Nikon D40 won’t power up

“Hey, we have some time before the flash mob thing starts, let’s run through the (water art thing)!” And I snapped a photo “before.”

The last thing my camera took a photo of...
The last thing my camera took a photo of...

And shortly after I got back to my chair, my Nikon N40 wouldn’t power on. It got a little wet, but not the worst I’ve done. Still: crap.

Once home, I set the camera on one of the floor heater vents to air out. The next day, it still wouldn’t power on, nor was it responsive to plugging into a computer. Judicious Googling yielded nearly universal advice: take it into a repair shop. A simple estimate was about $125.

Both of my readers know that I have a past history of taking things apart, just in case I could actually fix them. Furthermore, since I had received an awesome toolkit from my kids for Christmas, I was morally compelled to at least take a look inside, right?

Prepared for the worst, I started with the basics: pulled off the lens, memory card and batter. Popped the case open and noticed a really teeny, tiny indentation on the side:

Master reset switch
Huh - I wonder what this does

My camera’s owner’s manual [page 108], mentions this as a hardware reset switch to use if “a strong external static charge [causes] the camera to stop functioning.”

Reading the fine manual again...

What the hell. To my surprise, the camera powered up (with all its settings lost, of course). I blew dust off the mirror before reassembling everything (not much, as it turns out), and it’s functioning again.


So in summary, for a wet camera situation:

  • Move to southeastern Utah so the camera won’t get wet in the first place. For my current living situation, this is not a cost-effective solution, so…
  • Remove the battery and air dry the camera. I saw a recommendation for putting it in a bag with a silica packet or a bunch of white rice, on the theory the rice would absorb moisture.
  • Hardware reset is your friend. In this case, the worst thing it would have done is nothing. The button is nearly invisible. If it was painted red with a giant “Do not press” sign nearby, I would have tried that first.
  • It helps to have a good set of tools.
  • If all else fails, make the repair or replace decision. As much as I would have loved to get a Nikon D700, it’s just not something I can spend money on at the moment. Had the reset failed, I would have probed further. A motherboard costs about $80 from eBay. For $40 more, I can have United Camera repair it – something they do every day. In the worstest of worst cases, I would rip out the sensors for use in some wacky Arduino project.

14 thoughts on “Nikon D40 won’t power up”

  1. i don’t know about your other reader, but i, for one, think using a reset button is The Cop Out of 2011. seriously. i feel cheated. you couldn’t even have slapped on a flame decal??

    1. I would welcome a spontaneous, no-obligation gift of either camera from the Nikon corporation. I’ve been pretty happy with the quality of photos from my D40, but two things I’d really like are depth of field preview and a built-in motor for autofocusing (just because I have two nice lenses from my analog camera that are gathering dust because I can’t manually focus worth beans).

  2. Very cool, and excellent work! I don’t think pressing the reset button is a cop-out. Just finding it was a detective effort in itself! But I second the flame decal suggestion.

  3. Thank you sooooo much! My D40 got wet yesterday at a party and after the rice treatment I was convinced it was doomed! I had just about given up but decided to keep googling… I put in “Nikon D40 wet” and your page came up. Tried the reset button and WOO HOOOOO!!!! My camera is working! Thanks!

  4. Have the same problem with my D40. Took it to a camera shop and they sent it to Nikon. Interestingly they advised after 3 months that Nikon said it was a grey market camera and would not look at it. (Not sure what they mean, bought it here in the states. Besides, isn’t Nikon a Nikon?) Going to pick it up at the store and try you reset solution. In the meantime just purchased a D3200 for my daughter.

  5. Thank you for this post. You saved my families first disney vacation

  6. How do I reset it? Do I push that button with something because I tried and nothing happened. Please help thanks.

  7. Richard Arnold

    I’ve got a nikon d40 some times it turns on then other times it don’t so I don’t know what’s up with it thanks

  8. wessel schulte

    I have a d40 that still powers on but it is stuck on a “connecting to PC” screen. I tried to connect it and then eject it but that didn’t work, I tried to hard reset it with this button but it doesn’t seem to do anything. Doe anyone know what I should do?

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