E18 indicates a lens jam.
That was a problem on one line of cameras for a period of time.
The cameras involved were the Canon A40 through A95.
The years were 2002 through 2004.
The gearbox for the lens extend/retract motor was fragile.
And it was not well sealed, which let sand infiltrate the gear box.
If you are careful with the cameras and stay off the beach, it works fine.
I have two friends with cameras from that batch and they are still working fine.
Other brands of cameras have suffered from lens jam problems on certain models only, from time to time.
It is an engineering/design problem.
I have not heard of this type of problem on cameras built in the past three years.
There are isolated cases, which are usually caused by the camera being dropped.
I have been shopping for a digital camera with a strong preference for Canon but stopped dead in my tracks after reading all the E18 lens retraction error stories. I have three questions about this error and would appreciate any input:
1. Is this problem exclusive to Canon or does it exist in this type of camera generally regardless of brand?
2. Is the frequency of the error related to zoom length, i.e., is it more frequent with higher optical zooms such as 8x or 10x rather than 3x or 4?
3. Is the problem related to where the camera is manufactured? (Canon point-and-shoot models are made in Japan, China and Malaysia.)