How to clean an EX1 / TL500 sensor

Started Apr 19, 2011 | Discussions thread
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repentsinner
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How to clean an EX1 / TL500 sensor
Apr 19, 2011

I had a quick look around the web but couldn't find any information on how to disassemble an EX-1 / TL500, so I thought I'd post some instructions / Google food here.

After approximately six thousand frames and eight months of solid abuse across two continents, eight countries, and a dozen or so states, my TL500 has finally developed dust bunnies. Of all the non-interchangeable lens cameras that I've carried in my pocket, this one seems to be the least susceptible so far, so kudos to Samsung on doing a decent job keeping the crud out. Dust bunnies are the major drawback of fixed lens cameras imho, and I'd much rather have an access door for the sensor than a different lens to swap on.

As you can see in the first image, there's a decent chunk of crap just NE of the south Florida sun.

If I have to tell you that disassembling your camera will void your warranty, you probably are the right type of person to be attempting this.

Start by removing the battery, SD card, and the exterior screws. There are two near the strap loop above the USB port, three on the end with the hinge for the display, five on the bottom (you can leave the one in the tripod socket), and one hidden under a sticker pad on the back, as illustrated below. The two screws at the end past the battery door are threaded for plastic, the rest are machine screws. Keep them apart. The screw underneath the display is shorter, keep it separate as well.

Once you get all the screws out, the back should come off relatively easily. Wiggling the shell of the camera you should be able to see how it separates around the middle. You can see along the top of the back half there are two little 'holes', one between the flash shoe and the power dial, and the other to the right of the mode dial. These are studs that clip in to the body, so just lift up gently as you slide the rear panel rearward and they'll let go. These studs are a common way of holding cameras together, so once you've figured it out once you're good to go for just about any other camera.

The display doesn't need to be disassembled at all, but obviously it does need to be open.

Next, the front shell needs to be removed. This one is held on by a little plastic clip that extends almost to the back of the camera directly behind the speaker hole in the top. This clip is what that aforementioned stud was holding on to, and why you need to take the back off first. Gently lift it up and wiggle the front body shell forward. You'll see how the clip works as you pry on it. In the following image, it is directly above the copper coloured ribbon cable below the speaker area. Also in this image is two ribbon cable connectors on the motherboard, behind the 'frame' of the camera. The top one goes to the sensor, the bottom one goes to the rest of the lens electronics. The top one is short, and will have to be removed. If you don't feel comfortable reinserting this type of thing, stop here and put the camera back together. It is one of the pain in the ass connectors that doesn't lift open as far as I could tell, you just have to push the cable back in very carefully using the two tabs on the side of it. This is where I excuse myself from any responsibility for your camera. Really if you aren't comfortable with this, put your camera back together now and do not proceed.

Once the front shell is off, turn the camera over. There are only two screws holding the lens mechanism in, at the lower left and upper right. They are in there deep. These are also threaded for plastic. Set them aside separate from the rest.

This next image shows the location of the studs on the side of the lens housing, this might help you find the screws while the housing is still installed. Once you have pulled the lens out this far, you will have inadvertently unhooked the sensor data cable if you didn't already.

Finally we can get the sensor out. Remove the three obvious screws. I can't remember if these screws were different than the other plastic ones, but there are only three and if you put them aside, it's obvious where they return to.

This is a close-up of my sensor, with a big chunk of debris towards the right, and some smaller ones scattered around. Clean the thing however you like. Reassembly is the opposite of disassembly. The only tricky thing is getting the sensor data cable lined up with its mate before you reinsert the lens module fully. Line it up, screw the lens in place, and then poke the cable back in carefully .

Finally, take a test shot of something bright and even and out of focus. The speck in the test shot of this light is part of the casting of the lamp housing, not still in my camera. Mission complete

And finally, abuse. With the camera in my back pocket, I jumped down a snowbank that looked a lot softer than it was. The display housing is all mashed now, and there are some high points where I guess I squished the aluminum down over some components. Somewhat amazingly, it still works.

I also dropped the camera in a blizzard:

Right before getting this shot of some Greenlandic dogs.

I'll post more pics from my travels shortly, but needless to say I am more than impressed with this little camera. Aside from the woeful battery life at -25°C, it takes the abuse like a tank.

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Pentax K-5 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony Alpha 7 Pentax smc FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited +2 more
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