The articulating LCD screen on my Sony A77 camera recently stopped working properly. The screen still functioned when it was placed up against the camera body, but when I extended and rotated it away from the body, it only displayed artifacts.
After some research, I found out that the flex cable of the LCD screen was likely damaged. By buying a new flex cable and studying the parts diagrams that I found online, I managed to repair the camera.
In this article I will explain what causes problems with the LCD screen on the Sony A77, what you can do to prevent them, and show how you can fix the screen yourself at home.
Before showing you how to repair the Sony A77 screen, I will give some more information on the problem and answer some frequently asked questions:
What causes Sony A77 LCD screen problems?
There are several reasons why the Sony A77 LCD screen can develop problems. One of the most common reasons is a fracture in the LCD flex cable. Other less common causes are damage to the screen itself or its electronics, or a problem on the printed circuit board of the camera.
A fracture in the LCD flex cable
The most common reason for problems with the LCD screen is that the flex cable that connects from the camera circuit board to the LCD wears out. When this happens, the cable develops one or more hairline cracks in the wires. The screen is then not able to receive the correct signals anymore, and it displays artifacts instead.
In the case of my Sony A77, when the screen was positioned against the body the traces in the flex cable managed to make contact well, but when the screen was moved further from the body the connection broke.
A broken flex cable seems to be the most common cause of the artifacts, so when attempting to fix the screen, this is what I recommend to try to fix first.
Damage to the LCD screen and/or its electronics
An other cause for problems is a defect LCD screen. This can either be the LCD screen itself or its control electronics.
Some possible causes for this are:
- Liquids making their way into the LCD casing.
- A sudden impact.
- The LCD screen is at the end of its life.
The last reason does not happen too often, as the flex cable is usually first to go.
If replacing the flex cable does not work, then the LCD screen itself is likely the culprit and needs to be replaced.
A problem with the camera motherboard
Other (non-LCD) camera components can cause problems with the LCD as well. For example, the motherboard of the camera can develop issues due to old age, or due to the camera being dropped.
This usually shows up as a green screen on the LCD. Or to be more specific, a repeating green pattern on the screen. An example of this can be seen here.
In this case, the viewfinder of the A77 also stops working and shows the exact same pattern as on the LCD. This is an important difference with when the flex cable or LCD screen is damaged. In that situation the viewfinder still shows the sensor image.
Solving the green screen problem involves replacing the camera motherboard and is beyond the scope of this article.
Is it difficult to repair the LCD screen?
You will need to disassemble the camera, replace either the flex cable or the LCD screen, and then reassemble everything.
This may sound like a daunting task, but it is relatively straightforward. All the steps you need to take are listed further down the page. With enough patience and care there is not much that can go wrong.
What do you need to repair the LCD screen?
Some common tools and a replacement LCD flex cable (or replacement LCD screen). Everything is listed further down the page.
Repairing vs replacing the camera
From what I found online, having the camera repaired at the Sony service center would have cost somewhere between $200 and $400 total for the assessment, shipping, components and labor.
Buying a replacement body (a Sony A77 Mark II) would have set me back about $1200.
Repairing the camera myself cost me ~$60 for the replacement flex cable. Obviously this option came with a bit more risk, but I was confident that I correctly identified the issue and that I was able to repair it.
Can you also use this guide to repair the screen on the Sony A77 II?
Yes! The A77 Mark II is not very different from the A77. The same exact procedure can be followed to repair the LCD screen on both cameras.
I have not repaired any A77II’s myself, but I have had people contact me and telling me they successfully followed these steps for their A77II. So I am certain that this works.
Can you do anything to prevent the A77 LCD screen from breaking?
Only if you never move the articulating screen. The primary reason for the artifacts is the flex cable that develops fractures. Limiting the strain on the flex cable will extend its life.
Aside from that, handling the camera carefully and storing it safely helps too.
How to repair a Sony A77 LCD screen
What you’ll need
For when the the LCD display (and not the flex cable) is broken
Sony A77 body disassembly
Removing the rear cover
Disassembling the LCD screen assembly
If you wanted to replace the LCD screen itself, this would be where you would do it. Simply disassemble the LCD assembly a bit further, until you are able to remove and replace the LCD panel itself.
Unfortunately I do not have picture of these steps, as I only replaced the flex cable.
Flex cable removal
Tips for reassembly
A summary of the repair process
- Remove the lens and the battery from the camera body.
- Slide off the rubber eye cap.
- Unscrew all rear cover screws.
- Take off the rear cover.
- Detach the orange and blue flex cables.
- Unscrew the LCD screen assembly screws.
- Disassemble the LCD assembly.
- Replace the broken flex cable (or broken LCD).
- Reassemble the camera by following the above steps in reverse.
This was a great project for me to do, as I always enjoy extending the lifespan of products. Especially when the alternative is spending a lot of money.
The repair was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The Sony A77 is a complicated piece of technology, but it seems to be designed so that it is relatively easy to repair.