime I’d suggest that Lumix owners with the problem keep turning the camera off and on in the hope of a spontaneous recovery.

    • Tidosho says:

      It was likely a jam in the lens mechanics, I have had cases of the gearbox grease going hard after periods of non-use, even a couple of weeks sitting in the wrong temperature. Switching the camera on and off a few times gets the grease fluid again so the lens system works fully and the sensors register. Without seeing your camera I have no way of knowing exactly what caused it. Just one of those intermittent faults that clears itself 🙂

  2. Graham says:

    Before you disassemble your camera try the following:

    [1] With the camera switched off slide the ‘Zoom lever’ to the right (T) position and hold down the ‘Shutter’ button for a few seconds then switch the camera on. You need to still be holding the ‘Zoom lever’ and ‘Shutter’ button.

    This seems to force reset the zoom to full extent. Then switch off the camera, the zoom may stay fully extended. Try cleaning the outside of the lens barrels to make sure there is no dirt on them.

    [2] Then With the camera switched off slide the ‘Zoom lever’ to the left (W) position and hold down the ‘Shutter’ button for a few seconds then switch the camera on. You need to still be holding the ‘Zoom lever’ and ‘Shutter’ button.

    This seems to force reset the zoom to minimum extent. Then switch the camera off.

    Hopefully the camera is now in its normal closed off position. Switch the camera on and it should be operating normally. If not repeat the above a couple of times.

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you Graham! Your answer worked perfectly – I was panicking after my camera has the “System Error (Zoom)” issue. I love my Lumix Zs19 after many years with big rigs. It has excellent usefulness even though it is a few years old. I even bought the older model on purpose.

    • megan Leight says:

      Last year my husband bought me a Lumix camera as an anniversary present. I took it outside on my back porch to try to get a picture of some baby birds in a nest. Needless to say, the mama or papa bird made a huge noise and was flying rapidly around me so I fell off my chair and my camera landed on the porch. I was getting this error message, but I followed these directions exactly and, to my surprise and amazement, it worked!!! Just wanted to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

    • David says:

      Thank you. It took a couple of tries, but fixed the problem on my wife’s barely used Panasonic Liumix DMC ZS40

  3. Roger Smith says:

    Hi Graham,

    I was about to throw my LX3 away until I luckily came across your advice – which completely fixed the problem! Many thanks!

  4. Bill Griffin says:

    Looked up various sites showing how to strip down and repair my DMC ZS19 which was showing “System Error Zoom”. Was all set with small screwdrivers (!!) and then I saw this. Tried it a couple of times and all seems to be working fine again. There is still some dirt in the lens, but I think I’ll just live with this……unless someone has tried cleaning it and been successful!

    • Tidosho says:

      Hiya Bill,

      Dirt inside the lens unit seems to be a common problem on the cheaper Lumix cameras, mine suffered from it, the seals are useless. I completely stripped the lens barrel and gearbox down, cleaned the lenses, lubricated everything, performed resistance and continuity checks on the motors, everything was fine.

      Just take your time, and find an official Factory Service Manual for it. Please DON’T follow YouTube videos, follow guidance from guys like me who do it professionally.

  5. Gazza69 says:

    My Panasonic LUMIX DMC – TZ40 has just got this problem. A trick I learn’t years ago with digital cameras when faults occur is to hold the camera in one hand and give the camera a firm sharp bash against the palm of the other hand. It took a few goes doing this with the LUMIX and it has now come good, hopefully will stay that way. Give it a try, there’s nothing to loose.

    • Chris says:

      I had a sudden unexpected System focus error on my Panasonic Lumix TZ60 tried everything blogged BUT then did the BASH AGAINST THE HAND about 4 times and it WORKED!
      so recommend this method. heres hoping it lasts….

  6. Barbara Thornton says:

    My Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40 was opening and closing the lens 3 times then switching itself off every time I tried to switch the camera on. The repair method above did not work for me and I was going to consign it to the bin but as one last attempt at fixing it I switched it on again and then when the lens was extended (one of the three times before switching off again) I caught hold of the lens firmly between my fingers and would not allow it to retract after doing this I still had the (system error Zoom) message but then switched the camera off and back on again and now everything works just fine!!

    Only problem is I now have two cameras as the problem occurred the day before we went on holiday and I purchased a new camera (Sony Cyber-shot 18.2 mp) in the airport. anyone want to purchase perfectly working Panasonic TZ40????

  7. Ade says:

    Brilliant – worked immediately for my TZ35 !

  8. jpmccormac says:

    My new ZS60 arrived today and failed at the first start up after charging the battery. After about 4-5 seconds the camera displays the “System Error (O.I.S.)” message and locks up or it displays the message “Please turn the camera off and then on again.”

    I’ve tried all the suggestions here and reset options, different cards, etc. After searching the forum and elsewhere I see that the error is not uncommon with other Panasonic cameras. I guess I’ll send it back to Amazon for a replacement. First problem I’ve ever had with Panasonic cameras – and I’ve had many of them. I had an online “chat” with Panasonic support and they said it needs repair and to send it back to the vendor (

  9. Kathy Torpie says:

    Hi Tidosho, I have a Panasonic Lumix with 20X digital Zoom and 40X Intelligent Zoom DMC-ZS19. I LOVED this camera until one day the zoom stopped working.The problem seems to be that the metal slider over the lens will not close completely, so nothing happens when I turn it on other than getting the system error zoom message.This happens on all shooting modes. I live in New Zealand where getting it repaired costs more than a new camera. Not an option! So I tried the hints offered above. Nothing. . . Do you have any suggestions for getting the metal lens cover to open and close properly?. I would be so grateful to get it working again! Kathy

    • Tidosho says:

      Hi Kathy,

      It could be either the spring mechanism for the lens cover is stuck or the spring is jammed, or the grease for the mechanism has become stiff with age. When you power the camera on, can you move the lens cover with your fingers?

  10. Ian says:

    Hi Tidosho,
    I have a Lumix LF1 with exactly the same problem as Kathy and yes I can move the lens cover with my fingers enough to close it but it opens to a 5mm gap when I release my hold. I know the problem is sand related as it was in my pocket just before this problem. I have cleaned and cleaned, knocking the barrel gently and using the vacuum cleaner to no avail. What next?? Any help greatly appreciated!

    • Tidosho says:

      Hi Ian,

      I’m afraid you’ll have to have the lens barrel and gearbox professionally dismantled, serviced, cleaned and re-greased. You say the problem is “sand” related so that would explain the issues, sand has probably become gummed up in the gearbox lubricant, getting caught in gear teeth. I wouldn’t advise you to do it yourself, as you could make the problem worse. Believe me, DIY isn’t easy on a precision piece of (also expensive!) photography kit. I repair all sorts of electrical kit, my heart sinks every time an inexperienced owner tries it themselves looking to YouTube, making it ten times worse and more expensive.

  11. JOSE D QUIROGA says:

    Good tips…..but anybody knows about how to fix the system error zoom in the Lexus DMC FT25 ?

  12. Peter Brocks says:

    Hi Tidosho,
    I love my Panasononic DMC-ZS7. Today for the first time it showed O.I.S. on the screen a few times. I found your web site and followed Graham’s instructions. Right now the camera seems to be working ok. I would still like to get it serviced. Please let me know the best place to contact to get my camera repaired, serviced.
    Thank you, Peter in Scottsdale, AZ

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